Self-Compassion (and What This Means for Women’s Liberation)

Self-compassion is more than being nice to ourselves, which for women is very good news because we tend to be our own harshest critics. We struggle with perfectionism, always finding the flaws in our bodies, our homes, our work, and our roles as daughters/mothers/wives/etc. We’re too busy caring for everyone else, so the idea of self-care feels like an additional burden if not an outright act against God. And then there’s the societal nonsense that tells us we’re not good enough, smart enough, or ready enough. It’s a miracle to get through the week, let alone feel awesome about ourselves.

But self-compassion is more than a feel-good, happier way to live our lives. It’s absolutely critical to women’s liberation. Imagine a world where women loved themselves. If they thought they were amazing and brilliant and good people. These women would not only live better, they would take more risks, they would be less susceptible to criticism, and they would recover from failure more quickly. They would have what is called a “Self-Compassion Safety Net” that would give them confidence and resilience. And both of these are very important to changing the world.

In this week’s Zoom talk show, I’ll be sharing how to make a Self-Compassion Safety Net for yourself. We’ll start by reviewing the work of Dr. Kristin Neff who has identified three elements to self-compassion. Being kind to ourselves is one of them, but it’s not the only one, and it may help to enter into self-compassion with the other two elements first.

Elements of Self-Compassion

  1. Mindfulness vs. Over-identification – You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk to practice mindfulness. Just noticing what we’re thinking and feeling is the first step, and that’s the only one you’ll need for self-compassion. When we’re mindful of our crazy thoughts and big feelings, we can use other tools to gain perspective and take a more balanced approach to our emotions rather than suppressing them or overreacting.
  2. Common Humanity vs. Isolation – You know that feeling when you’re spending time with your girlfriends lamenting your spouses/kids/job and you realize that it’s not just you? That everyone feels this way, too? That’s a basic version of common humanity, which is seeing our personal experiences as part of a much larger human experience. Not only is it fun, especially over a glass (or three) of wine, but it also helps us find patience and forgiveness for our shortcomings.
  3. Self-kindness vs. Self-judgement – Okay, at some point, you’re going to have to learn to be kind to yourself. The simplest way to do this, at least conceptually, is to treat yourself as you would treat a friend. It doesn’t have to be super-elaborate. Just taking a break when you’re tired or feeding your family frozen pizza for dinner works. And if that sounds like crazy-talk to you, I have a simple trick to get you there.

In the Season Finale of my talk show, we’ll walk through a powerful activity to bring self-compassion to a current challenge you’re facing. You’ll learn how to build a Self-Compassion Safety Net and identify one kind action that you can take for yourself.


Let’s go.


Why We Compete with Each Other (and What This Means for Women’s Liberation)

From Mean Girls to the Queen Bee Syndrome, women have been socialized to view each other as competitors rather than allies and co-conspirators. We judge, criticize, and – at our worst – undermine each other’s success. This causes havoc within women’s communities and distracts us from the larger issue at hand: Fighting the Patriarchy.

What if we took all of the rage and anguish that we feel about our lives and directed it at the real causes of our discontent? What if we fought the sexist systems and structures that make fighting each other feel inevitable and even necessary?

In Episode 2 of That’s What She Said?, we will explore the concept of “horizontal hostility,” which is when marginalized groups (that’s us, ladies) turn on each other. We’ll talk about identity-based nonsense like anti-Black racism in the women’s movement and what we (who identify as white women) can do to make up for it. Speaking of which, check out my “Not Your Mom’s White Lady Book Group” reading list.

Then we’ll finish up with a fabulous quote about pie (yes, you read that right), spend a few minutes reflecting in our journals, and share our sparkles of inspiration with two women we love.

Ready to get started? Grab your journal, find a quiet spot, and let’s go!


Episode 2: Why We Compete with Each Other (and What This Means for Women’s Liberation)

Join me next week

We’ll be exploring “Why We Pursue Perfection (and What This Means’ for Women’s Liberation).” Join me for the LIVE show next Thursday, 11/19/20, at Noon EST. Can’t make the time? I’ll send you the recording. To register for either option, send me an email by clicking here.

Why Supermodels Marry Old Dudes (and What This Means for Women’s Liberation)

Let me start off by saying I have zero beef with supermodels. In fact, I would personally love to be a supermodel. And I think many women would agree that being freakishly beautiful, rich, and famous sounds like a pretty good gig.

What I do have a curiosity around is why beautiful women – whether they’re supermodels or not – consistently end up marrying old dudes. What’s the allure?

There are a couple of factors at play here, and while we may not be super models, they certainly apply to our non-super model existence. So we’re gonna spend a little time exploring them in my first LIVE blog post.

In this video, I’ll solve the mystery of why supermodels marry old dudes, drop a few accidental swear words, walk you through a powerful activity (you’ll need paper and a pen), and set you up to connect with other women in your life.

Ready? Let’s do this.

Tune In Next Week

For next week’s show, we’ll be talking about why women compete with each other and what this nonsense means for women’s liberation. I’ll also share how white women can step up for racial justice by supporting and advocating for women of color.

If you’d like to attend the live “That’s What She Said?” show next Thursday, 11/12/20, at Noon EST, send me an email by clicking here.


One-Woman Strike

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Mother’s Day Strike,” which was about taking the day off on Mother’s Day. It was funny and irreverent and total make-believe nonsense.

But last night, after perusing The Facebook and feeling more and more helpless to the hurt and pain and crazy, I started to wonder.

What if I actually did organize a Mother’s Day Strike?

What if I took this symbol of wholesome goodness, synonymous with America and apple pie – the construct of mother – and used it to remind ourselves of the one thing, maybe the only thing, that we can agree upon?

You may be wondering what that one thing is because, goodness knows, it doesn’t look like we can agree upon anything anymore. But according to every mother everywhere, it’s a love for our children.

A love that transcends cultural differences, religion, race, class, and even politics. A love that makes us think hard about the future, a time and place that we will never see but they will live. A love that personalizes every news story, every tragedy, and every tweet.

What would a Mother’s Day Strike look like exactly? I’m not much of a political activist, but here are a few thoughts off the top of my head.

On Mother’s Day, we would take all of our bouquets and gifts and pile them up on the steps of our state capitals. Mountains of flowers and handmade cards from our children would rest at the feet of the democratic institutions that have failed us and them.

Perhaps there would be a few speakers, some arts and crafts for the kids. We may even serve brunch and have a mimosa or three. (I’ll coordinate the SignUpGenius. Dibs on the fruit platter.)

After that, we could take pictures of ourselves with our children and post them to The Facebook and Instagram, tagging each and every one of our state senators and the president with a special message that says, “The Mothers are Watching You.”

Because everyone knows that moms have eyes in the backs of their heads and that is enough to scare grown men, which is exactly what we’re trying to do here. 

Then we’d take to The Twitter and write the same phrase – The Mothers are Watching You – adding in the handles of our elected officials along with a personalized message detailing what, exactly, we’re watching with those eyes in the backs of our heads.

Oh, and I even have a hashtag: #momwatch

For the more radical mamas, we could consider a march, although I’d prefer a sit-in because it is, after all, Mother’s Day. And then we could get arrested, which would be such an act of America turning on itself and its extolled values that we may just get people’s attention.

Arresting mothers on Mother’s Day?!?!


Finally, to really bring it home, we’d make t-shirts. Not just your regular t-shirt with “Mother’s Day Strike” emblazoned across the front. Nope, there will be no words. Just pictures. Thousands of pictures of mothers’ faces giving that look.

The one where we stare hard without blinking, slightly raise our eyebrows, and tense every muscle in our face into one big frown. The one that stops everyone in their tracks. The nonverbal message screaming, “I have had enough.”

Because I’ve definitely had enough.

I have had enough of children shooting other children in schools. Receiving email messages from my son’s high school alerting me to the fact that they are practicing a “lock down drill” just like they would, say, announce the school lunch menu.

I have had enough of big business poisoning the air my children breathe, the water my children drink, and the food my children eat. Leaving us to wonder why there are so many new food allergies, cases of “mystery autoimmune diseases,” when they know exactly what they’ve done.

I have had enough of terrified children in jail cells, their mothers – women who are just like you and me – far away. A cruelty that no mother would ever, ever in a million billion years inflict on another.

I have had enough.

Have you?

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10, 2020. I’m booked in the morning with brunch, but after that, I’m hosting a one-woman strike. Hope to see you there.

Share this with other mothers who have had enough. Or anyone who has a mother. Which is EVERYONE.












Mommy and Me Take on the Patriarchy

My daughter told me that when she grows up, she’s going to be an inventor.

First on her list of inventions? Special gloves with gripping fabric that protect kids’ fingers from freezing on the monkey bars. Speaking of fingers, she’s also going to invent a Barbie doll with hands that flex. When I asked her why, she said Barbies need to be able to hold things.

“Like what?” I asked.

“Knives,” she replied.

I didn’t clarify if these knives were for cooking or something else. Some questions are better left unasked.

She also thinks Barbies should be able to wear regular shoes like boots and tennis shoes. Not just high heels because those aren’t good for running. And Barbie needs a backpack instead of all those glittery purses.

“For hiking?” I asked, warily.

“No. To carry books. Lots of books,” she said, looking very serious.

After explaining that she planned to give her inventions away for free, I reminded her that the revolution will not be funded, so she needs to make some cash. Her new plan is to sell the Monkey Bar gloves for $15 and the Barbies for $10.

I’m intrigued to see how this little girl turns out. Indeed, I’m intrigued to see how this entire generation of little girls turns out.

Girls who grew up with an African-American president, saw the rise and fall of the first female presidential candidate, sobbed when a “bully” was elected.

Girls who marched with their mothers and grandmothers or watched it on T.V., their eyes transfixed by this demonstration of women’s power and love.

Girls who know the phrases “Time’s Up” and “Me Too” but don’t know (yet) what they mean.

Girls who look to us, their terrified and enraged mothers, for reassurance and guidance.

Yes, I’m intrigued to see how they turn out. And I’m intrigued to see how we, their mothers, turn out, too.

Women March -Mimi

The other day, my daughter asked if she could write on the computer.

“I want to be a writer like you,” she said.

So I dusted off our old laptop and we sat down together to write. I worked on my blog while she typed away.

“What are you writing about?” I asked.

“It’s a fairy tale,” she replied distractedly.

“That’s nice,” I said, going back to my own writing.

About 30 minutes later, she finished and asked me to take a look. So I read her fairy tale, which was infused with true love, magic, and the times in which we now live.

Her protagonist is a biracial princess named “Rapperpunzel” the only daughter of an African-American king who looks a lot like Barack and a white queen fashioned after her girl-crush Emma Watson.

Rapperpunzel chooses not to marry the Prince (they’re just really good friends) because she wants to focus on her work.

“What’s her work?” I asked. Delighted, surprised, intrigued. 

Hoping that she would say “President of the United States” or “women’s right activist” or…

“Mom,” she said with a bit of attitude, “She’s a rapper. Get it? Rapperpunzel?”

I was a little disappointed. We were soooo close. But while it was not quite the answer I was expecting, that’s how this mother-daughter thing works. And how it always has.

We do our best as mothers to teach our daughters the lessons of our lives, but then it’s up to them to decide how they want to live.

The freedom to decide – to have options and to make choices unhindered by gender – that’s “taking on the patriarchy.” Regardless of what they choose.

As I watch her tap away at the keyboard, I realize that I’m no longer excited to see how she turns out, as if there is a “right way.” Rather, I’m excited to see her make choices about how she will live her life.

Freedom. Options. Choice. That’s the ultimate goal of the women’s movement and feminism.

And for me, that’s my goal as a mother.

Mommy and Me Take On...

Help us take on the patriarchy. Share this post with other brave mamas and papas who are raising brave girls. 


So a Guy Walks into a PTA Meeting (Understanding Women’s Fear of Speaking Up at Work)

About once a week, I go out to lunch with one of my girlfriends from work. We typically request a table in the back, mostly as a courtesy to the other patrons. Because we’re not really there to eat lunch, but to connect, share stories and laugh.

All of which we do very loudly.

Then we go back to the office, sit through staff meetings and committee meetings. Listen, nod our heads and smile.

All of which we do very quietly.

I’ve often wondered about this contrast in behaviors. And felt frustration with myself (and other women like me) for our collective silence.

While we might think it’s hundreds of years of oppression manifesting itself around a conference table, it probably isn’t.

We’re all bored, so a good idea would be a welcome reprieve, regardless from whom it originates and what their gender might be.

And while the “manterrupter” is a very real thing, I’m not seeing this happen. Mostly because it’s hard to interrupt women when they’re not talking.

And lastly, this silencing also happens to men. Men who haven’t experienced years of silencing and not being heard (let alone believed). Men who have the confidence to speak on any topic, even things they know nothing about.

Except when they walk into a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting.

For those of us who have not attended a PTA meeting, it’s a committee of parents, a few exhausted teachers, and a school administrator that drew the short straw.

With rare exception, the group is entirely female.

Now imagine a dad. He wants to get involved so he rolls in for his first PTA meeting. Excited to contribute and support the school.

He’s a parent, so he’s got every right to be there, but as soon as he enters the room, his confidence wanes.

Everyone there is a woman.

So he sits a bit off to the side, because he doesn’t want to look like he’s being “too friendly with the ladies,” and pretends to look at his phone.

He hopes someone will sit next to him, but when they don’t, he just smiles and fidgets with his pen.

The meeting begins, and in between talking about the next Bake Sale (he doesn’t bake) and wondering if so-and-so had her baby yet (he’s never been pregnant), he becomes acutely aware of his male identity and starts to feel a bit insecure.

He loses confidence. He starts to doubt his ability to contribute.

Then the PTA Chair asks, “What film should we watch for Family Fun Night?”

Just as he’s about to suggest Beauty and the Beast, he chokes. He second-guesses himself.

He wonders if proposing a girl-oriented film will sound weird coming from an adult man.

Or if he should remain quiet, lest the women think he’s dominating the meeting as men are wont to do.

So he sits there, worrying and ruminating, until the conversation shifts to a new topic and he is left behind.


Sound familiar?

There is something powerful that keeps us silent, and it’s called stereotype threat. I realize the words “stereotype” and “threat” are equally intimidating, and bringing them together sounds like a huge bummer, but please, bear with me.

In this example, the dad is facing the stereotype of men being sexist or worse. And it is this threat that keeps him from speaking.

For anyone with a marginalized identity, stereotype threat is the equivalent of dark matter, the invisible and mysterious but very real substance that makes up the universe.

While scientists are still trying to understand dark matter, we have a deep understanding of stereotype threat and its impact on people.

We know that the fear of fulfilling a stereotype undermines performance, whether it’s African-American students taking a math test or white men playing basketball.

We know that the common stereotypes associated with women (dumb, emotional, pushy or worse) inhibit us in significant ways. From little girls in classrooms to grown women in boardrooms.

Which is why it’s so important to understand stereotype threat. Especially as women. And then take a few simple steps to manage it.

One of the most effective is to focus on parts of your identity that are not threatened by a stereotype. Perhaps it’s your role in the organization or your level of expertise.

Who you are beyond the threatened identity of being female is a powerful antidote to stereotype threat.

And if that doesn’t work, focus on your values, which are also part of your identity. I often encourage women to write down their top three values before going into any situation that might trigger a stereotype, whether that’s negotiating for a raise or speaking in front of a group.

And lastly, I invite you to be brave. To take small steps out of your Safe Space and into your Brave Space. To learn to get comfortable with the discomfort of stereotype. To speak when you feel the pressure to be silent.

Because like dark matter, stereotypes (and our fear of fulfilling them) are very real things with very real consequences. And they aren’t going anywhere.

So we need to.

We need to share our ideas, even if we’re afraid they’re “dumb” or “stupid.”

We need to advocate for ourselves, even though we might appear “pushy” or “too aggressive.”

We need to speak.

Because otherwise, we are left behind.


PS – To learn more about stereotype threat, check out the work of Dr. Claude Steele, a brilliant scholar and writer whose book Whistling Vivaldi informs the work I do with women and leadership. And if you haven’t already, check out my next event/webinar offering, “Brave Women Bake, Create & Lead.” I’m tackling stereotype threat in a new way, and I’d love to have you join me.

The “Social Justice Smackdown” (And Why It’s So Not Helpful)

I don’t talk a lot about my actual, real job. Kinda like a superhero, my actual, real job is what I do by day so I can save the world by night.

Or to be more accurate, “so I can save the world by morning,” because I prefer to be in my pj’s with a cup of coffee whenever I do anything especially heroic.

It’s not that I purposefully avoid talking about my actual, real job. It’s just that there are very few occasions when it requires me to run into the nearest telephone booth and change into my pj’s.


Or my Wonder Woman costume.

But last week, I was at a training for my actual, real job, and we got into discussing the “Social Justice Smackdown.”

Now before I go further, for those of us who are less familiar with phrases like, “social justice,” please know that is totally okay.

This is the technical language of my trade, kinda like “sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia” is the technical language of medicine.

While “sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia” sounds like a bunch of fancy-pants SAT words, it actually refers to brain freeze.

Which most of us have experienced when drinking Slurpees too quickly.

The phrase “social justice,” may sound similarly intimidating, but it’s pretty simple.

It’s essentially the stuff we learned in elementary school. To play fair, share our stuff, and always look out for each other. Especially our friends who are being treated poorly.

So then, what is a “Social Justice Smackdown”?

While there is no formal definition because I kinda just made it up, I think you will know it when I describe it to you.

A Social Justice Smackdown is when we use tactics like talking down to people, shaming them into silence, and practicing other unproductive behaviors to, ironically, advocate for social justice.

What might this look like?


This isn’t how it looks. But it is how it feels.

It might look like ostracizing a woman who doesn’t self-identify as a feminist because she has “internalized sexism.”

Or telling a man who volunteers to mentor a woman that he is “reinforcing patriarchal hegemony.”

Or critiquing a woman’s use of the word “tribe” to describe her BFF’s because she is “appropriating Native American culture.”

While all of this may very well be true and “socially just” to say, it’s super not helpful.

Because not only are we using our educational privilege to marginalize others, we are undermining the ultimate goal of social justice, which is to heal the world through love and compassion.

Social justice is not about public accusations, trials among our peers or punishment. That’s a different kind of justice, the kind that takes place in a courtroom, but I think we sometimes forget.

Especially with each other. Because unfortunately, I see Social Justice Smackdowns take place within our own communities, among good people who are doing the best they can.

And that’s exactly what I did last week. To the man who posted the “tribe” comment on my girlfriend’s Facebook page.

Because he is a man, and she is a woman (and I am a self-appointed-women’s-empowerment-superhero), my social justice trigger got sprung.

So I threw on my Wonder Woman suit and smacked back. While I won’t get into specifics, my response sounded a lot like his. Intellectually arrogant, self-righteous in its definitiveness, and not very nice at all.

Eye for an eye, as they say.

This problematic exchange made me reflect on how I could have handled the situation better.

Because there are many times when people have shown grace around my social justice mistakes. When they restrained from giving me a Social Justice Smackdown and instead demonstrated love and compassion.

Two examples in particular come to mind, and they span the twenty years I’ve been doing this work.

In graduate school, one of my jobs was sending out mass emails to my classmates. Right before spring break, I encouraged everyone to wear sunscreen.

Soon thereafter, I received an email from a person of color who explained that she didn’t need to wear sunscreen because of her dark skin, and that in the future, I should probably not assume everyone who reads my emails is white.

Rather than emailing it out to the entire class – which would have been an epic Social Justice Smackdownshe sent her feedback directly (and privately) to me.

And she did it with such kindness that I actually called to thank her. 

Did I feel ashamed? Absolutely.

Did I feel shamed? No.

And from that place, I was able to apologize, learn for my mistake, and commit to never reinforcing whiteness as the norm.

More recently, I was meeting with a woman who works with the LGBTQ community. I made reference to a transgender person but couldn’t remember which pronouns to use. So in my fluster, I referred to the person as “it.”




Objectifying and dehumanizing “the other” is about as bad as it gets. But rather than looking at me in horror and judgment, my colleague said, “I know this is hard for you. Let’s try that again.”

There are many more times that I have been on the deserving end of a Social Justice Smackdown.

And as I stated earlier, there are times when I have doled out Social Justice Smackdowns. When my well-earned frustration has overridden my best self, and I have used tactics similar to the ones I abhor.

For this, I am very sorry.

So what to do?

First off, let’s remember why we are doing this work. And let’s create a healing space around it. Not for ourselves or to heal our wounds. But for others and to heal their wounds.

And when we feel triggered, let’s accept that this, too, is part of the work. We are going to feel frustration, even anger. So we must be very careful not to tell ourselves that we are fighting for social justice when in reality, we are fighting each other.

Because the tools of the oppressor cannot be used for liberation.

And finally, the time, place, and manner in which we advocate for social justice matters. Anything that elicits shame, silences others, or causes harm is counterproductive to our work.

We must demonstrate the very things we are asking for, advocating for, fighting for, and even dying for – love and compassion.

Because if we want to live in a socially just world where diversity, equity and inclusion are made real, we must practice it ourselves.

Please share this post with your social justice friends. And let’s heal the world together, bravely.

Marital Advice No One Gives You

Last weekend I officiated a wedding. Because apparently, it’s all the rage to have a totally unqualified person marry you.

Which is kinda perfect because people who get married are usually equally unqualified to do so.

Myself included.

I decided that I wanted to marry my husband on our first date. While that sounds romantic and all, it makes no sense whatsoever and is totally insane.

Most of us can hardly decide what to order at Starbucks let alone who we want to spend the rest of our lives with.

(Caramel Frappuccino or Pumpkin Spice Latte? Hmmmm…..)

But we do it all the time. In Las Vegas alone, there are more than 300 weddings a day, which indicates to me that getting married seems like a super-great idea when our cognitive functions are impaired.

We know the statistics. Half of all marriages end in divorce. And I would wager for the fifty percent who stay married, most would agree that things didn’t turn out quite the way they’d expected.

Which is why I wasn’t surprised the topic, “Marital Advice No One Gives You,” got the most votes for my Friday blog.

What did surprise me, however, was that all of the people who voted for this topic were currently married.

So the advice I’m giving is not really meant for the doe-eyed couples who are engaged or newlywed. There’s loads of advice for them out there, nonsensical stuff like, “Never go to bed angry.” Which in my opinion is actually a very good idea when the alternative is stabbing your spouse with a fork.

Or my personal fave, “True love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Which in my opinion is a very bad idea unless you want to wake up with a fork sticking out of your forehead.

No really, I’m not kidding. You’re going to want to stab him with a fork someday.

Rather, this post is for those of us who are in the trenches, slogging it out. Married for a while, maybe with a kid or two. Because this is when we need marital advice most of all.

Marital Advice No One Gives You

  1. Make fun of everything, especially each other. Develop a dark sense of humor for the hard days, delight in the absurdities of the good days, and whenever possible, laugh at yourself and your spouse because honestly, you’re both jackasses. I once told my husband that when he gets angry, he looks like a silverback gorilla and should maybe try thumping his chest for dramatic effect. We both started laughing and that was that.
  2. Rather than trying to change your spouse, accept who they are and get on with it already. It’s hard enough to change things about ourselves that we don’t like, let alone change things about other people. Your energy is better spent figuring out a way to appreciate and live with this imperfectly perfect human. Every morning, I get up to write, sometimes as early as 4 a.m., which means I pass out around 9 p.m. every night. Rather than getting grumpy about it, my husband uses the time to play video games with our son or watch war movies, both of which are frowned upon by me. But I’m unconscious, so there’s no frowning. It’s a win-win for everyone.
  3. The stuff you hear most couples fight about (money, kids, chores, and sex) is totally 100% true. You can’t avoid the conflict these issues bring up, so if you find yourselves struggling, go see a therapist (individual and/or couples). They have graduate degrees in this stuff and actually know what they are doing. Between the two of us, we’ve had three therapists going at the same time on various occasions. Rather than seeing it as a sign that your marriage isn’t working, see it as proof positive that you are committed to your marriage. And if you think it’s too expensive or too emotionally difficult or too much time to go into therapy, the alternative (divorce) is that times 1,000.
  4. There is no such thing as 50/50 except when you’re sharing dessert. Rather than performing long division to figure out if you’re both equally contributing to your marriage, parenting your kids, etc., rewrite the equation to You + Spouse = 100%. This puts you on the same side and shifts your mindset to getting through this life, together. As much as I’m a feminist and believe in equality at home, I am the primary go-to for all things related to our kids. For one thing, I’m better at it, but secondly, I like doing it much more than my husband. And for us, it works. Find your 100% together, and as long as it’s working for you, it’s working.
  5. A good marriage is not about being “soulmates” or “living happily ever after.” It’s about being able to look at your spouse and think, “This is my ride-or-die homie, the one person on earth I’d want in the trenches with me.” A few years ago, we were out shopping and I saw an elderly couple going through the store. The wife was in a wheelchair, and she was clearly disabled by a stroke or something else awful. As her husband pushed her through the store, he pointed out the pretty lights and the artwork on the wall, whispering in her ear. And I thought, “My husband would do that for me someday, too.” If you know in your soul that your spouse is your ride-or-die, then you are rocking this marriage thing.

I am no expert on marriage. Just ask my husband. After seventeen years, we’re still figuring out how to “fight fair” and not stab each other with forks.

But here’s the deal. No one is an expert at marriage. And perhaps that’s the last piece of advice I’ll leave you with.

So keep doing your best, keep slogging it out, and whatever you do, keep trying.

Sharing is caring. Send this post to your soulmate ride-or-die homie. (Or a newlywed, just for kicks). They’ll thank you for it.

Oh, and send me a suggestion for next week’s topic! It’s a write-in ballot this time.






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 if you have a cool idea.


Raising Brave Boys

“It’s a boy!”

Wait. What? Sorry Mr. Doctor Man, but you’re going to have to shove that baby right back up in there because I already have my baby girl’s name picked out and I know what she’s going to look like and she definitely doesn’t have a penis.

That was my response to the birth of my first child. Along with whispering, “Shit,” as they lifted him proudly to my chest. And then, of course, loving him like crazy.

I should have found out the baby’s sex ahead of time, but I thought it would be super-cool to be surprised. I didn’t appreciate how not knowing could turn into believing like I believe in gravity that it was most definitely 100% a girl.

I’m sure a number of factors were involved in my delusion. The most notable being that I believed raising a girl to be a strong woman might be the most important thing I could ever do in my life.

Boy was I wrong (pun intended).

Fast forward a couple of years. I’m at the playground, pushing my son on the swings. Into my hands and then away he goes. In that moment, for the first time, I realized my baby was becoming a little boy who would someday become a man. And just like the motion of the swing, he would pass from my hands into the world.

“What kind of man will you be?” I wondered. And it was then that I understood raising him to be a good man, a brave man, was just as important as raising a girl to be a strong woman.

I just didn’t know how hard it would be. Or how much courage it would take on my part.

Our boys are expected to be strong, which means they are taught to suppress and deny their emotions. The only real emotion they’re allowed (and often encouraged) to express is anger.

Which is like giving them one awful-colored crayon to color with for the rest of their lives.

Schools label our boys for “acting out” in class, even though we know (like, research-has-proven-this-as-a-fact know) that boys need physical activity and interactive learning environments to thrive.

Sit still, be quiet, and pay attention are not boy-friendly expectations. But that’s how most of our schools are set up.

And perhaps worst of all, boys double-dog-dare each other into being more masculine, humiliating each other with accusations of acting “like a girl.” Which simultaneously teaches our boys to view femaleness as weak/bad/dumb/totally inferior.

And that’s not helpful to anyone. Especially women.

So what can we do to raise brave boys?

Boys with a full palette of emotion to express themselves and understand others? Boys who are celebrated for their exuberance and passion, not sent to timeout? Boys who respect girls and later, respect women?

For me, the answer was that I had to be brave myself.

I had to be brave enough to say, “It’s okay to cry,” even though I was so afraid that someday he might be teased for expressing his feelings.

And when he did express his feelings, especially his anger, I had to be brave enough to meet it with compassion instead of punishing him, even though I was so afraid that he might turn into a bully or worse.

I had to be brave enough to advocate for him at school. I volunteered in his classrooms so I could develop a productive relationship with his teachers, all of whom thought he had ADD or a learning disability.

And I taught him to be brave for others, to use the power he has as a male to do good in the world. Especially with his boy peers. He’s defended girls who were called fat, Mexican-American kids who were told they should be deported.

Last year, he stood up in front of a room full of boys and taught them the value of “respect” after they’d made fun of a transgender person.

I no longer wonder what kind of man he will be. While he still has a few more years of his boyhood left, I know.

He will be a brave man because he is a brave boy. And because he has a brave mama.


Sharing is caring. Send this to a parent who wants to raise a brave boy. Or one who already has. 

Oh, and don’t forget to vote for next week’s topic! I’m posting every Friday and want to write about what most interests you. Survey is below! xoxoako