Opportunities to Shed Light
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Last September, I spoke at a Women’s Conference called “Business in Heels” out in Temecula, wine country in Southern California – it was a wonderful event, well-attended in a beautiful setting. I felt very fortunate to be included on their agenda. Not only did I make new friends but I learned a bit more about women in business locally and what they are achieving. Temecula is a 1.5 hours drive from my home, very nice to not have to catch a flight to be able to participate.
The program cover featured a pair of hot pink pumps – not exactly my attire, and I told the audience that I hoped next year’s event would be titled “Business in Flip-Flops” – this warranted a low chuckle from the nearly all-female crowd but got me thinking about expectations and how business and life has changed over the last ten to fifteen years. Many women, like myself, and men are fortunate enough to work out of their homes, telecommuting for a company or running their own small business.
Another thing I mentioned during my presentation in Temecula was how I never woke every morning thinking, “Oh damn, I am a woman, therefore – my day in the world of business will be tougher than if I were a man. How can I fight this injustice?” I simply thought, “Oh damn, the price of Lucky Charms and gas keeps going up — I need to work hard so I can afford to be a mom.” Much of my struggles and what happened to me were no different than other single moms or dads, as well as multiple two-income homes. Life is expensive, whether or not you have a family.
I Made Choices
Life as a single mom is not easy, but I never had time to really bitch and moan about those difficulties. I often fell asleep at my computer, writing and working into the early morning, only to rise by 6 am to get my four kids out the door. The end of a marriage or two, surviving a controlling relationship that included all kinds of often unspoken abuse, going back to school, getting a great job but still losing my home to foreclosure. Yes, it has been tough and when I have written about these tough times, it has been to share and let other women and men know that they are not alone – that we all have our individual paths paved with thorns. I readily recognize that I bear much responsibility when it comes to my lot in life and the cards I have been dealt – I have written about many of them here, on Blogging4Jobs. I made choices, as we all do, that added to my struggle.
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A New Awareness
With the continuing fight against racism and other injustices like LGBT prejudices, domestic abuse, and un-equal pay, a new awareness has come to light for me over the last several months. The fight must be fought by ALL, not just those who suffer from those injustices. No one who hears my story can believe that I was once an abused wife. “You are such a strong woman, how did you ever let that happen?”
It didn’t happen overnight. It was years of conditioning – of guilt, regret, of “this is my lot”, and how could I possibly ever leave? No degree and four mouths to feed. I never thought I could leave until a man, actually several men who were family friends, told me I deserved better. None of my women friends told me to leave. Afraid to get involved? Afraid to break up a family, like I was?
The decision to leave became real when I finally realized it wouldn’t change, it wouldn’t get better, and that one of us would soon be dead. That is a frightening realization. One of us would be dead.
And I didn’t want it to be me. I needed to be here for my kids. I had more life to live. And I didn’t deserve it, no matter what I had done or not done – I didn’t deserve it, I deserved better.
Pass the Strength
The strength of those not subject to abuses, racism, or discrimination must be shared with those who suffer, undeservedly or not. If you can be a voice, a hand, a lift – please be that voice and that hand. It is not our place, my place, to remain silent when your/my voice or strength can make a difference.
My fire or passion may not burn within you – and that is ok — we are all in the place or getting to the place where we need to be. And if I can share anything, please remember, just because you do not see or experience injustice or inequality yourself doesn’t mean it does not exist. I never had a bruise on my face, but there were plenty on the back of my head and in my heart. Lift where you can. Shed light where it is dark. You may be saving the heart or life of your best friend, your brother or sister, your child.
You don’t know what you don’t know.