Category Archives: Success Skills

Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection.

wonder women 1

[When asked to solve the Women’s problem at Harvard}  I didn’t solve the problem. But I did realize that there was one. Or, more precisely, that women across even the top tiers of American society were struggling, continuously and consistently, to make it in a world that remained predominantly male, a world that, despite decades of scrutiny and attention, was still stacked against them.

Many of the women who operated in this world were phenomenally successful. They ran universities and hedge funds, hospitals and museums, investment banking divisions and legal practices. Very few of them complained of gender bias or described themselves as feminists. But outside the boardroom, in bathrooms and book clubs across the country, even the most successful of these women were railing quietly against the “women’s problem.” They were acknowledging that even if they “had it all,” they still had lives that were fundamentally different from and more difficult than men’s. They were still, almost always, in the minority. They were still dodging comments and innuendoes that took them aback. They were juggling playdates and dental appointments and flute recitals, all of which were somehow absent from the to-do lists of their male partners. And they were still worrying about how they looked. (Debora L Spar, Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection).

I had a lovely email from Jamie, the above author’s Special Assistant, asking me to tell you about Debora L. Spar’s new book. This was because of previous posts on feminist books and the issues they raise, such as Lean In and Wifework. After being thrilled to hear from him and that he liked some of my post,s I then had to decide what to do. I haven’t read the book, unfortunately Jamie wasn’t asking for my home address so that he could send me a free copy and there was always the chance I would hate it!

Hence began my research, and although I have only read a little bit (thank you Amazon) I love what I read and look forward to reading more. As far as I can make out Debora Spar’s argument is that we can’t do it all and that we shouldn’t try to! No man tries to do it all. My Sister was quick to point out that even if a Dad has his children, long-term or short-term, in her experience, he parents very differently to a woman. So he should we say, he’s a Man, we don’t want him to be like a woman. Yet if honest, how many of us women are trying to be like both?

I love that Michelle Obama coined the term Mom-In-Chief which no one can deny is as important a role within their family as her husband’s role is outside of it. And of course she does a lot more besides and is a highly educated, wealthy, successful and powerful woman in her own right. As a role model of mine, I can only hope that she is able to achieve all of these things on her own terms and within her own comfort zone. In that way she can help me one day to do the same!

Can’t wait to read the book!


Do You Say Please?

What a stupid question I hear you say. Of course I say please because I was brought up properly, to have good manners! Calm down, of course you were, as was I, but that is not the sort of please that I mean.

I have realised that I don’t say please. Or rather I don’t mean please. When Mum says she can’t make Little Lady’s birthday because her leg is hurting (she walked into town to buy some items even though she needs a hip replaced and has already had the other one done) I say fine and am fully prepared to do without her attendance even though 10 other family members will be here. Other Half’s response is to flatter, cajole, plead and tell me to get in the car and go to pick her up!

When someone isn’t on the same side as me in a decision to be made, I turn into a lawyer giving every reason under the sun as to why I am right and the decision has to go my way! At no point though do I ask, or plead, giving the true decision making over to the other person. No way! That would involve me becoming vulnerable and possibly receiving an answer that I didn’t want and wouldn’t like! Essentially that could lead to me being hurt.

I’d like to be able to say how not to do this. After all the blog is called How Do You Think It’s Done and is about making your journey easier. Maybe this post though is to ask whether you are doing the same thing? Are you avoiding heartfelt requests in order to protect yourself? In doing so though, do you realise what you are missing out on, the relationships, the events, the experiences? I’m beginning to, which is why next time around I will try to say PLEASE…? If I don’t get my way, at least I tried and as importantly, I felt. Walls stop you feeling. Feeling love, kindness, generosity and so many other emotions. Walls stop you being in receipt of them too. I don’t want that. What about you?

Nelson Mandela.

MadelaI expected to feel resigned on Madiba’s passing. After all, he was old, he was in poor health, so we had been given due warning, and what an amazing legacy! To be loved by the world and surrounded by family and friends, probably passing away in your sleep, who wouldn’t want that. And who of us should be sad about such a death?

Yet sad I am. I may never have known him, yet he felt like my father too, as well as the father of South Africa. I am pretty sure that there is nothing for which I will ever be giving up 27 years of my life. Let alone have a belief for which I am prepared to die. That is before you throw in wanting all to be equal rather than turning the table on previous oppressors and turning them into the oppressed. Not even to just withhold revenge, but to extend the hand of forgiveness and peace. To call Nelson Mandela and his legacy ‘special’ seems positively lame. He was a legend and will now be an icon.

Barak Obama is right. How can we apply Mandela’s teaching by example in our own lives? Do we have to have a cause to believe in as much as he did? Do we need to be the humble yet clear leader and statesman that he was? Or do we need to turn our back on revenge and hurt, and reach out for forgiveness and love when others hurt us? Or do we need to turn the circumstances in which we find ourselves into the best situation that we can, if need be, making prison walls our home and our jailers our friends? When our relationships and even marriages break down, do we need to find a way to remain in a positive relationship, for the sake of what we had our future peace and the children we bore?

The questions could go on and on. From the global, to the spiritual to the one to one and the anecdotes of all who knew him saying how special He made Them feel, when they were the ones who felt honoured to be meeting him. Feel free to choose your own questions and your own answers but whatever you do, identify what it is you take from his life and keep applying it to your own.

I never met you Madiba, although I so desperately wanted to. Thank you for all that you meant to me and thank you for all that you did for South Africa. I will tell my children and my children’s children of you and your legacy. And may your story continue always. Rest in peace.

Defy Your Age!

How’s your music mentality? My what? you ask. Music mentality I said. Your emotional age when you listen to certain pieces or types of music. This is a completely made up term which came to me as I watched Ellie Goulding in the music video above. Not only do I completely love the song and despite my sofa bound state (unwell at present, see previous post) was dancing to the best of my limited abilities, but I adored the hoody, mini-skirt and boots she wore as an outfit too. Excellent. I could see myself in the same outfit, in the same location, dancing and singing my heart out to the very same song. And there you have it, I was 20 again.

Those of you reading this blog for long enough, know that my 20s were no party and I certainly didn’t have the confidence to pull off any of the above. Now of course I do, but with having had a special birthday and 2 kids under my belt, minus Victoria Beckham’s figure, people would call such a change in my wardrobe a midlife crisis.

Who cares! In my mind I was a kicking it 20-something, in the same way that people with dementia when taken back to music and surroundings from their formative eras seem to lose their dementia.

By all means splash out on new war paint (make-up) or if you really want and can afford it the surgery (I bet you don’t need it though), but for me I’ll take the hoody, boots, mini and soundtrack anytime. Midlife crisis indeed!

Lean In.

lean inIf I haven’t mentioned this before it is a fabulous book. One for all women to go out and purchase a copy, read it then lend it to their husbands and then pass it on as a legacy to their daughters. So far I have only borrowed mine from a library, but when funds permit, the book will be mine!

I was thinking about it today as I helped put up adverts for the Christmas Fayre on Saturday, for the PTA. I was alongside a very interesting woman, who in a past life, as she put it, had worked in film promotions for 20th century fox. According to her what she used to do wasn’t very glamorous, but I stopped believing her when she mentioned doing work for Tom Cruise! Name dropping aside, the job she had been in carried more money, glamour, status and interest than what she did now – book-keeping for a family relative, but had to be given up when she had children!

Why? Why is it always us women who make the career sacrifices if we don’t want our children to be in childcare more than they are with family? Why can’t we all agree that Mum can be off a year to breastfeed baby (if she is breastfeeding for a year, if not shorten this time accordingly) and then maybe Mum and Dad work 4 days so children are only in childcare for 3?

Why is it that so often Dad goes back to work full-time and continues to grow his career, salary and status, whilst Mum drops to 3 days and is barely noticed in what she does any more, essentially plugging the gaps that those more important in the workplace don’t wish to fill!

Like the book says, I am going to lean in when I find something I want to do, and regarding Little Lady I shall teach her all of this from the outset so that she doesn’t get blindsided and bored to tears like so many of her female elders have!

Balance Is A Wonderful Thing!

the sparkAs you know, I am in the middle of reading this book right now. It’s Superb! Kristine Barnett is Superb. So often as I read I have the biggest smile on my face and tears at the back of my eyes. Those of you who have been reading this blog for long enough know the lifelong path that we started on once we met Autism and its spectrum so to see what someone else on the same journey, further along than us, has been able to achieve has been wonderful. As usual, child or relative on the spectrum or not, I absolutely recommend that you read the story of Jake, his Mum and his family!

I could have ended the post right there, but I haven’t got to my reason for posting yet! Something truly shocking happens about halfway through the book. Well two things actually and to hear Kristine’s version of them, you see that she is genuinely surprised at their occurrence. Needless to say, she cracks on and sorts them out like the trooper she is, and I presume will always be, and the story will go on. Kristine Barnett is an amazing woman and her husband an equally amazing man, but even phenomenal people need to know their limits.

You cannot work all the hours that God sends running a nursery/daycare business, have a child with Autism, have another child with a life threatening condition, go on to set up a charity for lots of children with Autism to get them into Reception/Kindergarten and then have a third child, whilst keeping all of the above going. Underlying condition or not, something is going to give and my first bet would have always been her health. For your Other Half to then have to pick up all those reins, plus keep his own job going with new and unwelcome challenges being presented there, I would have bet that his health would be next. I will need to keep reading to find out what happens next, but I am absolutely sure that the fantastic family that they are, all will be well.

If you are like the Barnetts, achieve the outstanding and amazing, but look after yourself too. Rest, take breaks, relax and try not to overdo it. Yes hon, you are one of those of which I write! Balance is a wonderful thing. As is your health!


You Must Go and See This Film!

gravityGot to have a date afternoon (parents with children in school, full-time version of a date night!) with Other Half yesterday which was lovely. We went to the cinema to watch Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. What a fantastic film! Sad, beautiful, inspiring and one of those movies you watch in awe. If you have ever been sad, specifically or about life in general you must go and see this film. Of course please tell me what you thought about it afterwards!

That isn’t what this blog is about though. I worry that this amazing film will not be doing the circuits for too long. If it is so amazing then why on earth(excuse the pun) not? Simply this – the trailer shows 3 people in space having a problem! That’s it! Other Half wanted to see this film because he loves anything to do with space and really should have become an astronaut! I went to see it because it was Other Half’s day off and it would have been pretty rotten of me to hijack the day by insisting we go and see ‘The Butler’, although I am hijacking his next day off in December and we are doing just that! Essentially we saw the movie by default, for completely different reasons to the ones that we and you will love the movie for. In this, whoever did the marketing for the movie has seriously messed up!

Someone once told me to go and see the Shawshank Redemption. What is it about I asked. Well, the Shawshank is a prison and I can’t tell you about the redemption or I will ruin the film, was their response. Gravity is a similar sort of movie. I don’t want to ruin the film for you, but in the light of this blog being called, How Do You Think It’s Done? trust me and just go and see it.


bored Yes, folks, that’s right I am bored! I have been run off of my feet for sometime – hence no blog posts and now I sit here feeling bored. Not wanting to do anything except maybe stare out of a window, switch on the TV or raid the fridge. Possibly even all 3! “Have you not got anything to do?” I hear you ask!

“I have plenty to do,” would be my reply. There’s tidying, cleaning, washing, ironing, diy, washing up, accounts, admin, planning for work, returns to shops and shopping to sort. Excited at the prospect of the day that lies before me? No, I didn’t think so! And neither am I!

And yet, not all is lost. Here I am, making the time for something that I so love to do, blogging. Needless to say, the more I blog, the better I feel. I must have felt the same way yesterday evening because I began to think about the activities I used to enjoy and would like to try again and the activities I would like to try and must do so. I’ve only got as far as a ‘Return to Netball’ group I am going to try on Wednesday morning so far, but I am really looking forward to it. The belly-dancing, cookery classes and book writing will come!

So boredom is no bad thing. We know it inspires creativity in children and the same applies to us. There will always be things to do that we don’t want to. Most of the time we just crack on without (much) complaint. When we get truly fed up of the drudgery though, that it when our creativity and favourite past times can rise to the surface.

I shall find something else to look forward to today, that doesn’t involve chocolate, but for now, I’m off to start that washing up!

You Are Priceless.

I essentially lost a job today. I say essentially because no one told me it had gone! I took on a temporary role with a view to something more permanent within the same organisation when the role finished. Today, I found out that a newsletter went out last week, including my name in the list of those leaving! Cold!

It wasn’t even somewhere that I had loved working and it certainly wasn’t a place that I envisaged or wanted to retire from so why the sense of loss? Income? Not really, there is still the possibility of extending job number 2 and there may even be further hours at job 3 if wanted. If the last few months have taught me anything it is that income can appear from all sorts of unexpected places, so no, monetary value was not it!

Watching the above programme this evening, which was both excellent and heart-breaking in equal measures, helped me to put my finger on exactly what my issue was – status. Teaching gives you highs and lows like no other job I have ever done. When a child gets something and you realise that the learning or something you have said or done has altered that child’s life chances, the high is out of this world. That is before the respect in still many people’s eyes when you tell them what to do and the fact that you have spent 14 years doing it and dammit, getting good at it!

So what to do when it ends? Who am I if not a teacher? Is being a wife and mother enough? Where is my self worth and value to come from if not from this role?

I don’t yet have the answers and if the same issue applies to you, you may not have the answers yet either. I am reminded of Susan Jeffers’ grid though in her book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’. If I am so afraid of losing my self worth because of the loss of a role, then I am seriously lacking in other roles. Yes, be a wife and mother, but volunteer too, write the book/s in me, spend time with the Other Half, family and friends, partake in hobbies and spend time on my spirit too. There is even time for work as well!

Thanks Clarke Carlisle for a beautiful programme and for your bravery and that of all those who shared their own experiences in the programme. Good luck with your search for new roles as you leave that of professional football player and may we all remember that we are worth so much more than whatever it is that we do. We matter because of who we are.

Do What You Can When You Can.

Other Half, yes that man who is supposed to love me the most next to my Mother and children and be my biggest cheerleader, has complained because I haven’t written a blog about something he said that I foolishly told him I would write a blog about. He is not a patient person, instead being one of life’s high achievers. If he says he will do something, it gets done at the earliest opportunity. Usually within 24 hours. I know – nightmare. Hence the moaning at me!

I suppose I shouldn’t complain really, after all, he is reading what I write and I’m guessing he must like it! It did make me remember though, that this blog is to share with others what I know and find out about how’ Life’ is done and being as busy as I am right now that just isn’t happening often enough.

So sorry folks, I know that I haven’t been blogging nearly as often as I used to, but that is having 3 jobs, a family to look after and a house to run for you. Whenever anyone asks how it is going, I tell them I am in nervous breakdown territory, but that by God’s grace I should make it! At the moment the 3 jobs should end in July which will provide me with the opportunity to write more regularly again.

Suffice to say, you are never far from my thoughts as I come across life lessons that I know you will want shared with you. In the meantime, like my Mother-in-law always says, I am doing what I can when I can. Bear with me! Other Half, that includes you!

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