Archives for May 2011

sexual harrassment

It started in my very first job.   At least once a week, the owner of the almost billion dollar corporation I worked for, would walk up to me and drop his pencil very obviously in front of me. It was his little running joke.

“Oops, I seem to have lost my pencil.  Can you grab that for me Sam?”

Mr. CEO would start drooling and giggling as he waited for me to bend down and pick it up, hoping for a glimpse of either leg or cleavage as I was forced to bend over awkwardly in heels. 

Then there was the vice president (also from the same sleazy tech company) who approached me at the office Christmas party and talked to me about my ministry aspirations.

“Sam, I hear you are in seminary getting your masters in theology,” Mr. VP asked with an inebriated smile.

“Yes Sir, I am.”I replied.

“Wow, that’s hot.  I think we could have a religious experience together.  You could tie me up and make me say Oh God over and over.” Mr. VP raises his arms in the air and demonstrated how he would like to be tied up.

I weakly smiled at him and ran as fast as my heels could carry me to HR.  

But yesterday, oh yesterday, took the cake.  This time the comment was launched not from my own place of business, which is refreshingly drama free, but it came from a client.  And therein lays the dilemma.  You can tell a boss to go climb a tree, and threaten to report him, but how do you tell the client he’s an A-Hole?

I walked in to Mr. Client’s office with my boss for an impromptu conversation after a previous meeting nearby.  This customer was not one of my accounts, so I had zero context for the meeting and decided to keep my mouth shut and watch their interaction.  As we stood to leave, Mr. Client turned to me and launched his bomb.

“You certainly contributed to the conversation.  So, is this what you do all day?  Do you drive your boss around and let him sit in the backseat and make calls.  Is that your job?”  He dangled his keys in front of my nose as he leered at me and insinuated that I was my boss’s very personal assistant and valet.

Anger surged deep within my spirit and I bit my tongue until it bled.  I glared at him, thought about the consequences of telling him off, and then stomped out the door. 

The problem with harassment is it goes hand in hand with the feeling of entrapment.  It feels like you are screwed however you approach the situation.  If you make a big deal about it and go for the jugular, you lose credibility in your field and become one of those red flag people.   Or conversely, if you ignore it, the situation can escalate and lead to bigger problems.

With my first company, I documented and reported the incidents with the temporary HR person, who was then replaced by a more appropriate candidate who looked the other way at the corporate bigwig’s mischief. It goes without saying that certain companies are experts in managing their image, no matter how debaucherous it is.

I often wonder how many of these incidents go unreported in the workplace and I imagine women, and yes… even men have to figure out appropriate boundaries with inappropriate people every day.  I also presume that until more people call attention to this issue, jerks like the one I encountered yesterday will continue to be unchecked power-hungry JACKWAGONS (and yes…that felt good to vent).

I take some delight in pondering the perfect comeback to drop on this guy if I should happen to cross his path again.  Or, I guess I could simply mention his name and company on the internet.  (Just saying…)

“First Baby” and other labels

My First Baby is officially, as of May 23rd, a double-digit midget (translation-Faith turned ten-years old). Now that might be confusing to some because it makes absolutely no sense if you know the birth order of my kids. 

Faith Whitney is my second child (out of three) and now carries the middle child banner after almost a decade of being the baby.  After that long, you would think the middle child traits would be nominally apparent, but jealousy is such a strong emotion and even the most secure kid gets rattled when their role is replaced.  

I’ve noticed Faith fights to claim her place, postures for attention and vacillates between big girl and lisping baby talk–all symptoms of a classic middle child.  It’s tough being the sandwich kid in between the studly athletic older brother and a ridiculously cute toddling baby sister.  I think of Jan Brady and her silly wigs, just trying to fit in and find her place.

So, as chief mother and encourager of my little tribe, I have decided to break with tradition and give her a new nick-name, First Baby.  For many years Faith was indeed my baby, and instead of taking on the bitter and sassy middle child identity, I have decided to give her a new title, allowing her the distinction of feeling treasured instead of lost among the birth order.

Now, while this might sound coddling to some, I do confess a certain degree of parental guilt when it comes to juggling three kids.  My position recognizes the recurring nagging feeling of mommy guilt because I haven’t been able to give my middle child the attention she craves now that there are three.  The truth is I am outnumbered and Faith has genuinely lost some time and attention from the mommy bucket. 

But, even though my hands are full, as all moms know, my heart has an endless amount of love for my little girl.  So one of the things I decided I could do was to give her a special name.  And when I hold her in bed at night as we cuddle and say prayers, I sense my effort is appreciated.

Clearly she is still the middle sister.  Faith’s role has not changed, but her title has been tweaked a bit to boost her security as my beloved child.  It’s a beautiful picture of what God does with us.  The world calls us certain labels and He in turn tells us we are chosen, redeemed, and cherished.  The circumstances in our lives don’t change, but the image imprinted on our heart, (if we choose to believe what God says is true about us) begins to define us more than the other titles. We operate differently because we are secure.

A recent story in the news caught my eye about a family who has refused to announce the sex of their child.  The baby named Storm will be allowed to pick its own gender.  On a million levels this disturbs me but mostly because we are created in the image of God, male and female he created them. 

Little Storm will grow up without labels, without a gender even.  His family, in an extreme effort to avoid the world’s identification and labels, has created even more insecurity for the child.  In my opinion, this seems like another misguided attempt to play God and redefine the created order into some PC perversion of an alternative reality. 

I understand the desire though.  It’s the same reason I go out of my way to make up silly nick-names because I love my kids.  It’s the yearning to experience the paradise we were created for. Something deep within our spirits strives to recreate that which was lost. Of course not being God, we distort in our effort to recreate beauty or in this case a world without labels.

Strangely enough, I imagine in about a year or two, the last thing Faith will want me to call her is a baby.  And Storm in a few years will probably figure out his or her sex, despite his parent’s shroud of secrecy.  Hopefully, both will find their true identity in Christ alone and ultimately that will be enough.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys…

Every time I hear another story of a wayward husband  powerful man out finagling instead of legislating, I am sickened, but sadly not surprised. It seems rather par for the coarse these days.  The more surprising revelation is a leader with integrity.

Not that Arnold let me down, because I never really bought into the family man façade to begin with.  (Though I am so sad for Maria and the kids). Arnold is and was a player. The “gropinator” was clearly operating within his wheelhouse.  (Yeah, I know that was mean, but it’s my opinion) This is a guy addicted to fame, fortune and chasing the adrenaline hit. The $2000 suit doesn’t clean up his propensity to lust.  But seriously now, isn’t that part of his appeal?  

I heard a guy on the radio this morning suggest, “A man is: how he treats his wife.” (If I knew who you were Mr. AM Radio man I would give you a full attribution). I thought his statement was brilliant.

Because in the end, our lives are defined far more by what we do than what we say, and lip service aside, I’m tired of all the Kool-Aid trying to clean up the acts of all the bad boys out there. (Yes, I’m talking to you Tiger)

Another study recently came out suggesting those in high management positions have a greater risk of cheating (discussed on KIIS FM this morning). Maybe it’s a confidence thing?  A big ego tied to a powerful position?  I guess you don’t get much higher than a governor, unless it’s a launch pad to the job of president?  This whopper of a secret makes even Newt Gingrich and President Clinton look tame.  Late night TV pundits were claiming it was harder to catch Arnold than Osama Bin Laden.

So, back to the male integrity dealio.  The media would make you think all guys are philandering jerks, but I disagree.  And, I’ve never been more grateful for all the guys in my life who treat their wives as a treasure.  So today, I celebrate you…the Good Guys!  (Do I sound like a beer commercial?)

Here’s to the faithful husband’s and dad’s out there that aren’t climbing the corporate ladder but manage to make all their kid’s baseball games (with the team snack).  Here’s to the men who wake up at 5:30am on Mother’s Day to stand outside Pavilions and buy their wives’ a card, some flowers and eggs for breakfast(that’s for you honey),  and here’s to the man who’s quiet actions speak MUCH louder than his charisma.

Three cheers for all the faithful husband’s and dad’s!

We love you just the way you are and you don’t need a Speedo and muscles to win our hearts.

Photo by:schumachergirl1956

beautiful mistakes

There is nothing quite like a captive audience (even if you have to bribe them to be there). Tonight I am so excited to speak for the second time at Birthchoice. For those of you unfamiliar with this nonprofit, they are a pro-life health clinic dedicated to helping and equipping young moms (and even a few single dads) with parenting and life skills, as well as preparing them to have healthy relationships.

When the young parents attend a class they earn points which can be used towards diapers and baby clothing. Therein lays the beauty of the scenario…a group of teens and young adults, all paying rapt attention. This is virtually unheard of in most realms.

One thing I learned from my last class is teen moms are just like all moms, but younger (profound, I know…).  No matter what the topic, all they really want to know about is labor, pain and nursing. And this ultimately, is what all expectant mom’s want to know about because it’s the big scary unknown.

I could have spoken on car seat installations and the first question would have been, “How bad does nursing hurt.” (Then again, maybe they weren’t paying attention?)

Of course, being the great instructor I am, I was completely honest and told them it hurts like hell.

One smarty-pants girl retorted, “Only if you’re doing it wrong.” (La Leche clearly has a new advocate)

Honestly, I was a little scared the first night I showed up. I didn’t know what to expect when I walked in the room and encountered all these curious eyes staring at me.

I didn’t know my heart would pound so nervously before I spoke, or how much I would enjoy bantering and playfully razzing the group. I certainly didn’t anticipate my spirit swelling with a profound ache.

Their courage was tremendous and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I wasn’t that brave at their age. I made mistakes.

I believe abortion is often (though not always) the quick fix and the easy way out.   I know that’s a loaded statement and many will disagree. I also know there are situations where rape and incest are involved and that certainly changes the parameters.

But this group of kids, despite the circumstances, were willing to take a risk, even though it was by far, the more difficult (at least initially) of the two paths.

I imagine few will ever regret their decision, while another generation of young women and men will struggle with shame and remorse for making a different choice.

I am humbled by their bravery.

We all screw up eventually, but few will choose to make beauty from ashes.

And a baby just might be the most beautiful mistake ever made.

A Picnic with Frank and Chuck

[Read more…]

Cranky Pants

sad face

I am rounding up the week of the fractured foot. And it’s been so stinking DEPRESSING!  I never realized what a happy camper I normally am, until I wasn’t.

Warning! Here comes the vent….WAHH! My foot hurts. All I do is sit, sit, sit on the stupid couch. I’m not motivated to get my sorry behind up and do anything because it hurts even more. My kids look at me and think, “Hey, there’s mom parked on the sofa again. What happened to our vibrant, active go get’em mama?  Who is this long faced bummer gal?”

I am also depressed from the writing conference (Orange County Christian Writers Fellowship) which I attended this last weekend. I actually sat down in front of an editor from a big name publishing house and pitched my book concept . And then, miraculously he told me to submit a book proposal. (Which if you know anything about writing is like manna from heaven, because publishers almost never take random solicitations). You have to get a literary agent, and have a platform of 35,000 people and be on a speaking tour…and have all this marketing mumbo jumbo that makes my head spin around like Carrie.

So I should be happy that I got my shot, right?  But then the editor says to me, after he delivers the wonderful news that he is indeed interested… “But, it might be a long shot.”

Long shot! I am no long shot!  How dare he? I am Scrappy Sam the underdog.  How can he not see this spunk and fire in my belly? Doesn’t it radiate from my very being?

And so now, I feel this pressure to perform and to wow him with my Scrappy Essence. Which means some major edits to my slightly scrappy manuscript. It’s possible (ok, really possible) that I somewhat  haphazardly threw together the book for the writing contest I entered at the conference. 

It means really sitting down and defining my voice and the direction of my book.  It means getting my crap together and putting on the big girl pants.

This is serious stuff.

It’s a make it or break it moment. And even though I broke the foot, gosh darn it; I refuse to give up without a fight.

I’m getting all riled up thinking about proving Mr. Editor wrong. Of course, not enough to actually get off the sofa just yet, because I am in serious pain, but maybe enough to get my fingers tapping and get out of my funk.

To Do:

  1. Find theme song for motivation (Rocky, Oceans 11 soundtrack, any suggestions?)
  2. Ask for prayer (yes that’s you). Pretty please!
  3. Give myself time to heal (so hard)
  4. Surrender wounded ego to Lord (even harder)

Mac n Cheese

It’s a sweet vignette-one of those touching Super Bowl commercial moments that brings a tear to the eye.

Daddy is trying to help baby Kolby eat her mac and cheese with a spoon and he is pulling out of his hat all the good tricks.

He is doing the locomotive move, “Choo, choo…here comes the train.”

Then the buzzing bee, disguised as a spoon move, “Buzz, buzz (spoon darts around baby’s face until she opens her mouth), here comes the bee.”

But baby is having none of it.  She screams in a howl of fury and tightens up her little pink bow mouth.

“I do it,” baby shrieks like a pterodactyl.

Daddy cajoles, “I have been eating a lot longer than you have and I can help.”

Baby stares him down defiantly. It’s the scary toddler stare- “Blue Steel” in diapers.

Daddy walks away defeated.

Baby picks up the spoon and giggles, and then throws some macaroni over her head like a crazed baby high on power and processed cheese.

Then he gives me the look. The parenthood is so freaking hard look. And I laugh and laugh and laugh some more.

Final Score: Baby Kolby -1, Daddy-0

I laugh because I can relate all too well. But mostly I laugh because it’s a picture of how I am with God, a maniacal baby hopped up on mac and cheese battling a loving father who is trying to guide me into all truth.

Every single day I fight between surrender and selfishness. Between “I do it!” and “Lord, you are in control.”

I think God shows me these vivid pictures of faith to highlight my own silly/stubborn streak and to illustrate His unending and radical love for me.

My son asked me the other day how I hear from God.

“Well Kyle, ” I said with a smile and a knowing laugh, “sometimes I hear His voice in cheesy noodles. You just have to listen.” 

%d bloggers like this: