Thursday, October 27, 2011


I recently attended two different major industry conferences, both of which had a turnout of a couple thousand people. To say that I represented the minority in attendance as a young female is an understatement.  If 'The Betting Boss' in Vegas were to draw the line at 15 for percentage of women at the convention versus men then I would definitely take the under. And for women under 35 -- we probably represented less than 2%. 

I normally don't mind the role of standing out and doing my best to represent women as a force to be reckoned with in business.  After all, we are just as intelligent and capable as the man standing next to us -- and likely a bit more modest.  But something was different about the conference kick-off dinner.  For the first time in my entire career, I felt defensive.  I was defensive of my female status (obviously not something that I have control over or any desire to change) and defensive of my professional position.  I sat down at the table and was surrounded by men ranging 10-40 years my senior and they looked at me wide-eyed and confused.  I can only imagine what they were thinking -- something along the lines of "I can't wait to look for her hot pink Barbie Corvette in the valet lot".  I knew within 2 minutes of conversation that the next hour and a half would be a mix of silently sitting there and listening to their banter (aka 'pissing contest') about their latest deals, selecting moments to contribute with confidence to the conversation, and then prepare for the spit to fly right back at me.  And guess what, that's exactly what happened. 

As I attended the meeting the next day, I was a bit more demure when walking into the breakfast room.  I didn't sleep well the night before and I wasn't in the mood to spend an entire day continuing to defend my right to be there and to wear the name badge stating my company and position.  Much to my surprise, I spent both breakfast and lunch visiting with industry professionals that were warm, respectful, and complimentary.  By the end of the day I was standing a bit taller, my eyes were once again smiling, and I had a handful of new colleagues that I am sure would be considered friends in the years to come.

Regardless of whether or not we are in a 'Male Dominated Industry', the question will always be relevant to a young, and especially somewhat attractive, female (not trying to toot my horn, but I have long blonde hair that I am not afraid to curl and where down with a pencil skirt) -- 'Which is my bigger asset to getting noticed:  my blouse or my brain?' 

To command respect, there is no doubt that intelligence and class will reign supreme.  But what about the first impression?  The moment that warrants an introductory conversation?  Is he approaching me, talking to me, expressing interest in working with me because of my blouse or my brain?

I am not an ultra-feminist as I believe that our society has come a long way in not only accepting women in business, but also promoting and encouraging women to pursue the same opportunities and dreams as young men.  But like anything else in life, there are always the 'exceptions'.  At that dinner table, I met an exception (or two or three) and it took my breath away -- a real kick to the gut.  However, the next morning I was surrounded by intelligent men and women that helped me build back the confidence that makes me believe I have worked hard and earned my place in the boardroom.
We can't control or avoid the exceptions, but we can take a stand to not be one.  We need to lift each other up with words of encouragement, respect, and acknowledgement.  I will continue to face the 'Blouse versus Brain' conundrum in my career, but I must remember that for each exception there will be another colleague willing to look me in the eye with respect instead of look right past me.  

Image Courtesy of

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I was mulling over the disappointment of my most recent courtship with a girlfriend over a glass of wine last night and she listened with an open heart, could see the hurt in my eyes, and responded simply by saying "Be Still".  These two simple words profoundly touched me and I felt myself sit up a bit straighter, take a deep breath, and tell her "Okay".

One of the more challenging parts to living out life can be experiencing disappointment -- specifically, when people disappoint you.  Anger I can handle.  I get mad, dwell on it for a New-York-Minute and then move on.  Sadness is also somewhat easier to process.  I get sad, mourn the loss of a person/moment/opportunity and then get back to living life.  But disappointment is a whole different beast.  When people disappoint me I tend to look inward, wonder if I could have done anything different to avoid the disappointment, and then spend time trying to process how it should affect my life moving forward.  I then end up at the same place every time, it's the analytical A-type personality that comes with being a Virgo, and I am asking myself "How can I learn from this?"  And you know what -- this whole routine can be absolutely exhausting!  The processing of disappointment is draining and I am burnt out!

So there I was disappointed in yet another dating fling gone wrong and my friend tells me "Be Still".  It is a powerful concept and ties to my previous post on living in the now.  Eckhart Tolle says "It is the stillness that will save and transform the world."

It probably isn't too hard to figure out at this point that dating and my volatile romantic life is the struggle that I face most often right now.  But I know that we all have struggles, worries, and moments of disappointment followed my periods of processing and analysis.  Whatever the issue at hand is for you right now, I challenge you in joining me to find a place of stillness -- just for this week or maybe month.  Life has to move on at some point, but for now, let's set our worries aside and just be still.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I haven't actually read this book by Eckhart Tolle, but I have discussed the philosophies he teaches with many friends in the last year.  The theme is not far from what you would imagine it to be and is probably in line with a chapter or two of The Secret (aka the Bible according to Oprah) -- with great focus on living in the present moment, existing in the 'Now', and then realizing that there is great enlightenment and discovery of truth in that simple act.

This past weekend I lived out another chapter in my, yet to be published, Adventures in Dating novel.  I spent a great deal of time with my latest male suitor -- a phrase that I am opting for as it seems classier than 'Flavor of the Week' -- and true colors were revealed very quickly.  On paper, I thought this had the potential to be something very meaningful.  He is well educated, has deeply rooted faith, was raised only miles from my home town, and likes to be a planner in just about all aspects of life.  Perfection!  I thought I had possibly met the yin to my yang, the peanut butter to my jelly, the Harry to my Sally.

In our time spent together this past week, it became abundantly clear to me that he is so stressed out about his future, that he doesn't take the time to enjoy the present moment.  We had a heart-to-heart yesterday as he came to me in a very honest way about his struggle to feel comfortable in his own life right now and I found myself thinking about Eckhart Tolle's book and quotes I have read from another enriching writing called A Course in Miracles.  The Power of Now is simple in concept, but more powerful (and challenging to live out) than we could ever imagine.  Living in the present moment requires a great deal of conscious surrendering -- especially when the present moment isn't what we necessarily wanted or thought it would be.

My life coach and I broach this subject regularly in our meetings as the outside pressures of family, societal norms, and Facebook can make us feel like life is simply a never ending competition.  Are you dating right now?  Are you married yet?  Are you having kids yet?  Are the kids getting into the top schools?  Instead, I challenge us to have conversations in which we simply ask one another:  How are you doing today?  Is there anything I can be doing in your life to be a loving friend?  

I am going to make it a personal goal to wake up every day, look at life straight in the face, and do my best to make the most of the moment at hand -- and simply be hopeful and faithful towards the life in front of me.

Image Courtesy of The Learning Annex

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I have been told that I suffer from a 'Pollyanna Complex'.  When I googled the meaning of Pollyanna, gave me two definitions:  (1) an excessively or blindly optimistic person (2) 'Pollyannaish' as an adj. meaning unreasonably or illogically optimistic.   The words in black and white are not nearly as flattering as the image of a young Hayley Mills in the 1960's seeing hope and love in an otherwise forlorn town. 

Still, I want to believe in the good in people and in the power of change! 

Unfortunately, if this past weekend is any illustration of what the reality of change is for most of my friends and peers over the hump of their mid 20's, I have to accept that despite hope and faith...people don't really change. 

I am happy to say that I made it through the weekend without slapping Ex #2 across the face, but for you to know why this is of any significance I need to flash back to April 2010.  I had been seeing #2 for a little over a year and was madly in love.  I was having visions of the USC Marching Band at our wedding and wondering if he would propose at the summit of Machu Picchu where we planned to be exactly one month later on our big trip.  Out of the blue, things were starting to spiral and his behavior dramatically changed -- but I wasn't ready to see what was really happening as I was blinded by the hope that comes with being in love.  Then one night, after another random dinner date cancellation, I finally had some clarity and went G.I. Jane on his ass to confirm that my suspicions were true.  He was being unfaithful.  I never thought I would use Gucci as a weapon, but that night it couldn't be swung hard enough at the man that shattered the passion and optimism that was once so deeply engrained in me about 'Happily Ever After'.

Fast forward eighteen months later to October 2011.  We haven't spoken in over a year and we are now on our separate planes to Florida where he will stand at the altar as the Best Man and I on the other side as a Bridesmaid.  As I flew over the great states located in between Los Angeles and Miami, I couldn't help but have flash backs to that fateful night and yet feel a sense of hope that it would be nice to see him as I am sure he had grown up and changed his life to be a better man. 

The rehearsal occurs without an exchange or even acknowledgement of each other's presence.  Then at dinner, I greet him hello with confidence and warmth.  He gives an equally warm response and we go our separate ways.  Later that night I go up to his girlfriend to simply introduce myself (I mean, she must have been staring with angst all night at the blonde across the way that once had captured her man's heart, right?!).  I try to be the bigger person and even say "It's a pleasure to meet you.  I have heard some really nice things about you."  She smiles and warms up at the comment and after another moment of small talk I walk away.

The next morning, as we prepare to send my dear friend down the aisle, I beam with confidence and pride at how we can all grow and learn from even the darkest of experiences.  My closest girlfriends all came up to me at the reception to show their support and inquire about how I am doing with the whole "Ex #2" situation.  I share the story of our exchanges and say how we have all grown up and changed for the better -- it is a great feeling!  NOPE.  Thanks for playing, but try again!  Guess what?!  One of the girls then tells me, "Oh, she has no idea who you are.  All of the groomsmen have told us that he opted not to tell her anything about you.  In her eyes, you were a random wedding party member that simply said hello."  My mouth dropped.  This poor girl!  Everyone in the wedding and most peers in attendance know the history between me and #2 and all are watching us glide through the night with careful ability to rarely cross paths and this whole time he is keeping this secret from her and putting her in the position of 'Last to know' -- that we even dated (!) -- heaven forbid he tell her the truth of his behavior.  Worse yet, maybe never to know!

I returned from the weekend with new introspect and a reality check that while things happen in life that allow us to grow and learn...the bottom line is that the core of who we are rarely ever changes.

I hope to be a good and honest person to all those I come across in life and to work hard at keeping integrity as my center of gravity.  Do you know what defines your character and core?  Have you made it a point to live it out loud every day in your words and actions?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fish Out of Water

This past weekend I attended my 10 year High School Reunion -- and let me tell you, it was quite the experience.  I was asked THREE times if I was engaged (!!).  I finally started holding my drink with my left hand so that there was immediate indication of a missing disco ball on my all significant ring finger.  I really don't know where this inquiry came from -- but considering the somewhat recent breakup, it felt like salt sprinkled into a healing wound.  My initial reaction was that of self pity as I looked around the room at the number of engaged/married/pregnant women that appeared to be on a life path that I had once envisioned for myself as a little girl.  There was once a plan and it involved getting married at 25, having kids at 28, and then taking on some incredible CEO role once the kids were in school full-time.  I think this plan came from watching too much Disney Channel and the Cosby Show.

Mid-way through the event a moment of inspiration occurred that turned my attitude right around.  I was standing in a circle of classmates and one of the girls was asked about her marriage status and her response was an upbeat "Happily single!".  My 'Fish Out of Water' pity party suddenly felt a bit ridiculous as I realized that I too was happily single!  Regardless of whether or not life was going 'according to plan', I enjoy the life that has been given to me and am starting to really enjoy (and even take advantage of!) my newly single status.

The following day I attended a baby shower and after spending an hour sitting around girls talking about things like the difference between a one-sy and a sleeper -- and somehow finding a way to use the word "cute" in every sentence  -- I retreated to the kitchen and found the hostess who was reaching for the secret bottle of white wine stashed in the refrigerator.  She kindly poured me a glass and the two of us sat in the courtyard to visit and I realized very quickly that feeling like a 'Fish out of Water' can happen all throughout life.  My girlfriend has been happily married for three years, but now is fielding frequent questions and pressure from friends and family about having kids.  She and her husband are enjoying married life, yet all of their other married friends have started having a family so the pressure for them to follow suite has become increasingly stressful.  I felt for her and remembered my frustrations from the night before as I shot down all questions about the non-existent 'Special Someone' in my life.

I think that it is a blend of societal pressures and simply our human nature that compels us to be competitive.  We tend to look outward for points of comparison and not inward to recognize what blessings exist in our lives and what makes us truly happy.  Today, I am happily single and celebrating the love and support of family and friends that accept me for exactly where I am.

I don't normally use this platform to speak about religion, but I have to include the statement that I firmly believe that God has a plan for each and every one of us.  Sometimes this plan is not in alignment with our own plan for our lives, but that is why we must have faith.

Tonight I am going to leave the office and not think about the chapters in life that I am not yet living, but instead relish the time at hand.