It's Friday, it's summer time. You don't want to read a long blog post. For this reason today's post is all about sending you out with some positive energy and something to inspire you to enjoy all that comes your way this weekend.
This is Otis. he is my nephew and basically m favorite person in the whole world. You could have probably guessed that already. Recently, I had the opportunity to go to breakfast with this little nugget and the pure excitement he expressed when his food came out and was put in front of him made my whole week.
It wasn't just that he was enjoying his food. I mean that is great and clearly he takes after his aunt just a bit. The truth is, watching him scarf down those eggs and seeing his facial expressions reminded me of something I think we often forget.
joy in the moment
As an adult, it seems as if we forget to enjoy moments. We are so caught up in what is next and making sure we "stay connected" via the variety of social media networks that we say connect us but really just keep our head down and eyes on a screen rather than connecting directly with someone. Because of this, it is often not until a moment is long gone and we go back to the idea of reminiscing that we remember the joy we actually had in the moment.
The problem with this may not seem obvious at first but when we remember the joy, it isn't the same as experiencing and recognizing the joy in the moment. It is more removed, sedated. It would be easy to skip moments this way, to forget how truly delicious something is, how hysterical your wacky relative is or how amazing a sunset might be and that would be a shame indeed.
So, as you head out this weekend, I wish you the joy of scrambled eggs in the morning, or something equally as simple and decadent and I hope you take a moment to live there and savor it.
Unless you are currently living under a rock you know that the Olympics are under way. While we should be reveling in the athletic accomplishments of amateur and professional athletes the world over, the attention instead has been the most ridiculous stuff.
body shaming & gender
I grew up in love with the Olympics. It has always been one of my favorite things ever. It represents so many wonderful things. Countries who may not agree on politics, religion or general world views come together in peace to compete. Each time the Olympics roll around we get to see and hear the most inspiring stories of grit, determination and the ability to overcome obstacles. It is empowering, inspiring and intensely riveting.
Sadly, this year, social media bullies are taking all of that away.
Instead of celebrating the achievement of these athletes and the hard work that got them to the pinnacle of sport gets shoved aside and instead we mock them and belittle what got them there in the first place.
are you kidding me?
Here are a few examples of the body shaming that has occurred in just this first week of competition.
Let's talk about Alexa Moreno. She is a 22 year old gymnast ranked 31st out of 54,866 gymnastic individual all around. She is ranked 12th in the world in her signature event, the vault. She has won medals in the Pan American Championships, Pacific Rim Games and more. She even finished 7th in vault at the 2014 World Championships. She competes for Mexico, a country not typically associated with gymnastics. Oh and by the way she is 4'11" and 99 pounds. I would never have told you this except for the fact that we are now body shaming people under 100 pounds. The whole concept of shaming an athlete near the top of their game is ridiculous in and of itself but shaming one under 100 pounds and implying that they are a "pig"? I am at a loss.
Here's the thing. We have all seen someone in person or even someone on television and thought to ourselves "did they gain weight" or "man they lost a ton of weight" or even "they look kind of strange to me". Anyone who says they haven't done that before is lying. Plain and simple.
That being said, with the democratization of social media, the things we once said in the privacy of our living room are being shared on a global forum.
is it really that big of a deal?
Yes, it is. Social media creates the opportunity to turn a random observation into a weapon. People don't stop at asking a simple question, they beat the concept to death and suddenly something seemingly innocent turns into body shaming and worse still bullying. It also changes our perception of reality.
"and in a shocking turn of events, this body shaming has now gone cross gender.
It almost looked like this body shaming had crossed genders and it kind of did but the shaming was different. Robel Habte has been called the "Tubby Ethiopian Swimmer" or Robel "the whale". While Robel faced quite a bit of his own body shaming online after coming in dead last in his swimming heat in Rio there were also people who cheered him on as having a "dad bod" and being relateable.
Yes, both experienced body shaming. Yes, they were not the only ones. Yes this is ridiculous.
These people made it to the OLYMPICS. There are only so many medals to go around, some people don't win. Some people don't look like our idea of a typical athlete, that doesn't mean they aren't.
Bill Bowerman used to say "If you have a body, you are an athlete". This sentiment is what makes sports such a big deal. Because we can all do it. Okay, so we can't all do it well. Trust me, while I dream of standing on a podium, I basically trip trying to tie my shoes on the way to a race.
Because we have tried though, we can put ourselves in these athletes shoes and we appreciate the effort and work it takes for someone to do it at such a level. So why then do we insist on tearing these people down who have reached the pinnacle.
Who cares what they look like, they are pushing the limits of what the human body can do and for that we should be cheering them on and celebrating the bodies that got them where they are just as they are.
It's a bonus post day and for good reason.
On this day in 1920, our lives as women in America were forever changed thanks to some extremely courageous, intelligent and strong-willed women. Some think the fight stopped there. It did NOT. Equal rights for women is still a topic that needs courageous, intelligent and strong-willed women to pick up the flag and demand change. We are not paid equally, we are not educated equally, our opportunities are not equal, our rights are often decided for us.
So, like these amazing feminist women before me.
i am a feminist.
I believe wholeheartedly that we should all be feminist (women AND men). This isn't about bra burning and being angry, it is about giving all people access to equal opportunities, and an equal access to have their voice be heard. First step to this is to take what these women fought so hard to give us...a voice, and USE IT. So #vote#speak #demandmore It is a new wave of feminism folks, and it is global because we should care about women everywhere.
For more information on the long struggle for voting rights that women fought for in our country and the details of the 19th amendment that was ratified on this day in 1920...
check out the National Archives.
Know your history and don't let it be in vain.
It's time to get on board.
Excuse my language in the title of this post but is there really any other way to describe Serena Williams?
uh, no there isn't
Recently, after winning the Wimbledon semi-finals in July, Serena Williams was interviewed at a press conference. During which gender came into the dialog, as it often does. One question asked, if she felt it was fair for women to get paid the same as men, if the matches were shorter....So you earn less for being better?
uh, what? no.
I wish I could say it ended there, it didn't. Here is the question that many have been talking about ever since. One, because it was dumb, two because, well Serena schooled the reporter in the most polite and yes bad ass way ever.
"There will be talk of you going down as one of the greatest female athletes of all time. What do you think when you hear something like that?"
Serena, never one to back away from the conversation of gender in sport responded quickly as if there wasn't even a question how she should respond which makes sense when you are the best of the best.
"I prefer the word 'one of the greatest athletes' of all time."
uh, yeah because you are a bad ass, Serena
Then, this week another reporter was talking to 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist, Andy Murray when a reporter, John Inverdale asked the following:
"You're the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals. That's an extraordinary feat, isn't it?"
"Umm," Murray said. "Well."
He was indeed the first modern tennis player to successfully defend the singles title at the Olympics, he noted.
But "I think Venus and Serena have won about four [gold medals] each,"
uh, now I kinda heart Andy Murray
I am not quite sure why it seems so hard for people in the media to give female athletes credit for their successes. It isn't just Serena who experiences this either.
Check out this headline that was tweeted out as an example of how we treat athletes different based on their gender.
I realize that not everybody sees this as an issue. When I brought the subject up around some friends and co-workers (outside of the sports industry) the response was less enthusiastic. Few people said anything negative but many questioned why it matters.
It matters because it isn't just the media attention or respect that is unbalanced. It is also the pay. While you may not directly care about how much one super star athlete gets paid vs. the next, it trickles down.
It is widely known that female athletes do not get paid at the same level of their male counterparts.
In almost every single sport women earn considerably less than their male counterparts. Women are supplementing this lack of equal pay with endorsement deals which is misleading when you just compare total salaries against their male counterparts, if you take endorsements the gap in pay is much larger.
so, why do people get paid what they do? Arguments for the gap include; overall fan base, game attendance, tv endorsement deals and in general the amount of money generated by the sport. That doesn't tell the whole story though, as many female sports haven't been given the same options and support in the way of promotion etc.
So why focus on sports, when we know that on average women as a whole make somewhere on average of 72 cents to every dollar a man makes in this country?
Exposure & Transparency
Plain and simple. The women fighting for equality at these higher dollar levels brings about exposure to the overall issue of a gender bias and the gender pay gap. This is an important part of the process for change.
In less exposed industries, like a call center for example, the worker is less likely to know for sure what her counterpart make vs. herself and even if they do find out many companies attempt to say that it is illegal or against the rules to discuss salary among your peers and people fear retribution for rocking the boat. Serena isn't worried about rocking the boat. Tennis doesn't want to lose her. Say what you will but what she has done to elevate the sport of tennis in viewership, endorsement and pure love of the game, has probably generated more revenue to the actual sport than any other athlete in recent memory.
It is easier to ignore the call center operator, but you aren't ignoring Serena Williams.
How can Serena Help Us?
In a world where there is still a long way to go regarding gender and the gender pay gap there are signs of progress.,.well kind of. For starters most women in today's world make more than women have ever made in the past. We make more than our mothers and our grandmothers. Slightly misleading since many of our mothers and grandmothers didn't actually work but it still is important to note. Women account for 80% of all buying decisions in this country. Important to note for a number of reasons:
we are more educated than ever - not just in general but with regards to our finances
We have the majority stake and say in family buying decision - as the caretakers for children, and family members, we are calling the shots in every day life.
It's time we get the respect we deserve for that and if Serena, women like her and even awesome men like Andy Murray continue to point out the discrepancies and demand better it helps us all.
Further proof of Serena's bad-assness....this little girl here...
For more information on the gender pay gap in sports, check out the infographic below:
I know I usually speak about girls and women but the truth is I speak about gender as whole. Often times it is specific to marketing and how to understand gender better in an effort to provide products and services that meet their needs. Other times however it is about the way in which we tear down people based on stereotypes and expectations tied to gender.
One of the most common ways this occurs in our every day life is in how we genderize emotion. Since who knows when we have taught children that boys don't cry, only girls do. We tell boys they need to be tough and girls they need to be sweet. This seemingly harmless act has pretty big repercussions.
I recently came across this fantastic video from a martial arts school in Detroit. At this school, the instructors focus on teaching and celebrating boys and their fathers by allowing them to be strong and vulnerable. There is a focus on allowing these families to express their emotions as boys and men and teaching the strength that resides there.
What a wonderful way to allow boys and their fathers to express emotion other than anger. This permission seems small but he reality is that expressing all types of emotion keeps people healthy. Typically we tell boys not to cry but allow them to express anger and then wonder why they grow up unable to express other emotions. We teach them that being sad is weak, all while allowing girls to express sadness and wonder why women are seen as weak.
The idea that we place a gender on an emotion makes no sense really. Emotions don't differ by gender. We all get sad, happy, mad, embarrassed etc. It is how we are taught to deal with and express these emotions that becomes genderized by our culture.
As I researched the topic I found a great article from The Washington Post called "Why it's good to let boys cry". One especially interesting part was a direct quote from a book, here is what the article said...
The moral to this story is that allowing our boys to cry and teaching them that it is a sign of strength not weakness helps to build men who can express emotion, share intimacy and express themselves in healthy ways. Don't we owe our men that opportunity?
It's time we start building strong healthy people.
I have been staring at a blank screen for a few hours now. On a number of occasions i have written a sentence or a paragraph only to hit the backspace button while taking a deep exasperated breath. Such is the journey of writer's block.
writer's block sucks
it sucks even more when you are trying to remain consistent with a blog. I decided not to erase the last paragraph but of course then I was stuck again. So I decided to research writers block. During my research I found a pretty cool article about the different types of writer's block called "The 10 Types of Writers Block (and How to Overcome Them)".
Maybe I won't find anything to write about but at least I might be able to figure out why. Instantly, I recognized my issue...Number 2 on the list "You have a Ton of Ideas but Can't Commit to Any of them and They Peter Out".
story of my life
When you write a blog, you write each entry separately. On the left side of my screen is a list of all of my blog posts and at least 1/3 of them are started but unfinished blog posts on a variety of different topics. The idea is not the problem. It's just once I start writing, often times the thought doesn't fully come together in a way that wouldn't be utterly embarrassing for you to read, so I leave it there and hope that I can come back later and turn it into something that doesn't suck.
So I read this article in the hope that it would tell me what to do. Guess what? It didn't. It basically told me told me what I am already doing. Apparently I am totally ahead of the game and know exactly what I am doing. Well, that is a first. It also does not help in this moment.
Apparently, writer's block is a pretty common thing and obviously not really something you can pin a date on as to when/where it originated but apparently the term writers block came about in academic literature some time in the 1940's by a psychiatrist named Edmund Bergler. In fact, Bergler went on to research writers block and wrote a paper on it in 1950 called "Does Writer's Block Exist?" The basic premise is that a writers is working to solve their inner problems by writing. This actually makes sense to me. It is like a lot of different creative outlets. You work through your issues by getting your creative juices flowing. He posited that a blocked writer could use therapy to become un-blocked. The idea being that you figure out the psychological struggle and you unlock the ability to write. Later research seems to confirm this. A lot of this later reserach shows blocked writers were often unhappy, anxious or depressed and all sorts of other things that claim to be the source of the block.
This is where I got a little lost. I get how being unhappy, anxious or depressed could cause writers block, it isn't that but if writing is your creative outlet, well then...
it is your therapy
Here is the thing though. Writing a book or a manuscript is a lot different than writing a blog. Writing something in long form is an intense process. It more than likely takes over your life. Writing a blog, I suppose could do the same thing but it is different. Depending on how often you post you have to come up with new and exciting topics that will make someone one want to continue to check in and care about what you are writing about.
not really doing a great job of that in this post right now I realize...sorry about that
But telling stories is in fact my therapy and whether it is in writing or verbal story telling it fills the void. My problem isn't that I am unhappy and blocked, it is that I am seeking perfection. within reason of course. I say within reason because I am not a writer at heart, I didn't study English or journalism. I very rarely remember the grammar rules of a semi-colon and I probably use the wrong adjectives all of the time. The perfection I seek isn't in the writing as much as it is in the way the content is received. I feel a responsibility to the content I choose to post. It is important to me that there is a purpose to what I write. I want the stories I tell to create a spark. What happens then is up to you but if I can somehow create the spark then...well then that is where the magic is.
i'm looking for magic
and that is why writer's block sucks so bad. I am in pursuit of magic here people and having a block is not helping. This is where you come in...that's right, I am bringing you into my block.
What would you like to read about? It can be about anything as long as it is positive in nature. Give me some ideas in the comments below.