High Power, Low Heels

Recently a friend of mine, a male friend in his 70s, asked me why women wear high heels.

The answer is simple. You look sexier wearing them. You’re taller and slimmer, you stand straighter, you may even walk more confidently.

But they are so, so bad for you, and your feet just may hurt like hell in very short order. A 25-year-old woman should not have bunions, and yet I’ve known several who have, all because of their shoes.

Looking sexier isn’t always the way to go.

A news story from Great Britain brought this issue front and center again this last week.  A 27-year-old temp worker, Nicola Thorp, was sent home from her receptionist job because she wore flats instead of the required 2″ -4″ heels. She’s started a petition to change the law in her country, and her efforts are going quite well, with more than 110,000 signatures collected so far.

There was no reason the temp agency could come up with, according to Ms. Thorp, requiring the heels. It’s clearly a matter of image, make that, sexism. Put the pretty girl at the front desk.

A friend of mine was recently advised to seek a job for which she didn’t have the skills, and the individual doing this job coaching told her, “it doesn’t matter. You’re pretty so the old codgers won’t care how good you are.” He pushed the issue, telling her she had an asset she wasn’t using. It was futile explaining to him how sexist and demeaning this is, even though every example he gave of women who held their jobs with similar “qualifications” only reinforced what was obvious to us.

Here’s what was particularly frustrating about that conversation: this isn’t a man you would, in general, call sexist. Yet in this area, he’s blind to his thinking.

AdobeStock_98604038 [Converted]As is much of my country, and many others as well. We still expect women to look pretty to succeed. There are multiple problems surrounding this, not the least of which is, some women are pretty. Most, with a little mirror time, clean up good, and want to put their best face forward, literally. No one is going to get away with telling them not to do that in the name of defending women’s rights.

But relying on your looks in your job is giving up your power. There is no strength in going before your boss, even going through the office doors, knowing your chief asset is your appearance.

So where does the line get drawn, how is the issue resolved? One small step can be made by not using your appearance to gain favor as a worker. Other than meeting a standard of proper grooming, your shoes shouldn’t be winning over the executive suite. In fact, they shouldn’t be noticed.

If you’re dressed properly, they notice the woman.

And if they notice you, that’s power.

Looking for Clothes


Image Credits: (Shoes) © Klemen Petrič – Fotolia; (Girl at Mirror) © sapunkele — Fotolia; (Looking for the Right Outfit) © NinaMalyna – Fotolia


Facing the Fire

One of my best friends’ heart is breaking this week.

Her younger brother is dying of cancer; he may be gone by the time you read this. He was diagnosed several years ago and immediately went in for surgery. After the surgery, he developed an infection, which prevented him from getting chemotherapy in a timely manner. Despite that, once he did receive that treatment it initially seemed to be successful, however, eventually the cancer spread, and he will lose his battle.

He is a man of faith,

and while this is not a blog about spiritual things, it’s important to know I share his faith and look forward to an eternity of fullness with God. I speak of it here only because for a long time I wondered if I really believed in an afterlife. Faith is a funny thing. You speak the words, but do you believe them? When I learned how close this young man was to death, my immediate thought was, soon he will be with his Savior. My faith, thankfully, is real.

Stormy skies IIIMy friend, Laurie, has faced so much in recent years. I don’t know how she bears it, but she does it with grace and humor. And probably the occasional meltdown. About seven or eight years ago her husband Dave, whose mental state had been failing steadily throughout their marriage, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. He was on the verge of death when he had his surgery. Fortunately, he’s had an incredible recovery from that trauma — and it is a trauma, don’t let the word benign fool you — but his troubles weren’t over.

Sometimes the hits keep coming.

About the time Laurie’s brother was declared cancer-free, before it came back with a vengeance, and maybe four years after her husband’s brain surgery, Dave was diagnosed with the exact same kind of cancer her brother had. She was in shock. Thankfully, mercifully, his treatment went beautifully, and he was cancer-free at the end of the chemo treatments.

Except — wait — a brand-new tumor developed three months later. So they started all over again. By this time they knew her brother was in dire straits, and while Dave’s situation still looked a whole lot better, it was cancer. Cancer is a bitch.

Oh, I forgot to mention. During this entire time Laurie’s mom’s health was steadily failing. She died last December.

Dave is cancer-free now and we’re believing the best.

It can be a lonely journey sometimes.

Those of you who’ve been through this sort of thing know the myriad of challenges that come along with trials like these. Laurie has had to take time off of work and that has put a strain on her relationship with her employer. Their finances have taken a hit.

The golden moments have come from their children. Their incredible daughter will be a junior in college next year and their adorable son graduates from high school shortly. Thank God for healthy, happy children, although Laurie is aware there are probably issues from the time Dave’s mental state was deteriorating.

lightstock_209357_medium_user_7579580 [Converted]There are people in our lives who face a far greater share of life’s challenges than others well before they should. Laurie had more than a few burdens to bear before this as well, but her faith, her family, her friends have carried her through the hard times.

I went through a hell myself of an entirely different sort several years ago and she was there for me. We need people who have faced the fire and survived to help keep us strong. How unfair that seems, so let me be strong for my friends in return.

I will face the fire with you.

Image Credits: (SuperWoman) © Pearl — Lightstock (Sailboat in Storm) © brickrena — BigStock (Stormy Skies) water © AG — Fotolia; skies © Andrii Salivon – Fotolia; clock © Jakub Krechowicz – Fotolia; dock © Filip Miletic — Fotolia

Everyday Value

My neighbor died today. Her granddaughter found her on the floor at home, apparently dead of a heart attack.

Her little dog was frantic, as you might imagine, and the granddaughter is taking the pup home for now. She told me she hopes one of her cousins will take him in as she’s due any day with her first child and doesn’t need the additional burden.

maple branch rev c milavas sm shadowThis lady was nice, with a wry sense of humor and countless grandchildren who took advantage of her. The police were at the apartment keeping them out; they all insisted they had things they owned in that apartment, and likely some did, but at this point under the law it all belongs to her and her estate.

I suppose the police would need to wait for the locks to be changed, because you can bet those kids all had keys. This wasn’t an entirely bad group, but one or two were pretty awful. One young man came to my door early on asking for the passcode to my wireless account. When I refused to give it to him, he broke into my apartment and got it off of the wireless box. Of course I changed the passcode and now he’s in jail for breaking & entering as well as felony theft. In my state, you serve time for theft of services.

Now, mine wasn’t the only apartment he broke into; I didn’t report the crime until the police came to me. And I shouldn’t say he broke in, although legally it was B&E. I’d left the door unlocked when I went to get my mail and he ran in then. Creepy. I lock the door now even when I take the garbage out.

But I don’t hold it against my late neighbor. I liked her. She did her best and I know she was struggling financially, or she wouldn’t have been living in these apartments. She didn’t own a car, in fact, she maybe didn’t even drive. She was disabled and couldn’t walk in a straight line very well because of the way her body was twisted. I’m not sure her vision was very good, either.

It’s funny the impact virtual strangers have on your life. I don’t know this lady’s name and I never had much of a conversation with her, but I appreciated her as a neighbor. She was kind and courteous. She loved her grandchildren, and despite what I’ve said so far I’m sure most of them are good people, young, perhaps, and a little thoughtless, but they will miss her. The granddaughter I saw today certainly seemed genuinely upset.

Smileys c Stuart Miles - Fotolia

We wonder about the impact we have on others’ lives, and it can be as simple as being a good neighbor. Earlier this week I was walking into the grocery store and smiled at a woman approaching from a different direction. She smiled back, a genuine, friendly smile that made feel good. I’d been having a difficult day. It made a difference.

“Thank you for smiling!” I told her.

“And thank you for smiling, too!” she said back cheerily. I felt good the rest of the day. That woman is important to me in that small way.

If ever you are feeling unimportant, if ever you wonder your value in life, it is there. It is in the small things and the grand, for life is made of all those things.

But mostly the everyday things.

Image Credits: (Leaves) © milavas — Fotolia; (Smileys) © Stuart Miles — Fotolia


Keep Going

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
― Winston S. Churchill

It hurts. It gets old. It’s a dull pain one day and a sharp pain the next. Getting through the bad times wears you down and shapes you at the same time. You can’t see your way out and you’re convinced it will never end.

I’ve been there, and it’s hard. There are those saying, get it together. And you think you should have more together than you do.

Several years ago I was the victim of a horrible injustice, the target of powerful people convinced of a truth that did not exist. It ruined my life, no doubt about it. I was in a shambles. There seemingly was no way out of my situation, no way around the binding realities.

Whatever my part had been in the events that led to my despair, it was disproportionate to the result. I didn’t know who my friends were, who I could trust and who trusted me. Who cared for me?

Little by little I came to realize that the people most important to me cared. Yes, I’d lost some friends who bought into the half-truths and manipulated stories, and there was nothing I could do about it. Some of those people were important to me, and I mourn the loss of their friendship to this day. But I had to move forward, and rely on those who proved themselves true and kind of character.

My family saved my life. If nothing else, these events brought me closer to all of them, and for that I am grateful.

As time went on, things changed. I got a job, one I’m good at with people who care about me like family. While I still live in a less than desirable apartment complex, I have a new car (well, it’s a year old now) that has given me the opportunity to visit my mom on several occasions, both for pleasure and to care for her when she needs it.

And the future doesn’t look quite as grim. There appear to be options that will end all of this when the time comes.

Are these good times? Actually, I’ll be disappointed if that turns out to be the truth. These are better times, and hopefully good times, joyous times lie ahead. But I don’t know. I’m content with what I have now.

I fear the return of bad times, likely not the same bad times but something else, before experiencing truly good times again. If that’s the case, so be it. I can only take what I’m given and seek what can be found.

For my friends who are suffering, it can last an eternity, I know. Some of what gets you out of the pain is your own spirit, some is good fortune and some is dumb luck. I have no magic formula. But believe in the future.

Keep going.

Photo Credit: © EcoView — Fotolia

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom turns 80 today.

For 56 of her 80 years, she’s been the most important person in my life. That’s a heavy burden to bear at times. I have my issues. Yet she never wavers; her love for me is always first. I know she will be there when I need her. I know she will be there when I just want to chat.

Happiest of birthdays, Mom. All my love, Belinda


I Made Up My Mind … but Forgot What I Decided

Ah, life. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.

AdobeStock_100009763 [Converted] c geosapI finally figured out what I was going to do with the next ten years, and what do you know, a few other people had some input into those ideas…people whose input matters. So the figuring is starting all over again.

But these are people who love me, so not to worry, right?

Yes, I’ve figured out a few things. Life is going to get you, one way or the other. You’re going to have good times, bad times and a lot of everyday, ordinary times.

You’re going to learn and grow (or not). You’ll think you’ve made it, only to find the rug pulled out from underneath you. You’ll think all is lost, only to have it given back to you again.

Those you think are for you will betray you and those you think could not care less about you will save your life.

It’s not all that mixed up, to be sure, or unexpected. But I made up my mind.. and forgot what I decided. And realized, it’s all a process leading to a destination we can’t imagine.

So here I go again.

Image Credit: (Cat) © geosap — Fotolia

Caturday Naptime

Fell asleep on the sofa and woke up with two cats atop of me — one at my feet, the other listening to my heartbeat, apparently.

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