An Unexpected Path to Mindfulness (And Why Women Like to Shop at Target)

Whenever I’m in a state of transition or change, I go on a spiritual quest of sorts. I might buy a copy of Real Simple magazine, its cover photo of an organized linen closet promising me everlasting peace and happiness.

Or I’ll go to Target to wander the aisles. Sniff candles with names like “calm.” Wonder if this or that would look pretty in my house, and then not buy anything. The experience of Target being all that I needed to feel bright and sparkly again.

I also start cooking, which is significant because I generally avoid making dinner (or anything for that matter) unless absolutely necessary. And even then, it might be a grilled cheese sandwich. I onced served that with a side of mini-carrots and my husband asked if “cafeteria food” was a new type of cuisine.

But when I’m in a state of transition or change, I suddenly want to make soup from scratch and bake an apple pie. Or I’ll decide that I am going to start canning homemade jam, even though I have no idea how to do it.

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Me. In the kitchen. Cooking.

The prevailing theme for all of these mini-spiritual quests is around homemaking and caregiving. And while I engage in both to some degree, I’ve set them aside out of choice and necessity to engage in the world of work.

I’m too old to feel guilty about this. Like many working women, I almost died on that hill of “having it all,” so I have a well-deserved aversion to these traditional pursuits. Which makes it all the more perplexing that I move towards them during times of transition and change.

What is it about homemaking and caregiving that are so compelling when my world feels unstable?

I imagine some would say that I am getting back in touch with my true purpose in life, which is to be home with my kids. But I know better.

I am a horrible stay-at-home mother, having tried it during maternity leave. It took me all of two months to determine that people with degrees in early childhood development could, indeed, raise my children better than me.

I also only like to cook when I feel like it. As with most things, once it’s required and expected (and taken for granted), it becomes a chore. Especially at the end of the day when all I want to do is rest and reconnect with my family.

So it must be deeper than that. Something beyond the task itself or its meaning of home and family.

There’s a feeling of peace when I do these things. My mind stops chattering as much, my senses are engaged. It’s probably as close as I get to mindfulness, which is something I am just starting to explore.

My first foray into mindfulness was a disaster. My therapist at the time suggested I try taking a “non-purposeful walk” over my lunch hour.

Confused, I asked if I could do this while talking on my cellphone. (Nope.)

Then I asked if I could just walk realllly slowlllly to my next meeting. (Again, denied.)

Finally, I asked if I could at least drink a Starbucks while walking non-purposefully. In exasperation, she acquiesced.

I actually got a headache on my non-purposeful walk. I felt extremely self-conscious just wandering around randomly with a Starbucks in my hand.

And I wasn’t multitasking in my typical way, so I was acutely aware of my surroundings. All of which I found profoundly boring.

At my next session, she suggested I try drawing something without judgment. To just see an everyday object, sketch it on a piece of paper, and be done with it.

Five attempts at drawing a Kleenex box left me feeling frustrated and inept. How hard could it be to draw a box? (Apparently, very.) In exasperation, I crumpled up the paper and threw it away. I didn’t even recycle it, I was so mad at it.

So much for mindfulness.

Some years later, I’m a bit more evolved on my path. I can pull my mind back into the present moment when it starts spinning. I breathe deeply when I want to scream. I even meditate on occasion.

Even though it may seem strange to suggest that reading Real Simple magazine or walking through Target or cooking dinner are acts in mindfulness, they are for me.

Because when I am doing these things, I am more centered and present. I feel connected to myself and others. And I am at peace.

It’s as close to spiritual nirvana as I get.

What is it that makes you feel centered and present? Connected to yourself and others? Peaceful?

Maybe it’s watching a movie with your kids. Or walking your dog. Even organizing a linen closet with color-coded labels like Real Simple magazine can be a mindfulness practice.

Find those things and do them more.

As for me, I’ll be wandering the aisles of Target. Purposefully.

‘Tis the Season and I Want Out

I had my first bout of pre-holiday panic when the pumpkins arrived at SuperTarget.

Fresh off the victory of getting my kids ready for school, I was still recovering from Back to School shopping. And sharpening fifty #2 pencils had left me feeling very stabby (and very well equipped to do so).

As such, it took me a moment to regain my bearings and point my cart towards the “Happy Halloween!” sign that made me feel anything but.

Just as I was tossing 20-pound bags of candy and pumpkins into my grocery cart, I remembered that it was still September. Which meant the candy would be long gone and the pumpkins mushy and rotten by the time Halloween actually rolled around six weeks later. 

So I put everything back, and while I didn’t succumb to the pressure in that moment, I felt the pressure nonetheless. And it’s a pressure that doesn’t relent until we get through Christmas, which debuts before we’ve even survived the gauntlet that is Thanksgiving.

Speaking of which, the reason I didn’t post last week?

Thanksgiving.

This is a photo of me before the big day. I’d collapsed over the December issue of Real Simple magazine with its “32 Simple Holiday Shortcuts: Check Everything Off Your List.”

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But what if you don’t even have a list?

The months of September through December are such a blurring barrage of holiday cheer that half the time, I don’t know what holiday we’re actually celebrating.

Which makes me not want to celebrate any of them and instead hide out in my basement behind the boxes of decorations like they’re some sort of makeshift bomb shelter.

But I can’t. Because I have children.

And children love any reason to celebrate, which makes it especially tricky to go out in public at all during this time of year.

Halloween candy and princess costumes lurk around every corner. And as soon as they’re pulled off the shelves, Christmas arrives with toys, toys, and more toys.

Entering any store is like accidentally wandering into Disneyland and having to tell your kid, “I’m sorry honey, but we don’t have time to ride the roller coaster or take 5,000 pictures with Cinderella.”

Whining and sobbing become commonplace. And it’s usually me, not the kids, who are doing it.

Which is why I want out.

I want out of buying stuff that we don’t need. I want out of trying to make my house beautiful and festive and perfect. I want out of cooking and baking and cleaning dishes.

Because when I get that out, I have more space for love and family and magic. Which is what the holidays are all about.

This year, I’m hosting my biggest Christmas ever. My in-laws and sister-in-law (with her two kids plus their foreign exchange student) are all rolling in.

I barely cook for my family of four, so someone is going to have to feed them. And that someone will be a combination of Costco and whomever is the hungriest.

I don’t do dishes, so that will be delegated as well. Or we will eat off paper plates.

And as for decorating, we will either learn to live with the boxes that have resided in my living room since the day after Thanksgiving or my children and the hubs will handle it.

Or I will set them on fire

As for me, I’ll be reconnecting with my family and friends. Working on my webinar series and writing. And enjoying the holiday, rather than being a slave to it.

The lion’s share of the holiday tradition falls upon the shoulders of women. Because traditionally, women were/are the ones who decorate, cook, clean, and host.

So what “traditions” can we let go of? Or conveniently forget?

(We always bake Christmas cookies? That’s weird. I don’t remember that.)

This is my New Year’s resolution for 2018. To let go of traditions and the pressure and stress they bring.

While it may seem a bit premature to announce my New Year’s resolution, it’s not.

Because today is December 1st.

Happy New Year!

Sharing is caring. Send this post to another brave woman (and be sure to wish her a Happy New Year).

*A special thanks to the special reader who inspired this post. If you want to submit ideas for next week, please use the form below. xoxoako

 

Still Bloggin’ Until the Day I Die (2Pac, Virginia Woolf, And Me)

I wake up most mornings at around 5 a.m., but with the time change, it’s actually more like 4 a.m. Because I have yet to reset the clock on my nightstand for Daylight Savings. (I realize that Daylight Savings occurred weeks ago, but I am a busy working mother in case you forgot.)

This plays to my advantage because the only time I can write is when everyone is unconscious, tucked safely away with their dreams and their biological need for sleep.

So I get an extra hour, which I know isn’t really true because on the flip side, I go to bed at 9 p.m., which is really 8 p.m., but whatevs. This voodoo math works for me.

With a very light step, I sneak downstairs to make coffee and hide out in my “room of one’s own” (as Virginia Woolf claimed every woman should have) to dream, write, and be myself.

All by myself.

Because it’s so quiet, I often find myself humming a tune. And in addition to the odd habit of not resetting my clocks for Daylight Savings, I have an equally odd habit of humming songs that emerge from my subconscious and always seem to fit the situation at hand.

Here are some of my Oldies but Goodies:

Arguing with the hubs?

“Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” by Culture Club plays in the background like a sad movie.

Sharing your exciting pregnancy news?

“Welcome to the Jungle,” by Guns N’ Roses blares in my ears as I hug you and congratulate you and silently pray for you.

Trying to out-macho me at work?

“Mama Said Knock You Out,” by LL Cool J thumps with the rhythm of my heart as I prepare my rebuttal.

So this morning, it didn’t surprise me that a remix of “Still Ballin” by Tupac Shakur found its way into my head. And it went something like this,

“Still bloggin’ until the day I die. (Until I die.) You can bring your crew but we remain true.”

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My best gangsta rapper pose

For those of us who might be unfamiliar, Tupac Shakur (also known as 2Pac) is one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time. Well-known for his powerful critiques of society, it occurred to me, as I sat in my “room of one’s own,” that this gangsta rapper and the Victorian-era Virginia Woolf actually have a lot in common.

Tupac rapped about racism and inner-city violence; Virginia wrote about sexism and the status of women. And while Tupac and Virginia can only meet in my mind, I think they would be fast friends.

Because within their critiques of society at large, they were both storytellers who wove their personal experiences into the larger narrative.

A narrative that didn’t see or value people like them. (And still doesn’t, for that matter.)

And they did so in such an epic way that they inspired people with similar stories to question the larger narrative. To feel validated for their struggles within it. And to say, “Wait a sec, this narrative sucks,” and start rewriting it.

Which is what I’m trying to do with this blog.

Interestingly, I didn’t mean to become a blogger. Up until a couple of years ago, blogging was as mysterious as intergalactic space travel or “The Facebook.”

A social-media neophyte, I failed to realize people could post comments on my blog until they did. And I was horrified.

I also made the mistake of posting one of my pieces on The Facebook, and then had a nervous breakdown when the smiley faces and hearts came pouring in from my friends and family and people who actually knew me.

Which apparently is what The Facebook is all about.

Needless to say, blogging has been a somewhat accidental and traumatic experience. But like 2Pac and Virginia, I am committed to critiquing society at large by being a storyteller who weaves my own personal experiences into the larger narrative.

And to do so in such an epic way that I inspire people with similar stories to question the larger narrative. To feel validated for their struggles within it. And to say, “Wait a sec, this narrative sucks,” and start rewriting it.

Which is why I’ll still be bloggin’ until the day I die.

In my room of one’s own.

PS – Share this with a blogger you love. Oh, and please help me figure out next week’s topic by completing the survey below. I want to know what you’re curious about, whether it’s related to my story, accidental blogging, intergalactic space travel, whatever. Because another odd habit of mine is that I have an opinion on everything and I love to share it with you through this blog.

The Most Important Conversation To Have With Our Kids (And Ourselves for That Matter)

I was blow-drying my hair when my son wandered into the bathroom and said he had a question.

Warning to all parents. When your child is going through puberty and says, “Can I ask you a question?” take a deep breath and steady yourself.

Because they are about to ask you something bizarre. Like whether or not you can get pregnant in the pool. Or if penises break.

Also as a heads up, these questions typically occur when you’re in a hurry or distracted.

Which I was, because in addition to blow-drying my hair, I was simultaneously checking email on my phone, getting my daughter ready for school, and feeding the dog.

Since no one had shared these very helpful tips with me, I said, “Sure,” and didn’t turn off the hair dryer until he asked,

“Mom, what’s rape?”

Before I go on with this story, I want to pause for a moment. There are a few very important things to consider before answering questions like these.

And right now, in this time and place, conversations like the one I had with my son are among the most important and most urgent.

Like peanut butter and jelly, kids have been conditioned to think the words “sex” and “violence” naturally go together.

Which is kinda like saying whipped cream and raw hamburger go together. Can you imagine eating a whipped cream and raw hamburger sandwich?

Guess what. We eat them every day, and so do our kids.

Through the movies we watch, the video games we play, and the media we consume 24/7, sex and violence are brought together so often that they’ve been normalized. To the point that they seem natural and right.

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I love Wonder Woman. But really. Who wears a corset and thigh-high boots to a tank fight?

So we need to differentiate sex and violence from each other. Whipped-cream-raw-hamburger sandwiches are disgusting, and we need to explain this to our kids because they’ve been eating them for so long that they don’t know any better.

We talk to our daughters about sexual assault all the time when we should be talking to our sons.

We warn our daughters never to walk alone at night. To go to parties in groups. We censure what our daughters wear, making sure they aren’t showing too much skin. And we warn our daughters to never set down their glass because someone might put a “date rape” drug in it.

We focus so much on our daughter’s actions and choices that it’s as if sexual assault is about them. That it’s some kind of freak occurrence they can avoid with the proper precautions. Like not opening your umbrella during a lightning storm.

But it’s not.

Sexual assault is about actions and choices, but not those of our daughters. It’s about the actions and choices of our sons.

So we must have similar conversations with our sons.

We must tell them that no matter what a woman is wearing, she does not want to have sex with them.

That if they ever find themselves with a girl who is too drunk to give consent, they need to leave her alone.

That “No” never means “Yes.” Because women don’t like to be coerced into doing anything, especially sex.

And if they buy a girl dinner, she owes them nothing. Not even a smile.

Oh, and about that date rape drug. Don’t ever put that shit in a girl’s drink. Ever.

The “#MeToo” Campaign paints an incomplete picture. 

I have been following the “#MeToo” campaign, and in a strange way it has been a beautiful thing to behold. Brave women sharing their stories of sexual assault is powerful. And when it’s a woman I know, my heart breaks.

Which is why we also need a “#HimToo” campaign to run alongside it. Because for every woman who is bringing her story into the light, there is a man hiding anonymously in the shadows.

If it were up to me, we’d be able to tag our assailant in our #MeToo social media posts with a #HimToo. Because the world needs to see that these aren’t strangers who jump out of bushes.

These are men who work in the cubicles next to ours. They are friends of our families. They are our sons.

And half the time, they don’t even know they did anything wrong. Because no one ever talked to them about it.

Which leads me back to my story.

When my son asked, “Mom, what’s rape?” I did the best I could.

I told him sexual assault is not about sex. It is about violence. 

That it rarely happens the way it’s portrayed in the media because it’s hardly ever a stranger but an acquaintance or a friend.

I looked into the eyes that I loved and said, “It’s usually someone just like you.”

And I finished by explaining that it is his responsibility to make sure that he never does this to a woman.

Did I traumatize my son? Maybe. But I would rather he feel traumatized than become a #HimToo.

Was I especially courageous for having this conversation? Not really. Moms and dads talk to their kids about difficult stuff all the time.

Am I changing the world for women and girls? Yes. I most certainly am.

And you can, too.

Talk to your sons, your nephews, your brothers. As much if not more than your daughters, your nieces, and your sisters.

Bring this entire conversation into the light. Not just the female side. The male side, too. The side that really matters.

This is the Sex Talk we should be having with our boys. This is the most important conversation we should all be having right now.

#MeToo

Please share this post so we can have more of these conversations. With our boys, our girls, and each other. 

PS – I wrote a post last week about womansplaining, a few days before the #MeToo movement reignited across the world. It connects to this topic in a lighter, funnier way. Check it out if you haven’t already.

PPS – I am building a school for brave women, and I’ll be writing more about it in next week’s post. As always, I want to hear your thoughts on what women want to learn about through my work. Subscribe to the list and womansplain to me.

The Dark Side of Bravery

I’ve received a few comments about my work on bravery that give me pause. Nothing scary or hateful, although I did once receive a vomiting emoji in response to a Facebook post about Beyoncé, interestingly enough.

Rather, the comments indicate a frustration women have with bravery. Frustration for not being as brave as other women. Frustration with other women for not being braver.

So I want to spend a little time exploring the dark side of bravery, not just the positive who-runs-this-mutha side. (That was a shout-out to Beyoncé and vomiting emojis, BTW.)

About one year ago (October 9, 2016, to be exact), I hosted a women’s leadership retreat. All by myself. I was the coordinator, host, MC, speaker, everything.

It was terrifying to plunk down $2,000 and then go home to tell my husband after the fact. (He does not really like expensive surprises.)

It made me sick to my stomach to ask friends, family, and anyone with a vagina to attend. (I never self-promote, not even at my own birthday party.)

When I should have been feeling “brave,” I felt anything but.

Here’s my journal entry on the day of the retreat.

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Fear and bravery go together, apparently

While fear may seem like the dark side of bravery, it’s not. The dark side of bravery is judging ourselves or other women for their choices related to it.

Because when we judge each other, not only are we buying into more bullshit about how women should be, we are actually scooping it up and throwing it at each other.

And while we’re in the middle of a bullshit melee (which I picture as being somewhat akin to a cafeteria food fight, just way grosser) men are out running the world.

Not women. Not you or me.

Not even Beyoncé.

Men.

They’re the ones running this mutha. And the longer we hurl bullshit at each other, the longer they will continue to do so.

This week, I’m at a women’s leadership conference called Emerging Women. It’s like what I did last year just times a billion.

At the conference, the woman who mentored and inspired Malala to become an activist gave a presentation. She and Malala now run an international girls’ education program in some of the scariest places on the planet.

She’s beautiful with a Stanford education and a lovely English accent who meets with the Obamas and Nobel Peace Prize winners (not counting the one she mentored) in between saving the world.

And oh-by-the-way, she’s twenty-seven years old.

I could sit here and roll around in bullshit, comparing myself to her. Finding fault in my meager attempts at social change while she continues to build her Empire of Awesome.

Or I could do what I actually did, which was go to the bathroom, stumble upon her in the hall, and envelope her in a hug.

Bravery is always, always, always relative to you and your life. Whatever action makes your heart flutter with your truth is brave.

For some women, that’s asking for a raise at work. For others, it’s asking your spouse to do the dishes.

For Shiza Shahid, it was asking Malala how she could help and then launching a global women’s movement.

Every act of bravery counts. 

There is no specific thing you should do or way you should be that is braver than others’. Because what makes my heart flutter with my truth will not be the same for you. And vice versa.

So let’s stop shoulding all over ourselves and each other.  

What does bravery look like for a stay-at-home mom? I have no idea, but it’s brave.

What does bravery look like for a transgender woman? I can’t say, but I bet she can.

What does bravery look like for you? Only you know.

Bravery is relative. It is deeply personal. And it is true for you.

So please. Be brave enough to support other women. To hear their truths and honor their choices. To set down the handful of bullshit or, even better, throw it full force at the patriarchy.

Because that’s how we are going to change this world. Together. 

Special thanks to the stay-at-home mama who suggested this topic. AND below is a list of reader-generated topics that YOU can vote on for next week’s post!

 

Costco Fashionista (And Other Acts of Rebellion for Women)

I shop at Costco. And when I say I shop at Costco, I mean I do more than buy a ridiculous amount of food in equally ridiculous quantities.

(What does one even do with 60 lbs. of pork besides bury it? Because clearly, it’s an entire animal.)

I also buy gifts for every holiday, decor for my home, electronics, and random stuff I didn’t know I needed but totally did.

Like these magical hangers that keep my clothes from falling down onto the floor of my closet. (Perhaps they’re made of NASA anti-gravity material? Is that actually a thing?)

Or a squatty potty that enhances the ergonomic experience of pooping. (Yes, that actually is a thing. And I think NASA made it.)

The best finds, however, are in the clothing aisles. Because contrary to what most people think, Costco knows fashion.

And I delight in sharing this whenever someone says, “You look so cute! Where did you get that (insert Costco fashion item)?”

Because for me, buying my clothes at Costco is one of the most brilliant life hacks I’ve discovered to date.

It takes a little elbow grease to dig through the piles of clothes, and it doesn’t look quite as sassy-cute as something I’d find at Ann Taylor Loft, but it’s good enough.

And that’s what life hacks are all about. Good enough.

This is super-tricky for women because we aren’t taught to see “good enough” as, well, good enough.

We’re taught to strive for perfection. In everything we do, from the roles we fulfill (perfect mother) to how we look (perfect body) to what we wear (perfect outfit).

So for me, buying clothes from Costco – being a Costco Fashionista if you will – is my way of practicing good enough.

Of saying, “Screw you, perfection. I just got a bombass denim dress for $29.99 and that is good enough for me and anyone who sees me wear it.”

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Bomb. Ass.

Life hacks like buying clothes at Costco are tiny acts of rebellion. Brave choices you can take as a woman to liberate yourself from perfection. Which is really just a bunch of unrealistic expectations and outdated gender roles that come with being female.

I mean, have you ever met a man who struggles with perfection?

Me, neither.

Here are a few more life hacks/acts of rebellion for you to consider:

The Housing Cleaning Hack

If you can afford it, hire a house cleaner. And if you can’t, lower your standards. (Like to the floor where the dust bunnies live.)

And if you feel guilty about it, do the math. For women who work outside the home, you can calculate how much it actually costs you to clean your house.

Now add in the opportunity cost of not doing other things (like enjoying your life) and it turns out hiring a house cleaner is actually saving you money.

And for women who stay home with their kids, you more than anyone need and deserve a house cleaner. It’s all you can do to keep up with your children’s craft-art disasters and self-reproducing toy piles, let alone the dirt and grime that naturally accumulate in a house.

So stop cleaning your own house. Or stop doing it so well.

The Homemade Meal Hack

Did I mention that Costco also makes delicious meals that, when coupled with a fresh veggie or salad, make you feel like the most responsible wife and best mother ever?

Costco. It’s what’s for dinner.

Homemade meals are overrated. Just ask my kids who much prefer stuffed peppers with a side of broccoli to anything I could make for dinner.

The Good Parent Hack

Orchestra recitals, soccer practices, kids’ birthday parties, and swim meets fill up my children’s schedules and, by default, my own.

So I attend their activities but now, rather than covertly checking email or texting one of the other mothers, “OMG why didn’t I bring a flask?” I make sure to schedule phone dates with my girlfriends. My kid knows I’m there (good parent – check), and I am actually enjoying myself.

Sometimes I’ll talk for hours with my girlfriends, usually with a very important look on my face. Is she talking to the doctor? Someone at work? Arguing with her husband?

No one knows, and that’s the hack.

I realize this doesn’t make me sound like a perfect parent. And maybe that’s a good (enough) thing.

Life hacks are beautiful and courageous. So rather than feel guilty about not making a homemade meal or spending hours cleaning your house, feel awesome.

Pat yourself on the back for being brave.

For being good enough.

Sharing is caring. Send this to a girlfriend who is good enough. Or shops at Costco. She’ll thank you for it. 

Oh, and please help pick out next week’s topic! Survey below.

Bad*ssery @Work (Lesson One: It’s all hearts, rainbows & ninja swords)

Let me start off by saying we’re all badasses.

Whether you’re a woman who works outside the home, inside the home, or some combo of both, you are a badass. Whether you have kids or not, you are a badass.

Because total badassery is what it takes for a woman to make it in this world.

But today, I’m going to focus on women who work outside of the home, the majority of whom (70%) have kids and work full-time.

This does not mean they are more badassy than stay-at-home-moms or working women who don’t have kids. It just means they have different challenges that require different techniques in badassery, and that’s what I’ll be exploring today.

In my opinion, working women who have children deserve to wear a Badassery Badge wherever they go so people can be in awe of them.

Something like a “Girl-Scouts-Meets-Special-Forces” badge with hearts and rainbows and Ninja swords.

Because the world (especially the working world) is not set up for them to succeed. It’s not that the world doesn’t like them. Rather, it’s just the world doesn’t know them very well.

Men have been leading businesses, running our governments, and generally kicking ass for thousands of years. And as a result, men are killing it at work.

There are more CEO’s named “John” than all of the female CEO’s combined. The U.S. Congress is more than 80% male. And men are offered higher salaries than women for the same work.

I’m not sharing this to make you angry at men. I love men. I’m married to one. I gave birth to one. Most of my mentors have been men.

And all of them want me to set the world on fire even though it may not be in their best interest.

Rather, I’m telling you this so you will stop blaming/shaming/hating yourself when you find it so hard to keep your shit together.

It’s not your fault that maternity leave only lasts three months, which is just about the time you finally figure out how to take a shower again, and now you have to go back to work full-time.

It’s not your fault that crying at work is considered “too emotional” but raising your voice in anger is not (for men, anyway).

Or that you’re more likely to be asked to plan the office birthday parties than take on a new strategic initiative.

It’s not your fault.

There is nothing wrong with you, you are not inferior or less than. You’re just trying to make it in a world that was not designed for you.

And that’s why it’s so, so important that you stay in the game because even though it’s hard, we need you. All of us do.

We need you to create a world that actually works. For men and women.

What would such a world look like?

Let’s play pretend for a moment and visit that world. Put on your princess dress (or borrow one from your daughter), grab your magic fairy wand, and let’s go.

There’s an issue that strikes fear in the hearts of most working mothers. An issue that requires logistical skills on par with an air traffic controller and significant financial resources to solve.

That issue is after-school pick up.

A deceptively simple concept, after-school pick up takes place sometime between 3:28 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. at my child’s elementary school.

Do you know where I am between 3:28 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.?

At work.

Which creates a bit of a challenge for me. My options are to send my child home to an empty house (which is illegal), hire a babysitter for $15/hour (which is expensive), or quit my job (which is stupid).

If women were also leading businesses, running our governments, and generally kicking ass on a level equal to that of their male counterparts, this is how after-school pick up would go:

  • First, the bell would ring at 5:30 p.m. because last time I checked, a full working day is 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Dolly Parton even wrote a song about it. For the movie 9-5.)
  • Second, the children would have already completed their homework, eaten a healthy dinner, and attended their sports practices/music lessons/Yearbook meetings. (All of which would take place at the school because that’s efficient, and if women are anything, we are efficient.)
  • Third, there would be an onsite restaurant where we could pick up dinner for the rest of the family. (Or down a couple of glasses of wine before actually picking up our kids.)
  • And finally, all of this would be free. Because the PTA no longer plans bake sales but drafts federal legislation to increase funding for our schools. (And all of this legislation would pass because half of Congress would be female and our President would be a woman.)

Yes ladies, that’s what would happen.

So the very first lesson in Badassery @Work is to understand that the world is set up for men to succeed and, if we ever want to have our make believe/after-school-pick-up fantasies come true, we must bring our inner badass out into the world.

At home. At work. And everywhere in between.

What does that look like exactly?

It looks like speaking up in meetings like a badass. Supporting other women like a badass. Advocating for better parental leave policies like a badass. Believing in your self-worth like a badass. Raising your hand for a new project like a badass. Taking risks and failing like a badass. Delegating caregiving responsibilities like a badass. Negotiating for what you need like a badass. Saying “yes” before you feel 100% ready like a badass. Saying “no” to stuff that you don’t want to do like a badass. Questioning sexist assumptions like a badass. Giving up perfection like a badass. Asking for help like a badasss. Staying in the game like a badass.

And most of all, it means being brave. Like. A. Badass.

You know how you can start? Like right now? Email this post to a woman who needs it. Put it up on your Facebook page and own it. Text the link to your BFF and say, “Let’s do this.”

That’s your homework for lesson 1 in Badassery @Work.

Class dismissed.

If you’re still reading and want to hear more from me on this topic, send me your email address via the form below. I’m working on a new project – {Re}Finishing School for Brave Women – that’s designed for working women who want to set the world on fire. 

Yes, I would like to set the world on fire with you.

 

AND I would love your feedback on next week’s topic! Email me at kandaolmstead@gmail.com if you have a cool idea.