fbpx

Category: Love

Changing ambition.

L2NfDz5SOm7Gbf755qpw_DSCF0490

 

Photo by Tyssul Patel

The lovely Katie over at beNourishd included a very intriguing opinion piece about women’s ambition in her weekly link round up that really got me thinking.

Emma Barnett, the women’s editor at the Telegraph posits that “women are losing custody of their ambition – and they don’t even know it.” To make this point, she talks through four subtle categories of behaviour that ‘lead women all over the world to lose custody of their ambition – often without realising”.

  1. Poisonous Presumptions: the reductive presumptions that are made about women at work, i.e. that women are opting out.
  2. Nice Guy Misogyny: the nice guys that I’m sure quite a few of us have worked for that typically have a wife / partner that stays home, so don’t have a relatable model of a working woman in their lives, hence, some very outdated views.
  3. Dumb Denial: when people can’t or won’t see that there is a problem with gender equality / representative in their respective workplace.
  4. The Imitation Game: when women don’t accept or fight for a fairer partnership at home.

She concludes by saying that “we can learn to sense the intangible bias that can eventually grind women down and lead us to lose custody of our ambition…[and] win it back.”

I found this viewpoint extremely interesting, yet very representative of a certain type of woman that is focused on moving up the corporate ladder with a singular ambition. What I wrote in the comments on Katie’s blog post  was I felt that Emma Barnett didn’t acknowledge that ambition changes. She says that she wanted “to think about ambition in a broader sense”, when really what she refers to is a very corporate ambition, without looking at the bigger picture.

For many women (and men!), it’s not that they are losing custody of their ambition, but that they are choosing a different sort of ambition. This ambition is motivated by the desire for a more well-rounded life that leaves room for good quality time with children, time for hobbies, a rich spiritual life.

This type of ambition is a shift from the relentless move up the corporate ladder at any cost, to choosing the type of life you want and designing your ambition to achieve this life. In my twenties, I was intent on doing everything I could to move up the corporate ladder, getting promotions and changing companies to achieve this ambition. The cost of this was poor health, endless hours at work and on my Blackberry and weaker connections with friends and family.

With the birth of my son, my ambitions for my life and my family life changed. I wanted to be more present and do something that would have a long term benefit for me and my family. My motivations changes and now my ambition is to become a naturopath.

How have your ambitions changed after big life events? Do you want the same things for your life?

Stories I loved this week.

photo-1420393438053-4defbbd0c7a1

Photo by vincenzo di giorgi

It’s finally the end of the week and by the time you read this, I’ll be in Jakarta (!) on another work shoot. I had my Hepatitis A and typhoid fever jabs last week and have been researching weather, food and local customs to get me prepared for this trip.

I love this perspective from Lauren Laverne on how inequality at home is contributing to women dropping out of work or being ‘underemployed’ so they can try to balance everything they need to do at home with trying to keep their hands and earning enough money to pay the bills. (The Pool)

It seems that communication, similarity and thinking long term are the secrets to a long marriage. (Aeon)

20 ways you’re spinning wrong. (Cosmopolitan)

Why telling kids to dream big is a con. As a parent, this is a fascinating subject – you want to encourage your child, but it seems like to also need to manage expectations a bit. “The shift in expectation has resulted in tremendous anxiety over achieving these goals and, paradoxically, sheer delusion.”  It seems that you should teach self-control and hard work instead. (Aeon)

This woman gave up processed food for a year and after starting at the extreme (grinding her own flour!), she ended up at the most sensible place – eating real, whole food. (Well + Good)

Could you scale down your digital world?  Not a digital detox, but intentionally avoiding certain apps and using your phone and laptop with intention, rather than mindless scrolling. I’m not on Facebook anymore, I don’t use Whatsapp or Snapchat and don’t plan to and am very conscious about how much I use my phone around my son. Children learn by what they see, not what you say and I’m trying really hard to set a good example for him. (Stylist)

Self-perception vs. reality.

flowes

Photo by Elena Berridy

Is there ever a point where you ever feel 100% comfortable with yourself, a point where your self-perception changes to fit reality, in a good way?

A bit of backstory: I was a happy, athletic child who was hit hard by puberty. As a teenager, I suffered from depression, gained quite a lot of weight and used food to self-medicate. I was in a better place during university, as I was forced to walk everywhere, be social and make better food choices.  My physical self changed, but my emotional self did not.

There is something about your self-perception vs. the way others perceive you and the reality of who you are. In my mind, I still see myself as an awkward, dumpy 17 year old girl and occasionally get a surprise when I walk past my reflection and see a strong 35 year old (often carrying a toddler!) woman striding past. Strange. Is it another form of imposter syndrome, where your beliefs about your strengths and weaknesses are misaligned with how good you actually are, what you’ve actually achieved?

Many women talk about being more comfortable with themselves in their thirties than in their twenties, and getting even more comfortable in their forties than in their thirties. And so on. (Here’s a great article from India Knight where she says stop worrying and start enjoying! More of this in her fabulous book, In Your Prime)

From my perspective, there is a lot of truth in this. I feel more comfortable with myself than I ever have and would never want to return to my twenties or teenaged self. I know my own mind, what I can tolerate and what I can’t. What I like and what I don’t. What I’m willing to try and what my red lines are. I know things are not black and white and that some things just take time. Some of this has come with time and maturity and some of this comfort has come from motherhood – the broken sleep, the initial hard graft of breastfeeding and the many moments of just waiting (still waiting for the sleeping through the night!). Knowing that I don’t have the time or even the energy to indulge in the constant cycle of negative self-talk. And yet, in those quiet moments, the negative self-talk is still there.

Life’s too short. It sounds trite, but it’s true. It’s annoying to think of all the time and brain power, I’ve dedicated to thinking about how I hate my stomach (the only body part I’m not 100% comfortable with). What a waste of time, when I think about all the things I want to do and what I want to achieve.

Under pressure.

photo-1424896842869-a5bda51fca24

 

Photo by Eli DeFaria

There is no doubt we as women put way too much pressure on ourselves. We want to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, have the perfect body, do our very best at work and cook the best food. The list is endless and we want to be the best at all of it.

Why do we put ourselves under so much pressure and feel such guilt when we’re not meeting these entirely subjective standards that we’ve set ourselves? This wonderful article by Lauren Laverne on the Pool talks about how the quest for the perfect work / life balance is a waste of time. She uses a nice example from the renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who says, “We presume that balance is a good thing, but you don’t go to the amusement park roller coaster and say, ‘I want to be balanced.’ No, you want to be as unbalanced as possible, because that’s the thrill ride.”

She follows up this point by saying, “Most of the women I know are part of the ‘sandwich generation’. Their lives are out of whack because they are a mix of conflicting obligations: work, children, money worries, parents who are getting older… The problem isn’t that we have too many passions to pursue, it’s that we have so little time for ourselves we don’t even remember what our passions are any more.”

The point she misses is the additional pressure women feel to be perfect in all things. A pressure that seems to be uniquely female. When we aren’t perfect, we feel guilty, and then seem to double down the pressure instead of asking ourselves if something has to give (something that men are more often than not, able to do).

This pressure has an emotional and physiological effect. We get stressed and put our bodies into sympathetic, fight or flight mode, which increases the amount of cortisol going through our bodies. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and too much cortisol going through the body on a long term basis can do a lot of damage. It can lead to depression, weight gain, a weak immune system and a host of other issues.

So, to paraphrase Lauren Laverne, let good enough be the new perfect.

Post-natal depletion.

photo-1433208406127-d9e1a0a1f1aa

Goop published a very interesting article on post-natal depletion back in May and ever since, I’ve been thinking about this condition and how many women I know have it. The term post natal depletion has put into words how I’ve been feeling since my son was born two years ago. That feeling of being nearly recovered, but not quite there. You know, the one where you think, “If I could just get a week’s worth of full night sleeps, I would be okay.”

 

Physiologically speaking, the newly acknowledged post-natal depletion condition is interesting, as it is an acknowledgement that pregnancy, giving birth, breastfeeding and the act of taking care of a child is physically and emotionally draining. It counters the Western idea that mothers should bounce back by the time the child is three months old and acknowledges that because pregnancy and breastfeeding are about growing and nourishing the child, they have the consequence of being physically draining on the mother, depleting her vitamin and mineral stores, stores that take a while to recover post-partum.

 

For example, the body stores three months’ worth of iron, a mineral that is rapidly depleted during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Pair this with now all too common post-partum bleeding and a less than optimal post-partum diet, it takes a while for the body’s iron stores to recover. This condition becomes even more interesting when you realise that the placenta passes nearly 7 grams of fat a day to the growing baby at the end of the pregnancy term, while also tapping into the mother’s iron, zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B9, iodine, and selenium stores—along with omega 3 fats like DHA and specific amino acids from protein.

 

This condition, and the fact that some women still suffer years later, really highlights the need for better support for post-partum mothers, on a micro and macro level. Better support from community health visitors to assess both the mother and baby, more family support so the mother can focus on caring for the baby and not a myriad of household and personal tasks, better maternity leave with better support for mothers returning to work, that acknowledges that having children alters perspective and that it takes time to get back into the swing of things with a young child. It is not just up to the mothers to demand support, as they may not realise they need it (raise your hand if you’re familiar with the ‘just soldier on’ mindset!). It’s also up to the people around these mothers to give help before it’s asked for, as a matter of course.

 

From a nutritional perspective, the importance of a proper nourishing diet becomes even more important for post-partnum mothers. I’m not talking about new mums whipping up big meals everyday, but rather better education on shortcuts to better eating. So, having lots of fruit to hand, things to make salads (with one hand!), meal planning so there is always something good in the fridge (even if has to be eaten cold!) and taking advantage of weekends when others are around to do lots of meal prep for the week.

 

What’s your experience of post-natal depletion?

 

Get in touch for to book a free, no commitment 20 minute health coaching call to find out more about how you can improve your post-natal health & wellbeing.

 

Photo by Aaron Burden

SaveSave

Subscribe to weekly notes from our founder, Le’Nise!