Is it STILL a Man’s world?

suffragettes-300x227I had the worst time trying to fall asleep last night. The last conversation of my day was with Trusty Steed. I was telling him about my day at work – at my new job (which is awesome!) and how yesterday was particularly tough. I am being tested from a management perspective. The people I supervise are pushing limits to see where my threshold is.  I expected that. That isn’t a problem at all. I have no trouble expressing myself or my expectations. I explained about the issue I had with head office and how I dealt with it.

And Trusty Steed said – I am worried you may be shown the door because that would happen at my office.

WHAAAAAT????????????????

Apparently he works at an ‘old boys’ club where –  the generation gap exists and strong women are not strong but ‘pushy’ or ‘dragons’ and women are ‘just’ in the office typing pool.

WOW.

I thought it was 2013?

I was hired for my organizational skills, my people management skills and to create change. I am doing that. I have handled easy problems and terrible problems. I have protected staff from violent vagrant street people who have threatened them, I have managed issues from clients demanding unreasonable things and resort to name calling of my staff.

I cannot imagine trying to do my job where I need to be subservient. Impossible.

For one – I couldn’t work there. I am not a subservient kind of gal.

And two – what the hell is wrong with a world where women can’t portray themselves? I come from a very long line of strong women. They were strong when it was impossible for men to take them seriously. Yet they did it and changed the world.

I am teaching my daughter to be the same strong woman. Her brother thinks women ARE strong and his choice of companionship proves it.

At Christmas time, my daughter heard her Grand Uncle use a phase that was offensive to her. She asked him to please refrain from using it. He continued. So did she. She did it in a way that require no man to stick up for her. She was clear, concise and polite – some might say bold. I wouldn’t, because if a man said those words he is just expressing himself. She was too. I couldn’t have been more proud. At the age of 15, my daughter is strong. She is the type of person I appreciate and want to spend my time with. So that brings me back to my work place.

I work for men. However, it is not a male dominated work place. It is an equal opportunity one. Changes are happening to better serve the female clients who are the majority. My workplace understands they need a female perspective to better serve these clients. I disagree on that score. If people are treated equally – then there is no gender requirements. We are slowly achieving that perspective and I am happy to be apart of it.

The ‘Man’s World’ is on its way out. Sure there are still pockets of it all over Canada – but the up coming generation brings me great hope. They see a woman or a man in the same light. Someone who is capable because of skill, not gender.

Amen to that.

Why is International Women’s Day so Important?

International Women's Day (4 of 10)
International Women’s Day (4 of 10) (Photo credit: pdxjmorris)

In case you slept in this morning, let me be the first to share the news: Happy International Women’s Day!

If you are like me, then you must be wondering why we need a day to celebrate women. I gave this some serious thought.

I realize it was only 100 years ago that women (in western cultures) were not considered people under the law.

I realize that in my lifetime women’s professions went from housewife, nurse, teacher – to anything you want to be – ANYTHING.

I realize that equal pay for equal work is still not happening in many parts of North America – not to mention my city.

I realize that many women are still expected (and do) the bulk of the home stuff, cook, clean, raise kids, make the decisions, work full time and in many cases go to school as well. Although this is mostly a generational thing. It takes a long time to change attitudes.

I realize that many women have been prosecuted for their beliefs and strive hard for the opportunity to have what I take for granted.

I realize that women in other countries are still oppressed and do not get the choice of free will because they are still considered property.

I realized all of this last night when my 15 year old daughter came down to my office to talk to me about her days events. She has been visiting different schools around the city trying to make the right choice for her. I am the one who told her to look at the schools with an open mind and evaluate them on a set of criteria that she has created in her mind.

Now that she has visited the short-listed schools, last night was the time to decide.

Her list of must have for a school were the following:

  1. Excellent Music Program
  2. Great-excellent Drama Program
  3. Opportunities to try new things
  4. AP Math
  5. AP English
  6. An atmosphere where you feel welcome and a part of something bigger that can actually make a difference.

The first school she visited during the week actually offended her. She was angry by the time we had left. There were no welcoming gestures from staff or students and she had a sense that she would be alone yet working along side people rather than in a team atmosphere.

The second school had a great drama department and was welcoming but it didn’t feel to her there were the well rounded opportunities she was hoping for. She talked extensively to teachers and other students and thought – maybe. The location was great and many of her friends had decided this was the place for them, but she wasn’t sold.

After last night’s visit to the last school on the list, she sat down at my desk and looked at me like she was very concerned. I asked her to tell me her thoughts. Her first concern was finding the time to do all the things she wanted to at this school. She was quite sure she couldn’t be on the Cheer Squad AND drama and music. There was no time for guitar class if she was taking photography. The opportunity for learning (yet another instrument – she plays keyboard, guitar, percussion and ukulele) was available if she took Jazz Band. She expressed the desire to play the upright Base. That was 3 separate music classes plus all the other classes she wanted to take. Not to mention the AP courses for core classes. Then there was the different sciences she is interest in like forensic, bio and chem. SHe loved the way the students told her the school wasn’t full of cliques and everyone intermingled and was supportive of each other.

I looked at her and thought she has decided which school she is going to. Then I thought about her grandma’s options and realized this is why we celebrate International Woman’s day.

The achievements from past women are significant – not because of lack of intelligence, but because of opportunity. It does not occur to my daughter that she is not capable of doing any of these activities. It does not occur to her that she wouldn’t be permitted on the basis of gender. She becomes indignant when she hears no on the basis that she is a girl and will argue with intelligent information to make her point. She does realize time is a factor and the ability to keep her marks up are important to HER. Her plans for the future are huge and she doesn’t want to limit her options.

She has OPTIONS. She has more options than I had. More importantly, she has more options than I was aware of.

I’d like to take a moment to thank all the women of the past who forged a path so significant, they changed my daughters world. I am eternally grateful and I can only imagine the good things ahead for future generations.

It is all about the Journey

I received an email that is circulating called 45 lessons life taught me. According to the email it was written by Regina Brett, age 90. This seems to be confused with Regina Brett, not 90, author and Pulitzer Prize finalist. She is just as inspirational…because she is the same gal. Her nifty stuff is found here.  Regina Brett, age 90 was scoped out on Snopes.com and was found to be correctly attributed, here is snopes proof. However, the age thing is wrong. They are the SAME person. Regina Brett wrote an interesting blog post about the whole internet rumor about being 90 and how she came up with the lessons. Regardless of the confusing stories, it is an inspirational list and I encourage you to read it. There are quite a few lessons on the list I have already learned the hard way since becoming The Edmonton Tourist. Looking at the entire list, #13 stands out as the most recent lesson learned. It has happened to me countless times and I have done it to others plenty. Now I have seen both sides of the fence. Sure it took me forever to get this lesson,, better late than never – right?

#13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is about.

This is so true. It is hurtful when someone thinks they know exactly what you are going through and think they know how to judge or fix it. It also is painful when some one expects you to be more than you are capable of and let them down. It all boils down to perception. It’s hard to know what another person is going through until you walk in their shoes. Empathy is a hard thing to understand.

It is not a secret that I work with children and their families that immigrate here from other countries or are refugees from war torn places. The importance of empathy and using perception in such a way that can strengthen our relationship instead of divide us further is crucial. In an effort to understand better, I watched Gandhi for the first time on Boxing Day. I can hear you all now…no I didn’t live in a box, yes I am well read, but could be better, no I have not seen every classic movie, but I am closing in. It was a hard choice for me to watch it since the World Jr. Hockey Tourny was going on here in Edmonton. Yet Something compelled me to watch it.

I wanted to know more about the man who tried to live a peaceful existence, I wanted to know more about the conflict between Pakistan and India since these are the families I mostly work with, and I wanted to challenge my mind and I wanted to perceive their situation with THEIR eyes, not mine. So Gandhi it was.

There was a point during the movie ( I am not issuing a spoiler alert because this movie was based on historical fact) where Gandhi held his wife’s hand as she lay dying. He looked up and smiled at the people who surrounded him and without a spoken word, they knew they should leave. Perception and awareness was present in the room. This gave me pause.

I am struggling right now with a relationship with a friend who I love very much. I care and worry about her situation and yet her perception and awareness of my actions has cause significant strife between us.  My problem is I get too deep and don’t realize it until I am drowning. This may be because I just want to help or I care too much. I need to tune into my feelings as well, I must be aware of hers and finding the balance is problematic for me. I have done this a million different ways with people I care about. I have felt abandoned by family because their perception of my situation was incorrect. Harsh words fly back and forth because of hurt feelings. When the reality is, we hurt because we love each other very much. There is just a lack of understanding.

A wise woman said to me, “Boundaries are important. You can’t be available for every crisis. Pick and Choose.” My Perception of the problem may not be the problem after all.  Perception and Awareness is a problem within my family as well. If we just took a moment and practiced empathy I think many problems would be solved. My New Years Wish for us is to have a greater awareness of each other’s feelings. I’m not sure that will happen but I can do my part. Not engaging in sides, not contributing to strife and offer kindness will be what I continue to do. I need to help where I am able and let the rest go. I am not the person to fix all the problems of the world. I can only start with me.

Unlike Gandhi, I have no idea what my role is in my life, but I do know by moving forward and being kind is the biggest gift I can give to my friends and family, then I can keep doing that. It may not be enough, but I am only one person doing the best she can. I need to remember that being kind is NOT fixing a problem, it is being kind. No need to fix anything. Some things are not my lesson to learn.

#13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is about

is very true. I think I need this tattooed on my arm so I can be in a constant state of mindfulness when it comes to this statement. It’s true I don’t fully grasp your journey and you can’t possible grasp mine either. We need to be mindful of that and focus on our OWN lessons to be learned.

Dead or Alive, Who Would You Invite to Dinner?

I am home today dying from the plague. I am in good company. Due to the fact it is a pandemic, I have friends across the city who have it too. In fact, I have family in PEI who claim to have it. You know what they say, misery loves company.

There is something so restful about being home alone, with nothing to do but feel better. I love the fact that I have total control over the TV and watch stuff that my family would call BORING – I call it intellectual.

Yesterday my great friend Chicken Hawk posted this on my fb wall:

When I read this I actually snorted. It’s one off those “funny because it’s true” moments. But what does that really say about me? I have had all morning to ponder this.

It is not that I don’t play well with others, I think the reality is I don’t RELATE well to others. I try to be empathetic and kind, but not really understanding the situation – leaves me at a bit of a loss. I suppose I have a set of standards and file people into the 3 different categories.

  1. You and I see eye to eye, therefore we connect and I consider you a kindred spirit.
  2. What the hell are you thinking? I don’t get you. Therefore I will be polite and friendly, please do not expect more from me than that because you will be disappointed.
  3. I think I can persuade you into thinking like me. Let me explain…. Then I convince them the errors of their ways and suddenly they are in my camp.

I am pretty sure all people do this except for those enlightened beings like Mother Teresa, Budha, Chatterbox, Gandhi, and Yoda. Enlightened beings let go of ego and are kind, wise, compassionate and loving. I think the rest of us strive to be like that but strive is the best we are able to do at this moment in time.

While I was laying around dying from the plague, I watched Midnight in Paris. It was about a man who happened to be a writer who was not satisfied with his life and longed to live in the golden era of the 1920’s in Paris. He wanted to be a part of the the arts movement with the great masters of the 20th century. Seriously, who doesn’t want to hang out with Hemingway when he was young and brilliant? Or Picasso while he was exploring his talents? To be able to sit in a cafe in Paris and discuss interesting theories or talk about inspiration. This interested me greatly!

It had me thinking about who I would invite to dinner in a cafe in Paris. Here is my list:

  1. Pablo Picasso
  2. Henry Matisse
  3. Katherine Hepburn
  4. Charlie Chaplin
  5. George Harrison
  6. Winston Churchill
  7. Albert Einstein
  8. Martin Luther King
  9. Emily Murphy
  10. Warren Buffet
  11. Ernest Hemingway
  12. Steven Hawking

Interestingly enough these people, who are in my opinion,  were/are great genius or brilliant in their field. I bet you anything, the average person saw them as jerks or big inflated egos or failed to see their brilliance at first. All 12 of those people on my list had a passion or a vision. They knew they were right. They could clearly see what others could not. This is what is impressive. They were not held back by their co-worker or classmate saying “THAT will never work, what are you thinking?” On the contrary, they heard those voices trying to hold them back and still moved forward.

As I look around at the crazy people of the 21st Century, I wonder who will stand out in 100 years from now. It will be those people who are told they are crazy and their ideas won’t work. It will be those people who don’t conform to the norm and strive for something better than status quo. This has answered a question I had burning in my head for a while now.

I have the opportunity to work on a project that I have no passion for. It serves a purpose of legacy to the agency where I work and it suppose to bring great satisfaction to my work as a whole. It is doing none of those. It would be me working on something that is expected of me, or something that others are interested in. I need to find a project that carries my passion. Passion is what makes things fun and exciting for me. My kids were talking to me about their impending career paths. They told me what other expect of them. I told them to disregard other’s opinions. They main two reasons for a chosen career path must be passion and ethics. Are you passionate and believe in what you are doing? Does it excite you at the thought of doing it every day? Is it ethical? Does it play a part in the greater good by bringing joy, comfort or necessity out of life? Then do it. If it doesn’t, then find something else that will. That is the way you make a difference.

There, I answered my own question. I am not going to do that project. I have all the time in the world to find something that I feel passionate about and believe in.

So…Who is on your list for the dinner party of the 20th century?

For Sale: Ocean View Home – but which Ocean?

I live in this great fantasy world where I have an infinite amount of money and can go live where ever I want. On the news tonight the local couple who won 10 million dollars said “we play that game of “what if” we won 50 million. But once you really have it, it’s a different story” I think they are lying. They are just “saying that” for the cameras. I think winning 50 million dollars would be a big boost to my spiritual tourism quest.

So lets play What would you do with  $50,000,000.00? ( I use to play the $1,000,000.00 game but that isn’t very much any more – not that it would hurt my feelings to win that much, just so you know in case you wish to give me that much)

What the Edmonton Tourist would do if she won $50 million:

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  1. Round the World Disney Style! All 5 resorts and a cruise for good measure. Plus Adventures by Disney Hollywood tour. I know my friends would think that would cure me for all time, but it would just fuel the fire!
  2. Buy a house on some beach looking at some ocean. But I want a good deal. AND I want it inconvenient enough that crazy “relatives” that I don’t know won’t come looking for me. AND by “ocean” I don’t mean Arctic or Antarctic.
  3. Shoes. I want the same or better shoe collection that my sister has. She has fab shoes but I want Choo’s and lots of them. And not one of then can have steel toes. AND I will buy her a pair.
  4. A Car with Electric Windows and Heated Seats . I have spent years building up the muscles in my index finger so I can lock my door manually. I don’t regret it, my finger has a very nice physique now and it looks great in jewelry. All that hard work paid off. But my finger now gets plenty of exercise typing, so maybe it’s time for an upgrade.
  5. Art. I want to go to the City Art Walk and buy what moves me. I want to show the artist that I love their work. Not just tell them. AND by “Art” I don’t mean barbed wire coiled on a spool.
  6. Season Tickets to the Edmonton Oilers. Laugh if you must, I bleed copper. I always have and always will. One day we will make the playoffs again and I want to be there. AND by “being there” I mean Club Seats.
  7. Quit my job. You will not hear me say in the lotto ticket interview “No, I am still going to go to work everyday, because I love being a Tupperware Lady”.AND by  “Tupperware Lady” I mean my real job. But I will volunteer weekly at a Head Start, and put my name on the list to rock babies at the NICU.
  8. Give Steve Jobs more money. I want a Mac and I want one bad.
  9. I want to set up a scholarship fund for Head Start kids. I would love to see those kids get a degree.
  10. Eat at Melting  Pot, I hear it’s great.AND by “great” I mean yummy.
  11. This is the part that I am supposed to say that I would share it with my family, friends and loved ones. The kicker part is, I don’t expect you to share with me because I am your relative. I don’t want you to give me money out of obligation. Of Course I know you feel the same way. I do understand that you will be mad at me and will never speak to me again. AND by “speak to me” I mean email. But if you attend parties in my home or go on picnics with me, you are in a different category. AND by “different” I mean I love you and want to share it all with you.

Okay, your turn.