New Beginnings

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Who would have thought that 2018 would be here so quickly?  Forty years ago, I was seeped in the excitement of my upcoming Junior Prom, thirty years ago I was enjoying my new surroundings in Baltimore after relocating from New Jersey. Twenty years ago I met my fabulous wife and ten years ago I was experiencing the beginning of the Recession.   Certainly, there has been a huge amount of good times with smatterings of tough stuff. 

So here we are in 2018 and we all survived a difficult 2017 with constant news coverage about the new White House Administration, childish behaviors from public figures. and the revelation that it was time to interrupt harassment and abuse exposed through the #metoo movement.  Much of 2017 was stressful with an overload of negative information and many of us hanging our heads in the non-stop madness. 

It’s over, it’s 2018 and because of the pain we experienced in 2017, so many of us have experienced “aha moments” and made our voices heard.  Many more people, including myself, came forth with gusto to say, “NO MORE,” to marginalizing behaviors.  We gave voice to the repression that we have felt for decades.  We are seeing the results from our courageous voices with the constant firing of abusive leaders, change in corporate best practices and voting out politicians who are fanning the flames of hatred.  We still have a long way to go but the shift we saw from our push-back is inspiring. 

Don’t tell me that we can’t be who we are fully and don’t even try to bully us or hide behind tweets and emails to demean others.  Truth is you can hide but we know who and where you are and through our passionate voices, courage, and votes, we are taking our country back. 

I’m excited for 2018 because we have more strength and we are changing the conversation with wisdom and inspiration.  I feel empowered this year and while what we see out there is crazy making at times, I have my voice.  And I do see that my voice has the power to change what is not working. It is most impactful when my voice is in harmony with the millions of other voices out there who want positive change. 

Our slate is clean from 2017 and we get to set the stage for 2018.  It’s an exciting time and one where our new beginnings will make for a much more joyful year.    

Unpick Your Poison

The term “pick your poison” is often used when choosing a libation.  We have been conditioned to think alcoholic libations put smiles on our face, make us happy, funnier, and bond us to our tribes.  The concept does seem fun and serves a purpose… until it doesn’t.  If you are striving to excel in some aspect of your life, there is no possible way that over indulgence in any unhealthy form will put you on a path of success or fulfillment.  Some learn this early and for some it takes a little longer than others. 

We have so many poisons to choose from in our over stimulating world.  No longer is it just alcohol causing problems in our lives.  Layer on top of that food, caffeine, smart phones, sex, personal development……...and the list expands as your environment changes.  And notice I have on the list personal development which one would think is a positive thing.  When we hide out behind trainings, organized practices, and people while living a physically healthy life, are we avoiding what we need to face? 

The labels of what makes an addict goes on and on at nauseum.  Perhaps we are all addicts because we are breathing.  I don’t know. The fact that I sit here on a Sunday, a day of rest, typing away on my laptop; am I an addict?  Ooops, I reached for my cell phone when it made a noise; there goes my addictive behavior again.  And I gave up alcohol but have a chai latte most every day.  Walking past the Halloween candy and not grabbing for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup has me proud that I took my power back from that bad ole candy! Oh, that awesome candy! 

In 55 years on the planet and 27 years in business and still proudly in the game, I know what doesn’t serve me anymore and I can tell you that I drank the most when I was around people who were toxic frauds. I needed to tune out their noise or numb out what I knew I needed to do but wasn’t ready. When I cleaned out the poisonous people, the other stuff just kind of stopped.  There was no need to tune out or avoid.  Now, when a toxic person comes into my space, they have no more power.  I graciously shift away, or the universe seems to blanket me with white light and their shit roles off and washes away quickly. 

So, we all have poisons.  It’s up to the individual to decide what poison no longer serves, and sometimes we must do it on our own time and terms.  When you are standing back judging, take a good hard look in the mirror and get honest with yourself.  What are my poisons and what no longer serves my path?  Put a small one aside for a week and see how your life feels.  That minor change can bring you much joy and can propel you into other transformations. One thing we all can agree on is that we could all use more joy and abundant health in our lives.  Go ahead, unpick your poison.   

#metoo

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#MeToo

This hashtag message is showing up everywhere as the Harvey Weinstein scandal continues to unfold.  Women (and some men) are stepping forward and talking about our experiencies of harassment in all of its forms, by men.  The stories need to be told and we need to be heard.  Fortunately, we are no longer waiting for permission or approval.  We are baring our souls to release the secrets that we have been carrying for years. 

Harassment comes in many forms and as women, we are subjected to high levels of abuse way more than is reported and probably more than we think.  We have been dumbed down for years and pushed into the background by men who think they are superior.  I am grateful that I have been championed by many men throughout my career; men who valued my opinion, empowered me to reach beyond my comfort zone and supported me as I tapped into my courageous self.  I was and am respected.

My family system was my first exposure to marginalization. While the women in my family were strong and independent, my mother elevated the boys.  My mother never held me back from my dreams yet expectations along the way were different.  The boys were given cars when they turned 17, not me.  They came home whatever time they wanted, not me.  Their opinions were asked for and heard, not mine.  As I got older the inequities were more evident and I navigated through as best as I could with much discomfort.  Those experiences molded me to handle some of the challenges that came my way as a business owner.

As I have matured, when a man tries to bully me or my employees when doing business, I pick up the phone and interrupt the behavior.  I see how salary negotiations are different for women and some of my clients try to undercut women with compensation.  As soon as I sniff that nonsense, I stop it immediately. 

My blog is only conveying the surface of my #MeToo experiences.  Women still have to fight harder than men in business and it’s just not fair we have to keep digging into our reserves to break down doors and get our fair share.  Being a lesbian in a business world monopolized by men has caused me great pain.  But I am a warrior and though there are days that the fight makes me weary, I won’t tolerate bull shit from a disrespectful person regardless of sex & gender identity.  No matter our gender identity, we must all work on elevating ourselves to high moral standards that support and encourage others.  We must all name and interrupt abuse and oppression in all of its ugly forms in order to become a more healthy and equitable culture.

I have a great deal of faith that as all these scandals are coming to the surface, we are breaking glass ceilings.  We all want the glass to come crashing down and we were almost there in the 2016 election, but we have more work to do.  And we won’t stop.  Men who are abusing power, we are finding you and we are exposing you.  So, let this serve as a warning, knock it off!

 

You Mean All This Time We Could Have...

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Recently, I watched the FX series “Feud” about the famous volatile relationship between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis while they were filming “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” I’ve always been fascinated by the iconic Hollywood actresses of yesteryear and was glued to the screen.  As eight episodes unfold, we begin to understand the root of the tormented relationship caused by outside forces and driven by greed and ego sell movies. 

During the final scene of the last episode, the two actresses are left alone in a room, face-to-face to tell the truth.  In a vulnerable moment, they both share that they wish they could have treated each other differently.  Similarly, in the last scene of  “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” when a deep hidden truth is revealed that doused the flame of the tumultuous relationship, Bette Davis’ character Baby Jane turns to Joan Crawford’s Blanche and says, “You mean all this time we could have been friends?”

How much time and energy is wasted in our personal and workplace lives when we let issues sit without communication?  We often assume what another is thinking and create false narratives in our minds. This happens in business equally as it does in personal relationships.  When questions come up with clients, I always pick up the phone and follow up with an email asking a direct question for clarification.  When there is a missing piece of a business transaction, the puzzle is solved by the other party involved.  That sounds easy enough but why is it so hard for people to ask a direct question?  Do we like being in the dark or do we like staying in the conflict when solving the issue is only a direct question away?  Sounds like an easy formula to follow for a resolution,  but repeatedly in life we shy away from direct confrontation, even when that confrontation can deliver positive outcomes for everyone.

Assumptions destroy relationships, waste precious time and cost money, yet we continue to assume the days away.  It’s not worth letting life pass us by, and in business it will certainly make for smoother interactions if we ask the direct questions to get underneath the angst.  And the best part is that we can ask the questions with compassion rather then defensiveness.  So, try it this week.  If there is something that requires further clarification, even if you are 80% sure of the answer, ask the question.  You may find the answer to be different and the time you took to ask will save you hours of time and loads of money. 

You mean after all this time we could have had…peace of mind by asking a question?

Try it, your peace of mind is priceless!

Mind your Social Media

Over the past month, I have received emails and listened to opinions on Social Media etiquette around politics. As far as professionalism goes, everyone needs to be cognizant of what they post on social media. Through the election, I saw respected people posting anger filled comments, pictures showing how their opposing candidate should be harmed, and the list of venom goes on. I dropped many people off my Facebook feed because the postings were so toxic.

Now that the new administration is in place, we have choices. We can either support changes being put in place, continue to complain, or use our voices to speak up for fairness. Over the past eight years there were plenty of people not in favor of President Obama, but the vitriol that has been exchanged throughout the 2016 campaign, transition and day-to- day has caused me to change the channel each night, turn the page of the newspaper to get to the comics and generally close my ears. I am typically very informed, but these days I am cautious as to what type of news I engage with daily. The energy we expend trolling and posting on social media could be much better utilized to impact change in our communities. To be clear, my passion is for equality for all diverse groups, no bullying, healthy workplaces, protecting our environment, small business growth and giving the middle class the advantage. I proudly participated in the Women’s March because we need to be heard and receive the same respect and wages as men. PERIOD!

In my adult life, politics has been disappointing with each administration. We are faced with systems that become more dysfunctional with no end in sight. Regardless of the outcome of this election, the American citizens are still being overlooked. This time around, something inside my soul was activated that it is time to speak up more assertively for those who are not being treated fairly and take action on unfair practices in workplaces.

While I have intense passion for equality and fairness, what I post on social media is about optimism and awareness. We need less negativity and more empathy, listening and focus on commonalities. Let the chips fall where they may, let us do the right thing and act with fairness and compassion in everything we do. Those in Washington will continue to do what they do but we do not have to be held hostage by what the media puts out in front of us or what comes out of the mouth of a politician. We can choose to take control of the outcome and use our voice for positive change.

While you are finding where you best fit in this ever-changing political climate, just remember to "mind your social media" and put your best self forward, because people are watching.