Sunday, January 30, 2011

Schindler's Jews remind me of my purpose

After watching Spielburg’s Schindler’s list I felt and thought so many things. I felt sorrow for the millions who lost their lives in the hands of others. How can it be that the differences of others can determine whether they live or die? How can we learn from the acts of Schindler?
My grandmother lived in Germany during the Nazi regime. It’s striking to think that I might not be here today if she were not German. I thought of this while watching the end showing all the descendants of the Schindler Jews. That is an achievement that results from doing what he knew was right, while risking his life. It was moving when Schindler regretted that he didn’t help more people. He is recognized for his selfless acts, and understandably could not save everyone.     
When I watch movies about this horrible time I can’t help but feel a personal connection to what happened. I look at my grandmother and see a strength that I will probably never have in my lifetime. While she was not subject to the treatment of the Jews, she was a product of living in that world of terror. Just like Schindler, she was affected by the war. She talked with me about this time in her life. Much like everyone else, I’m sure she wants to put it behind her. Regardless, you are defined by the experiences of life.
I know that she witnessed things that she might never speak of. It’s painful to watch her remember them because I can feel the pain.  If you can help just one person to not have to wear the burden of that then you’re working toward peace.
Today millions of people are enduring similar pain in various parts of the world. This continues to grow, and while not Nazi Germany, people’s lives are being taken from them and destroyed at the expense of greed and hatred.
Schindler was able to help the Jews in the way he did because he was wealthy and powerful. There were situations where he might’ve been shut down if he didn’t have friends in high places. This is unfortunate but true still today. With money and power, great things can be achieved. Fortunately Schindler was a good hearted man that chose to help people. There might be more people like him than ever now, but with many evil people comes many problems.  
I was not born in a war torn country. I am not suffering. I am not rich, or powerful. I am grateful to have many opportunities in my life. I am grateful to be alive. Is it just luck? Or is there a greater power out there that is in control of the hand each person is dealt. I believe so. God provides us with guidance. No matter what we’re born into we have the opportunity to find God and help others, and that is the sole purpose of our life here. I am starting to awaken to this purpose and feel that my life won’t be complete without following the examples of people like Oscar Schindler. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Parenting in a Working Generation

Monday night I’m in the dressing room getting ready for a dance class. I am talking to a woman who seems around my age. She mentions that she lives behind the Medical center, so immediately I think that she is a medical student. No, she tells me that her husband is studying there. When I ask what she does she tells me, with little enthusiasm, homemaker. To that the woman next to us answers, not just a homemaker though, with a laugh. She goes on to say that she takes care of their 10 month old. So, she is a full time mother.
                What brought my attention to the matter was the woman who felt it necessary to say that she was not just a homemaker, as if there is something seriously wrong with this title.  I started thinking what exactly it means to be a homemaker. When I think of this I think of a woman not employed to raise children. Raising children is a full time job and should be taken seriously. So why do we label these women as homemakers? Why shy around an important job? If a woman is raising children, when asked if they have a job why not say, I’m raising my children? 20 years ago being a homemaker was an acceptable role in society.  For our generation this is no longer the case.
There is already a title for someone who takes care of a house, it’s called a maid. I don’t know of any woman who is unemployed to stay home and perform the duties of a maid. The entry for homemaker on states: “a person who manages the household of his or her own family, esp. as a principal occupation.” This implies nothing of raising children.
I do not aspire to be a mother as a full time job. I have met women who do, and I’ll admit that I have thought negatively toward them for their decision. With the number of college grads growing I know I’m not the only person who holds those same feelings. But why? I was raised to get an education and have a career, not a family. Priorities have changed, roles reversed and now many family structures are changing.
The conversation I had the other night gave me a glimpse into a different perspective. I wonder what it must be like to be the minority as a full time mother. Is it difficult to gain the respect of others, even mothers that work? Nowadays being a full time mother isn’t an option for many. It is difficult to support yourself on one income. This creates an expectation that both parents will work. If not, they might be judged and unable to identify with the new generation. I believe that children need to be nurtured at a young age and it is difficult to give them the attention and instruction that they need when each parent works. I also believe that a family is lucky if one parent is able to stay home and perform that job.
I’ve realized that just because being a full time mother isn’t the right path for me doesn’t mean that it’s any less important of a job than people who work outside the home. I’ve seen that the confidence of raising a child is difficult to maintain when many people frown upon it. I would like to see parents who are raising children full time be able to say, “I’m raising my children,” with as much confidence as someone who says, “I’m running a business.” They deserve an equal amount of respect.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What's your role?

Our society does not promote women to be leaders; women are not taught like men. They sit in the same classrooms as men, but they are treated differently. That treatment follows women through grade school, college and the work environment. As a woman growing up in the public school system I learned to follow the rules and instructions of my superiors, and not speak out. As a child I was very timid and lacked confidence to stand out among my peers. Often I found myself knowing the answer, but not raising my hand, only to find a man answering it instead. Men are taught to take charge. I can’t tell you how often I had a group project where a man was leading.
Because women are taught to be submissive, they often fail to get ahead. Those that learn to do what they’re told, rarely become the ones giving the orders. Women often play by the rules, whereas men see how they can overstep the rules and end up coming out on top. Men are naturally more competitive. They leap at any opportunity to show off or impress people. It’s instinctual. Just like women having and taking care of children. I have encountered many situations like the one Sandberg mentioned. Overall women lack a certain confidence required to take that step from being submissive to in control. In my women’s studies class I learned that women ask more questions. They might say, “It’s in Europe, right?” There is often an uncertainty and that is detrimental to their growth. Women often apologize more and publicly put themselves down. I worked with an intern who when I asked her to provide me with information she did, but said, “sorry I couldn’t be more help.”
For so many years gender roles have indicated what is required of men and women to be accepted and liked in society. If a women has strong convictions, opinions and objectives than she’s usually disliked and called inappropriate things. Why are women with traits similar to men such a big turn-off? Are they threatening the social order of things? People often dislike what’s different or out of character. When people challenge typical views on gender roles then it can make others uncomfortable.
I think that there is a lack of respect for women in the workplace. I’ve found it difficult to be taken seriously as a young woman; you really have to prove yourself. This is especially true in male-dominated fields. I worked on a few movies as a production assistant and found that I was not ranked the same as my male peers. I faced sexist remarks like when I asked a man if he needed help and he told me to stand there and look pretty. Even getting the opportunity to prove yourself is difficult. There are judgments that women don’t belong on set unless they’re in costumes or makeup. Even now, working in an office I still encounter similar situations. Roles are still very gender specific; executive assistants are female, and the majority of window offices are occupied by men. Women have come a long way from the home to the working world. We still have a long way to go. In this fast-paced ever progressing society it is sad to think that we have lower salaries because of our gender. Even females that hold C-status jobs are paid less, and unfortunately those numbers are low.
I am fortunate to live in a society where these injustices are being brought into light. The first step is awareness, and from there the possibilities are endless. I am confident that these differences can be reduced in the future. I know that I  will be among the percentage of women leaders, will you join me?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thank you for visiting!


I decided to title my blog "balance is brilliance" because from my experience with yoga I've grown to realize just how important balance is. As I step to the top of my mat at some point in my practice I ground myself with both feet. Like second nature, but what if all I had was one foot, could I still stand tall? Grounding down through the right, I bring my left up to my inner thigh of the right leg. When taking that first leap into the unknown, I waver. Then switching to the left I find that this side is easier. Each time I go for the balance it's a new experience. I might stand like stone one day, fall to the floor the next or close my eyes and go inside. The last named being most difficult for me. That is where my journey starts.

Each day is a journey and I welcome you to join me!