Karin Lowney-Seed: http://www.twobluechairs.com/
It’s not quite a cocktail party, but the buzz is kicking up. Just a sampling of the smart talk our readers have posted over the past couple of weeks. Join in!
On Just Some Undecided Girl: A Guest Post by Katie Powers: Wow… you remind me so much of myself more than a few years ago. Your path will become clear. I thought I wanted to be a journalist, then a lawyer, and now I’m a law professor writing a book about how modern mothers are struggling with Having Enough versus Having It All. You’re smart, a gifted writer, and in time, you will find what you’re looking for. It’s hard to be in that waiting game, and you did graduate at an inauspicious time. But I admire your moxie, and that will take you far. Sometimes you need to sit back and let things happen. Maybe today will be that day for you, and what you’re meant to be doing will appear. Take it or leave it, but best of luck to you! –Hollee
On There’s Nothing Wrong with Women: A Guest Post by Charlotta Kratz, who called out Marcus Buckingham on his recent HuffPo posts on the so-called happiness gap:
Let me see if I got this right: focus on moments, rather than goals, plans and dreams?????? I find it hard to believe that he is actually giving this paternalistic “advice.” Does he really think that women will be happier if they simply allow men to be the ones to worry their pretty little heads over goals, or plans, or dreams? Great post, Lotta! I look forward to your additions to this great blog. — tk
To which Lotta responded:
Yeah, tk, he was actually drawing upon interviews with women, which makes it even worse in a way. He claims that women who reported being happy used the strategy of focusing on moments, and not thinking about goals and plans. The sad thing is that to me that doesn;t sound like life, it sounds like what you do to get yourself through a difficult time in your life. And I bet if your daughters gave you that answer, “yea dad, we’re happy, we just focus on the moment and don’t think about our goals and dreams”, you’d be worried. The guy really seems to see men and women as two different species — he talks about women as if we have nothing to do with his own life.
Whether or not the happiness gap exists as Buckingham described it on HuffPo, one thing women are so not happy about is age descrimination in the form of, ugh, cougars. Hear us roar to the tune of Unhappiness in the Time of Cougar Town:
Now if only society could find a non-derogatory way to refer to women who are getting older and looking good and owning it. I cringe whenever I hear the word cougar. Especially when it comes out of the mouth of any man over 25. (the term was created to refer to older women prowling for YOUNGER men.) Why is it that when anyone sees a hot woman over the age of 35 or 40, the C-word has to come up? My personal belief is that men are threatened by older women who look good, and who can foray into yet another traditionally man’s world– dating someone 20 years their junior, and therefore not settling for the lovable fat balding bafoons we often see them with in sitcoms. Hey fellas, methinks it’s time to hit the gym! — Colleen
I think older women can not be unhappy for as long as they lived their lives the way they wanted to. Most of the older women I know are witty because of their experiences in life. — Caitlin
You are so right that the only thing sadder than a 47 year old woman is a 47 year old woman explaining why she’s sad… You kind of have to find a way to get over yourself, though. Either you get older, or you die. It’s that simple. All you can do is find role models (babs is a good one), and think long and hard about what you want to do. And then do it. But that goes for any age, right? That said, society’s view on ‘older women’ is outrageous. — Lotta
When I turned 30, I felt a surge of empowerment. Suddenly the angst of the 20s was out the door and I no longer had to be concerned with proving myself. I was a grown-up, damn it, and embraced it with joy. When I turned 40, the intervening 10 years brought marriage, children and two new countries. After spending my 30s thinking I was an independent thinker, my 40s have taken that to a deep knowledge. My life has ups and downs like the next person. But I know who I am. And no two-bit social commentator is going to tell me how or why I am happy or unhappy.You hit the nail on the head. The sexuality, the shelf-life, the perceptions of wasting the time, the eggs. The older I get, the more ridiculous all that becomes. I’m roaring with you, sista. — Chrysula
Oddly, when I hit 40, I found the power to stand up to, or dismiss, for lack of a better word, “bullies.” I realized that the loudest talkers (in workplaces, communities, etc.) often know the least. But I do agree that, age-wise, men have it so much easier. Just yesterday my husband and I were talking about a man who had a super career, made lots of money on Wall Street, and retired at age 50. He married a woman 20 years his junior. They had three kids, whom they cared for at home together. Now he’s 70, and is having health problems. But he still has his wealth, children–and a younger wife to care for him. I pointed out that a woman couldn’t have that life plan–we have to build our careers, find a partner, have our children, care for our children, and make our fortunes all at the same time. Men can move through life’s milestones sequentially. Because of biology, and more so, societal norms, women can’t. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get our education and training, work for a bit, step aside or slow down for a bit, and then be accepted back into the workforce full throttle once our kids are older? Because that’s not the norm, we all worry about leaving the workforce, getting older, being passed over and left behind. — Melissa
Meanwhile, Are you Undecided, too? — often a pit stop for new readers — got some action:
You guys reading my mind?? — Margie
Margie also chimed in on Architects of the Change:
I entered the workforce in the 70s in a traditionally female profession (teaching), juggled work and kids in the 90s, I’m now seeing retirement on the horizon from a cube in corporate America. The only one of these experiences that I truly chose was to have children. The others just kind of happened. I wonder sometimes how many women find themselves where they are for the same reasons – less because they chose a particular path, and more because circumstances led them there. Really glad to have found your blog, it speaks to where I am right now, also to how I can better help my kids make the choices you discuss here. Since I’ve lived the better part of my career life (but certainly not all of it), helping guide my kids is the bigger challenge for me right now.
You Say Out, I Say In. Let’s Call the Whole Thing Opt. also touched a nerve:
Did I write this? Thank you Barbara. You’ve nailed this issue on it’s proverbial head. We hunger for real, substantive, dare I say it, career progressing (YES) part-time options. Tragically until this country disconnects health insurance from the work-place, the former is never going to happen on a meaningful level. I don’t think people realize how deeply connected the health insurance debacle is to the true growth of women in this workforce. — Chrysula
Amen. For me and many women I know, this is THE issue. I was lucky enough to downshift my job to 20 hours a week after the birth of my daughter but seriously struggled with what decision would be best for me and my family. I can say that I am more productive and focused than ever during my reduced time at the office. I hope to be able to put my education to use in the workforce as well as at home over the next few decades. But whether I’m able to will depend at least partially on the policies of my employers. — Jennifer
Exactly! I had responded to the Washington Post blogger’s post on Friday. I feel he’s right in his observation that for many women, the choice it too often between the 40+ hour work week and staying home. Too many women (and families) don’t have the option of career-oriented, location-flexible and/or part-time work. — Melissa
And then there’s the whole health care debate — Health Care a Women’s Issue? You’re *@#!%@$ Right It Is.and how it impacts women. More so than we realize:
Loved this Shannon. In a man’s world being a woman is a pre-existing condition. — Lotta
I think the most appalling figure of this is the following: “8 states and D.C. allow insurance companies to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence.” I would love to hear the nonsensical logic behind this. — Colleen
And finally, lots of thoughtful response to On Purpose:
First: The weight of the student loans shouldn’t be underestimated. Five years out of college the consistently most well-paid of my former students is still working on a $40 000 debt (that’s half of the cost of his undergraduate education, grants paid for the other half), while also helping his parents. Many young people, who are not from middle class backgrounds, choose paths that will provide stability for families that have known little of it. Second: There isn’t a lot of passion in education, is there? Maybe it’s a lot to ask that people get themselves through all those years of schooling, and then top if off with out-of-character leaps of passion? I love this TED-talk by Ken Robinson, and I’ve shown it to all of my classes the past couple of years: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.htmlAs educators I think we need to show students what passion for your work looks like. And we need to show them realistic ways of getting there. — Lotta
I think the hard part is making the passion work as a career OR accepting and being okay with the fact that you have passions that you make sure that you follow, but your work may not be one of them. I *ahem* relate very much to one of the examples in this post and the hard part for me when I came back to the day to day job (which I very much needed to pay bills, loans, debt from leaving the job etc), was to realize that for 99% of people, that much passion is not a day to day reality, and that I should be grateful that I was lucky enough to live it for 2 months, and to know that I have the courage to follow my passions, and I will be able to carry the experience with me forever. I also took away, after months of reflection, that the realities of doing something you are passionate about day in day out for years on end, feels very differently than doing it for just a short period. I never could have sustained what I was doing, and I’m glad that it ended before the passion went away. — Colleen
When I was a kid, my dad switched jobs about every two years. He was always looking for something new, something better, maybe even something fun. Our family of five struggled financially, a lot of the time stretching my mom’s modest school teacher salary to the max. We were never without food and lived in a nice enough house, but I was always aware of the financial pressures and felt the tension. I often wished that my dad was more like his dad (my dad’s dad worked in a paper mill for forty years, doing grueling, boring work but providing a constant stream of steady income for his family; he had dreams, but he gave them up to provide for his family). Fast forward twenty years, and I have chosen what most would consider a very “safe” job. There’s hardly any passion. But that is by choice. I think back on my dad’s eternal quest for career satisfaction and how it strained my family all those years ago. The feelings of insecurity, nervousness, and stress are never very far away. While I have no bad feelings toward my dad and accept full responsibility for my own choices, his choices all those years ago gave me a taste of uncertainty that I’d rather do without. There is nothing I care about enough that I would purposefully invite those feelings of worry and fear back into my life. Which makes me wonder whether there is any data about whether having a parent who takes great risks impacts a child’s propensity to either take risks or avoid them? In my case, I’m certain my dad’s pursuit of his passions spawned my craving for stability. And by the way, I won’t pay off my student loan debt until about six years before I am ready to retire. — Alison
Thanks for checking in. Keep the conversation going, no matter where.