Got your attention, didn’t I? Good. Keep reading. And this ain’t gonna be one of those fashion-y cosmetic review blogs, either.
What does lipstick have to do with anything? Oh, just let me tell you. Remember yesterday’s resolution update? The one that I thought I could manage – Zumba, Pilates or yoga for 40-45 minutes four or five times a week?
Yeah. That one. Day one and I’m kind of miffed. Because my time management – at which I’ve always been pretty good, or at least pretty organized – is being affected by something totally out of my control. Know what it is?
Expectations of Women in the Workplace.
Let me get this straight – this is nothing new. Granted, my current office is more Mad Men than The Office. But thinking back to my very first teaching job brings up a couple of things I forgot to mention in my ‘Schooled’ posts. Gotta write these down for the book too!
My Very First Teaching Job was a dream. Excellent school, excellent neighborhood, supportive families, fantastic administration and a building full of overachieving teachers. What more could I ask for?? But one thing that anyone new to the building learned really quick was the Head Honcho’s pet peeve. And that, my friends, was teachers looking anything less than completely put together. Yes, she was older – and had been in education since the days of female teachers’ wearing pants was frowned upon. (Trust me, that wasn’t all that long ago. My mom worked in the library at my elementary school back in the ’80s, and she remembers the staff keeping their distance from one teacher who called herself ‘Ms.’ and wore slacks occasionally. Fast woman!!)
Back to the point – anyway, this particular Head Honcho’s idea of teachers looking completely put together included the One Necessary Touch – lipstick. Lipstick in the morning and – especially – after lunch. If she saw you in the hall during the afternoon and your lips weren’t freshly colored and dewy – you’d get The Look. And if The Look didn’t get you instantly fumbling to refresh your pucker – and if you got caught again looking unkempt – you’d get a nicely worded gentle reminder note in your mailbox. You can imagine how many notes I got the semester I was on Accutane and my lips were literally peeling off my face. And THAT was in the era when really dark lipstick was the fashion.
Yes, I’m serious. No, I’m not joking. And I can’t have made it up either. Get a group of teachers from that school together and we all have one thing in common – we ALL refresh our lipstick to this day after lunch. It’s a habit. We can’t all be that neurotic on our own. And for someone like me, with my music background, that’s no minor feat.
See, as a Wind Player, lipstick was verboten. Absolutely. Chapstick, on the other hand, was a requirement – especially after hours of rehearsal during the blustery, cold and sometimes snowy North Texas winter months. We obsessed over it. Chapstick was a requirement, but the stuff that really worked – Carmex – was an absolute NO. There was some weird urban legend that the stuff was addictive, could make the chapping worse due to withdrawal, and should be avoided at all costs. By graduation I can’t even tell you how many industrial-sized tubs of Vaseline I’d gone through out of necessity. The Spouse could probably joke about our early married days and budget arguments about my Vaseline expenditures. Seriously. So you can imagine how much of a stretch it was to actually WEAR lipstick, much less refresh the stuff.
How does this have anything to do with my fitness goals? It’s simple. Today’s work environment – at least mine – still has pretty set-in-stone expectations about how a woman should look in the workplace. And for me, that takes a while. I’m NOT one of those lucky chicks who can go to bed with wet hair, wake up and shake it out, dab on some mascara and zip out the door. Looking presentable requires lots of time and effort. I’m ‘blessed’ with hair that every stylist I’ve visited in the last decade calls ‘uniquely textured.’ Translated, that means that it’s naturally curly underneath and a frizzy disaster on top that’s neither wavy or straight. And it’s really thick. My Hairntervention hasn’t worked. So just looking decent requires a good blowdry session followed by Chi torture. And then more Chi torture. Makeup and lipstick add more time.
Look, I’m a mom. I already get up at five AM just to look decent, dress appropriately and spend some time being mom, wife and getting the minions out the door to the bus. If I want to work out in the morning, I’d have to be like the guy on the radio right now that I absolutely want to punch in the throat. He rambles on about how the only time he can work out is at three AM and his miracle solution is some random energy shot drink. Three AM?? I’d be a zombie by noon, and I have to work until six.
Evenings are a problem too. Most nights I get home around seven – and need to be wife and mom again for a while. Working out on the way home would mean that I’d see the minions for about five minutes before they got to bed. That’s a no-go in my book. But if I try to work out after they’re in bed my body gets so ramped up on endorphins that I can’t sleep, which makes looking decent the next day a huge problem.
See my dilemma? And don’t go all feminist on me by saying that I should just screw the makeup and hair and let myself be judged by my performance in the workplace. Sounds good in theory, but reality is different. Your competence in business really is determined – at least in the Mad Men building in which I work – by appearance. Granted, the Girls Down the Hall have taken that to a new extreme. Forget VPL – they specialize in VTL. Visible Thong Line. But in my office, it’s ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have.’ Rule set in stone. Period.
And conforming to those expectations doesn’t – in my opinion – make me less of an empowered woman, less intelligent or more of a conformist. It’s called having goals and ambition – and doing what I need to do in order to achieve my goals and move forward.
But working out?? I’m desperate here – suggestions please!!
Category Archives: New Year’s Resolutions
Got your attention, didn’t I? Good. Keep reading. And this ain’t gonna be one of those fashion-y cosmetic review blogs, either.
So it’s the end of the month. The End of my January challenge to focus on the positive instead of always seeing the glass half empty.
The results are in, folks. And it’s a mixed bag.
In the beginning it was pretty easy. Writing in my journal, setting positive goals for each day, pausing in tight situations to reprogram my brain’s natural negative train of thought. But here’s the catch – that was at the beginning of January, when the minions and Spouse were all on vacation, the house was put together and life was generally low key and low stress. I was able to count to ten and put a positive spin on just about anything that came my way.
Then Spouse went back to work, the minions headed off to school and it all hit the fan. It probably didn’t help that my regular checkup with my doctor was postponed. Turns out that one of the meds I take to manage symptoms can cause mood swings. Great. What a time to try to think positively. Work amped things up a notch too – apparently taking most of December off causes people in the world of Big Commercial Real Estate to come back in January stressed, behind schedule and generally a bit cranky. It’s hard to put a positive spin on the day when I was interrupted by one of the guys to be told that the electric stapler was empty and could I please deal with it right now? Never mind that there were two hand staplers within easy reach. The electric one needed filling STAT!And that’s just one example. Try working in that environment nine hours a day – when every situation is that dire of an emergency. I bet even Pollyanna would have trouble with her Glad Game then.
Coming home after those days? What a great excuse to beat myself up for being mentally and physically tired. And the switch in meds was a real treat too – total exhaustion for three days followed by three days of feeling like I’d downed a six pack of Jolt cola by noon. Good times.
So, how did my positive attitude fare during all of this? Oh, she bloomed in rare form. She deflated into a passive-aggressive ball of positive negativity. I’m really proud of that.
What’s positive negativity? It’s a rare gift. Knowing that I was supposed to put a positive spin on things, I started saying and thinking things like these:
See what I mean? My brain tried to get around my self-imposed negative ban just like my ten year old. ‘What’s wrong, mom? You told me not to run in the house, so I’m turning cartwheels while punching my brother instead.’ And here I thought that over a decade of teaching made me grow up! Ha!!
The absolute low came the other day, when I got so incredibly positively negative (my attempt at seeing how many adverbs I can possibly string together) that I finally snapped and sent off an e-rant into the void. We’re talking a personal maturity nosedive. I’m really embarrassed and ashamed to admit it, but I’m being honest in my resolution plan here, so full disclosure is a must.
I snapped out a rant that was basically the equivalent of a kid saying, ‘Fine, maybe I should just shave my head and run away.’ Only it was more like, ‘Fine. Maybe I should just be mean to everyone, get really fat and never shower again. Maybe then things would go my way.’
Seriously. It was that bad. Not those exact words, but you get my drift. And the worst part?? Once said, I couldn’t just unsay them. Not like some email programs that let you ‘unsend’ a message. Nope. No way. This one’s out there to stay.
So what am I getting at? My positive spin on my anti-negative failure is this: I may have picked a goal that was a bit too lofty for the beginning of the year and my level of personal growth at this time. In education we talk about setting SMART goals for the kids: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based. Apparently my goal was not realistic or attainable. But I’ll still work on it – in smaller doses. After all, my brain can’t just go cold turkey after decades of programming, right?
Here’s my SMART February goal: I will do between forty five minutes and an hour’s worth of Zumba or P-90X three to four times a week.
I have Zumba for the Wii and all of the P-90X DVDs, so there is no excuse there. Done. I’ll update you on that one in a month.
Until then, my positively negative filter is set to maximum strength.
So, I’m not exactly starting with the unachievable goal this month. If you read yesterday’s post, you read about my resolution of the month plan for this year. And here’s January’s goal:
Walk the Talk.
The art is courtesy of one of my favorite kids’ authors, Phil Bildner. I can’t take credit for it – but he’s the one who gave me this idea. Basically I’m going to work on practicing what I preach. I’m really good at snarking on people who annoy me. Those little (and sometimes not-so-little) things that people do that really tick me off. Nemeses included. I let it get to me, build up and eventually explode. And you know what? I’m sick of it. Not just sick of those things that people do that get to me, but I’m sick of my reaction. Hence Walk the Talk.
And that means:
- Making a point NOT to do the pet peeves I gritch about in other people: excessive humble bragging, grammatical errors, publicizing how smart I think I am, etc.
- Setting an example of my expectations with my kids.
- If I AM going to complain or call someone else to task about something, I need to make sure my own side of the street is clean first.
- Working as hard on my thinking as my actions.
The last one is going to be the hardest. I can already tell. Like I’ve said before, I’ve got a strong filter. So not saying negative snarky things is usually pretty easy for me. Until I reach my boiling point, that is. It’s the thinking that I really need to work on. Because, honestly, my head usually defaults to the negative. Sad to say, but it’s true. I remember reading about some kind of therapy a few months ago that involves wearing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping yourself with it if you catch yourself doing whatever it is that you shouldn’t be doing. Pretty good idea, huh?
I have a feeling I’m gonna need a BIG THICK rubber band! We’ll see if I end up with welts on my wrist before the week is out!
So, it’s that time of year again. The time that my list-making, goal-setting Type-A self absolutely loves. The New Year. And that inevitably brings resolutions.
Past resolutions have been hit and miss. I’ve resolved to work out more, to journal every day, to practice my instrument XX hours per day and spend XX hours making reeds, to clear out the clutter and put my crap away, you name it. I’ve resolved it. And for the most part, none of these well-meaning promises ever stick for very long.
Why? Well, honestly, I think it’s because once I start making a list I just can’t stop. A list of one or two really good resolutions usually turns into eight or ten. And for me, that’s just overwhelming. Especially if the resolutions are big ones that require lifestyle changes. I end up spreading my limited icing so thinly over a very large cake that I end up failing in style. Apparently this means I have an issue setting boundaries with myself.
Now, if I were a different kind of mom, things would be different. If I were the kind of SAHM who sits on the couch and eats bonbons – homemade, of course – every day, for example. Now, I’m not knocking all SAHM’s here. The majority of them that I know are hardworking genuinely caring souls who do the best for their families. But come on, be honest. As much as we deny it, we all know at least one of the other kind. The ones who bemoan the day they have to ‘clean up the house because the maid is coming.’ The ones who only got four hours last Tuesday to peruse Epicurious for Martha-Stewart-worthy dinner recipes because little Magnus or Starla had a dentist appointment. The ones who work so hard to fit in the mani-pedi between tennis and yoga. Those moms. My Spouse says I would last about a week before going stir crazy. You know what? Let me try it for a week and let you know if that’s true!! Because I guarantee that I’d have tons of brilliantly productive ideas that would actually see the light of day if that were me. And I’m not just talking about cleaning up for the maid. Things like:
- Painting the dining room.
- Secretly going through the minions’ rooms and trashing the bags of junk and crap that they don’t even know are under their beds.
- Devoting some serious time to a hobby, like writing.
- Taking a class – just because. I love to learn and research and I’m
usuallynot bigheaded enough to emote about my savant-worthy abilities.
- Clipping coupons that I actually use, instead of tossing them in some random drawer only to discover them months after the expiration date.
- Finishing a self help book – and actually using it to help myself.
The list goes on. You get the idea. Instead, you know what happens? I spend my few minutes of rare free time doing one of three things:
- Sorting through the list of stuff I really want to do and trying to decide what to do first. Which results in nothing. Zero.
- Falling down exhausted and sleeping.
- Having a meltdown about all of the things I want to do with my free time but don’t get to do because I was so tired I fell asleep.
Number three is the most popular at my house. I could probably make a hobby of having meltdowns, now that I think about it. Yeah. Sure. That one would be seriously popular with the fam, wouldn’t it?? And to be honest I can’t stand myself when I’m having a meltdown either – so that one’s out.
So where does that leave me? Well, I’ll tell you. My boss actually gave me a Pinstrosity-worthy idea last week that I’m taking to heart.
The Resolution of the Month.
With the idea that it takes three weeks to change a habit plus the conviction that anyone can do something consitently for a month, I’m taking this one and running with it. I’m tackling my to-do list of resolutions one at a time, one month at a time. My biggest challenge here is to tell my overachieving conscience to shut up and deal. One change. One month at a time. I’m having to remember what my mom said about childbirth when I was pregnant – you don’t get extra points for doing it the hard way. So there it is. I’ll post tomorrow about my January resolution.
One problem – the one thing I really want to achieve is an unachievable goal. Could be an issue…