“I am a feminist. I’ve been female for a long time now. I’d be stupid not to be on my own side.”  ~Maya Angelou

women supporting women

After the presidential election, I, like many, struggled. There were tears, fearful thoughts, anger, and more.

Two months later, I took a pro-active approach to inauguration day. Instead of sitting in a puddle of tears, I decided to spend inaugural night attending a special women’s event held at a D.C. restaurant. There were eight organizations in attendance, all focused on different aspects of supporting girls and women through the process of running for office. Along with inspiring speakers and great food was the feeling of camaraderie among young girls and women.

I joined a table of women from different parts of the country and varied careers. Our small group included a college student, educator, and three female entrepreneurs. In between speakers, we had the opportunity to get to know each other, network, and share more about our professional lives. I thought I was with “my people,” only to be shocked as our conversation turned towards hiring practices.

One woman at my table, with great conviction, was explaining to us what horrible employees single mothers made, and that she now has a policy to exclude single moms as candidates when hiring. The women at our table were silent as she continued to spew about her illegal hiring practices….except me.

My response went something like this:

“As a woman who started my company when I was a single mom, and as an employer who has almost exclusively hired single women, I disagree with you. Single mothers probably work harder than most, having the incredible responsibility of often supporting a family solely on their income or with some support supplemented.”

-I was told I was able to successfully hire single moms because I live in a metropolitan city.

-Then it was explained to me that single moms have this sense of entitlement.

-My favorite excuse: I was educated on how difficult it was when a single mom called in because her son was sick. What an imposition! To quote this female entrepreneur: “I mean, am I supposed to do her work then?”

All of the female entrepreneur’s reasons for illegally discriminating against women based upon martial and parental status were met with comments from me.

Points I raised:

  • She has illegal hiring practices.
  • I have never met a single mom with a sense of entitlement.
  • My employees mostly live outside the D.C. area so no “metropolitan excuse” could be applied to my team.

The conversation was calm and respectful, with both of us just trying to help the other understand our position. It ended politely, but with neither one of us shifting in our thoughts regarding her hiring practices.

A few days have passed, and yet I keep coming back to that conversation–no less frustrated than I was that night. Listening to a woman business owner explain her discriminatory hiring practices against women illuminated for me the extent of the systemic problem we have in this country. Men and women, but especially women, have to lift up and provide opportunities to ALL without discrimination. And we have to speak up! The rest of the women had the same responsibility I did to challenge what she was saying. Silence is often confused with acceptance.

Join me in supporting ALL people ALL the time, no matter how uncomfortable it is to call someone out. I know it’s not easy, but it’s our responsibility.

If you recently spoke up in support of a group of marginalized people, tell me about it below!

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girl time as a goalAs a mostly failing recovering Type-A personality, making long lists of resolutions at the start of a new year isn’t something I espouse to any longer. Recently finding a list I created many years ago was a reminder of how much progress I have made in getting past the torturous experience I once used to do to myself annually. It had major categories for each area of my life in bold, and each of these sections had far too many goals.  These were achievements I wanted in my life in just a year’s time, and yet most of the items I still could not check off as accomplished; it’s simply too daunting trying to tackle 75 things in a year.

In the last few years I got a little smarter, sharing a list I created that was only filled with things that would make me happy.  It was certainly a good start in moving towards realistic goal settling. Looking at that list, though, I realize that while all of those things would have made me happy that year, many were not accomplished for either financial reasons or a lack of time. Progress, but not quite the result I wanted.

The very next year I decided to create a simple list of only three words that I would strive to achieve in my life. Easy enough, right? Not really, when balance has been a lifelong struggle. Instead of three words, I probably should have just chosen one. Or chosen some easier words, like “wine,” “baseball” or “sleep.”

Older, wiser, and a few years later, I created a very simple goal for myself. I thought about what one thing seems to be slipping away or bothering me, and just hone in on improving that single aspect of my life. What I realized is that at my stage in life, girlfriend time doesn’t happen unless someone makes a plan. When the kids were younger, girlfriend time was effortless. It involved coordinating time for the kids to play or being part of a pick-up playdate outside in nice weather.

This year, I decided, would be the year of the girlfriend. I have enjoyed more pedicures this year than I had in the last several years combined. Going to work out at a CrossFit box means seeing one of my closest friends. It has involved dinners out, a few wine tastings, and even just walks around the lakes in my community to catch up. It might only be snippets of time in all of our busy schedules, but we are making time to get together. And, what I have found when reaching out to initiate, is that all of us feel the same way about the lack of social time we have now that the kids are older.

The craziness of summer vacations clashing with other friends’ family plans and trying to balance work and life with the kids home has meant fewer outings. With school starting back up, I have a renewed interest in the commitment I made to myself at the beginning of the year. There’s a new pedicure appointment on the calendar, I have a women’s wine tasting dinner with two other friends, a fabulous fall event at Mount Vernon, and I will be back in the box regularly soon.

How are you doing with your resolutions for the year?

Right now is a great time to recommit through the end of 2015.

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Divorce and the HolidaysThe last time I sent a Christmas card was 2007, which was the last year my ex and I were together. Moving out in December of 2008, there was little thought of creating a Christmas card. Without his name or image on the card, I may as well have called it my divorce announcement rather than a Christmas card.

The first few years following the split, a Christmas card felt like printed proof we were broken. I didn’t feel like we were a family anymore; I was just a single mom with her kids. The deluge of cards delivered from families with happy notes and lots of love captured in the images just added to my feelings of familial inadequacy.

There were years when I made an attempt. I would photograph the kids, thinking this is the year I will order. And yet, it never happened. For some reason, no matter how much better I felt about our family status, I was stuck when it came to taking the step of sending Christmas wishes from our family.

If anyone had been with me two weeks ago when I opened the bright orange Shutterfly box, they would have laughed at me. Or thought I was crazy. Who cries, looking at their Christmas card? I did because no matter how good I felt in my single life, I just couldn’t order cards. It’s the piece that never fell into place.

Six years later and newly married, I am sending out my first card since 2007. Finally.

What has been difficult for you over the years during the holiday season?

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My Christmas Wish

December 1, 2014
Visiting the blog of one of my favorite writers this morning, I struggled to comment on her post. I could close the tab and exit without leaving a trace of my visit, but I wanted to share with the rest of the readers. And yet I was stumped. The big, challenging question I struggled to respond to was […]
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Life is Too Short To…

October 11, 2014
We often hear of people hitting 50 and having a midlife crisis. The reality regarding midlife is that we likely hit that point in our 40’s based upon life expectancy. While that may seem depressing, it’s more a reminder for me to live my life fully. Since turning 40, I don’t believe I have experienced the cliche midlife […]
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It’s Just Right

October 2, 2014
Sometimes people come into our lives who say they love us, and they genuinely mean it. And while we appreciate the sentiment, they love us in a way we don’t want to be loved or that doesn’t meet our needs. The realization–that we are loved in a way that isn’t really nourishing our soul–is sad. Both […]
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