“Having It All” Should Mean Having The “All” YOU Want

There are two articles circulating on Facebook right now – one from the Atlantic titled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” and a response on Slate titled “Fine, Women Can’t Have It All. Isn’t That Called Compromise?”

Go read them now, while I wait.

Okay.  So, are you as frustrated as I am?  I could have just SCREAMED after reading the Atlantic article – once again, a powerful, respected woman, who has a wide audience, is making assumptions that there is only one kind of “having it all”.   Slate does a slightly better job, acknowledging that not all women want the same things, and that the men helping women like Anne-Marie Slaughter have it all perhaps are not having it all themselves.  But both articles assume that a successful personal life involves a full-time partner and at least one child.  Lauren Sandler makes a quick reference to “Feminism [telling] us we don’t just have to be a mother, or that we don’t have to be a mother at all. ” but no more than that.  Admittedly, her article is a direct response to Slaughter, who focuses on the child-raising aspect of work-life balance, but still!

What neither article acknowledges is the pressure put on those who have chosen to be single and childless by accommodations made for those who are neither.  And even more so, for the single parents at our workplaces.  (And before you think I’m complaining about my office, I’m not.  I’m lucky in this regard, and I know it.)  But I see and hear about it from my friends – and they have a legitimate gripe.  We have swung far enough in the direction of trying to create a work-life balance for the working parent that the rest of those in that workplace may find that their personal obligations are seen as less important.  If I don’t have a family, does that mean that I should be on call 24/7?  For many, it does.  We balk at interrupting a mother’s weekend time with her children, or even interrupting “couple time”, but there are no qualms about asking a single, childless person to choose work over a personal life.

Before I go any further, I have to say that I do tend to choose work, because I love my job, and I want to do it to the highest standard of which I am capable.  But that is a choice, my choice, and the choice to put personal time first outside of work hours should be given the same respect.   When we have acknowledged that for everyone, we will finally be able to say we are moving closer to allowing women – and men – to have it all.

(By the way, there’s no illustration on this post, as every image of a woman juggling, which is what I thought would be appropriate, had some image relating to motherhood as one of the items being juggled.  Sigh…)

 

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What’s So Funny?!? Or Don’t You Laugh At Me!

I laugh at myself a lot.  This was not always true – in fact, I would have to say I was basically humorless until about seven years ago.   I always believed that if people were laughing in my presence, they were laughing  at me.  (To be honest, I still think that more than I care to admit.)

But as I was laughing at myself today, I started to wonder – when did this change?  When did I realize that I’m laughable (which is NOT the same as being funny)?  And that it was okay to be so?

As with so many other changes in my life over the last several years, I credit Bikram Yoga.  I mean, really, how can you NOT laugh at your (sweaty, inflexible, grimacing) self when you fall out of each and every balancing pose for the umpteenth time?  And the natural extension of that is that you start to notice the other laughable things about yourself.  For one… when I look in a full-length mirror, I bevel.  Every. Single. Time.  Of course, that’s AFTER I do the sideways pose, to check if my stomach is pooching out or my back fat is showing.  And I won’t tell people what size shoes I wear.  After all, my feet are really big.  Ginormous, in fact.   And I’m weird about food in oh, so many different ways (that may have to be a post of its own).

So, yes,  I can finally say it:  I’M what’s so funny!

It’s Harder Than It Looks

I have friends who think savasana is easy.  Maybe it is – probably it should be – but not for me.  I mean, how many of you can relax “3 – 2 – 1”, in proper form, and then “change” and be right back in the class?  Okay, okay, I hear you.  All of you.

But still, think about it.  Savasana, at least in Bikram, has a form.   And it’s not a form that I find very comfortable or relaxing.  First off, lying on my back with my heels together, toes falling open is pretty much one of the most uncomfortable positions for my hip.  Who knows why?  But it just is.  Secondly, for whatever reason, bringing my arms close to my body with my palms up is just hard.  Hard, I tell you!  Oh, and finally, I can’t help thinking about how awkward I look in this position.  Those myths about how a woman’s body looks best when she’s on her back…just myths, really.  It’s just a way for a man (or a woman, if you prefer) to get you on your back.

So, by the time I’ve tried to make this happen, it’s “change” and I’ve missed my chance.  Most of the time in savasana, I feel like I’m playing that old game “Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board”.   And that makes me want to go look for the Crazy 8 Ball and ask it some questions.   But as you see, it’s currently disinclined to answer.

This little problem with relaxing, letting go, whatever you want to call it, doesn’t, of course, stay in the yoga studio.  It follows me out the door and interferes with my work, my play, my sleep.  And when I try to talk about it, no-one really gets it.  A typical response:  “What do you mean?  Savasana is the BEST!  I love it!  I could fall asleep in there!”

Well, bully for you.  It’s harder than it looks.

This One. Right Here, Right Now.

As an avid practitioner of Bikram Yoga, I get asked some pretty odd, or even silly, questions.   And some pretty perceptive questions.   These are (mostly) not those. 

“What?  The room is HEATED?”   Well, yes, yes, it is.  On porpoise.  And we like it that way.  In fact, some of us look for the “hot spots”.  And don’t drink water during class.  And so on.

“Do you sweat a lot?”  Indeed.  And I smile about it.  See? —–>

“The teacher just TALKS the whole time?”  It’s not just talk…it’s a dialogue.  One that the students answer non-verbally, but a dialogue nonetheless. 

“Why would you go back if every class is the same?”  Every class is NOT the same.   Remember, “it’s a practice, not a perfect”.  While the class is doing the standard sequence, I am different every day.  It is the same discipline that allows actors to keep their performances fresh eight shows a week, 52 weeks a year, as many years as the show can run.  And this is a big part of what makes it possible for me to practice Bikram all over the world – I can jump right in, even if the dialogue is not being spoken in English, and get in a good practice.

“Don’t you hate looking at yourself in the mirror for ninety minutes?”  Sometimes, but that’s part of the discipline of the practice.  And it gets better.

And last, but not least (for today):

“What posture do you love/hate the most?”  I try to live in the moment during each class, so it’s an obvious answer.  This one.  Right here, right now.

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