Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Forum: Staying on Track

Now that March is almost here, we figured it's a good time to check in with our readers to see how everyone is doing on their resolutions and goals for this year. Are you on track to accomplish what you've set out to do in 2009? Have you hit a bumpy road and need some help gettin through? Let us know where you're at!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Link Love for 2/26

It's time for another round-up of some posts from around the blogosphere.

Feministing takes a look at some of the mixed feelings about the Picture of the Year, Slumdog Millionaire.

In Good Company has some simple advice for entrepreneurs this year: be visible.

Girl w/Pen considers stereotypes and how we inadvertently help to perpetuate them.

Lindsey Pollak's blog also offers some advice, tips on sprucing up your resume in a bad economy.

This is What a Feminist Blogs Like has a series of posts up for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, including a look at their Declaration of Independence.

Savvy Ladies, meanwhile, wants you to create a smarter family budget.

Please share links to what you've been reading and writing online by leaving a comment.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Inconvenient Detox

I just began a detox program, which requires me to take herbal supplements and to avoid sweets, tomatoes, seafood, and a number of other foods that have been staples in my diet up to this point. My reasons for doing it are many, but one of them is to make an effort to change bad habits, which we all know are hard to break. The detox puts many things into perspective for me; I can’t make thoughtless decisions about what, where, and when I should eat, or when to exercise. It is forcing me to approach my daily routines as a series of purposeful decisions, which will hopefully bring forth positive, long-term changes in my life.

The detox will also alter my after-work plans for the next few months. I also plan to bring my lunch to work instead of going out to buy it everyday. This early in my detox, I realize how much of an emotional challenge it will be (even more so than physical) to stick with my new regimen. There are birthdays and other celebrations coming up that will make saying no to cake, and other delicious distractions, extremely difficult. I may even annoy friends and family with my detox, but I can’t worry about what they think. This course of action is the right one for me.

A man working at my local vitamin supplement store told me that once I get through the first week of detox, my habits will change, and I will be less likely to go back to the way things were. While I will never say never when it comes to ice cream, chocolate, pizza and sushi after this period of cleansing is over, I have a feeling I may limit my intake of these and other favorites as a result. It is liberating in a way, because my habits (especially a bad one like my clutter issue) are like prisons of my own making. They may be easy to get into, but they are almost impossible to break out of.

Do you have any diet/detox stories to share?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gender Roles at Work

It seems that every conversation I've had lately with friends about careers ends with the men figuring out what kind of action they're going to take, and the women saying they will "wait it out" and see what happens.

This isn't anything new -- men are socialized to be aggressive, especially about their careers. I've studied enough about stereotypes and gender roles to know that when something goes wrong, men are not as quick to blame themselves as women are. Women are socialized to be accepting of the position they have, and think that asking for more will make others see them negatively.

A close friend gave me a great example. She knows a man who went on an interview and then worked hard to cultivate the relationship with those who would play a role in the decision-making. He went out of his way to secure his position as a top candidate, and made it clear that he wanted them to choose him. Meanwhile, another friend of hers has remained in the same position at her job for 5 years. She had the opportunity at various times to work towards a promotion or to find a better position at another company. Instead, she wanted to remain loyal to her team.

Stories like these always make me feel like I should be doing more to advance my own position. I know that I now do a lot more at my job than what was originally expected of me. I've been able to use my skills to make the most of my position, and I know that if I keep this up for a few more months, I will most certainly deserve a raise.

What I'm not so certain about is whether or not I'll actually bring myself to ask for a raise. I convince myself that this is all they can give me, that I haven't been here long enough, and so forth. But would a man in my position be saying the same things? Would he at least try to ask for it?

How about you? Are you as proactive as you should be in your career?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Social Disaster

So, I was at a party with some acquaintances. Specifically, a party for one friend, which I felt obligated to attend, even though I knew very few other people there. You know this party. We’ve all been to this party before.

I knew what to expect: I’d come in late, sip something, try to seem interested in people for a while, greet my friend, then quietly duck out and return to the waiting arms of my DVR. Obligation over.

What actually happened was not so simple.

I chatted for about twenty minutes, right when I arrived. Fine. Then I stayed at the party for an additional two hours – without talking to anyone. Not a person. The whole time. Despite the fact that everyone in the party was circling around me, talking to each other, but ignoring me. This is not an exaggeration. It was WEIRD.

Two things to point out. First of all, I could have left at any time. I’m not claiming to be a social victim, here. I also could have initiated conversations. I’m often quiet, but I’m not afraid to talk to people I don’t know. I do it all the time.

At first I stayed because it was too early to leave without being rude. Then I stayed because I wondered how long it’d be before someone talked to me. It never happened.

I’m amazed that, one, I was able to stand there so long without anyone talking to me, even accidentally. Two, that no one noticed, at least not enough to rescue me. And three, that I wasn’t really all that uncomfortable.

What I experienced is one of the classic introvert fears: being at a party and not talking to anyone, or worse, no one being interested in talking to you. So why didn’t I care?

The answer I settled on (during the two hours I was alone with my thoughts) comes down to self-confidence. I may not have made any friends that night, but I know now that I like myself enough to not care what a roomful of strangers thinks of me.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Forum: Your Life on the Big Screen

In honor of the Oscars this weekend, and those with active imaginations, we want to know:

Which film genre best describes your life as it is now? Is your life a drama, comedy, adventure, romance, or a suspense? Are you more Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married, Angelina Jolie in Changeling, or Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona?

We would love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Announcing Monthly Meet-ups!

For all of those who'll be in NYC on February 24th, please be sure to stop by our new monthly meet-up!

The Women's Mosaic & CHICKS ROCK! Monthly Meet-up:
New Year Networking & Mardi Gras Anniversary Celebration!

On Feb. 24, come on out to kick off the New Year, celebrate Mardi Gras and toast to TWM's eighth anniversary at this casual meet-up and networking event with TWM friends, old and new! Mix and mingle while connecting over cocktails and learn more about TWM & CHICKS ROCK! in the back lounge at SideBAR, located at 118 East 15th Street at Irving Place just off of Union Square.

Event from 7-9pm; OPEN BAR from 7-8pm

COST:$10 suggested donation; FREE for TWM Members

You can RSVP any of the following ways:
If you're on Meetup, RSVP here. If you're on Facebook, RSVP to the event there (you can also join TWM's page while you're at it). Or simply send an email.

If you can't make it this month, don't worry! We'll be announcing the monthly meet-up dates for the next few months soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Domestic Violence Rages On

After hearing about Chris Brown and Rihanna last week, memories of the past bubbled to the surface. Most of us know someone who has been affected by domestic violence; some of us may even be survivors ourselves. I was forever changed when my 6th grade homeroom teacher and family friend was killed by her abusive husband. He violated a restraining order, beat her severely, and left her brain-dead. A week later, she died as a result of her injuries. Most of her family and friends were unaware of the years of abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. Last week’s incident made me shudder inwardly, because it is just another reminder that domestic violence still runs rampant in our society.

It wasn’t too long ago that people were told to keep quiet and so that they and everyone around them would remain in a state of denial. While there is increased awareness and many legal and cultural changes have been implemented to protect and support survivors, domestic violence is still a serious human crisis.

I have read enough on the subject (and watched enough “Oprah”) to know there are always warning signs before physical violence takes place. These include verbal abuse, and needing permission from their significant other to see family, friends, or to merely leave the house. Unfortunately, many people ignore chronic possessiveness, jealousy, and disrespectful behavior for various reasons. When physical abuse happens, many victims think that if they are patient and obliging, the violence will eventually stop. I know my family friend mistakenly thought so.

When I think about the Rihanna/Chris Brown incident, I have to wonder: is this the first time domestic violence has erupted between them? Are they both making excuses for each other without dealing with the issue head-on? After the incident, Rihanna’s father expressed hope that she will speak out against domestic violence. While it is entirely up to her what she will or will not do, we should be inspired to become (and remain) vocal about this issue. In cases like these, silence is the enemy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shedding Labels

There has been a lot of buzz around the feminist blogosphere lately about the divisions within the feminist movement, and how that is creating a rift among feminist bloggers as well.

I've considered myself a feminist for as long as I can remember, and I've been a proud, active member of the feminist blogosphere for a couple of years now. But for the past year or so, a lot of negativity has started to fester. The election season created an "us vs. them" mentality between supporters of the various candidates. A couple of very popular women of color (WOC) faced racism and felt isolated from the rest of the mainstream (mostly white) bloggers. These and several other episodes have left many, including myself, feeling uneasy and, to some extent, even unwelcome.

More than anything, what this has done for me is make me seriously question the label "feminist." While I recognize that you do not need the label in order to take action and fight for the causes important to you, there is a sense of community - however broken it might be - and togetherness. It's good to know that in an endless fight like women's rights, there are people behind you who share a common goal.

But what happens when the people around you who are supposed to be providing support also end up saying and doing things that you consider racist, homophobic, ableist, etc.? At what point do you say enough is enough and find a new crew or just fly solo?

I still feel deeply connected to the label "feminist," even with everything that's been going on. It has long been the only label I willingly use to describe myself and the only pigeonhole I've accepted regardless of the negative stereotypes associated with it. Can I really let go of something that has defined me for so long? It feels like cutting off my arm or denying an identity I've claimed my whole life.

What are some labels you've left behind and how did you feel once you let it go?

Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm an INFP

Someone recently had me take a personality test called The Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator. Have you ever taken it? I’d done it before, a long time ago. I like taking quizzes and surveys, so I do things like this for fun. But this time, it took on a deeper significance for me.

The Myers-Briggs test is simple: you answer a series of Yes/No questions about your behavior, preferences and tendencies. Depending on the answers, you are classified on four binary criteria: Introvert/Extrovert, Sensor/Intuitive (N), Feeler/Thinker and Judger/Perceiver. The result is one of sixteen possible combinations, each of which is represented by an acronym: for example, I happen to be an Introvert-Intuitive-Feeler-Perceiver, or INFP.

So, you do the quiz, then read the description of your category. It’s a fairly detailed analysis, discussing how people like you act in certain situations, which jobs you’re suited for, and how you perform in all kinds of relationships, from work to family to romance.

For me, the description fit to a T. Scarily so. (If you must know, some of the things that come up for INFPs: having lots of paper-piles and clutter in your living space, the tendency to feel or think more than you are willing to say out loud. Hmm...)

Hearing it struck me really hard this time. I found myself wanting to have the description framed and put on my wall, something to look at on the days when being who I am seems most ridiculous, or the times when I feel like I’m failing at all the things the rest of the world considers normal.

If you've never taken a personality test like this, I recommend it. Not because I think such classifications are the be-all end-all of who a person is, but because it can be another step on the way to figuring out who you are. For me, at least, it serves as a reminder that there’s not a single right way to be. That I don’t have to strive to fit a certain mold because there is value in things that come naturally to me.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Forum: Valentine's Day

Tomorrow is the holiday people love. Or hate. And in celebration, we want to know, how did you meet your...

best friend?

Valentine's Day is all about the people we love, and who doesn't love their best friend?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Being a Female Athlete

CHICKS ROCK! wants you to welcome Bridget back as a guest blogger this week:

Bridget is a senior at Vassar College, studying Political Science and Women's Studies. She loves watching movies with her younger brother and playing rugby for her school.

With February comes the beginning of the rugby season. I’ve been playing sports competitively since seventh grade. I was mostly involved in basketball growing up, traveling across the nation to play at tournaments for college recruiting scouts. In my first year at Vassar, one of my basketball teammates began playing rugby. She told me, “It’s like American football, but without any pads and a thousand times more fun.” I couldn’t believe how she or anyone could possibly enjoy being tackled, risking broken bones and concussions.

At that time, I was burning out from basketball, tired of being in a gym every night and watching endless hours of basketball footage. I decided to move on to something fresh and play a sport that I had no real knowledge of or experience with.

My first day of rugby should have been miserable. The sky was a deep gray, it was pouring rain, and there seemed to be chaos breaking out on the field with people running on top of each other. But it felt liberating to be in an open field, breathe fresh air, and not only practice with men, but match them in pace and strength!

Rugby is an incredibly brutal contact sport. Often described as “organized violence,” it demands strict discipline, both physically and mentally. Nothing will challenge your stamina more than hitting a blue body bag, getting back up and hitting it again with equal ferocity. Because of the physicality, teams must be cohesive and close-knit. If your teammate doesn’t perform well, you might suffer a big hit.

Many people can’t fathom why and how women play. But we play for each other. We play for those who had the courage to start a women’s program. We play to respect our teammates who suffer injuries and still come back. We play to defy stereotypes of women as fragile, weak, and inferior. There is no greater feeling than that of empowerment, and it drove me to return to my team after breaking my leg in a game. Taking pride in our past and the hard hours we put in for each other, I can’t wait to hit those blue bags again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Me Vs. Clutter

I have a clutter problem. This is something about myself that I am not particularly proud of, and I look around my room in a state of disbelief sometimes. How did it ever come to this?

The source of the problem is that my bedroom is too small, and the furniture in it is too big. I also hold on to things, like old brochures, magazines, and clothes that I think I might wear again someday, but probably never will. I don't have to be a psychologist to know that this physical disarray has something to do with state of my mind. I have too much on my plate right now, and it shows.

When I lived and worked in Indonesia for a year, I was far more organized. I always put my personal effects away in their proper place, in addition to cooking and cleaning on a daily basis. I still clean the kitchen, bathroom, and other common areas that I share with my family. My battle with clutter is centered around the room I sleep and change in, and it rages on. Sometimes I have the upper hand, other times, the clutter overwhelms me.

Do you have a clutter problem, or do you have any advice to give me on how to deal with mine?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

If These Walls Could Talk

I consider myself to be quite the homebody. I can spend hours, probably days, completely alone and at home and find countless ways to keep myself entertained. I can watch movies, read blogs, make life lists, catch up on work, clean, and about a hundred other things endlessly and be perfectly happy that way. I grew up sharing a room with two younger sisters and my family has no qualms about opening doors without knocking, so I think at first I just reveled in peaceful time by myself.

But as this year began, I realized that 2008 was quite uneventful for me. A bit too uneventful, perhaps. I had spent so much quiet time alone and at home, that I'd moved from homebody to hermit.

It has especially struck me these past couple of weekends. Once my guy is out with his friends and the apartment is silent, I suddenly feel I should be doing something, anything, as long as it's out of my living room. He keeps telling me to go out with my friends, but I don't much like the club-hopping scene. The only other friends I have who don't like partying are also homebodies. What to do?

We've been trying to come up with fun, cheap activities that we can do together, but nothing has stuck yet. We wanted to learn how to knit, but don't have anybody to teach us. We wanted to start cooking for each other, but none of us has regular access to a car and we live far from one another. Bowling, karaoke and off-broadway shows were also thrown around, but we're all in serious debt and depending on how often we do this, those small outings would add up quickly. So, that's about as far as our brainstorming got.

But life is short! My window can only show me so much of the outside world and my walls have stopped responding to my attempts at conversation.

Can anybody else relate to needing a change of scenery? Where do you go when you're in a funk?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Too Young to be Ageist?

I recently went to my usual dental practice, but for an appointment with a new partner in the practice who I’d never met. So I’m sprawled in the chair, waiting, and this gorgeous, grinning guy walks in, who looks to me like a frat boy, one of my younger brother’s friends. My first thought was: This is the professional who’s going to drill my teeth? My second thought was: Can’t be. He’s too young to be a dentist.

My third thought was mortal embarrassment. His diploma was hanging on the wall in front of me. Clearly he’s qualified. So what’s my problem? Have I suddenly gotten old? I’m not one of those people who think young people are less accomplished. In fact, I often take umbrage when people qualify my own achievements with “for someone your age.”

I’ve always considered myself to be a young person. I moved ahead a grade in elementary school, so I was always at least a year younger than my classmates. Even today, most of my friends are older than I am – some quite significantly so – but we get along fine. I tend to pride myself on having accomplished relatively a lot in my “young” adulthood, but have I already crossed over into plain old adulthood? I’m still a couple years away from thirty, but I’m living a grown-up life that isn’t likely to change much for a while. Still, there are days when I feel like I’m playing house and sooner or later summer vacation will come along and I’ll get to go home to my mommy.

I wonder about the line between young and old. When do you cross it, and how do you know? Is it just in how you feel? How you act? How others see you? Or is it a combination of these things that give your age a certain meaning?

I have no idea how old my dentist is; I couldn’t bring myself to ask. It doesn’t even matter. It was simply shocking to me that I even began to wonder.

How old do you feel?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Forum: Childhood Ambition

We've moved into February (is it just us, or is the new year going by a bit quickly?) and everyone seems to be making decisions about how to move forward in their careers. Sometimes the path we take is quite different from the one we envisioned when we were younger.

Looking back to when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How different is that from what you're doing now? If it's a completely different track, where do you think you veered off?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Link Love for 2/5

Today we bring to you some of what's been going on in the blogosphere.

Lindsey Pollak is blogging on and has great ideas about figuring out how to communicate in the workplace.

Fresh off the heels of Pauline's post yesterday,'s Social Entrepreneurship Blog takes a look at volunteerism and the Serve America Act.

Jill has a post up at Comment is Free, America wants us to push the new administration to keep pushing for women's rights.

Savvy Ladies explains why it's important to focus on women when talking about money.

Meanwhile, Fourth Wave Feminism considers how unemployment might affect equal pay.'s Women's Rights Blog gives some insight into the rise of women entrepreneurs.

Enjoy the links, and be sure to leave your own in the comments.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Finding Time to Volunteer

I have renewed my commitment to contribute my time to worthy causes. The new presidential administration has ushered all of us into a new era of hope and optimism, tempered with sobering realities. Yes, the recession is in full swing, and things will probably get worse before they get better, but I still want to volunteer. But when will I find the time to do so?

While I have done some work for The Women’s Mosaic since January 2008, I have always envisioned myself working for different non-profit organizations. Last autumn, I was looking forward to working with the American Red Cross in Greater New York and the All Stars Project, Inc., which are both located in Manhattan. I was unemployed at the time and ready to start volunteering. I attended information sessions and orientation meetings and underwent an extensive background check, so I was all set... until I got two paying jobs at the same time. I mistakenly thought I could volunteer at both organizations every week, in addition to my paid employment, but that didn’t happen.

My time is extremely limited, especially since I am working long hours during the week and some weekends. I still hope to volunteer at both places on a periodic basis, but it is all about time management and saying “no” when I feel overwhelmed and over-worked. I am anxious to start volunteering sooner rather than later, because it is like nourishment for my soul. Running from one job to another makes me feel like a mouse running inside a wheel: I’m going nowhere fast. Volunteering will allow me to break out of that wheel, so I can participate in meaningful work to help others.

Volunteering is not merely a resume booster for me. Spending a few hours at a soup kitchen, collecting food donations, and other supplies for communities in need are activities that mean more to me than sitting behind a desk and performing repetitive, mundane duties for a paycheck.

Do you volunteer, or do you have plans to do so?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Scattered Pieces of Myself

Do you often find yourself being a different person around different people? Like you've split yourself into smaller pieces that you only share with certain groups? (If you don't, please take those as rhetorical questions...) I think this is something a lot of us (all of us?) do to survive. We like to keep people as close as we need them without showing them all of what we are.

The simplest example of this is at work. You need to draw the line somewhere between the obsession you and your co-workers share about Battlestar Galactica and telling them about the time you got so drunk somewhere you passed out for hours. But where do you draw the line for the other people in your life?

I've been thinking about this more lately because keeping up these multiple personalities has become incredibly exhausting for me. I want to be myself with everyone, but people already know me a particular way. Somehow, showing them sides of myself they don't know seems like a violation of the unspoken rules in our relationships. I understand that I have to bend to people's comfort levels, but is there any way to start bending them back my way, if only a little?

Even as I write this, I'm self-editing to not give away too much of myself.

It is particularly challenging for the different versions of myself I spread throughout cyberspace. I write on a number of blogs, semi-regularly update Facebook and am addicted to Twitter. Somebody might be able to pull all of me together if they access all of these, but they might be surprised to what they find.

The strange part about it is that I don't purposely hide these sides of myself -- like I said, it's really rather exhausting. It's just the way the relationships have grown that I now don't know how to snap out of.

Does anybody else feel this way? And if you acknowledge that you have pieces of you scattered everywhere, is it something that bothers you or something you have gotten used to? Or am I completely insane and alone in feeling this way?

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Question of Race?

Last week I was out with a friend of mine in Harlem. My friend happens to be a white woman, blond and beautiful, which in this case has bearing on the story. At least I think so. Here’s what happened:

We were on 125th street (a busy area) just after dusk, headed for the subway, when we were prevented from crossing the street by a rush of police cars, lights strobing, sirens screaming. After a moment’s pause, more cop cars came out of nowhere--regular sedans, NYPD vans, ambulances, all kinds of emergency personnel, from all directions, within the space of several blocks around us.

I said to my friend, “Something’s going down.” I told her that when I’d worked in Harlem, I’d occasionally seen police turn out en masse like this for some big bust operation. To be honest, the level of police activity made me anxious. I wanted to keep my head down and get in the subway asap.

My friend reacted differently. As two cops hurried toward us on foot, she said, “Let’s ask them.” Then she did just that. “What’s going on?” The cop didn’t really answer her, but that’s not the point. When she stepped toward them, I literally, physically shied away from the encounter. It was involuntary.

Afterward, she found me on the other side of the sidewalk. I couldn’t believe that she’d stopped them, and I told her so. But she hadn’t thought twice about it.

It never in a million years would’ve occurred to me to speak to them. She and I talked about the dynamics at play, and we decided it comes down to race. As a white woman walking down the street, she (perhaps subconsciously) sees a police officer as a protector, a source of information, one of the good guys. As a black woman walking down the street, I see a police officer and I worry what he’s up to and whether he’s looking at me.

It doesn’t matter that I’m basically a law abiding citizen (Well, I like to drive fast. So sue me.) or that I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s just what it is.

Disclaimer: Blog entries express the opinions of the respective Bloggers/Contributors/Authors/Commenters solely, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Women's Mosaic. As host and manager of CHICKS ROCK!, TWM acts solely as a provider of access to the internet and not as publisher of the content contained in bloggers' posts and cannot confirm the accuracy or reliability of individual entries. Each participant is solely responsible for the information, analysis and/or recommendations contained in her blog posts.
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