Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good--and Work It, Girl!

Work It, Gal! embraces a three part philosophy for the working woman: look good, feel good, do good.

Every working woman--whether working in the home or in the office-- strives to find that perfect balance. Join the conversation as we dive into what it means to look good, feel good, and do good as we strive towards an overall balanced life. And more than anything, don't forget to work it, gal!

Monday, March 24, 2014

For Next Time: How to Win Your Billion Dollar Bracket


For Next Time: How to Win Your Billion Dollar Bracket
                                                                  Photo Credit: GQ.Tumblr

This time around, you picked your favorite teams, looked at success rates over time, and even threw out a few Hail Mary’s…and at the end of the day, you still lost a billion dollars. But the odds of winning the billion dollar bracket this year were around 1 in 9.2 quintillion. (Quintillion?? Yikes!) So, how do you improve those odds the next time around?

Here are three simple suggestions:

Spread your losses.

Consolidate your wins.

Analyze the probabilities.

Okay, okay! Even with all of the probability computations in the world, you still might not win that one billion dollar bracket—but it’s worth a try. And the concept for improving your odds in the bracket apply not just in sports, but in life too.

So do me a favor for a second. Close your eyes, allow your thoughts slow down, and your mind to turn off. You are Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey—pre-bracket pick in your life. All you need is the right combination of things­—choices really, to make it happen.

Step 1: Spread You Losses

In a bracket contest, you might spread your losses by hedging your bets and picking multiple brackets. In life’s contest, it’s a little bit different. You probably shouldn’t go around putting your eggs in a dozen or so baskets (or brackets for that matter). But you probably should prepare yourself so that if you fall, the ground isn’t quite so hard when you hit it. Ouch.

Pursue your dreams by all means, but make a plan: save a little bit of money before you start working on your Michelangelo, talk with a significant other about your expected financial contribution to the household before you dive in to your life's artwork. In a nutshell, make your own parachute. We were all meant to soar, just don’t go running willy-nilly towards the edge of a cliff without the right gear.

Step 2: Consolidate Your Wins

When you’re hedging your bets and picking a bracket or brackets, are you all over the place? Or do you have a focused strategy--ie: your sure wins, with a few modifications? So it is with life. You might want to be all over the place, but you can't. Or at least you shouldn't be. At any given moment, there are, or can be, about ten amazing or semi-amazing opportunities calling your name. But chasing after all of these dreams at once is like trying to catch butterflies—you might lunge and grasp, but in the end you come up empty. Stand still, focus, consolidate your efforts, and maybe one or two, perhaps three butterflies will land on you. Choose your wins. Consolidate your efforts. Go for—and get—the gold.

Analyze the Probabilities

Finally, with your bracket(s), you’re likely picking good candidates for the win—teams that have demonstrated skill over time, and are likely to take you all the way home. While life isn’t about picking the “win” with the least risk, it is about increasing the odds that the “win” you choose will actually be a “winner.” If you want to be an accountant and a professor, and you can do both, do it. With certain goals, it's possible to split your time. But if you want to be an actor, then for all its worth, be an actor! Or a novelist. Start a company if you want! But if that’s what you want to do, know that for most people in these specialized fields, the path to success isn’t about half-hearted effort; it’s about all out passion, throwing yourself into it, whatever “it” is, with a fury. Know that the probability of you becoming a famous actor, or novelist or start-up CEO decreases by about a kajillion to one if you still keep your day job as an accountant. (Yes, I just made up the word kajillion). Knowing those probabilities, it’s not a good bet, unless you’re all in.

So make a decision today. Decide to win your life's billion dollar bracket. Spread your losses, consolidate your wins, and analyze the probabilities. And we’ll see you at the top Work It Gal.

Signing Off,

Work It Gal

Like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter! (@Workitgal)

 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ban Bitchy: Play Nice Or Go Home


Ban B@!tch-y: Play Nice Or Go Home


That "four-letter" word. “Witch*.” Some people use it complimentarily--she's a "bad witch." Some people use it disparagingly--"what a witch!" But we use it all the same.

Ok--pause here. I think we all know what "witch-y" really stands for. I'll put my disclaimer out now--I'm not one for swearing, but there are some times--particularly when driving in LA traffic--when potty words crop up. The potty word phenomenon happened to me the other day while I was trying to think of a description for someone I’d seen earlier in the evening. The descriptive words escaped me, and instead of doing verbal gymnastics to find the appropriate term, I finally blurted out, “She’s a bad witch!”

Maybe I swore because I was in the car (my potty word haven) but I think the driver nearly careened off the road. I don’t know if my friends were more shocked that I’d sworn, or that I’d called one of our friends a witch.

But of course I was thinking of the radio and movie version of the “bad witch”== the diva, the boss; the sultry, smoky, mysterious protagonist, straight out of Double 007, or the Fast and the Furious--slightly dangerous, in control, focused—the one who gets it done. .

But flip the coin and you have the "other" kind of witch--snarky, petty, cruel, competitive, aggressive... When we think of her we envision an angry dog angst-ing for a fight; gnashing teeth and thrashing head, wild snarls--or at the very least, withering glares. But by our very labeling of other women as this type of "witch," sometimes we become witches ourselves.

Obviously, I’ve been thinking about this word a lot. And at first, I thought, it's just a word--but there is so much behind that word.

Lately, The Facebook Hot Mom has been getting a lot of attention--again. And some of the antics geared towards her, are...well...downright witchy.

And why, you might ask? Because while she touts her smoking hot momma physique, laundry-lists her ginormous “to-do’s” list, and flaunts her business-owner acumen, all while she also happens to be the “hot” mother of three small boys—and to top it off, her slogan is: What’s Your Excuse?

Ouch.

Or is it?

Is the Facebook Hot Mom really telling other women that they are “less than”? Is she “fat shaming”? Or is she just saying—if I can do it, so can you!

And while this “so can you” attitude may not be true for every single individual woman, is her slogan really so bad that we can consider her the other kind of witch? Or that we can get a little witchy ourselves in our criticism of her?

Let’s face it. Everyone has something that they are trying to do—whether it’s corporate America, a free-lance gig, being an artist, a writer, a mother, a wife, a sister... And everyone is just trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got. And sometimes they might fail. Sometimes they might not say things as perfectly as we might hope. Or sometimes we might just be taking things that others say or do the wrong way. But most times, it doesn’t mean that someone’s a witch, and that somehow we’ve garnered the right to be witchy in return.

Facebook Hot Mom is smoking hot, and she’s got a catchy and potentially controversial slogan. But the hubaloo surrounding her is a perfect example of what sometimes happens in real life. How often is it that someone might say or do something that we may not like, based upon how it makes us feel, rather than based on what the person intended? Do we really want to assume that The Hot Facebook Mom, or anyone else, is deliberately trying to be witchy?? Come on people!

Bottom line—we're all just trying to find out way in the world. We’re all just trying something on for size to see what fits. So let’s give ourselves a little bit of credit. Let’s ban witchy—let’s give people the benefit of the doubt. Let’s assume for a minute that they are not out to get us. That they are not being petty, vengeful or agressive.

The fact of the matter is that we're all human, which means we’re all prone to human mistakes and foibles. But we're also women, sharing this unique experience called LIFE. So instead of assuming other women are being witchy, and being witchy in response, let’s put one step in front if the other as we traverse the playground of our lives.


The net effect is that we are all trying to contribute some "good" to the world, despite how imperfectly it might come about sometimes. So it makes sense to play nice. And if you can’t play nice, go home.

After note: Ladies, let’s ban the “positive” bad witch too. There’s just too much muddling and stumbling around with this word, that in hindsight it’s really just better off left alone.

Unless you want to be this bad bitch… Or this kind of bossy.

Yeah…ummm, thanks but no thanks.

Signing off,

Work It Gal

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How SHE Turned An Underperforming, Kicking, Biting, Back-Stabbing Elementary School On Its Head. #workitwednesday #workitgal


Don’t Just Read The News; Be The News.

#workitwednesdays #workitgal

 

From the mouth of Sheryl Garner*:

“After a mission to South Africa and Namibia, my perspective on how the world operates completely changed. Prior to my mission, I didn't realize the power that one person could have on the world; after my mission, I was determined to be the change in this world. I didn't really have a clue as to how I was going to be that change, but after some soul searching, I realized I had a passion for teaching—and I figured that if I was going to pursue teaching I should go where no one else wanted to go.  

Fast forward to my time with Teach for America; I’m applying to be a teacher at Stanton Elementary which is located in Anacostia, Washington, DC. At the time, Stanton was the 71st lowest performing school in a District of 72 public schools. But I was ready for the challenge.

That first year I thought I was going to save the world—or at least the kids at Stanton. My students showed me I had another thing coming to me!

To say that year was rough would be an understatement.

I was kicked in the shin, stabbed with pencils, and pens; I was bitten, and had paper thrown at me—all by 8 and 9 year olds!

Students were so behind academically, they would often escape their work by walking out of class, or cause problems so they would get kicked out of class. That year was depressing—when standardized tests came back, the students were still performing at 9% proficiency—9%! Why was I even there?

Despite the low test scores, the kicking, stabbing and biting, I was determined to come the next year and try again. I believed that change could happen. I just needed more time to gain trust the trust of the parents, the students, and the community.

In year two, I decided to do home visits. Before the school year began, I visited almost all of my students in their homes with their parents and began to create solid relationships. At the end of that year our math scores went up from 9% to 27%. Miracles were happening. It felt like a school. Parents were coming to meetings. Kids listened, behaved, sat in their seats and were eager to try, to learn.

In year three, I began taking kids out on Saturdays as incentives for their hard work and love for learning. Although that was a very challenging year because of the number of students I had, I realized how much I loved the kids, and I came back every day for them. We received our math scores on the standardized tests and went from 27% to 42% proficiency!

Now it’s year four. We’re turning the school around, and although my kids may not remember all of what they learned, I hope they’ll at least remember how they felt while they were here. I don't know what impact I'm really making on these kids’ lives, since graduation is years away—I have no idea what these kids will experience years between elementary school and graduation, but I hope I'm making some kind of difference, because I know my scholars have a made a real difference in my life.
 *(Edited for length, style and content)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The "So-Called" War On Women: As Told From In HER Shoes. #motivationmonday #lookgood


The “So-Called” War On Women, As Told From In Her Shoes.
#motivationmonday #lookgood #internationalwomensday
 
 

She alighted from the steps of quaint row-houses, feeling every inch the Elle Woods of Legally Blond, transplanted to the bustling metropolis of Washington D.C. Walking down the city streets, she hop-skipped along in that stutter-stepped, high-heeled way that only women can understand—that lunging forward, while at the same time being held back— by our dresses, our skirts, our shoes.  

Three blocks to Union Station, three stops on the Metro, four blocks to the Convention Center—the distance she needed to traverse to get to her meeting.

In that time frame she was cat-called no less than thirty times.

From the man who changed his trajectory across the sidewalk, a straight line turning into an aggressively diagonal saunter in her direction, a leering gaze that belied the respectably of his attire.

The, “Heeeeey, mama!”

Or the, “Looking gooood!”

The shrill whistle. “Pheeeeeew, Pheew!”

The undressing her behind dark eyes, and then the stark reality of his objectification made obvious against the backdrop of the two men in the white truck who pulled up alongside him, rolled down their window and then while slowly cruising by, licked lips, leering, lips loudly smacking… It shook him out of his stupor, forcing him call out, “Leave her alone!” as he remembers himself. Remembers his manners. Remembers that she is not a thing.

In her shoes, this is how she meets the world.

She is decently attractive professional woman, but by all accounts, you would think she was a whore; that she was “asking for it” in her high heeled shoes, her knee length dress, her winter coat that bears a striking semblance to a short and fashionable…burka.

This is a political convention, where party lines are drawn staunchly in the sand. The issue of the day is “The War On Women”…or as it was phrased to her—“The ‘So-Called’ War On Woman.”

The question: “How do you feel about this ‘so-called’ war on women?”

Her answer: Hesitation. Knowing the answer they wanted to hear; but also knowing the answer they needed to hear.

She deferred, begging off for another time, but when she came back to answer this tension-fraught question, hoping to assuage the cognitive dissonance that had erupted in her mind at deferring, they’d moved on—finding the answer they wanted in someone else.

What she should have answered:

This “so-called” War on Women IS. AN. ISSUE. It is not a Democrat issue, or a Republican issue. It is a WOMEN’S issue.

It is not an “optics” issue; it is a “facts” issue.




Fact: Women are relentlessly objectified as things instead of people in media, in society and in life. (We don’t need to refer to a source to establish this fact, but if you want facts, just click here and take your pick of a host of videos on the subject.)

So whether she is a professional woman, or a homemaker, a raging liberal or a stuffy conservative; whether she is bra burning femi-nazi or a Mormon feminist housewife—whether she is a Republican, a Democrat, or somewhere whether she lies somewhere in between—she is an unapologetic feminist.

Because as seen from in her shoes, she is still judged by what resides between her legs, the curve of her hip, or the spread of her thighs, instead of what resides in her head. So this “so-called” war on women blazes on.

And no one can say that it doesn’t; that this “so-called” war on women is “so-called,” until they walk a mile in her shoes.

Signing Off,

Work It Gal

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Don't We Just Love Her?? #workitwednesday #dogood


 
Photo Credit: Daily News

Oops, I did it again! It’s Lupita again— two posts in a row! But this gal deserves it! Take a gander at this video, or check out the highlights below. And Work It, Gal!

 

"When I saw Alek [Wek, dark-skinned model] I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty, but around me the preference for light skin prevailed. To the beholders that I thought mattered, I was still unbeautiful.

 

 And my mother again would say to me, "You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you." And these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.” –Lupita Nyong’o

***

Ummmm… ‘nuff said! Lupita Nyong’o is definitely a Work It, Gal! She deserves the additional shout out as a #workitwednesday’s spotlight because she represents what all women should aim for—beauty on the inside and out.

So, may you “feel the validation of you external beauty, but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.” –Lupita Nyong’o

Signing off,

Work It Gal

Don’t forget to subscribe to my posts at the top of this page, like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter! (@workitgal)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lupita’s Life: Survival of the Fittest


#lookgood #workinit #motivationmonday
                                                       Photo Credit: Huffpost Women

Today, there’s been a hailstorm of praise for Lupita Nyong’o, who won best supporting actress at the Oscars for her role in Twelve Years a Slave, a critically acclaimed film that recounts the pre-Civil War experiences, survival and ultimate freedom of a black man from the North, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South.

Director Steve McQueen said it best, when he stated while accepting his own award, “Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live.”

McQueen’s words ring true in a world where Darwinian idealism still shouts from the shadows that this life is still about survival of the fittest. You must be the fastest, the strongest, the smartest—the richest— not just to survive, but to truly live.

When one thinks of Africa, survival of the fittest may not always come to mind, as the richness and poverty of the nation run the gauntlet, yet Lupita hails from Kenya, the daughter of “middle-class suburbia.” Her home life seems seamlessly interwoven with equal parts education, professional advancement, and the arts.

I too hearken back to that place, Africa, but my ancestral landscape did not afford me the luxury or the beauties of art, but the desperate and sometimes daunting game of survival. The striking contrast that worked to dictate my fate were images of the motherland’s poverty or the New World’s professional life security.

But in the daunting game of life, every being—whether rich or poor, fast or slow, strong or weak—must overcome obstacles. Thus despite Lupita having what seemed like every advantage, she still struggled with insecurities about her “night shaded skin,” a struggle she recounts eloquently during her Essence Breakthrough Award speech.

She recalls that her “self-hate grew worse” and she “prayed to God for lighter skin.”

Lupita was held back by her understanding of what the world thought of as beautiful. It wasn’t until the midnight ebony Sudanese model Alek Wek shattered and then redefined Lupita’s understanding of beauty that Lupita could finally embrace her own beautiful, on the inside and out.

She recalls this revelation stating:



It’s apparent that Lupita is merely marking the grand entrance to her spotlight. She will likely do more, be more, inspire more not only because of who she is, but because she seems to remember that her joy was wrought by someone else’s pain. The statement strikes a Darwinian chord because it recognizes that someone had to climb, claw and fight their way to survival—to life, so that others could use that past journey as a springboard into their own.

I think back on my ancestral landscape, the cement houses baking in the warmth of the African sunshine off the Gold Coast, comparing it to my gilded life in the Golden State and I echo the sentiment that “so much joy in my life is thanks to someone else’s pain” recognizing that “no matter where you are from, your dreams are valid.”

WE can DO something.

WE can BE something.

And even given this Darwinian life, we can—we will— not only survive, but thrive.

So go off and be beautiful Work It Gals—the kind of beautiful that inspires “compassion for yourself and those around you”…the kind of beautiful that “enflames the heart and enchants the soul.”

Signing off,

Work It Gal

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