Don’t You Love Me?

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”I thought we came to the Beach Bar to have a drink and then go parasailing, Michael? We haven’t even made it to the bar. You captured me way out here,” Gale exclaimed.

”C’mon, honey. I’ve missed you all day,” Michael said as he tried to steal a few kisses.

”Later, Michael. I’m thirsty for a beer and I really want to do some parasailing this afternoon,” Gale said as she pushed against Michael’s chest.

She pushed away and Michael turned away. With his back to her, he said, “Honey, don’t you love me?”

”Michael, don’t you even use that line on me,” Gale said.

Michael turned around grinning and grabbed her, kissing her again.

”Do we really have to go parasailing today, Gale? Let’s have one beer and then go to my apartment.”

”I know when I’ve lost an argument,” she said and started walked toward the bar.

Michael didn’t know that, once she made it to the bar, she wasn’t going anywhere with him after this.

168 words

 

Thanks to Priceless Joy and Michelle DeAngelis for the photo prompt.

 

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A Reply to “Academia, Love Me Back” by Tiffany Martinez

Between 1981 and 1988, I was trying to do something similar to what Tiffany Martinez was doing in her essay, Academia, Love Me Back. I was trying to earn a doctorate degree. Tiffany was trying to earn an undergraduate degree on her way to a graduate program. The degrees we were trying to earn don’t matter. The discrimination both of us faced in academia does matter. The reasons we faced that discrimination matters. Tiffany alleges that academia is broken and her essay is current. Tiffany, academia was broken when I was trying to earn my doctorate between 1981-1988. It was broken because of discrimination. You faced the same discrimination I did. You just faced it 35 years later. That is quite an indictment of academia and a legitimate indictment.

I entered a doctoral program to earn a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) in the Fall of 1981. That was 35 years ago. I find it terribly disturbing that what was broken in academia 35 years ago has not yet been fixed. Tiffany, you faced discrimination because of your last name and because you are a woman. You say it was because you didn’t look like everyone else. Of course, that is true.

As for me, I am a white female who was in my late 20s at the time I entered the doctoral program. I was of American descent (Northern European). I did look like most other American women. What I did not look like was a man. In 1981, few women entered my field, the field of finance. It was seen as a man’s world. Only one other woman was in the finance program with me. Sometimes, I felt I was treated like a pet. Even worse, I had to work twice as hard as the men in the program for half the credit. Why? Because I didn’t look like everyone else in the finance program. I was female. I couldn’t possibly conquer finance. Bear in mind. Tiffany, you are facing exactly the same problem 35 years later.

I want to give my fellow finance students in that program credit. The men who were my fellow students were wonderfully accepting. There was no discrimination there. We studied together. We socialized together. I made lifelong friends who are still very much in my life. It was the administration and the professors in the program who discriminated. Not all of them and I don’t want to indict all of them. But enough of them to cause a problem for me.

You might have expected this 35 years ago. Women had just begun breaking into fields that had typically been male-dominated. I suppose one could say that it was more understandable then. Thirty-five years have passed and women are in many male-dominated professions. We have had a woman run for President of the United States. What are we doing discriminating against a female student because of her appearance and her last name?

My biggest problem came when I was finishing my degree. The last step in obtaining a doctorate degree is writing a dissertation and defending it to a committee of your professors and an outside reader. There was an older, very traditional professor on the committee. It was well-known that he did not think it appropriate for a female to have a doctorate in finance. I knew he would vote against me when I defended my dissertation. I was very prepared but I was also scared to death.

I defended my dissertation and stepped outside the room as asked. I don’t know exactly what happened in that room, but I knew that my dissertation chairman was on my side – a more progressive, younger professor. Some time passed and my dissertation chairman stepped out and congratulated me. I had to really control myself to keep from crying with relief.

The time I spent in the doctoral program were some of the best years of my life – and some of the worst. Yes, I faced discrimination but I also had support from my fellow students, mostly male. It disappoints me greatly to think that, 35 years later, a female student like you, Tiffany, is facing the same discrimination in her quest for higher education. I, too, love academia, Tiffany. I, too, wanted it to love me back and went on to become a college professor myself. I tried never to judge a student based on anything but their work.

Tiffany, keep on fighting. Your fellow students will help you. Most professors will help you. There are bad apples in every bunch. You ran into a bad apple who is still caught in the discrimination mindset. Academia needs students like you. Students who will speak out. Students with your credentials. Students with your smarts. Academia will eventually love you back. It is like most institutions. Very slow to change. #amwriting #amblogging #writing #academia

Part 2: The Silver and the Divorce

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The Introduction to The Silver and the Divorce can be read HERE. Now for the next installment:

Ana did not sleep very well that night. Not after the incident when Walter was supposed to just be mowing the yard. Instead, he lied his way into the house and tried to steal her silver. She tossed and turned all night as she occasionally woke to hear the sound of Walter’s motorcycle outside her house. She was up by 6 a.m. even though she did not have to go to work the next day.

When Ana got up, there sat her sister, Marcia, at the kitchen table, drinking coffee. Ana instantly felt terrible. Marcia was staying with her during her divorce so she wouldn’t have to be alone. Now Walter and his ridiculous actions had kept Marcia up all night.

“Sis, are you OK? Have you been up all night?” Ana asked.

“No,” Marcia replied. “There was a knock at the door around 5 a.m. It was Walter. I didn’t go to the door. I didn’t even consider letting him come in. What do you suppose he wanted?”

“Just to harass me some more, I would imagine. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that.”

Marcia said, “I didn’t deal with anything. I ignored the knock at the door. But, isn’t he under a restraining order not to come within 500 feet of you? He was certainly closer than that, Ana! He is not respecting the restraining order at all. That’s scary. I’m also glad neither of us are working right now.”

Ana and Marcia were teachers in their large city school system. Ana taught English in the high school, usually junior and senior English and English literature. Marcia taught Geometry in high school almost exclusively. It was summer and school was out. Their break was brief, but Ana felt fortunate she could deal with this divorce on the break. Marcia could stay with Ana this summer rather than in her own home because she had never been married, had no children, and she just locked up her house and left. She checked on her home frequently.

Ana sat down to have morning coffee with her sister. She was, indeed, concerned about Walter having such blatant disregard for the restraining order. She had to get a restraining order against Walter in the first place because he went so crazy when she asked him for a divorce. They had grown so far apart over the past several years of their marriage that Ana couldn’t believe he was even surprised. If he wasn’t, he surely did put on a good act.

Walter had gotten a small apartment nearby after the judge awarded Ana the house on a temporary basis. She had no intention of living there permanently. She had always hated that big house. They had bought it when Walter’s mother was alive in order to have a place large enough to care for her. She had passed away almost a  year ago now. Ana hoped they could amicably sell the house and divide the proceeds. She knew this was going to be a problem. Walter did not want to leave the neighborhood they had lived in for so long and, frankly, Ana could understand that.

“Marcia,” Ana said, “What should I do about this house in the divorce settlement?”

“You’re going to have to do what your lawyer says. Isn’t that to sell the house and divide the money you get from it?”

“Yes,” Ana said. “That’s what the lawyer says to do. But, I don’t necessarily feel that is the right thing to do. I’m the one that wants a divorce. Is it right that I should make Walter leave the neighborhood we’ve lived in for almost 20 years? These neighbors are like family to him. As you know, he has no family.”

“The only other option is for him to buy you out.”

“Marcia, you know he does not have the savings or the income coming in to do that. He can’t qualify on his own for that kind of loan. It seems to me the only other option is to give him my equity in the house and try to make it up somewhere else in the property settlement.”

“Ana, please,” Marcia says. “Walter checked out of this marriage a long time ago with his drinking and gambling. Do you think he would be half as kind to you?”

“No, of course he wouldn’t. But, shouldn’t I try to take the high road. After all, I’m the one who had the affair.”

Ana had been deeply unhappy in her marriage for many years out of the 20 years she and Walter had been married. Several years ago, she met a man, through mutual friends, and was tempted into an affair. That affair last three full years before Ana and the man involved called it off, realizing it wasn’t going anywhere. Unfortunately, Walter found out about the affair right before Ana ended it.

Walter went absolutely crazy after he found out about the affair. Instead of dealing with it with Ana, he told all their friends and neighbors, literally running up and down their street talking to everyone about it. He embarrassed Ana with everyone as much as possible until she finally had to throw him out of the house and file for the restraining order. She had become afraid of him. He started digging up their credit card bills to try to find out if she had spent any money while having this affair, vowing to make her pay it back to him as part of the property settlement.

Walter even said that he was going to take everything from her – the house, contents, money, and leave her destitute. Ana was so upset at the time that she couldn’t think enough to realize that her state was a no-fault divorce state. Instead of acting like a man and assuming any blame for the state of their marriage, Walter was high and mighty and blamed Ana for everything.

The funny thing was that Walter did not want the divorce. He wanted he and Ana to reconcile, even while trashing her to friends and neighbors and even her family. When he learned that Ana was serious about the divorce and was moving ahead with it, he became even more distraught. He threatened her in every way he possibly could while begging her to come back to him and not go through with the divorce. He could not seem to see that this was not the way to win Ana, or any woman, back.

“An affair,” Marcia scoffed. “Had I been you, I would have had 10 affairs. When Walter wasn’t laying on the couch, he was drinking or putting your money down slot machines. What in the hell was the big deal about an affair? You’re just feeling guilty.”

“Marcia, I’m afraid that, in an open court hearing, he will try to ruin my reputation and I am a teacher. I could lose my job. Maybe I should have tried harder to save my marriage.”

For God’s sake, Ana,” Marcia cried, “You did try. Remember that disastrous trip to Las Vegas you took with Walter a few months ago?”

A few month’s after their marriage blew up, Walter talked Ana into taking a trip with other couples in his company to Las Vegas for a few days. It was the most disastrous trip Ana had ever taken and really sealed their fate. When they got to their room in Las Vegas, Walter wanted to have sex immediately. Ana complied but it was a terrible experience. Then, Walter wanted them both to go to one of the casinos. So, they did. At the casino, Walter completely vanished – for hours. Ana shopped, played a little blackjack, stopped by the sports book. Walter was no where to be found. She walked alone back to the hotel. Walter did not show up until the middle of the night – very drunk.

The next day, Ana got a plane ticket and flew home while Walter was passed out.

“Oh, Marcia, I’ll never forget that horrible trip to Las Vegas,” Ana said. “I was foolish to take it. I don’t think I’ll ever have the stomach to go back to Las Vegas again.”

“I think you need to talk to your lawyer and start getting some advice about the property settlement. You’ve really avoided it up to now. I know you and Walter have discussed it, but he is acting too crazy to be logical. You’re going to have to get your lawyer to draw up something and just present it to his lawyer.”

Ana replied that she would think about it.

That afternoon, there was a knock at the door. It was Walter. He was nicely dressed. Ana answered the door. Walter asked if she would come outside and talk to him. So she did. He seemed calm and ready to talk. Ana knew she should have an attorney present, but this was her husband of 20 years. Surely, they could have a conversation.

Walter wanted to tell Ana one more time that he would like for them to get back together but if they could not, he wanted the house. He went on to say that she could have everything else, meaning the contents. He would take over the house payments. Ana got out a piece of paper and they started making a list. She told him she would take that list to Jack, her attorney, as soon as she could get an appointment. Ana knew she would be stuck with any debt they had since she made much more money than Walter. They ended the night on a conciliatory note.

Ana shared the list with Marcia who was absolutely against Ana and Walter making up their own property settlement. The divorce so far had been filled with such animosity and vitriol on Walter’s part. Marcia just did not think it would work. Also, where in the world would Ana live?

Ana shared with Marcia that she had quietly been looking at small homes on the other side of town. All she wanted was something small in a nice neighborhood as that was all she could take care of by herself. Ana and Marcia knew that, soon, they would have their own mother to take care of and they planned to share that responsibility. Ana was looking for a small home, possibly with mother-in-law quarters.She had not found anything suitable yet but she was optimistic.

Ana decided to take the list she and Walter made to Jack, her attorney, tomorrow and see what he thought. She felt pretty good about it. She felt she was more than fair to Walter and that she would be able to leave the marriage with a clear conscience.

Ana and Marcia talked some more and tonight, there was no motorcycle circling the house. But, unfortunately, Ana had no idea what was to come. #divorce #romance #blogging #amwriting #amblogging #writing

*Stay Tuned for Part 3, The Silver and the Divorce

@Copyright Rosemary Carlson 2016

A Letter to my 15-Year Old Self

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Do you ever think back to some past point in your life and ponder what you might do differently if you had it all to do over again? I find myself doing that at critical junctures in my life. Recently, I’ve thought about myself as a young teenager and what she might do differently if she had the opportunity to write a different script for her life. I think some of what I determined might be better courses of action for her might apply to others so I thought I would share them with you.

  1.  If I could be 15 years old again, with the wisdom I have now, I would ignore the boy I met at the college basketball that night when I was truly 15. When he came over to me, sat down beside me, and introduced himself, I would get up and walk away. I would know that I wasn’t ready to date anyone, including that boy. I would know that this boy came from a different background and we wouldn’t understand each other. I would sense his underlying bad temper and be fearful of him. I would not waste three years on him and let him change the course of my life forever.
  2. If I could be 15 years old again, with the wisdom I have now, I would be looking at colleges in other cities rather than just in my hometown. I wanted to go to an Ivy League school and I would try to make that happen by getting scholarships. Instead, I let my parents talk me into staying at home and going to college in my hometown. It was a good school, but I wanted to go to a great school – an Ivy league school. Instead of majoring in what was popular at the time, I would double major in Classical Piano and English and head off to New York City after college to seek my fortune – a good music school that would accept me into their program.
  3. If I could be 15 years old again, with the wisdom I have now, I would realize that I would have my friends from my time in the first 12 grades of school with me all of my life but that I would also make other lifelong friends during my life journey. I would not care quite so much about the “sibling” rivalry that springs up in a small private school like mine. Rather, I would realize that when we all grew up, the petty stuff would be gone and we would renew our friendships on an adult level and support each other the rest of our lives.
  4. If I could be 15 years old again, with the wisdom I have now, I would listen to my parents when they advised me not to marry as young as I did. For me, very little good came from marrying so young and, perhaps, a great deal of harm. Marrying young caused me to be unable to know myself as an adult beyond functioning as a half of a couple.
  5. If I could be 15 years old again, with the wisdom i have now, I would spend more time with my parents as they got old. Of course, my dad never got old. He didn’t get that chance and I didn’t get the chance to know him as an adult because, during the few years he lived when I was an adult, he was working hard and I was working hard. We failed to prioritize our relationship – something I will always regret. My mother did get old and spent the last 14 years of her life in my care. Unfortunately, she was beyond strengthening relationships at that point.

IF you could go back to 15 years old, what would you do differently? #amwriting #amblogging #writing #lifestyle

The Most Elegant Lady

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I always blame my aunt for my credit card bills. Even though she has been gone now for a long time, she had great influence over me in many areas. Education. Behavior. The way I view my family. The way I view the world. And, perhaps unfortunately for me, the things that I like including clothes, accessories, and home furnishings.

My Aunt Red was the most elegant lady. She lived next door to me as i grew up. She was a fourth grade school teacher in a small elementary school in a county in northeastern Kentucky. She came from a county deep in the heart of eastern Kentucky. I’ve often wondered where she learned to be so refined, such a polished and stylish lady in a land where elegance wasn’t necessarily the norm. Survival was. I still can’t answer that question. But, I do remember seeing her reading Vogue Magazine years before anyone else around this part of the country knew what Vogue Magazine even was. In the 1920s, she was even a flapper girl!

Aunt Red was the definition of elegance in everything she was and did. She was dignified to a fault and graceful in her appearance and behavior. She dressed in a tasteful, yet simple, manner. But not cheap. Never cheap. Since she did not live in a place where designer clothes were available, she ordered them from nearby big cities. From stores like Saks. She started buying designer clothes for me when I was 12 and did so up until I left home at 20. Even after that, she would surprise me with clothes. The first designer piece of clothing she ever bought me was a black coat which I wish i had to this day. She taught me what to wear and what not to wear, lessons I remember still.

Do you see why I blame her for my clothing bills? Her lessons about appropriate, fine clothing are so ingrained in my head that I could not buy anything else if i tried and her lessons were taught to me 50 years ago.

But, Aunt Red was not all about clothes. She embodied elegance in many other ways. She was the glue that held our family together. Even more than my grandparents. After her death, I saw cracks start in my family. Cracks that have grown wider and deeper with time. Aunt Red helped people. She had many friends and, if it was within her power, she never let anyone suffer or want for anything. She took care of me, an only child, when my dad was working out of town and my mother couldn’t. She taught me to read at three years of age and put me in piano lessons at four. She was my second mother in every way that made a difference.

Aunt Red could go anywhere, fit in with any group of people, and look and sound like the best educated person in the room. She could discuss any subject and make any person to whom she spoke feel like they were the most important person she had ever met.

She passed away from a horrible, painful illness way too young. She never complained like the elegant lady she was, right to the end. The last thing she said to me, the night before she died, was to admonish me to finish my education. I loved her very much, as did everyone in my family. Every girl should have such a dignified, exquisite role model. I consider myself very lucky indeed. But i still blame her for my credit card bills! #amwriting #writing #amblogging #lifestyle

Recipe for Cole Slaw

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Here is a lightened up version of a old-fashioned recipe for cole slaw. It’s very easy and can be used just for supper at night or for big family dinners:

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded green cabbage (easy way is to shred in food processor)

1/2 cup both thinly sliced red bell pepper and red onion

2 tbsp both seasoned rice vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsps salt

1/8 tsps freshly ground black pepper

Toss all ingredients together, cover, and refrigerator for at least an hour. You can double or triple this recipe for bigger gatherings. #amwriting #blogging #diabetes #healthyeating

 

Baby Boomers: Obsessed with Staying Young?

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I may do a series of articles on the topic of baby boomers. I am one. I’m interested in the characteristics of all generations, but I’ll start with the boomers. Are we baby boomers obsessed with staying young? Baby boomers, in the U.S. were born between 1946 and 1964. The post World War II generation. There are many characteristics and issues I could blog about regarding we baby boomers but, in this post, I’m going to write about whether or not we have an obsession with youth. Are baby boomers obsessed with staying young?

Right away, I will tell you how I feel so you will know my particular bias. My answer is an unqualified yes. Of course, not every member of a group have the same characteristics so there are undoubtedly many boomers out there who are growing old gracefully. I just don’t happen to be one of them. I don’t think the majority of boomers are growing old gracefully. I intend to fight growing old – kicking and screaming if necessary. Yes, I know that, ultimately, it won’t help. But, I can try. I can take care of myself from a physical, mental, and emotional standpoint. I can do all I can do.

I contend that doing all you can do to take care of yourself and, yes, even fighting to stay young is not only an exercise in self-preservation but a positive outlook on life. Is it such a bad thing to want to look, think, and feel as young as possible? I don’t think so. I think many baby boomers would agree with me. Even doctors agree with me.  They say that people with a positive, young outlook and those who actively try to stay healthy, mentally and physically, tend to live longer and stay healthier

There are billions of dollars spent every year on anti-aging products and treatments. Since the baby boomers started getting older, the segment of the market offering anti-aging products and services has taken a huge jump and is expected to skyrocket by 2019. Not only do many of us not want to quit work, we also don’t want to get old, however you define old. We use treatments and potions on our faces and bodies. We get tucks here and there. We get shots of Botox and other fillers in our faces. We take our Vitamin D and stay out of the sun. We get facials, waxes, implants, dental work, and full-fledged face lifts when necessary. It isn’t your grandmother’s generation. I don’t see anything wrong with any of it.

What don’t we do? The very things that would make a difference. We don’t eat right, at least not as well as we should, and we don’t exercise as much as we should. Both can and do slow aging. There are pathways in our biology that can be used to manipulate aging. For example, the simple act of fasting can slow down the aging process. Short periods of fasting work. Intermittent fasting, or longer periods of fasting, work even better. Other techniques to slow the aging process can be learned from the people of Okinawa. They eat very lightly and only certain foods. They do practice fasting. Fasting shuts down growth and metabolism pathways.These people  live to be considerably over 100 years old and work into their 90s. The books written about their way of life are fascinating

Even for boomers who eat well, the downfall for many of us boomers is exercise. Exercise is an elixir for we who want to delay aging. We just choose not to drink it as often as we should. Exercise changes the way our genes work.

The good news is that there are ways to delay aging. When we reach late middle age, things start happening. Medical conditions happen. Some we can get under control. If we practice some of the techniques that science know work, we can delay the aging process. We can help that along, regarding physical appearance, with some of our treatments and potions. Of course, genetics plays a role. We have to start with the basics.

More to come on baby boomers and aging. Here is a link to one of the books on the people of Okinawa. It is fascinating reading. #amwriting #writing #blogging #BabyBoomers

The Okinawa Program: How the World’s Longest LIved People Achieve Everlasting Health and How You Can Too

 

The Glass Ceiling

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There are women out there right now reading this blog post for one reason — the title. The glass ceiling. Women and members of minorities work hard all their lives and often can never reach their potential in their chosen profession. Why? An invisible barrier that is unofficially acknowledged in business that especially affects women and minorities but can affect men too. That barrier is called the glass ceiling, a term coined in the 1980’s which represents a barrier to a forbidden level of achievement in the business world, usually upper management.

The glass ceiling is actually an unfair system of prejudices through which employees can see the next level of advancement above their current professional positions but can’t attain those positions because of gender, age, ethnicity, or political and religious affiliation. The media focuses mostly on the inability of women to break through the glass ceiling, but minorities have just as many problems as do women and so do older employees and those of political or religious affiliations that do not set well with upper management. These employees who are staring straight up at the glass ceiling are just as qualified and deserving as other employees who are not hampered by the glass ceiling.

Hillary Clinton, when she won the Democratic Presidential nomination, shattered the highest and hardest glass ceiling in the world. That did not solve the problems for all the women in the world who will still be banging their heads on that glass. There are a plethora of metaphors that are offshoots of the glass ceiling metaphor. For example, young black women claim that there is no glass ceiling for them. They can’t even see through that ceiling and they call it the concrete ceiling! Working mothers call it the “maternal wall.” Asian employees refer to it as the “bamboo ceiling.” There are even more associated metaphors.

Lest the white males who are reading this post feel left out, they are not. There has been more than one case of a man choosing a profession usually reserved for a woman or a member of a minority group who has run up against the glass ceiling. There is a case study of a man who entered the field of sales and applied for a job selling beauty products. He encountered substantial resistance from women in the field. The fields of nursing and public relations are other examples. Those are traditionally women-dominated fields. Men entering those fields often face increased scrutiny, stereotyping, and they bump their heads on the glass ceiling. It forces men to face what women have been encountering in forbidden career choices for years.  When men are affected in this way, it is called the reverse glass ceiling.

Most business analysts believe the glass ceiling has been cracked but not broken. Women still have a hard time climbing to the top. I experienced this myself and you can read about my struggle in my own career in Women and Autonomy: Self-Determination. Baby boomers who have retired and are re-entering the workplace because, perhaps, their retirement savings is not enough to sustain them face age discrimination. Black Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans – they face the same struggles women face in climbing to the top in the management of businesses. Employees who loudly express political views and employees who make their religious affiliations known may also have problems climbing to the top.

Some in the media and the business world like to claim that the glass ceiling has been broken because of women like Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina, who was head of Hewlett-Packard. Fiorina proclaimed the days of the glass ceiling to be over. Fiorina is wrong. Jone Johnson Lewis, in her article Glass Ceiling for Women, cites a Reuters study, conducted in 2008, that says 95% of American workers believe that strides women have made in the job market have improved dramatically, but 86% say that the glass ceiling has been cracked but not broken. There are only women in 14% of the major CEO jobs in the U.S. There are five Black Americans who are CEO’s and Asian Americans are less than two percent of CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies.

There is some hope for the future. Another blogger has found that companies with diversity goals pay their female employers a premium salary in order to draw them in. Check out her blog post. Another blogger encourages women to be their own advocate in her blog post. Yet another blogger discusses how to break the glass ceiling.

The glass ceiling may be an old concept but the U.S. still has a long way to go in order to fix the problem and break the glass ceiling and the “good ole boy” mindset that causes it. #amwriting #writing #blogging #womensissues

 

 

Women and Autonomy: Self-Determination

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One of my passions is writing about women’s issues. Another one of my passions is thinking about the concept of women and autonomy. Why? Back in the 1970s and 1980s, I decided I wanted a professional career. Not only did I want a professional career, but I wanted a career in a male-dominated field. I wanted to get my doctorate in Business Administration and teach on a university level in a business school, specifically in finance.

During those years, there were very few women in the field of finance. Sorry, guys, but back then, that meant I was fighting an uphill battle. To be fair, I think the men of 2016 are far more accepting of women in previously dominated male professions than some of the men were in 1979, when I embarked on studying for my career.

If you look in the dictionary, you will find that the word “autonomy” has several different meanings that actually all mean the same thing. It is defined as “the freedom to determine one’s own actions” and it does not say one thing that is gender-specific. It isn’t just specific to men…..or women.

When I made the decision to study for and embark on my career, I didn’t feel the need to ask anyone, including my husband, if that was an acceptable decision. I felt like, as an individual human being, that I had the autonomy to make this decision myself. I did. It was my right.

I studied for and obtained my Master’s degree (Master of Business Administration or MBA) and then, I studied for my Doctor of Business Administration or DBA. It wasn’t easy. The coursework was hard. Writing the dissertation was hard. Not only did I work the entire time I was going to school, but I was also married and taking care of my mother. At first, I taught at the school from which I got my doctorate. Later, when I was working on my dissertation, I taught at a school 75 miles away and commuted to work. I always laughed and told my friends that my dissertation was written in the middle of the night because that is the only time when I had the time and quiet to do it.

I had a lot of friends who were also studying for their doctorates. Most of the other students in the program were men. There was only one other woman in my field of finance. We had friends, however, across disciplines — in marketing, management, etc. All the women had a similar life and similar schedule to mine. The men were a different story. Either they were single and could concentrate totally on their studies or they were with a supportive partner who carried the load while they studied. Not so with the women in the program. We had to continue on with our traditional roles as women. We saw this as unfair.

Back in those days, others saw it as fair. After all, we made the decision to seek out a non-traditional role for ourselves. It felt like punishment. Even though we had taken back our autonomy as human beings to seek out our careers, we were being punished for not pursuing our traditional roles as women.

The discrimination continued when we took our newly-minted degrees and started applying for jobs. Of course, the discrimination was unspoken and subtle because laws had already been passed before the 1980s prohibiting such discrimination. The women I knew in finance at my school and other schools were seen as odd to have pursued a degree in an all-male field. Lucky for us, universities needed us at that time. The concept of diversity was becoming important. Universities were being encouraged to have a more diverse faculty and hiring a woman for their finance department fit the bill. We all got jobs.

I could keep talking about this endlessly. About how women in male-dominated fields in universities have to work twice as hard for 3/4 of the pay. About how it is extra hard for us to get promotion and tenure. About how our portfolios for promotion and tenure have to be superior to any male colleagues’ portfolio. About how our salary increases never match those of our male colleagues. About how, by the time  I retired, I still didn’t make as much money as male colleagues who had the exact same credentials as I did. About how the schedules I taught, semester after semester, were more difficult than any male colleague I had.

It all finally burned me out. I was tired of fighting. It was a fight. Right up until the end. When I reached the point where I could retire with most of my pension and my health insurance, I did just that. Retired.

I’ve never looked back. I’ve never been sorry I retired. I’ve never tried to get another teaching job even though I am more than qualified. I decided, 27 years before the time I retired, to reach out, take back my autonomy, and have a professional career. It was the most difficult thing I ever did……and, despite the hardships, the most rewarding. I loved teaching. I taught mostly Appalachian students. I loved seeing their eyes light up when they “got” a concept I was teaching. I miss those students. I miss teaching them.

I don’t miss the discrimination and the politics of academia. I don’t miss the service on unnecessary committees. I also loved to do the research that is required of college professors, but there is not enough time given to professors due to such heavy teaching loads to do good research. If I am going to do research in my field of finance, it is going to be good research or I’m not going to do it.

My point in writing this post is to encourage women to take back their autonomy. If you have a passion to do something — anything — do it! You won’t be a fulfilled person if you don’t. If you aren’t fulfilled, you won’t be any good to your family or your community. I urge you, as strong women, to think about what you want to do with your life, get the education you need to do it, and then go and do it. You will be a better, more fulfilled person for it. #amwriting #writing #blogging #womensissues

 

Friendship

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When we are young adults, most of us have many friends. We still have our friends from high school. We make friends in college. We have embarked on our careers and have work friends. We have friends from other walks of life that we have made along the way. As we go along through our lives, not all of those friends stay with us. We lose some along the way. Some become involved in their families and with their children and don’t feel they have time for friendships. Others are trying to establish demanding careers and they are lucky to get home at night in time to fall into bed, get a few hours sleep, and do it all over the next day. Some friends develop interests that are different than ours and friendships die a natural death. Others move away and the geographic distance makes maintaining friendship challenging.

As our friends change and step into their adult lives, we change too.

If we are emotionally healthy, we develop an understanding of why friends come and go and we don’t end up with any resentment toward these individuals who were our friends. As we get older, our friends tend to fall into several categories:

1. Casual Friends: These are the friends you might go to a movie with, or shopping, or even lunch. Casual friends are usually for pure social interaction. But, you aren’t going to tell them your deepest and darkest thoughts and secrets.

2. Business Friends: These are your work friends. They are people you see daily, collaborate with on projects, and may have a little social interaction with like daily lunches. It is easy to let them become at least casual friends, but these friends can become toxic due to issues like professional jealousy.

3. Intimate Friends: Don’t think sexual here. That is not what I mean by intimate friends. Intimate friends are your best friends. I am of the opinion that you have only a handful of real intimate friends in your life, though your perception may be that you have more than this. I think that is a dangerous perception. Intimate friends are those with whom you share your hopes and dreams and your deepest thoughts and feelings. You trust these friends implicitly.

4. Toxic Friends: These friends are those you make, perhaps at work, that latch onto you without knowing you well but who want to know all your deepest and darkest secrets. They may also be casual friends who are not emotionally healthy and become obsessed. The sooner you can get out of a toxic relationship, the better.

The whole discussion of friendship begs the question: Why do we need friends? Why can’t our spouse or significant other, serve as the only friend we need? The answer, I think, is simple. People need people. Not just our spouse or significant other. Women need their girlfriends. We find being around our girlfriends soothing and satisfying. We can talk to them and get things off our chests. We can listen and help them do the same. We feel needed.

In order to work, friendship has to feel right. One person can’t be a better friend than the other. There can’t be any passive-aggressive behavior or hidden agendas on either side. There has to be openness and honesty. There has to be mutual sharing and respect. Both people in a friendship have to be able to talk to the other. If we have that with our girlfriends, we have real friends. #amwriting #writing #blogging #Bestfriends!