Archive | March 2017

Doing Less Is Hard

I am often tired in the morning and getting out of bed is not easy. I do not have a sleep problem. In fact I actually fall asleep quite easily and I also sleep well. So, I know that probably my only chance at being less tired in the morning is by actually extending my sleep hours. Since my kids have to go to school and I indeed may have to show up at work on occasion, the only real way of extending the sleep hours is by going actually … (gasp) … going to bed earlier.

That will leave me with fewer hours to get things done or to enjoy TV or to read or to just hang out with myself or to read my phone or to … or .. or …

IMG_2470

I am not looking forward to reducing my awake time, because I really enjoy my evening hours.  I am worried I will lose out. I get less done. That I will not be by myself enough and drain my self of valuable “me time generated energy”.

Yet, getting more sleep is somewhat important. I am often tired. Sometimes so tired that the drive home from work is … well… let’s call it less than ideal. Falling asleep while driving is definitely not a good thing.  Not only bad for me. But bad for everyone on the road with me. Not that I ever did just that… fall asleep while driving…, but I got extremely close.

So, I started an online course to help me do better, be less stressed out, be more focused, and get more things done while doing less. The first suggestion in the intro is, you may guess it, to increase your sleep by 30min. Sigh. Here we go. First assignment and I am already thinking about spending my money on a different online course. Maybe art? Maybe physics? Something with actual homework no matter how hard that I can do late at night… ?? Wouldn’t this be more impressive, anyways, earning a degree in math while being a full time employee and mother? Would it sound better if I actually got another engineering degree?

Doing less is hard for me. Adding things onto my busy schedule always seems to work better.

So, here comes the true test. Will this online course by Arianna Huffington actually get me out of my comfort zone? Will I actually feel better by doing less?

The first assignment to do is to read her book “Thrive”. Good. I can do this. I can read. I can do this late at night or while driving (I got the audio version). Let’s get started.

I will keep you posted.

On The Run On Women’s Day

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day and I took the day off. I have planned a day of me time which includes running and eating what I like. I am training for the next marathon on April 1st (hoping it will not become a joke) and am quite excited for the opportunity to have this day to myself. The last LSD before the race — Long Slow Distance.

I have been thinking for a while on this. I am a good runner. I will not win the marathon, but I usually make it into the top ten of any local running event. And I am proud that I actually dare something so challenging at times. Every year while I am running my annual marathon at around 14 miles in I start cursing myself, confirming that it will be my last time ever… just to find myself a day after the race already planning the next running event. Surviving a challenge, beating yourself… this energizes me.

I have been in a slump for a few months now. I hate my new gig working in Germany. The office is more sexist, I am not getting the same respect I did in the US, and I am tired of being treated as anything less than the expert I am in my profession. This constant questioning of the value I add by myself, and the direct push back from some of the upper (male) management here has taken its toll.

It is so amazing, because whenever I am in US-only meetings the tone is so different. Dialogues happen. And there is a genuine respect in any conversation while here in Germany things are different. These obvious differences might occur in my company only. But, man, my company has a respect issue. In particular towards women. They simply do not exist in Germany’s top management here in my organization and stop in middle management with less than 20% representation. The way people talk down to women or see them as worker bees is frustrating. Outspoken women are not called bitches here; they simply do not exist — No clue why. Women literally sit in meetings and do not talk unless addressed directly.  It is sad for someone as educated, ambitious, and outspoken as me. Being able to participate in something big that in a large organization like this and shaping future business and potentially industry trends is really exciting to me. I typically spend an immense amount of personal energy on making work a better place and really bringing the business forward.

The subtle sexism is draining me of this energy. Too often I am asked to step back and let the men speak (yes, that is happening). Too often I am asked to stay quiet and listen more on items that I am the expert on in favor of letting almost always male newcomers talk (yes, this is happening also quite often). Too often: I was warned, I was given an explanation…

So, I am staying out of it for one day. I am taking the day for myself. And I will run…to regain energy. Because running is objective. I am measured like everyone else and there is no denying that I am good at what I am doing and that I am getting better the more I do it.

I wish everything was so objective.

… nevertheless, I will persist.

 

What I know and what I do not

This is probably the most difficult post I have ever written. I know I will be criticized for it. There will be people who disagree with me, people that will attack me, and people that probably feel I should not be allowed to voice my opinion on the topic. I do so anyways. I believe in freedom of speech, freedom to choose your religion, freedom to become whoever you want, but I also believe in equality and female rights. I am a feminist. I am an atheist. And I support human rights for everyone.

There is a picture going around on facebook that is instrumentalized by various ideological groups: a woman in a full veil (niqab) and a drag or trans woman with bright red hair are sitting next to each other in some sort of public transportation minding their own business. There are some claiming that is the future they do not want. Others claiming that exactly this diversity is the liberal future they want.

What I know is simple: Yes, I want for both women to be safe and happy in our society. I want them to be able to get around without being verbally or physically attacked. I want them to feel welcome, be greeted and thanked, be allowed to go to whatever bathroom they choose to go to, and be treated with the full on respect that every human deserves.

What I do not know is the following. I have no clue  if the trans woman is forced into her red hair every day, if this is a wig, and if she secretly wants to wear her hair black but does not dare to because her partner is against it.Or if she is even trans or if she is just wearing an outfit she likes. I do not know if she belongs to a religious group that wants all women to put on make up and be sexually available to anyone who asks. Living in a western society it is probably safe to say that the definition of a woman comes with certain expectation: to wear make up, to wear feminine clothes, to generally be the gender stereotype. I have heard of women receiving critical remarks if they do not conform. But I also know that there are plenty of women who choose not to conform and do not receive punishment. And I have not heard of anyone choosing to be trans or being forced into female gendered clothing when being male. I know that sexual preference or orientation is not a life style choice like many seem to claim. And I have never heard of anyone being forced into dying their hair red.

What I also do not know is if the veiled woman chose to wear a veil or if she is forced into one. I do not know what she thinks or if she even is religious or atheist. I do not know where she was born, her nationality, or sexual preferences. I know, she is allowed to wear this veil and if she wants to can continue to do so every day.

What I know, though, is that there are a lot of women in Arab countries that do not have the choice to wear a veil. Where the veil is used to get the woman out of public sight. I know that the veil is a tool of oppression in these countries and there are many women fighting for the freedom to not wear one. This is why I personally question the choice of any woman to wear a veil voluntarily. I think this is a poor choice and not in solidarity with other women who are oppressed into this form of clothing. Not everyone will share this opinion and that is fine with me.

And it is not just the veil that  causes me to cringe at times when people talk about choice. It is also other forms of cultural or religious choices people claim others make. Why do Hasidic women shave their heads? Why is genital mutilation acceptable (boys and girls)? What other means of mutilations have been used to make women into an ideal: feet binding, neck rings,  lip plates, fattening, thinning, tattooing? Why are some educational rights different depending on gender?

I apply typically two tests to see if there is oppression involved: Are man and woman equally asked to conform? If the answer is no, this is not an act of equal rights and responsibilities. What happens if you do not conform? If the answer is punishment, it is  not done out of free choosing.

As I stated before: choice matters. Treat your choices as a precious good, because not everyone has the same choices you do. Do not game with your or the rights of others with whatever choice you make!

%d bloggers like this: