Friday, July 30, 2010

What is Feminine?

*Quick note: I will be doing a few blogs on some questions within comments from previous posts . I just want to take time to really think about them before I respond. So in the mean time...*

I was curious how would you define feminine?

I looked it up in the Webster's dictionary and this is what it said: Feminine: 1. Of the female sex also: characteristic of, or, appropriate or peculiar to women 2. Of, relating to, or constituting the gender that includes most words or grammatical forms referring to females – femininity:  Feminine (n): a noun, pronoun, adjective or inflectional form or class of the feminine gender also: the feminine gender

Feminine in my understanding is truly defined by cultural norms, expectations, religious traditions, media definitions, and historical views.

So I pose this question what is the definition of Feminine in the year 2010? I have my ideas, but am curious as to what you think...(be careful not what you want it to be defined as, but what it really looks like in today's society - I have a feeling these are very different definitions and distinctions)

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Glass Ceiling is also a Glass Box

Today and on Friday I was incredibly frustrated with my job. I know we all have these moments and they will eventually pass because well work is work and I have to do it everyday. However, a very profound event happened which I realized not only am I hitting a glass ceiling currently, but I am also in a glass box. I happen to work in a very male dominated industry so I understood full and well what I was probably going to face with regards to "climbing" this corporation's ladder. I have been given some incredible opportunities, I have taken on some amazing projects, and been given a lot of responsibility, but I have also been tossed in the fire with the hopes I don't get burned too badly, I have been put up for failure by colleagues, and I have been asked to sink or swim with all of these I have tried to push through and be as successful as I can. Let me say I have made plenty of mistakes and had to ask for redos, had to confess what happened, and faced the boss. But I always thought if I played my cards right and continued to perform above and beyond that I would be able to move up. That theory for me has worked fairly well. I traveled when asked, I worked late when expected and when not expected, and volunteered to take on just about any project.

And yes there were several times I hit the glass ceiling really hard that it hurt mostly internally, but the pain was real. However, today as I was working and competing in the professional "rat race" I realized that as a young woman I am also in a glass box. Everything about my outward appearance is also being judged by my bosses and colleagues. My male counterparts I don't believe feel this same, will call it, gawking. As women in the office we gossip about each others outfits, weight, hair styles, etc. Men on the other hand look at our bodies, the shape, the "assets", our age, well everything with our outward appearance. I was disgusted maybe even a bit humiliated as I was stared at from my neck down. It was a lingering look that unfortunately happens all to often. But it got me thinking...does this play some role in deciding if I should be promoted as well? Unfortunately, I do believe that women are not only fighting the glass ceiling (which yes thank you to all the women before me who have fought tirelessly has moved up) but also a glass box.

I am curious what do you think?

Media, TV Shows, Movies, Music, etc. is saying that women are to be sexual beings that femininity is wrapped up in our promiscuity, our secret flirty glances, in our feminine sway as we walk past, in the flip of our hair, and in the tight little outfits we wear (well tight little outfits is not in my wardrobe for other reasons...). How many times do you watch a powerful woman in a movie or TV show come in wearing her tailored suit with a slit up the leg and a low cut top or jacket? As she sashays in with her stiletto heals. She may sit on the desk and cross her legs bearing a bit of high thigh which of course catches every male subject in the room or she slowly walks past as the cameras do a shot front and back from head to toe lingering on what are deemed her best features. The reactions show she is powerful, but why is she powerful? Do we see any degrees, certificates, and/or awards hanging on the walls to speak of her educational accomplishments? Not normally. Do we hear of her rise to the top through internships, crappy positions, middle management, sometimes, but then there is the office rumor of she probably slept with so and so...The message is clear this successful, powerful, "media woman" made it to the top by showing herself worthy in the glass box for all to judge, gawk and lust after. This is the role model for today's young women. No wonder they are confused about what is beautiful, what is sexy, and what is feminine.

What do you think?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Believing still in God's faithfulness

Okay so I have taken some time to grieve and will probably need more time to completely heal from this emptiness. But I am happy to say that today I woke up and felt filled again with God's presence. No my pain is not gone and my disappointment has not left, but my anger has been lifted and peace has begun to enter my soul again.

As some of you have read on my blog and others who know The Marin Foundation (TMF) and my husband you know then that we have also (in addition to our infertility struggles) been taking some major hits by one particular person in the media which has spread to other places as well. I will not speak badly about this person and I have asked God to help me pray for this person and those in a particular article which did not tell the entire truth. I am learning to simply right now ask for God's protection on their lives because that is about all I can say in my prayers for them. Maybe they will become "nicer" but hey I am human.

Anyway I say this because with everything that has happened in our lives I felt today that God's plan for my husband and I is complete. I or we may not totally understand the different events which occur or the reasons certain things happen both good and bad, but in everything there is a perfect plan A with God. We both recently have been able to look back in retrospect and see how awesome the Hand of God has been in our lives and the awesome doors of opportunity which have been opened for both of us. We have been blessed with many things and with many responsibilities and for all of those things I rejoice in being a child of God.

I am learning that because I have God in my life and I wear the armor of His protection then I need to stand strong when the foundation under me begins to shake. With God's armor I need to know that I can take life's hits and weather the storms and walk through the valleys for God is always with me no matter where I find myself on this perfect journey and plan A.

Are there times in your life when you find that you need to look back and rejoice on the blessings which God has given? Do you see times when you were in valleys or walking in storms and realize how intricate those times were and how important they were to your future?

Today I am filled, not totally healed, but filled. I have courage, strength, and hope on my side!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Negative Again...Oh God please give me strength and understanding as to WHY

As many of you know my husband and I have been on a very long, painful, lonely, confusing, and emotional journey of infertility. We attempted a third IVF try, second full IVF cycle try, and it came back negative again for the pregnancy test. This time we were able to transfer what the doctors called two excellent eight celled fertilized eggs and everyone thought this would be it. I felt 1000 times different from the last transfer and I really felt that my prayers and all those that were believing with my husband and I would be answered. Unfortunately, although confused and very angry, I am trying to understand and be confident that God has a perfect plan for my husband and I. He knows our desires and He will one day open the door to parenthood for us. I don't know when that will be or how it will be. As I have stated on this blog many times before I want so bad to feel everything that there is to being a mother and part of that is having life grow inside of me and giving birth to our baby.

I don't have answers for why this did not happen again. I don't know why God has not blessed us with a child, but what I do know is that I must continue to lean on Him for comfort and strength to try and take one step at a time and wake up one day at a time. This too is a healing process, I guess you could say its a grieving process. I am going to let myself heal. I can't even express the deep emotional pain that I am feeling. There are no words right now...

As for what we are going to do next. We have exhausted all of our insurance money. Well we have about $300 left in our lifetime cap of $20,000. This year and half of trying Clomid, an IUI, and three (two full cycle) IVFs has drained everything that my insurance package allows. The cost without insurance is around $10,000 plus the cost of medication which is about $5,000 for a total of around $15,000 for one round of IVF. I am really thankful that I had the insurance amount even if it is now falling short. The reason I was able to have all of the attempts is because of the contracted rates that my insurance company pays to the Doctors and Hospital. If we only had to pay the contracted rates then maybe we could attempt again....

Right now we are both discussing our options and praying. Please continue to pray with us. I believe our God is a God of miracles still to this day and He can bless us with a miracle...

Thank you for all your prayers, thoughts, and encouragement.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fearing Anticipation

So today I am fearing even the anticipation of things to come. Have you ever felt this way? My stomach hurts, my nerves are high, and I want to crawl into a hole and just hold myself maybe in a crazy way rock back and forth and cry.

My heart literally feels like it could exit my body through one major pump. That would be an interesting event. Boom no more heart maybe it would help take away these feelings I am having today.

Do you have events in your life that sometimes just thinking about them can lead you to feel uneasy and uncertain? I was reading yesterday, I think, one of the Proverbs 31 devotional emails and the entire post was about the perfect timing and gifts of God. The writer described a family that had lost everything in this very uncertain economy. This family apparently was a very wealthy pillar in the community and a very generous and loving Christian family too. Her questions and even anger with God is how could our God do this to people like this family. Then she referenced 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV) "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant not to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything..."

It is the second half of this verse which really resonates with me. My husband and I are not wealthy by worldly standards but we have been blessed with a lot and we are always trying to learn how to remain responsible with those blessings, but in this time of fearing anticipation I always want to hold onto the promise that our God will always richly provide us with everything we need. I do not believe that this simply means monetary items or that richly is only measured in lots of money, but goes so much further. I do believe that our God understand each situation whether, monetary, infertility, family, home, job, education, etc. So for today I am trying to lean on my Lord that He is the ultimate provider in all things and His promises are real. I am praying for miracles in this time of anticipation.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Response to Turtle Woman Comment

Edit 7-14-10: Sorry all I should have referenced where Turtle Woman's comment is from. You can read the post, "These are simply my thoughts," here and view the comments.

Turtle Woman Comment below:

Turtle Woman said...

I always find this odd situation of younger straight christians who are coming into the gay male community. What is your real purpose? What do you really believe? Right now, lesbians and gays are in the streets over civil rights. It is our equivalent of Freedom Riders or integrated restrooms. We are now in the streets and in the courts over the right to marry.

What is it that you do for a living Brenda? Is this just a woman following her husband, or do you have a programs all your own?

Are you 100% for the civil rights of lesbians and gays? Are you 100% for the rights of all women?

Remember, we have been in this war with fundamentalist christianity for a very long time. We have seen the very worst of people who use christ as a kind of hate battering ram against gays and lesbians. Every day, I monitor right wing radio, and every day almost I hear hate speech against lesbians and gays. Just what are you about? Not your husband. Not men, who I blame for this entire crusade against gay people, but you? What do you stand for?

July 13, 2010 11:55 PM

I attempted to respond in the response section, but I wrote too much so here is my response:

Turtle Woman - I am a manager of business operations for a security firm. I have had a successful career in the private sector for many years and have slowly with a lot of bumps and bruises climbed the corporate ladder with dignity and merit. I have hit numerous glass ceilings in my career goals and have been frustrated, angered, and in the same time cautiously optimistic. I have lived overseas as a director of non-profit initiatives for a private firm and held administrative positions as well when I couldn't find any work. I have earned my MBA with a concentration in International Business and a Master’s of Science in Organizational Behavior (MSMOB) with a concentration in Organizational Development. I have two graduate certificates which accompany my two masters’ degrees in Business Administration and Training and Development. I say all of this so you know without any doubt that I am my own person, but I will proudly say that I 100% support my husband and work just as hard at assisting him in his work as I do in accomplishing my own goals.

I will admit I am at a cross roads in my career and the industry that I find myself as I do my own reevaluation of my life, my skill sets, my experiences, and my education. I have not been fulfilled in the work I have been doing and I am looking for another opportunity to use my collective skill sets for something different. Once I figure that out I will share...

As for this blog, I began writing it initially to chronicle my personal struggle with infertility. It was an open diary to myself, my family, friends, and anyone else who cared to walk this journey with me. I needed something to help me cope and potentially heal from the pain I was feeling. Plus as I wrote I found it was helping other women speak about their own infertility journeys. I found a commonality in a lot of stories that were shared with me that there was a stigma attached with sharing your infertility struggles so I thought what the heck I will put it out there.

As for writing on women's issues, that just came because I am a strong female who like many, including yourself, is frustrated with the bureaucratic and patriarchal society we live in. I have experienced numerous times being patronized by my male colleagues for simply being a woman. It makes my skin crawl and I do appreciate the fight for equality of the women who have come before me which have made my abilities to attend school and climb the corporate ladder possible.

But in all fairness the reason I really started writing was in response to Rachel's question on my husband’s blog when he posted some of the things I had spoke about at a Christian Women's Conference. As I stated I felt the Lord speaking to me about female legacy to this next generation. I guess I primarily began my thought process from the Christian side since that was the original reason for my speaking invitation.

That was the first and since then only time I have been asked to share. I am not a professional speaker. I do not have my own forum, agenda, classes, and/or programs. I think I mentioned that I really enjoyed speaking because I have done a few within my industry and wouldn't mind doing more of it, but I am not promoting myself. My husband does not promote me to speak at places and I have not actively even begun to think of a way to make this my career. Although, again I definitely think I was bitten by the speaking bug at the one and only event and would not be opposed to doing it again!

As for what I believe: I do believe in equality for all. Enough said!

I do understand your frustration with right wing radio, media, etc. You and I probably share many of the same frustrations. But I am a conservative Christian as well. I may define what conservative means differently perhaps and I will say that many find what I believe and who I am to be quite liberal. So maybe I don't really fit anywhere with regards to my Christianity. I guess simply I am a Jesus Christ follower with all my heart, body and soul!

I don't know if I have even answered everything for you to your satisfaction. Through your words I can see you have been a tireless warrior for your community and for that I say please keep fighting. Please find some rest to refresh your body and soul. Your comments are welcome even if I do not fully understand or agree. I will continue to pray for you (and this is not to be meant as a patronizing statement, but with true genuiness). I would love to know more about you to...

Monday, July 12, 2010

These are simply my thoughts...

Sorry all its been awhile since I posted anything. I must admit I have not really been inspired and haven't thought about much. Well maybe in that its been freeing :). I have spent a lot of time with friends and family over the holidays which I needed. I am perfectly fine with admitting that sometimes I really need a good dose of other people to help me along the way because I am not strong enough to carry my life by myself all the time. Sometimes I think we believe especially as women that we have to fight and carry everything on our own shoulders all the time. Trust me I am one of those women. I do not like asking for help and I want to prove always that I can do it and I will be successful, but as I am growing up (which on a side note I hope to never fully do) I am learning how important it is to lean on those around you who love and care for you.

Although I guess I do have something to share...

I have been watching my husband go through some really emotional battles lately. You see his foundation, The Marin Foundation (TMF) had an idea to attend the Chicago Pride Parade with shirts that read Sorry and write posters apologizing for how the "Church" has collectively dehumanized the treatment of the GLBT community. I was one of those who wore a t-shirt because truly as a Christian and follower of Jesus I was very sorry for the pain and scars that my belief system had bestowed upon a group of wonderful and precious people. My heart hurts for those I have met and the stories of their lives they have shared with me because in many cases they are my fellow Christian brothers and sisters which have caused that pain and left those scars.

So on the morning of the Pride Parade my husband and I went with a group of about 25 people from TMF wearing our Sorry t-shirts. Our intentions were simple as is the intentions of the foundation. We were simply people willing to stand in the gap where so many would not even dare to venture. Yes, I will be true to my Christianity and yes I love my Christian brothers and sisters, but I will also be true to my GLBT brothers and sisters and love them as well. I will stand in the gap for those and attempt to build a bridge between these two communities with TMF!


You see this campaign which truly had a message of peace, hope, faith, and forgiveness has been perverted by those that want so badly to find the evil in everything. I understand skepticism because I myself am a big skeptic, but I think its important to know that even in this world which is filled with so much evil and malice intentions that there are still those who love with everything and give relentlessly no matter the cost, pain, humiliation, and turmoil.

TMF does not want in any way shape or form to "change" ones sexual orientation but to transform people's lives in either finding a relationship with Christ for the first time or helping those that have been hurt by the faith community have a place to voice their stories and reconnect with the faith they want so badly to still be a part of.

I think on a personal level, outside of TMF, what is so difficult for others to understand is how important a relationship with Jesus is to both my husband and I. We are not fighting about denominations or religious dogma we are simply celebrating in the awesome power of being a follower of Jesus.

I also wanted to share a bit about my husband. One of the characteristics which I fell in love with and others who meet him also love about him is his child like spirit. I don't mean that he is immature, but he does not judge others with the same cynical lens that most of us have unfortunately began to wear. He loves first and very rarely asks questions. He gives everything to those in his life and expects very little in return. He hurts easily and cries often for the pains others have felt. His skin is very thin and he does wear his emotions on the outside. When you listen you feel through him the words of compassion and challenge. He still doesn't understand that people find what he does so foreign, evil, unproductive, and unrealistic. He willingly shoulders the hurt, criticism, scars, skepticism, joy, celebration, healing of every person who shares their story and life journey with him. Each person who has come to him he etches a piece of them into his heart.

For those who want so badly to hate and be skeptical of TMF and my husband its okay he will etch pieces of you into his heart as well. Our prayers will always be for your protection and happiness. I understand its hard to believe that there truly could be a person like this in today's society and world who has not been covered with the sludge of who we are as a society and world and what we have allowed ourselves to become. I too am amazed at how he can still view this world through eyes of total compassion and love. I want so badly to one day remove the judgmental, skeptical, cynical lenses that cloud my eyes and see this world as my husband does as I believe Jesus sees this world.

So with conviction I say I will stand in the gap with my husband and TMF. I will continue to love relentlessly and share the message that all are loved by our Heavenly Father. I will say I am sorry with the purist intentions. I will elevate the conversation and not answer yes or no to questions because that is too easy and I will follow the path less traveled. I will remain true to who I am and challenge those around me to find a better way to love and communicate. I will build a bridge. I will love those who hate, mistreat, call names, judge, lie, spread rumors, misrepresent, and want to eliminate my husband and TMF.

I will stand in the gap with my husband and TMF...