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iStock 000002054679 SmallI just read an article about how women teach themselves from a very young age to de-escalate, minimize and quietly acquiesce whenever we are in a situation where a man has made an inappropriate comment or action, whenever we have been dis-respected, whenever those situations occur which make us uncomfortable. This is the article here.


The situations described were so familiar to me, and yet I found myself going for my usual response, telling myself that doesn’t happen to me, well at least not on that scale, no, it hasn’t changed as I’ve gotten older, maybe it’s something that’s worse in the States, maybe it happens to women who work outside the home more, maybe it’s a corporate thing, maybe it’s only applicable to women who go out to bars and pubs more than I do, and so on.


Then things started coming back to me. From when I was child. From when I was at work, as long as 35 years ago right through to more recent encounters. From social situations. From Facebook. All the things I’d dismissed, taken no notice of, let slide, because I’m sensible, because I’m easy to get along with, because I can see past ignorance and see the good in people. I’m blessed with a loving family, a caring and very respectful partner, and associate with mostly very decent people. So yes, maybe I don’t experience much of it at the moment, and maybe that’s because of my particular circumstances, location etc, but it sure as hell does happen, has happened, to me and to every woman.

 

Yesterday was White Ribbon day, or it’s less sanitised name of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. I watched the ABC programme Hitting Home, made by Sarah Ferguson and the QandA programme which followed. I read articles online yesterday about the topic.


Before I go on, I’ll address the “what about men” thing.


One of the responses to the current push towards creating changes to reduce the incidence of violence against women in Australia, is to say “what about the men, there is violence against men too”. I’ve brought that issue up myself, because of personal knowledge and experience with the issue of men being physically and emotionally abused by women. It’s a real issue, it does happen, and it’s true that it is under-reported. An examination of the statistics confirms, however, that it is rare compared with violence against women by men, and that very different results can be obtained depending on how one chooses to compile the available information. We do not have a situation where 78 men to date this year in Australia have been murdered by their partners. The one in three statistic being presented is a dangerous fiction. The measurement tool used has been criticised as not asking whether the incident was part of a pattern of abuse, whether it was in self-defence, and does not measure sexual abuse, stalking and intimate homicide. The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that in 2012, 87% of domestic violence victims were women. Male victims are far less likely to be living in fear or to be murdered. Most cases of women killing their partners follow a history of domestic violence against the woman.

 

So let’s not kid ourselves about whether this is a gender specific issue. For men, yes some would benefit from access to assistance to leave violent or abusive situations, that assistance should be available to everyone, but for women who are victims of domestic violence, who often have to leave with nothing, with kids in tow, with nowhere to go, and with a sharp increase to the danger they are in after they have left, refuges and safe places are crucial, and it’s ridiculous to deny that women in this situation are the vast majority.

Filling in FormsHaving told you in great detail about my hyphenated surname, you should know that I get all uppity about titles as well, so let’s get that off my chest.

My preferred title, by the way, is Ms.  Preferred as in chosen.  You don’t get to call me whatever you like, or what you guess I must prefer just because of my age or the fact that I have children.

And by title, I mean honorific, according to Wikipedia.  But my Collins Concise English Dictionary published in 1982 still recognizes the word title as “5. a formal designation such as Mr.”  and the word honorific is an adjective which means showing respect.  Anyway, title is what it says in front of the box every time I am required to fill in a form.

Blank name tagWhy the funny surname?  I have a weird sounding surname.  Actually, it's two weird sounding surnames joined with a hyphen: Langmaid-Buttery.  They're both English surnames, slightly unusual ones, but that's another story.  This is about why I've chosen a hyphenated name (for now at least).

Hyphenated names have had ups and downs in popularity, but have always been a little 'out there' and ostentatious.  This is unfortunate for most of us who choose hyphenated names, as the choice is not usually motivated by any desire to be conspicuous.  My reasons for having a hyphenated name are much more practical, and based on idealistic notions of equality and stuff like that.

It's common in (I assume) most cultures for people to have a surname, last name or family name.  A couple of exceptions that come to mind are Cher and Madonna.  Oh, and the artist now known again as Prince.  Of course I don't know what their accountants put on their tax returns.  There are cultures where the family name comes first rather than last, (like my brother's Chinese name) and other cultures where the names are chosen differently or not used at all.

Surnames or family names are not something people tend to be concerned, worried about or obsessed with, unless like me, they happen to be obsessed with details and things being "right".  Mine's been an issue to me for a long time, and the whole idea of surnames and system of surnames is an issue for me, and something I am obsessed with, and certainly interested in.  I'll tell you why.

It's because I'm a woman (and possibly a bit of a drama queen).

Retro guy with pipe, hair cream, moustache and dinner suitHow we present ourselves can convey a message to anyone who sees us.  I thought I'd start this section off by listing some of those messages.

I'm respectable

I'm rebellious

I'm fashionable

I don't care about fashion

I'm sexy

I'm professional

I'm cool

I'm practical

I love shoes

I'm comfortable

I'm really comfortable, and I don't care how I look

I don't care if it all pinches and pokes, I look great

I'll do anything to conform, please like me

I belong to a certain group

I'm a hippie

I'm rich

I'm artistic

I have excellent taste

I have more cash than taste

Look at me

Don't look at me

I've got work to do

This has been fun - oh I do love lists!

 

Woman getting her hair doneThe way we present ourselves says a lot about who we think we are and the sort of person we are.  We have over time adopted a certain image with the way we tend to dress, do our hair, our personal style.

This can be a useful thing, because if how we look expresses our personality and tastes well, it can be a signal to others with whom we are more likely to relate well, it can tell others things about ourselves that we want them to know, it can be a reflection of how we are feeling.  These are all good and useful things.

Having a personal style of our own and feeling right with our personal appearance is good for our confidence and is a sign of self respect.  Working on the outside can help us with how we feel on the inside.

Our image might be screaming “look at me, notice me”, or it might be screaming the absolute opposite: a strong wish to blend into the background and not draw any attention to ourselves at all.  It will vary, frequently or seldom.  It can change.  It can have effects we didn’t intend or which are not helpful to us.

So, the way I see it, it’s something worth giving some attention and thought to.

The best way of presenting ourselves will be different for all of us, but for me, I absolutely know it to be true, that I feel much more confident, get more done, feel more positive and so on, if I feel I’m dressed well and looking my best.  A lot of days that might just mean I’m really happy with the jeans and t-shirt I’m wearing, but that’s ok.  As long as I have at least two pairs of jeans at all times, any that I don’t feel great in get the boot.

How we look says a lot about how we feel about ourselves, and it can be one of those chicken and egg things, you feel yucky because you look yucky, you look yucky because you feel lucky etc, which means the old ‘fake it til you make it’ rule applies.  Feel bad?  Make yourself look fabulous as a starting point.  Change the thing you can change.  Pretend you feel great.  It certainly can’t hurt.

iStock 000005279893XSmallOur brain likes to choose the known over the unknown, even if we're not enjoying what's known and we know it's not good for us. This is highly inconvenient, but, like most things, came about out of good intentions. Our brain wants to keep us safe.

Fortunately we have the ability to make conscious choices and override our automatic responses if we choose to.
Even so, the pull to make the same old crappy choices, like:

- Another glass of wine
- Skip exercise today
- Leave the dishes til later
- Leave anything that needs to be done til later
- Doing some un-necessary shopping when we can't afford it
- Insert your crappy choices here

The pull to carry on with these familiar crappy choices can be very strong.

599616 494363540585168 1870003173 nIf you’re anything like me, and I know you are because you’re reading my blog, you sometimes resist making decisions, or doubt or fail to follow perfectly good ones you have already made.

Doing something about this can change your life, reduce the size of your bum, improve your relationships and get your home clean.  Yes, it’s that important.

I’ve talked about it before in this article here a while ago, and I have some more to say about it now.

Our lives are a series of decisions, and success is based on making good decisions, making plenty of them, trusting ourselves and following through on them.

 

 

New Year 2012
 

How do you feel about what you achieved in 2011?  How excited and confident are you about what you will be achieving in 2012?

Making specific goals and writing them down, dramatically increases the chances of success.  What if this coming year you set goals you felt great about and achieved them?  Let’s dare to dream.

I know it can be scary – if we don’t say it out loud then it won’t hurt so much if we fail.  But what if?  What if we could make a wish list of reasonable, possible things that would make us feel fantastic, and what if they did come true?  What if it was all our own choice?

Well of course it is.  We know what we are capable of (and that it’s actually much more than we think).  Why not put some juicy goals in writing and arrange to achieve them?  I will if you will.  J

Ok, so here are some steps for setting goals for the year ahead that will put you in the drivers seat on the road to success.  This is what I’m doing, and I invite you to join me.

Step one:-

iStock_000009647548XSmall

With persistence comes success!

I'm pretty sure Napoleon Hill said that, and I'm reminded of his famous book Think and Grow Rich often as I absorb the ideas and concepts taught today in the world of personal development.

We've all got stuff we want to achieve in our lives, big things and smaller things. Love, friendship, happy well adjusted kids, a well run, organized home, being healthy, being a size we feel comfortable with, financial security, learning a skill that brings us pleasure, helping others and making a valuable contribution, a project around the home, travel, all sorts of things. In order to achieve any of these wonderful, worthwhile, desirable things, we must persist in pursuing them.

So what does persistence mean? I think of it as the famous old "just keep showing up" trick. (Not quite the same as the old "banana in the tailpipe" trick.) There are all sorts of variations on this. I've heard stories of people getting a job they didn't think they had much chance at getting simply because they showed up and nobody else did, or showing up and ending up with a different job. There's also the phenomenon that if you repeatedly "show up", no matter how stubborn or stupid you are, you are likely to accidentally learn something and achieve at least small improvements in your methods and knowledge, or that somebody will eventually notice you, or that you will happen to be in the right place at the right time, or that you will learn from those around you or the environment you have been showing up to.

Blocked roadWe can often find ourselves in a situation where what we need to do to move forward in our lives, make progress and achieve our goals is to learn how to overcome procrastination and get unstuck.  Good time management has no room for avoidance, uncertainty and putting things off.  Overcoming procrastination is high on the list of things that need urgent attention in many people’s lives, but just how, exactly do we stop procrastination?

Feeling stuck, overwhelmed and unsure how to move forward with a particular goal or project is unpleasant, uncomfortable, even painful.  If we can recognize where this is going on in our lives and learn how to overcome procrastination and get unstuck in the areas of highest importance for us, we can dramatically improve our happiness and quality of life.  Our time management depends on us being able to actually carry out what we have planned to do.                                    

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