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Category Archives: Women

funny old lady

When it comes to a friend, give me a real woman of a certain age. That number is not fixed, but an age where you have acquired some wisdom and life experience. Some women learn the hard lessons early in life, and others need to spend more time learning, until they can stand on common ground.

A real woman is not afraid to be honest, straight forward and talk openly about the battle scars that she has earned along the way. Each battle has a story and memories behind it. Whether funny or sad, the scars add up, inside and out, and we keep going, adding even more than we ever thought possible.

A certain age is acquired because it takes time to see parents age, or a loved one pass. A certain age is required to remember what going to a library was like and holding real books in your hand. A woman of a certain age can discuss college, adolescent children, divorce, work, and trying to pay the bills. Women of a certain age can recognize songs from the last 40 years, or more, and remember where they were when they first enjoyed them. Women of a certain age are also not afraid to turn the music up, dance in the car and sing loudly to the radio. That is an age of confidence and reckless abandon, not years.

I have self doubts where once I had confidence. With each betrayal, or new anxiety, time has taught me not to trust as openly and fully as I once did, and replaced it with caution. We build our experiences without forgetting the old. We create a history and, if lucky, a life with someone willing to ride alongside.

Real women of a certain age are able to judge people on their own merits without having to Google them or follow their tweets. They have learned how to trust their intuition and assess a situation similar to one they have had in the past. Women of a certain age have a gage of comparison for human behavior in themselves and others. Real women are rarely at a loss for words. They have learned when it is safe to speak, or keep it to themselves, because they know no one is genuinely listening.

Real women are able to discuss things openly and recognize phoniness at ten paces. Their lives have not been perfect, but they buy their own groceries, work to pay the bills, and suffer through adolescence angst at least twice – once as a teenager and many more times as a mother.

The wonderful thing about real women is they can speak freely and have a great conversation. There is more than enough reality to go around, so you share your stories and remark on the common threads of experiences. We don’t want to have to look over your shoulder, or ours, to find an ulterior motive on the horizon or someone keeping score. We no longer have the patience for the espionage or efforts to tear us down. We have been where you are now, and already succeeded, and begun something new. Just because you want me to prove myself to you, does not mean I have to, because inside I know who I am. The body may be moving slower, but the brain projects even faster.

Real women of a certain age have grown up enough to realize that while things have not turned out the way they always wanted, or don’t look the way they used to, they are all they’ve got, and are survivors, in every way.

Real women have not let go; It is not merely a lack of caring. Rather, it is a searing, fresh desire and ability to communicate deeply about things that no one asked if we were ready to let go of, or cared deeply about, and so we form strong opinions. I wanted to let go of the weight, but the hair went instead. No one gave me a choice, but that is how it goes. I had to leave behind best friends, but gained real time with my family. I have worked long hours, traveled to different jobs, and won awards, but now my job is to help support my family’s financial needs. It may not look impressive in person, or on paper, but it is a priority and my motivation. Real women know that while it is not always appreciated, it is our task and goal to raise the children we bring into the world to the best of our ability. We acknowledge that while they may not have always been our finest moments, we have done the very best we could at the time. The hard choices have to be made, and no one else will accept the responsibility, so a real woman steps up.

For those of you who are younger than me, and are dismissive of my technical skills or count me as part of the invisible generation, remember I have already lived through what you are just contemplating or beginning. I was not born with a mouse in my hand. My learning curve has been steeper and steadier because I am of a certain age. I can communicate in cursive, write thank you notes, and lived through TV screens that went from bigger to smaller and back again. I have worked on manual typewriters, electric typewriters, switchboards, large computers that used Basic, to learning Word, Excel and iPhone apps. I have balanced books with manual ledger and written checks in QuickBooks. My waistline may keep expanding, but so does my mind and world of experience.

Real women don’t speak differently when talking to a man; they speak to every human being earnestly regardless of money, power, or gender. Real women don’t minimize who they are to maximize someone else’s ego. Intelligence and loyalty are to be respected and hard-earned in the ups and downs of daily existence. If there is an issue, let’s talk about it. If I have hurt you, or you have hurt me, we need to be honest about our actions, accountability and our apologies. Or, we could save a lot of time, and treat each other kinder and more compassionately from the beginning. We have all got bruises and keep pushing on. Anger and disappointment are real, revenge and back stabbing are not. Look me in the eye when I speak and don’t climb the ladder of acquisition on my back. Emotions and ego take place, but in a relationship with a real woman, of a certain age, you either choose to move forward or leave the toxic behind. You have better things to do and time is more precious. It is better and more meaningful to be true friends with a real woman, than acquaintances with a superficial one.

It is sobering to realize that I am now of a “certain age.” Turning 50, and acknowledging it, is like tearing off a Band-Aid. Whether you do it fast or slow, it is going to hurt! I keep thinking that the more times I say my age out loud, the more I will get used to it. But it is like the changing of the year, I will be writing the wrong numbers for months.

But I love a real woman who is honest, open, and able to laugh out loud. I respect the woman who has advice on raising adolescents and young adults because she has done it herself, yet realizes that her way is not the only way and recognizes the humor and irony in the process. It takes another grandmother to understand the crazy, boundless love you can have for a new member of the family tree. I appreciate the growing list of health issues, and meds to be taken, while still dreaming of a good margarita. Despite understanding that I might look better in Spanx, but would prefer to be barefoot and admiring my pedicure, is a beautiful thing. Acceptance through awareness and experience is what makes a real woman of a certain age a joy to behold ~~ and the best kind of friend to cultivate.

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In Life

Friendships with women “of a certain age” seem more precious and fragile to me. They arise like soap bubbles, frothy and shiny, but have to be caught before they slip away. I have to work to catch the opportunity before it is gone.

I do not live in the city where I raised my children; there are no mommy coffee dates and well-planned birthday parties at indoor amusement parks. The memories of Saturday afternoon dinners shared among good friends, and their children, are of a time many years ago.

At this age, I go to work and home. Very rarely, do I have the energy to plan activities in the evenings. However, there is an opportunity to meet people once a year, or every six months, in a long-denied rendezvous of talk and reality. Our spirits merge like magnets, pulled together and hanging on each word, laughing together and grateful for the encapsulated histories we have created. We don’t see each other often, but when we do, we go back to our routine of honesty, laughter, tears, and empathy.

It is a wonderful thing to bypass the posturing and the posing, the nonsense, and the false compliments and go straight to the good stuff: the truth!

We talk about our adult children, the changes in our bodies, the experiences with our families, our concerns for future employment, and what miracle will become our retirement plan. We don’t pretend to be a size 6 or 10 or 14, we know things have softened. But, it is not just our bodies, it is our hearts too. We are more sensitive, aware, and acknowledge the good and bad that occurs in the world and our prayers for the safety of children everywhere. We understand the language of grief and sadness and share it in our conversation. We float from one topic to another, untethered from any destination or motive, and simply speak eye to eye.

We are well-educated but know that intelligence and experiences aren’t always recognized for the accomplishments that they are in a life of ups and downs. We leave the narcissism to others and talk from the soul.

It is such a gift to find, at this stage in my life, that I can be drawn to some personalities who make me feel welcome and treasured. Underneath all the stress and artifice, there are deep wells of emotion and the freedom to share it all with another smart, empathetic, compassionate woman.

Is it better to have a therapist or a friend? At this age, perhaps they are one and the same.

We allow ourselves, without fear, to shed the masks and the tears, and question where and who we are. The delight in unraveling conversation is joyful, but limited in time. That is what makes it all the more precious and recognized for the gift that it is.

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george carlin men are stupid

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brain-mri

I love when business recognizes the value of empathy and emotional intelligence in the workplace and the value of the social sciences in all walks of life. It is so often misunderstood, that people lose their humanity in pursuit of purely analytical thinking, control, dominance and manipulating weaknesses. In fact, the concept of these black and white traits have been identified as least likely admired or identified in those characteristics desired in others.

Some of the earlier ideas about what constitutes intelligence were studied by numerous researchers and psychologists and determined that cognition was not the only factor to the variety of ways in which people are smart. Several researchers and contributors to this field are well known in bringing awareness and understanding of the multiple ways in which people learn, grow and develop.

In 1983, Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence introduced the idea of multiple intelligences. This work began to impact modalities in education and the acknowledgment that learners were not strictly visual or auditory in their capabilities. In understanding the various ways in which people are smart, as well as developing methods to appeal to those whose strengths and ability to learn are driven by as many as nine personal strengths, teachers, psychologists, managers, colleagues, and parents discovered the many ways of processing information in others and had another utensil in their toolbox of skills . Two of those competencies include interpersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people) and intrapersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations).

Daniel Goleman began writing about Emotional Intelligence in 1995. Emotional intelligence competencies are learned abilities like the drive to achieve and emotional self-control, both of which build on underlying EI components like self-management. The four domains of emotional intelligence expand understanding through the inside and outside of one’s thinking and behavioral development. The domains are: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

His work has been utilized in the personal and professional arenas. His article “What Makes a Leader” has been called one of the Harvard Business Review’s top ten “must read” articles. He wrote about three abilities that distinguish the best leaders from average: self-awareness, which both lets you know your strengths and limits, and strengthens your inner ethical radar; self-management, which lets you lead yourself effectively; and empathy, which lets you read other people accurately. You put all those together in every act of leadership.

In a recent interview, Daniel Goleman stressed the crucial importance of psychology in understanding the needs of people. His use of Emotional Intelligence in leadership studies emphasizes the human element necessary in those skills needed to drive customers or employees because it is all based on people’s emotions.

For employees, how a leader makes them feel plays a large role in their level of motivation, commitment, and even drives their brain in (or out of) the best zone for marshaling whatever cognitive abilities and skills they bring to the job. For customers and clients, how they feel about their interactions with the people in an organization determines how they feel about the company as a whole.

Developing your best self by defining your passion, or the ubiquitous follow your bliss, is at its root the use of your emotional intelligence. This is part of finding your drive, presenting your spark and gaining a following and understanding of yourself and others. The use of multiple and emotional intelligences is critical to successful relationships in a wide range of arenas including between teachers and students, as well as, parents and children.

Sales may involve widgets, tangibles, and intangibles, but ultimately, the client is also buying the person selling those items. Products are available online, in brick and mortar establishments and through more and more flash and auction sites. The difference is how the transaction makes one feel about the person selling and providing the product and service. Daniel Pink echoes these thoughts in his most recent book To Sell is Human. Daniel Pink, a best-selling author, highlights the use of social science to create attunement and buoyancy whether in sales, cajoling kids, or acknowledging how we present ourselves to each other in our daily communications and interactions.

Another new book, The Athena Doctrine, written by John Gerzema, identifies the research and results of using more “female” natural abilities, sometimes identified as soft skills in the workplace. In his testing, he asked 64,000 women and men in 13 countries to classify 125 human traits–half of the sample by gender and the other half by which are most important to leadership, success, morality, and happiness today.

They consistently picked what they considered “feminine traits” or values–such as selflessness, empathy, collaboration, flexibility, and patience–as the most important. Legitimately, behavior does not have to be seen as feminine, or unmanly, as social science and other forms of non-classical intelligence quotient prove success among all genders, locations, ages, and belief systems.

Empathy is such a critical value that it benefits the workplace and personal lives as it is fundamental to success, morality and happiness.

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal wrote about the neurology and mental wellness associated with traits like empathy and social awareness. Critical brain pathways and networks are involved in our appraisals and understanding of social and emotional situations. The very delicate balance and neural connections contribute to our personal emotions, behaviors, and personality. Research studies have shown that one of the early indicators of health problems is the loss of the ability to empathize. Empathy helps us to correctly read and figure out meaningful emotional and environmental stimuli. Healthy brain function triggers messages to us to understand appropriate responses. Another social deficit in early illness is the inability to recognize insincerity and sarcasm. This becomes important in identifying social functioning in autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Dementia and other disorders and spectrums that affect the brain.

Empathy is one of the most complex social skills and behaviors as it utilizes so many executive brain functions. The ability to read people, see the interactions, discriminate between sincere and insincere comments and actions, process information, and respond appropriately within social contexts and to another’s personal needs is a multi-layered healthy brain perception and emotional process.

Extending empathy, kindness, charity, openness, honesty, clarity, and awareness of others and their needs, creates healthier people and environments. Empathy is not a weakness but rather a strength to be admired, desired, and shared.

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