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Comparison and Contrast: Good vs “Bad Guys” 

 

Comparison and Contrast: Good vs “Bad Guys” 

The title of this blog sounds like a college paper. However, I think comparison and contrast is a valuable life skill and can be applied to any area of life.

These days the media is full of stories about sexual abuse, harassment and sexism. Hundreds of men are accused of sexual assault or sexist behavior daily. I want to provide an insight, a comparison and contrast. I will tell two stories, the first is an experience that I believe is all too common today. The second is an experience that I have had recently that has been incredibly cathartic. So cathartic that it has restored my faith “in the good corporate man.” As much as I want to shed light on the all-too-common disgusting behavior men perpetuate upon women, I want more to illuminate and praise my brothers out there who are kind, respectful human beings. I hate that a byproduct of the patriarch is the divisive “men vs women” mentality. We are a world in pain, and people in pain hurt others; regardless if they are male or female. How can we fill the gap with love?  Note: The stories are described take place in a corporate setting.

I walked into the elevator, mind racing in preparation for my next meeting. I was headed downstairs to the basement to visit some coworkers for my 15 minute break. In the elevator it was just me and Major ____ a notable military officer that ran the military intelligence lab in the place I worked. I felt a piercing stare and looked up to see him checking me out. Feeling uncomfortable I shifted, from foot to foot. He asked if I worked in accounting on the 2nd floor because all of the “hot girls worked in accounting.” I shyly responded “No sir, I work in System Engineering” he told me there weren’t many cute engineers. I nervously glanced away, praying the elevator doors would open. The tension in that small space was suffocating. He leaned in, invading my personal space and smugly, degradingly, haughtily, looked at me and said “why don’t you come to the basement (where his office was) and make my day?” I felt the heat, the shame, flush from my soul to my face. I didn’t respond. The elevator shortly opened to the basement and there were two male house keepers, tan hands a contrast to the brooms they were holding, looking at the elevator doors as they opened. Major __ announced “boys look at what I drug to the basement.” If the floor could have opened and swallowed me I would have preferred that to standing there in utter horror and self-consciousness.  I felt sickened, and knew this man was a predator.

            I reported an formal EEO compliant. Turns out there were five other women he had harassed. The result from his military and civilian command? Relocate him ASAP to the Midwest, and not allowing him to get a medal for this particular assignment.

Within two years after that, I had left my career in engineering. After 10 years of similar experiences, I was jaded, broken and had enough. I travelled for a while and was lucky enough to find a job that allowed me to work from home. I wanted to be alone, I couldn’t bear the idea of going back to the corporate world. I worked from home for almost four years.  Years recovering from all the sexual harassment, shame and damage toxic men had caused on my soul.  Through lots of therapy, prayer, and healing I decided I could face the workplace again. I was starting to shut myself off from life and limiting my career progression. I would be damned if their behavior had a victory over my career. I was stronger and more grounded now, and no one was going to fuck up my Zen. My heart, while healing, had healed with a lot of cynical scar-tissue.

I moved from Utah to a new office in Florida and it has been such a healing experience. I first had to have the vulnerability to put myself out there. I had taken my power back and had the strength to be vulnerable.  This time around it is different. My office is 75% male and each and every one of them is a good man. I am respected, my opinion is listened to. I am not harassed or marginalized. It is so cathartic to work with men that are honest, respectful and kind. I began to despair that they didn’t exist, but the despair is turning to trust. This trust is healing. I know there are good men, and good corporations whose values are followed from the top down. I have found myself energized in my career. I feel I do not have to play a certain role to be promoted. I can be myself, just Jo’el, and work hard towards a goal.

I think we as women still need to be on guard. I think we need to hold our male counter-parts accountable, but I think prejudice in any form is wrong. Honest, decent men need to be heard and they need to be a part of the greater discussion. Good men are invaluable in changing the minds/behaviors of ignorant men. We need them on our side. Inclusivity is the answer, not division. We need to recognize and praise our brothers who have our backs.  

The word “feminist” is loaded with political meanings. It is used as darts by both political parties. Feminism is described as “the doctrine advocating social, political and other rights of women equal to men.” Inherently that should not be politicalized and polarized. It means we should have the rights as men. Sounds fair enough right?

Let us hold to account the men that treat us with prejudice and let us praise those who lift us up.

 

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Travel and Inspirational Blogs

The Storie(s) I didn’t Intend to Write

 

Sometimes I look back at my life and think where along the line did I hop on a train with a drunk conductor? I thought I had my story mostly figured out since I was a small child. I wanted to travel and I wanted to have a career. I did exactly that, traveled the world, joined the military, earned my Bachelors degree, and hustled my way into a truly incredible career. But there have been many chapters I did not anticipate being added. Chapters that have included divorce, addiction, abuse, and depression and a host of other things, not all bad. These chapters are not in a particular chronicle order. Some stories are older, when I was less experienced in this journey of life, and some that are more current. They are focused on stories and or lessons I’ve learned (and not the easy way). Welcome to my brain, a little dis-jointed, a little jaded, a lot funny and what I hope for most of all, wise.

 

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Chapter 1: And Then I Broke up With my boyfriend, got a Kitten and Moved to Florida.

This chapter starts with me breaking up with my boyfriend, getting a kitten and moving to Florida. Yes, I have a penchant for the dramatic.

June 13, 2019 my journal entry stated “What is my mission statement? What values guide me?” and I listed: “Kindness, empathy, self-awareness and working hard to achieve my goals.”  With the next line reading, “I can’t have these things and keep Jake.* Thus began an rollercoaster of a summer. I released Jake*, I let him go in light and love. I decided on that to choose integrity over comfort.  Thanks Brene Brown, the implementation of your Call to Courage was just so much fun. More on Brene later, she’s been an absolute miracle worker for me. The experience was heart wrenching. Walking away from someone you love never feels like a good choice, even if it was the right choice.

When I really started to get clear on my values were, I decided that I would live courageously, Authentically! I would speak my truth goddamnit. In my confidence, I wrote out an “emotional hit list” of three people I had put off a “come to jesus” meeting with for years. I was paying a huge emotional toll by “keeping the peace” in these relationships.  What a bullshit statement “keep the peace,” if you have to be unauthentic  to “keep the peace” peace did not exist to begin with. Anyways, I put my therapy into warp speed, I felt like I was participaiting in the Iron Man of mental health. I began addressing major issues with the three most important people in my life, not to mention dealing with my issues head-on. Equipped with my self-help books, journal, therapist and meditation I plunged emotionally into this summer like hippo. Not graceful, and causing way more of a wake than I had intended.

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It was hard. I am talking soul stretching, drop you to your knees hard. The conversations, the honesty, the reality of all it. Setting boundaries and being vulnerable is not easy shit. I knew it was going to be hard and that I would grow, but I think I underestimated how difficult truly letting go is. Letting go of expectations, of hopes and dreams and letting go of the guilt and shame I’ve carefully nurtured like a mushroom within my soul. Letting go didn’t happen for me all at once. It is still I have to be aware of. I wasn’t like Kate dropping Leo off the raft into the abyss with one tearful goodbye. It took tantrums, it took paralyzing fear and anxiety. The thing about dreams and expectations is that we cling to them as if they are the end all be all. They aren’t. By holding on with a death-grip to certain ideas and people, we actually hinder ourselves from what we really want. When I realized that I felt more clarity than I had in years.

Realization, after realization began to hit me, one of the most obvious,  yet most unknown, was “what brings me joy?” That had been a surprisingly difficult question for me to answer. I decided I had to break these concepts down into tangible things and start with baby steps. Then it dawned me on, cats, cats give me joy. I am at that point in my life where I will freely admit that. I’ve been called worse than a “cat lady.” So Bebe came into my life. My Wildling from West Valley.

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And boy did she bring me joy. She also brought me abscesses, ear mites, vet bills and scratches all over my body. You’d think I had gone toe-to-toe with a harpy. Anyway, nothing was going to get in the way of me finding my joy! Even if it was one deranged kitten at a time.

Three weeks after I surrendered Jake* to the universe, an opportunity came up for me to relocate to Tampa, Florida for work. Living by the beach has always been my dream. Did I have the guts to pack up again and move cross country for the fourth time?  I began to become more excited about the idea. I thought about it all day, dreamt about it at night. It would be a radical change, moving across country where I didn’t know anyone. If I was making decisions that were best for me then, why not? The words “why not?” have gotten me into more situations in life that most..

July 8th, 2019 my journal entry reads “suddenly got so anxious. Fear and doubt creep in like smoke from a fire.”  Now the “What Ifs’” started to kick in. Was I really capable of taking this promotion? Making this move?

Doubts, I see you hanging around

The prephials of my brain

An uninvited party guest

August 5th, 2019 “I feel courageous. I feel I am living authentically.” I know now adventure does not come without cost. I had just found a beautiful condo that is right on the water, and I was actually going to be living my dream. This change/job was going to have challenges, but I wanted to rise up to meet them. To stop living in my self-imposed limitations.

Instead of cowering within myself, I rose up to meet the universe. Was I still scared? Hell yes. Do you know how difficult it is to move/drive across country alone with two cats? I never anticipated that I’d be the 33 year old cat lady moving to Florida. Yet, that lady is more badass than I could have ever dreamed.

However, badssary is not the word that was on my mind when I finished loading my POD with all of my earthly possessions and saying good-bye to my friends, and to Jake. I wondered if I was making a huge mistake. I felt I was leaving a portion of my heart in Salt Lake City. I wondered if i was running away from my problems. I got into my packed car, prayed for safety (amidst the howls from my cats) and through my tears, I took off.

On 30 September,  I began my 2500 mile drive, it was snowing in Park City and I thought I just had to keep driving towards the sun. No matter the tears, fears or worries in my heart I just had to get through it.  It was a hard drive. Nebraska never seemed so large in my life. Mile by mile I felt my courage kicking in. I was driving, literally, the change I wanted in my life. I began to focus on what my place would look like when I got to Florida.  I finally made it to the last day of driving, and it would be 17.5 hours of driving. By the grace of Lizzo and redbull I was going to make it.

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Somewhere in the 2,000 of Midwest we covered

I got to my new condo at 2:30am. It was ridiculously humid but I was home! I wandered onto my patio and saw the darkness reflected in the water, and the calmness of the breeze on my skin. I felt like I just arrived at a resort. Then I heard a big splash – I thought it was a gator and said hell to the naw and got my butt inside.

I didn’t have a bed, so I laid some blankets on the floor, my body shaking with exhaustion and kept saying “Thank you” over and over again as the adreline wore off. I was completely alone, sleeping on cold tile floor and yet my heart was overflowing with gratitude. That’s the funny thing about gratitude, when you let her flow over you it isn’t about the causation, it’s a feeling that takes on a life of its own.

I have now been here almost two months. I am constantly filled with wonder. Seeing dolphins in my backyard (it’s all salt water, so no gators here), going to the beach in the middle of winter. Being reminded of the kindness of strangers, forming new relationships within my office, and finding my purpose at work again. Most importantly, finding myself again, maybe not again, but maybe for the first time. I am finding that I am not this beyond- broken creature. I am master and commander of my destiny. I still have hard days, and if that happens, I go down and sit on the pier and lose myself in the water, the fishes, the birds. Water soothes me. Reminds me of the largeness of the universe and how small my problems are comparatively.  Water changes color, many times a day, even in the same location. It reminds me I am allowed to be dynamic, I am allowed to change, to reflect and be reflected upon.

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My work from home Friday’s

I do not fear being alone anymore. I am comfortable in my own skin. I do not feel guilt for doing or not doing something. I have fought so hard for peace, and I think I am finally feeling what it tastes like. It tastes like a big gulp of the freshest air you can imagine.

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I am letting go, slowly, of “what should-bes” and adapting the mentality of “let’s see what happens.”  I am finding that a lot easier way to be, then consumed with stress, shame and guilt when I miss a perceived mark.

 

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Almost daily, I still have a hard time realizing this is the reality that the Universe has manifested for me. I am so glad I did not listen to my fear gremlins. The lesson I am learning is to trust my gut. Memories, expectations, guilt, shame, all cover my inner brilliance; and I am brilliant. I am loved and I am full of light that I can’t wait to brighten up the world just a little bit, to the best of my ability.

As for Bebe, she isn’t a kitten so much anymore and has more energy than any cat I’ve encountered, but she brings so much joy to my life with her antics. She’s batshit crazy, but hey, who isn’t?

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