The Problem with Women’s Day / Week / Month

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. Which is great and I’m glad that there are certain days, weeks, and months dedicated to recognizing different marginalized groups, including women. But I can’t help but think that there’s something really off about the fact that women are basically half of the world’s population and we get one day out of 365 days in the year, one month out of twelve.

As if the rest of the year is “regular” and for men, right?

Frankly, the more I think about it the more riled up I get. So I decided to dig into the history of it a little to educate myself. In a nutshell, IWD grew out of the Socialist movement and labor and protests for equal rights for women in the early 1900s and later became an established holiday around the world. Although in some countries, like Russia, it’s an actual national holiday that people get off from work, in many other countries, like the US, it’s still kind of fringe and many (probably most) women can’t make it to IWD demonstrations or actions because they, of course, have to work.

Photo credit: International Women’s Day 2018.

Photo credit: International Women’s Day 2018.

Which brings me to what really frustrates me about these kinds of holidays and “heritage months:” the fact that they feel so tokenizing and, honestly, insulting. Okay, so, officially, we acknowledge that there’s one day out of the year dedicated to recognizing women around the world, celebrating their achievements worldwide (I’m not even sure how one does that), and calling for gender equity.

But what does that actually get us?

I suppose the real crux of it is this, if I may be so bold: what women need – especially women of color, especially Native and indigenous women, especially immigrant women, especially poor and working poor women – is not just a holiday or a history month, but actual, tangible, concrete change. In the form of equal pay. In the form of equal representation in positions of power. In the form of freedom from harassment and discrimination. In the form of equal access to opportunities to pursue the work and create the lives that they want.

In other words, more money, more power, more autonomy, and more respect.

It’s 2019. Is that so much to ask?

Photo by  T. Chick McClure  on  Unsplash .

Alright, if I stop ranting for a second and get practical, let’s talk about some actual things that we can do to incorporate all the good things about IWD and Women’s History Month into the rest of the year. Off the top of my head, I’d suggest:

  • advocating for a woman to get paid more at her job (this woman can be yourself)

  • if you employ women, being sure to be a sponsor or a champion of them so that they can be promoted and given raises at least as often as their male counterparts

  • validating a woman in her opinion, lived experience, and aspirations

  • asking a woman what she needs, what she wants, and how you can help

  • getting out of a woman’s way both physically and metaphorically (listen to the podcast in the March edition of The Trajectory for more on this)

  • not cutting women off when they’re talking (this applies to men and other women!)

  • making sure women get credit for their ideas

  • protecting women from being stuck with all of the “low-level,” “unskilled,” and underpaid work

It’s important to note that these things can really take place on any day of the year.

Which ones do you want to integrate into your life?

Also, I thought of these ideas in under five minutes. There are many more. What ideas do you want to add?

On the Beauty of Writing Things Down

For those of you who know me, I’m a huge fan of writing things down. Mostly because I get overly stressed out when I have to keep too many things in my head! It’s like juggling, right? I know I’m gonna drop something! Also, since most of my writing nowadays is done on the computer or phone, I do savor the chance to write things down on paper.

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I’m also a huge fan of planning things out strategically. Without a plan, I just feel lost and directionless. And I’m much less likely to be productive. Which then makes me feel worse because I am definitely one of those people who gets an adrenaline rush from productivity and crossing things off lists.

Speaking of which, every morning, I start my day by writing down a simple to do list (one much like the one I share in my Weekly Scheduling Packet. If I’m doing particularly well, I’ll even write this list the night before! But usually I create it in the morning, which helps focus me before I do my meditation and get my day started.

Image courtesy of  The Content Planner .

Image courtesy of The Content Planner.

Recently, I was super excited to win my first Instagram giveaway! While I’ve now run a few giveaways myself, I had never won one, so I felt pretty special. Even better, and relevant to this post ;-) the prize was a sleek, beautiful Content Planner that I can use for planning out my Instagram posts! Up till now, I had really only been planning things out from week to week, which is really not sufficient for some of the bigger goals of having a social media account for my business.

So now I get to plan things out as far in advance as I want, all while literally seeing the bigger picture, and get all the benefits of writing things out by hand! If you want to see what difference it makes for my IG account, go ahead and check it out here! And click on over to thecontentplanner.com if you want to check that out!

Writing and planning are my go-to’s for keeping myself sane in a busy line of work – what are yours?

Parallel Learning: Anger + Magic + Action

I love parallel learning. This is a term I use to refer to learning the same concepts in different ways – by reading, by listening, by watching, by firsthand experience. I’m a nerd, so I love when I learn something one way and then happen to absorb the same lesson (or a related one) in another way, in a completely different context. I love how it deepens my learning – like adding another layer to a foundation – and makes things feel so much more…solid.

Photo by  Peter Forster  on  Unsplash .

Photo by Peter Forster on Unsplash.

For me, 2019 has been full of parallel learning so far. I’m taking it as a sign that my life, work, and purpose are lining up more and more – like some kind of cosmic convergence.

Much of my parallel learning this year has centered around systemic oppression and anger. In a way, it feels like a natural component of my work with Embrace Change, an organic progression in the work of the last year or two. But the last few weeks have really distilled things down for me.

Photo credit: CreativeSoul Photography; Design credit: Lauren Panepinto.

Photo credit: CreativeSoul Photography; Design credit: Lauren Panepinto.

Layer 1. I’ve been reading a fantastic book, How Long ’Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin, for the book club I’m in. It’s a set of mind-bending, super inventive and extremely thoughtful short stories in the sci-fi, fantasy genre. I highly recommend it. 

Layer 2. With Jemisin’s stories about power, race, destruction, and sacrifice as a backdrop, I then attended a sold-out event called The Furies: Women’s Rage, Women’s Power with Dr. Brittany Cooper, Rebecca Traister, and Irin Carmon. It was a gloriously potent combination – sitting there and listening to these badass thought leaders, with the stories from How Long ’Til Black Future Month floating around the back of my mind. I felt like I left that auditorium a slightly different person – no exaggeration. I was armed with a new critical lens; the discussion that evening helped me zero in with laser focus on the purpose behind my work coaching womxn of color.

Photo credit: Cynthia Pong.

Photo credit: Cynthia Pong.

Here are two of the lessons that stuck with me from that night. One: the double standard when it comes to anger. Anger aimed down, from the powerful to the powerless, is considered condoned, reflecting the “normal,” natural order of things.

Anger and outrage aimed up, from the oppressed to the oppressors, is condemned and actively suppressed, as it’s a direct threat to the status quo and existing power structures.

At the same time, anger is an important barometer in the lives of POC, WOC, and other marginalized folks because it signals to us that something is being wrongfully taken away from us – often, at its core, that something is a piece of our humanity or dignity.

Photo by  raquel raclette  on  Unsplash .

Two. I keep thinking about something Dr. Cooper said, which is (and I’m paraphrasing here, as I didn’t have the foresight to bring a notebook and pen to take notes, like some of the more brilliant audience members) that if we really believe in equity, then we, womxn, must examine our opinions, beliefs, and internalized oppression extremely closely whenever our decisions end up favoring a white man over a womxn.

Powerful stuff.

Photo credit: Deun Ivory.

Photo credit: Deun Ivory.

Layer 3. I had been reading an issue of Good Company magazine and had a gleeful lightbulb moment when I realized that every single person featured in that magazine – whether in an article or a photograph – was a womxn, nonbinary, or a person of color! There were even two Native American womxn featured in one issue!! It was a beautiful, magical, new experience for me that really highlighted how impactful representation really is (and how low the bar is for equitable representation in media).

Layer 4: my latest podcast obsession and this month’s featured podcast, Battle Tactics for Your Sexist Workplace (BTSW) with Eula Scott Bynoe and Jeanie Yandel. It takes the anger and outrage from Layers 1 and 2 (and the lack of visible representation from Layer 3) and takes them to the next level: ACTION.

Where the magic happens.

Battle Tactics for Your Sexist Workplace.

Battle Tactics for Your Sexist Workplace.

The BTSW episode that I highlighted in my February newsletter is the episode about Imposter Syndrome. I chose it because I think it’ll resonate with a lot of my clients and workshop participants. But it was a difficult decision because I’ve binged many of the BTSW episodes now and I can honestly say that they are consistently full of quality advice that I would give – and have given – to clients and other womxn of color. In fact, one of the battle tactics at the end of the Imposter Syndrome episode is a version of one of my strategies from Stop Settling in Your Career!

Listening to BTSW is a direct parallel to my mission – arming womxn and WOCs with strategies to resist and challenge the white patriarchy that pervades all workplaces.

Photo credit:  Real Bro  w  n Girls .

Photo credit: Real Brown Girls.

Last, but not least: Layer 5. I’ve been thinking about the record number of womxn of color recently sworn into Congress. That’s something that feels magical too. It’s something that definitely grew out of a lot of collective anger. But now, I think about two theories from Layers 2 and 4 of what will happen to this cohort of WOCs in Congress. From BTSW, we have the theory that womxn are only allowed in to major leadership positions to clean up a mess. Afterwards, they’ll only get blamed for the continued mess. From the Women’s Rage event, we have a theory that these womxn will successfully clean up the mess, but will then be disposed of (sooner or later) so that the white patriarchy can be reinstated. Which makes me think back to my clients and all womxn of color who have lofty career goals.

I know these theories may seem overly cynical. And while I absolutely believe that they could predict our future, it doesn’t mean that I’ll approach my work with any less zeal, fervor, or optimism.

Because all of this parallel learning has left me with two lingering questions that keep echoing around in my head:

How do we transform the anger from the past and the present into action to co-create a more equitable future? And, how long, indeed, ’til Black / Indigenous / Latinx / Asian / Womxn / LGBT+ Future Months?

5 Ways to Make a Fresh Start

Photo by  Markus Spiske  on  Unsplash .

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

The shift from one calendar year to another can bring up lots of feelings – some useful, others less so. Regardless of how you feel about the beginning of a new year, we can all use this time as an opportunity to reset, rejuvenate, and redefine ourselves with some fresh starts.

Below are 5 areas in which we can give ourselves a clean slate and/or a boost in the new year. What’s important about these is that they’re all foundational to any kind of big change you might be working on in terms of your career (career change, negotiating something big). If you’ve got your foundational pillars in place and standing strong, then you’ll be in a much better position to weather any work-related adversity that might come your way. 

Photo by  JJ Ying  on  Unsplash .

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash.

5 tips to energize your January
(I do NOT recommend trying to do all of these at once!)

1. Time. Revisit your commitments. It’s a new year: a great time to make sure the things you’ve been doing – the activities and commitments you give your time and energy to – continue to serve you. Use my Time Charter worksheet to help you with this!

2. Time Off. Make sure your next vacation is on the books. I just learned that more frequent, shorter vacations do more for our relaxation and fight against burnout than big, long vacations. Check out this 60-second video post by Adam Grant, organizational psychologist for more on this. So pick the date for your next getaway – preferably something before 3/31! And block off 30 minutes to an hour in the next week to do some vacation research and planning.

Photo by  Dino Reichmuth  on  Unsplash .

3. Environment. Rearrange your space. Whether it’s at work or at home, get some new energy from a new arrangement of your existing furniture and/or replace some worn items with upgrades (which don’t have to be anything expensive or fancy or even cost a cent!). Maybe you can change the direction that your desk or work station faces. Or swap out curtains from one room to another. Or change up the lighting. There are tons of ways to resourcefully create a new feel to your living or work space!

4. Finances. Deepen your understanding of your financials. If you haven’t done a deep-dive into your finances (in the last six months or ever), schedule an afternoon on a day off to devote to this. If you’re already on top of your finances and budgeting, spend a few hours strategizing around how you can put your money to better and more meaningful use – whether it’s changing how you invest, making sure you’re investing in ethical causes, or finding ways to channel that money into worthy causes.

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash .

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

5. Personal Growth. Learn a new skill. The key is to choose one thing to learn and actually make plans to learn it. Maybe it’s a new physical activity, like dance or rock climbing or mixed martial arts. Maybe it’s a creative activity, like taking a pottery class or joining a writing group or signing up for some painting classes. Whatever you’re called to learn – whether it’s been on your wish list for years or is a new addition – what’s one thing you can do today to establish the accountability you need to follow through with it?

Photo by  Kinga Cichewicz  on  Unsplash .

That’s all for this month – let me know which fresh start you choose!
Happy new year!