January 13, 2016

Q4 (October through December) 2015: a quarterly look back

So how did I do with my Q4 plans?

Professional:

Evaluate status of the writing project – edit and rewrite.
Reschedule for 2016, Q1.

Ask a mentor or two to critique it, again.
One mentor agreed to read it, once I have a draft.

Blog at least 3x/week.
Almost. This blasted unending additional plague kept me from anything more than just survival for a while. I’m getting back up to speed.

Personal:

Host family for Thanksgiving.
Did it! I made way too much food but it was fun and relaxing. Next time, I’m copying Cloud‘s menu day-scheduling, though 🙂

Perhaps vacation for a week out of state – scheduling pending.
Not this quarter but definitely in 2016. It’s on the calendar and in our (free version) TripIt app!

Add 30 minutes at the gym 1x/week.
Not this quarter. Being sick for 6-8 weeks really did this quarter in.

How are you doing?

November 23, 2015

Grey’s Anatomy on careers, negotiating, and the patriarchy

Bailey

This is what a feminist looks like, sir.

Spoiler alert: If you watch Grey’s Anatomy and haven’t watched recent seasons, and care about spoilers, don’t watch this clip. I don’t think the post is specifically spoilery but I’d need an outside opinion on that.

Onward!

I am HUGELY conflicted about this scene. Mind, I don’t watch Grey’s anymore, I used to have it on occasionally for background and it’s too much life drama for me to really get into. Plus I mainly enjoyed it because of Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh. Not the sex in the workplace, part, that weirds me out in a lot of ways, but their hard-driving, take no shit from anyone, I will prevail come hell or high water approach to work? Those were good.

And they weren’t caricatures, they were complex human women and I liked that.

On the one hand, I’m all about Bailey’s professional standards:

YES, you can only mentor someone for so long.
YES, a person must stand on hir own feet to know that ze can.
YES, you can be taught and taught and taught, but only YOU can actually put those lessons to use.
YES, you have to learn to work within the system in order to succeed in it and change it.
YES, part of the system dictates that Miranda has a fiduciary responsibility not to just give money away if it’s not asked for.

On the other hand, I’m not about that system AT ALL:

The system as it stands, where every individual must negotiate and with the internalized bias against women for negotiating, SUCKS.

I say this as someone who has negotiated in every single job she’s taken. I’ve fought for every raise and promotion to be at least close to commensurate to the value I brought. I make a decent salary. But the system SUCKS. The system is riddled with bias and is innately structured to benefit men, who are expected to negotiate, and discriminates against women who are penalized for negotiating.

Hell, according to the first study below, women are already penalized simply for being women at the point of application.

Ilana Yurkiewicz’s post Study shows gender bias in science is real. Here’s why it matters: scientists presented with application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position and who intended to go on to graduate school. Half the scientists were given the application with a male name attached, and half were given the exact same application with a female name attached. Results found that the “female” applicants were rated significantly lower than the “males” in competence, hireability, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student.

So I’m firmly on the side of “everyone has to learn to stand on their own two feet”, but I’m also intensely uncomfortable with the assumption that women have an equal chance at the same money that men do, “just negotiate!”

It is NOT that simple.

Obviously, from the lower salaries that women were offered to begin with, they’d have to negotiate for a much larger amount just to catch up to what the men would ultimately receive.

And I’m tempted to say that Ellen Pao’s move to cut out negotiating entirely would be a good answer except that I don’t really trust companies to make a good, fair offer at the outset.

Getting back to that scene, my conflict stems from knowing that you have to challenged to get stronger. Sometimes being challenged results in your failure to rise, your failure to see it through, or your failure to even recognize there’s an opportunity to win in the challenge. Simultaneously, I rage at the fact that there are times it simply doesn’t matter how much you rise, or struggle, or fight, you lose because you fought, you lose because you fought as a women, you lose because it’s not “appropriate” to push back as a woman.

I don’t know what the answer is but I know this: there is a startling amount of bias in the current system and it sucks. And it sucks to see someone being admirable in her growth from a mentorship position to an authority position and realize that the line she’s holding for a damn good reason was drawn, and is redrawn every day, by people who never intended to level the playing field.

My feelings are complex on this.

More on this, if you really need the additional data

From the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Who Goes to the Bargaining Table? The Influence of Gender and Framing on the Initiation of Negotiation

From Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Not competent enough to know the difference? Gender stereotypes about women’s ease of being misled predict negotiator deception: “negotiators deceived women more so than men, thus leading women into more deals under false pretenses than men.”

Harvard Business School on How Benevolent Sexism Undermines Women and Justifies Backlash: “Benevolent sexists, more often than not, are also hostile sexists”

October 5, 2015

Q3 (July through September) 2015: a quarterly look back

So how did I do with my Q3 plans?

Professional:

Edit the writing project.
Nope. I still need to commit many many more words to paper before we get to an editing stage, so this project is about six months behind thanks to my other project. (Just kidding … mostly)

Ask a mentor or two to critique it.
Yes, I thought that actually asking someone to have a look at it would force me to write. It doesn’t always work that way.

Blog at least 3x/week.
Yep!

Personal:

Vacation in San Diego.
Sort of! We did do a trip, anyway.

Host a good friend for a week.
Yes! We actually had more than one friend spend time with us and it was glorious.

Keep walking 5 of 7 days per week.
Yes! It wasn’t always a long walk but I’ve gotten myself out and about frequently enough to feel like I’m getting a little wind in my sails.

How are you doing?

July 10, 2015

Q2 (April through June) 2015: a quarterly look back

So how did I do with my Q2 plans?

Professional:

Finish the first draft of my writing project: add 20,000-40,000 words.
No. This obviously impacts my next quarter. I was going to be down on myself about it but realized that I’ve been holding down a full time paying job and full time momming while we continue working on childcare and surviving that means it’s OK that I haven’t made a ton more progress but I will and I’m willing to buy my time back.

Set up a mailing list for anyone who’s interested in reading the book(?) project to get updates when the time comes.
No: I did decide to use Mailchimp but tootled around waiting to see if anyone wanted to send me a referral.

Got off my duff and signed up because waiting would only benefit no one or not me.

Then realized I don’t think I want to use Mailchimp right now so maybe I’ll just take names and email addresses via Google Survey.

Test 3 possible business ideas.
No: I discarded several out of hand once I realized that the proposed target audience either wouldn’t pay for the goods/services, would be a pain to work with, or wasn’t viable with my preferred business structure.

Blog at least 3x/week.
Yes: I posted about 3-4x/week depending on the week.

Personal:

Spend a weekend with at least one friend we’d like to see annually.
Yes and yes: did this twice!

Visit LB’s cousins.
Yes: Ze LOVED meeting the cousins.

Get outside to walk 5 of 7 days per week.
Maybe: Most days, but 3-4 days per week sometimes, so I’ll call this a pass. The point is to get outside most days.

July 6, 2015

Writing a Blog People will Read: A course review, Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of my blogging the Write A Blog People Will Read Course!

NOTE: This is a review of how I’m learning from the course so this is just one possible experience.

***

In Module Two, we’re learning not to write just for the sake of having words on the screen, but to write what matters. By that measure, at best, 5% of the early years of this blog (no, no, don’t go see, take my word for it, please) were anything but flotsam.

Most of it was meandering bits of daily jumble. Not at all compelling unless you were just wondering what I’d done or worried about that day. (No one was.)

Writing something that matters.

Much like the difference between living to eat and eating to live, there’s a vast gulf between churning out text for the sake of posting things and crafting a piece that, well, people want to read.

This lesson hits me square between the eyes. Great writing is a revel and a joy to read. The writing here doesn’t meet that standard in my not-so-humble opinion.

I don’t cookie cutter my money posts just to have something to post but does it have value to anyone else? Beyond exercising my writing muscles and keeping my money mojo going, what does my writing about money and family and so on really do for my readers? Is it informative and engaging that you know my month to month thoughts or am I just shouting into the wind?

(In)accessibility

A good friend from the blogging world, not so incidentally a successful blogger, told me once that my posts are too long and “vocabulary is far too extensive”.

I understood that to mean that I fail hard at the general rule of thumb that in order to write for the broadest audience, you ought to be clocking between a sixth and seventh grade level. This is a valid and valuable criticism. Even the NIH recommends this level of writing!

I’m not sure how not to write like I think. That means using words that taste right in my mind. What you see here is the voice I hear in my head. And like a perfect, warm apple pie with the exquisitely flaky crust, and five dashes of cinnamon, using precise words to communicate is so satisfying. Even when I sound like a nerd.

(It’s because I really AM a nerd.)

Sam

D’you suppose that’s what keeps my audience to the elite few? 🙂

Does my blathering feel inaccessible to you? (Is blathering a common word? I have the worst trouble with this.)

Killing your little darlings

Maybe this is where my efforts should most be concentrated.

I do edit most writing, truly. First drafts are painful to read. But sometimes, final rounds of edits leave me with posts that have tripled in length and I suspect that your eyes probably start glazing over by the time you scroll a third or fourth time.

Reflection

There’s a lot to digest in this second module and learning how I should apply the lessons. Good advice is only useful when you implement it, after all.

See my review of Module 1

 

May 18, 2015

Writing a Blog People will Read: A course review, Part 1

As I mentioned some time ago, I’m an affiliate of Donna Freedman’s new course (check it out if you’re interested in writing) and I decided to put my money where my mouth is. Or fingers are.

Of course, no new experience, especially for self improvement, should go unblogged, given the particular bent of this blog.  Come along for the ride and maybe you’ll find a reason give it a try yourself.

I’m coming to this course as an already established blogger who probably isn’t going to quit anytime soon so Module 1, addressing the “why” of blogging is more of a reminder that stories have value, and writing stories well makes them more accessible.

There are hundreds, thousands, of blogs out there but I struggle to find consistently well-written, unique, compelling blogs. I love reading, even more than I love writing, and finding a fresh authorial voice with stories to tell is like finding That Exact Spot on the puppy’s belly that, when scratched, melts the furry marvel into a limp-limbed puddle, cross-eyed with satisfaction. In other words: bliss.

Maybe that’s why I think this course can be such a boon. So many people have tales to tell and selfishly, I want to read  them. And I don’t think I’m alone in that desire!

Aside from that purely selfish point of view, while not everyone’s job requires any amount of writing that matters, some of us do. Having that knack in your toolbox lets you present yourself, your ideas, and proposals to the best advantage. Another way to get your way? Why not!

October 29, 2014

Have I lost my fire?

A strange thought struck me as I poked around the internet instead of keeping on top of the work I intended to get done tonight: Have I lost my ambition?

The most enjoyable parts of my day are more and more domestic: watching the dog sleep. Having dinner prepped well in advance so I can bunk around online, recreationally or working. It’s not totally unthinkable, I’ve always enjoyed housework just as much as I do working professionally.

Granted, some part of this is because there be a critter parasitically using what energy I do have, to spare me the trouble one presumes, but for the first time in my medium-length career, I don’t have any lofty job related ambitions except to be comfortable in my role and to make good money while I rock it. I’m not the fire-eater of half a decade ago, tearing a path through the ranks and taking no prisoners (except for the inevitable scheming backstabbing bastards, I’ve got your names and someday karma will kick your asses).

Occasionally, and this is more frequent when there’s a thousand conversations about side hustles everywhere on twitter and in the PF blogosphere, I’m motivated to think about getting off my moderately well paid duff and doing something more than just the usual investing and saving. After all, if I intend to be a multimillionaire before I’m either 40 or broken, whichever comes sooner, there isn’t that much time to be wasted!

But this year feels less like a growing and conquering year than any other. Maybe I have lost my fire. Perhaps this is the fallow season in preparation for the next push.

Or maybe I’m just riding out a wave of boredom that will crest in new ideas and new projects. I could use an interesting new project around here.

***

After some reflection I realized what this really is.

I’m harboring some resentment over a financial agreement that was reneged upon at work as a direct result of Little Bean.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty at the moment but to summarize: the principle of having had an agreement, and then being penalized specifically because of the time I’ll need to take off for LB makes me reconsider my commitment to a workplace that I otherwise love. It reminds me of all the times I’ve had to fight tooth and claw to be paid what I’m worth, and all the times I’ve had to compromise or put up with horrible people and harassment for the sake of the work experience and paving the way to a better next step.

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