Is the Wage Gap Even Real?

Women argue with me every time I suggest that the pervasive statistics on the wage gap are wrong. They cite personal examples and refuse to grant credence to my ideas. But now, thanks to this 5 minute video, I know for a fact that the traditional idea of women making 77 cents to every dollar a man makes is wrong – when other factors are considered, that gap is reduced from 23 cents to about 6 cents.

But that 23 cents didn’t come out of thin air – it’s calculated by dividing the median wages of all women working full time by the median wages of all men working full time. As the video I linked above shows, this doesn’t take into account other important factors, chief among them the often underrated and entirely unpaid choice to birth children. But the primary culprit is job choice. More women are teachers. More men are aerospace engineers. More women are social workers, and more men are investment bankers.

Women tend to choose paths of connection and health, while men chase money and power. And which of these does our society value more?

You don’t need to be a statistician to know that we live in a society valuing competition over connection, infrastructure over mental health, technology over education, and money over connection.

So it’s no surprise that most of the jobs that require intense masculine yang energy are higher paying than those that require soft feminine yin energy.

So, ladies and gents, when you bring up the wage gap, please change your language. Yes, patriarchy is a real thing, but it’s not perpetuated by companies choosing to pay men more than they pay women. It’s far more systemic than that, and reducing it to physical gender misses the point entirely. It’s a preference for masculine energy over feminine, a valuing of intensity over ease, power over empathy.

Let’s keep using that 77 cents on the dollar statistic. But take sex out of the equation and start talking about masculine and feminine. About the fact that our society pays engineers and lawyers and investment bankers hundreds of thousands more than teachers and social workers and counselors. And maybe we’ll start making progress.

Peace, Love, and Namaste –

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I Left on a Jet Plane

Guess what? I live in China now. I’ll post about my apartment, the Siberian cold, and all that jazz later, but for now – how do I travel? I like to streamline, so in any packing situation I try to take as few things that will serve me in as many ways as possible. I checked my bags, so I challenged myself with filling my little backpack effectively. When you’re facing 17+ hours of flight time, you gotta consider entertainment, hygiene, nourishment, and, of course, comfort.

leather backpack

I found this genuine leather gem on Amazon for $30.

Entertainment

I’m not a huge magazine reader in general, but when I’m waiting to board a flight or only mentally awake enough for something small, a magazine is just the thing. This issue of The Economist is bangin, and is educating me on current events around the world from a perspective I’ve always loved and understood.

delta airlines seatback pocket entertainment

I love the feeling of a novel in my hands, but, given overseas move, I had to give in and get a kindle. It took me a minute to get used to it, but now I love it – it’s convenient, has that flat screen that doesn’t punish your eyes, and makes underlining and looking up words a breeze. I started Hesse’s Demian on the flight, have since finished it, and, as usual am impressed by Hesse’s wisdom. I could say a lot more about him as a writer, but I’ll leave that for another post. If you want a coming of age novel that is grounded in reality but isn’t afraid to get wacky, this would be a good choice.

stack of books notebook headphones poetry

When it comes to books, I always like a sampling – poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. A good friend got me that copy of e e cummings’ poetry in Paris, and I take a juicy bite out of that every now and then. My other constant companion is my pocket Emily Dickinson. Both of these poets require a a little chewing and have pretty short poems, so they’re perfect when you need a quick burst of flavor. I haven’t begun Wages of Rebellion yet, but it’s a history of revolutions around the world, so I’m amped about starting it.

The long flight had a fantastic selection of movies, and I watched Citizen Kane, Suited – a documentary about Bindle & Keep, a custom suiting company with a focus on fitting the growing trans population, and a Ted talk on the Chinese Zodiac. I wanted to watch All the President’s Men, too, but sleep overtook me.

Fold-up, noise cancelling headphones are a must, and I brought my laptop, too – it’s light, and I didn’t want it getting flung around in my checked luggage. And, of course, I don’t go anywhere without my notebook and pen. I got this notebook at The Strand in New York a couple months ago, and the cover is so soft.

Hygiene

Flights make me feel gross. So these are my tools to combat that – cleansing water, dry shampoo, unscented lotion and deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste. I also had chapstick in my pocket. Taking a minute to cleanse between flights really makes a difference for my mood. Call me crazy, but I just hate walking around with that layer of greasy recycled air on my face all day. And it’s still serving me well because Delta lost my baggage, and I spent two full days with nothing but this backpack.

cleansing water unscented deodorant hygiene easy airport airplane

Mini glass bottle courtesy of an olive oil sample set #irecycle.

I like a sleep mask, too, because you never know when they’ll turn the cabin lights on, or if the person next to you won’t close the window. All this fits perfectly in a little travel case from a United business class flight that a friend of mine took.travel pouch sleep mask

Nourishment

I pack as much food as I can when I’m out because I never like to be caught without a snack, and, since I can’t eat dairy, my options can be limited. I brought apple slices and a mix of nuts and seeds and, of course, water. I also brought chocolate, because I’ve been raised as a human woman. They served a lot of food on the flight, and my body was confused and I ate at such weird times, but I think it went as well as it could.

bring your own healthy airplane snacks

Sparkling water, apples, nuts.

Comfort

Black is my favorite, especially in the colder months. Don’t tell anyone, but all my underwear is blush pink and lacey! It’s a fun secret. I like to be able to move freely with nothing pinching my body parts, but I also don’t like to look schlumpy.

in flight outfit comfort ease black selfie

Please excuse my face; I just flew halfway around the world.

A turtleneck keeps my neck warm, black jeans are roomy and fitted at the same time, scrunched down over-the-knee socks warm my ankles and keep the jeans from bunching at my knees, Clarks loafers are beautiful and oh-so-orthopedic. I layered with my beanie, scarf, and cashmere sweater because I like to wear blankets and call it style.

cashmere sweater J Crew beanie scarf warm airplane

If you must know, I took this in an airport bathroom stall.

Time keeping is essential, so I wear a watch that I take off during flights. I don’t wear much jewelry ever, so I wore my only pair of earrings and a couple rings as I would any other day.

menswear watch bold face black outfit

Timex. Target. Just watch.

A good night’s sleep and a morning workout have bolstered me against jet lag, and, sitting in my very own apartment with my view of Harbin’s 20 story apartment buildings, I’m feeling ready.

Love, calm, and care –

 

 

How to Have Feelings

I don’t know about you, but America’s education system did not prepare me for real life. Emotions? Those aren’t mentioned in physical education or Spanish I. I spent my adolescence with a brick wall between my mind and my heart – I was emotionally ignorant. While I did just earn a college degree, what I actually learned during the past four years was how to feel. And I didn’t learn this in school.

You know how when you’re really happy, you physically go a little nuts? Whether you shout or dance or grab someone near you and shake them with joy, you move. Emotional energy has to move out of the body. Negative energy is no different from positive in this way. My reflex is to shut down and isolate myself, only to find that I’m more upset than ever and am burning with angst or something, but I have no clue what it is or why it’s happening.

I used to be so embarrassed that I had feelings. I saw it as a weakness, something to get rid of quietly. Movies show people acting out of raw emotions without thinking things through, without taking the time to feel before making decisions. Feeling and movement go hand in hand for me – they both clear my head. Whether it’s a run or boxing or lifting weights or yoga – when my body is busy, my heart can feel and my mind can think.

A good cry is scientifically proven to be the most efficient way to move the emotional energy out, but that doesn’t always come easy. Often, it comes on the heels of exercise. When I have something pent up inside, I find myself shedding tears as I’m punching a bag or breathing on my yoga mat. Then I finish my yoga, and I turn on the shower and let hot water run over me while I sob in the fetal position. It’s so cathartic, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

I began with boxing. I’d been hurt by a lot of people [including myself] and didn’t know what to do with that, so I punched out my aggression. It’s okay to be pissed off, as long as you’re taking it out in a healthy way, a way that doesn’t hurt anyone else.

Yoga, in many ways, saves me every day. Breathing air into all parts of the body, letting it circulate, it’s the freshness of spring cleaning every time you practice. It’s entirely free because it’s all over Youtube, and you can do it in the privacy of your own home, so no one cares if you look funny or if you fart, because you will. And the acceptance, the calm that comes with it makes you okay with that.

Movement, getting in touch with my body, has served as one of the most effective tools of recovery for me. Finally feeling all the emotions that I’d pushed down with food or alcohol or whatever else has been purifying. It’s helped me dig out all the skeletons in my closet, and now they are all happily cremated and serving as fertilizer to the new growth in my soul. And, really, I don’t think any of that would have been possible without physically getting my feelings out of my body. Once they’re out, they lose their power, and you’re able to analyze them with a clear mind, to work through the causes instead of acting out of the effects. And, like every other form of self-care, it’s so worth it.

What do you think? How do you get your feels out?

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Processing Grief [For Katie]

Three years ago, one of my closest friends died in a car accident. Needless to say, I was unprepared. What 19-year-old know how to deal with loss? Really, what human knows how to deal with loss until they’re in the throes of it? I learned by living through it, by grieving, and I started by falling flat on my face. I let myself get lost in grief, in depression. Because I didn’t know how. Because two weeks after she died, my other friends were asking why I was still wearing black and listening to so much Linkin Park and John Mayer. What could I say? They didn’t know any better, of course, but I became embarrassed, ashamed, even, of these emotions that seemed so impermissible. So, naturally, I repressed and avoided and acted out and dealt as well as I knew how, which mostly, apart from a lot of boxing and bike riding, meant not dealing at all.

Grief is nothing to be ashamed of. It takes time to process – three years later and I’m finding new bits of the experience all the time. If you’re grieving, if you lose someone, know that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be sad, angry, confused. It’s okay for that to last a while. It’s also okay if it doesn’t. Feel what you feel. Don’t try to mold it into anyone’s expectations or tidy it up in five easy steps. It’s a messy, unpredictable beast, and that’s okay. Allow yourself the experience of grief. Let it be what it is.

It will pass. Not completely – but the shroud of darkness with thin out into wispy clouds that come and go. The person you lost is gone – that won’t change. As time goes on you realize that you lost more than the person you knew – you lost the person you would have known. I lost the friend I would have called the first time I fell in love, the one whose 21st birthday would have been a wild weekend getaway, the one I would have known and grown with for years, blossoming the way that only our friendship could have. And there are continually new bits of that loss to discover and accept and feel.

And three years later, I see that the mourning process forms a narrative unto itself. Memories of my grief nearly equal the memories I have left of her. The place she holds in my heart will never shrink – it will always glow and remain, sweetly untouched. But it can’t grow. I can’t make new memories with her. But I can’t stop myself from making new memories altogether, from living, from growing and changing into a woman she never even met and wondering about who she would have become. I remember her as I live, and as new memories expand my heart, filling it with more joys and more sorrows, gradually dwarfing that bright, constant space that she holds.

The text along the inside of my arm is 9/3/2013 in lower case, cursive Roman numerals - the day Katie died.

The text along the inside of my arm is 9/3/2013 in lower case, cursive Roman numerals – the day Katie died.

She’s the story behind one of my tattoos, the bridge that unites me with my friend who lost her mom, the reason it’s still difficult for me to really listen to country music, the reason I smile anytime I see a girl in cowboy boots and jean shorts, the person I sometimes imagine conversations with, the reason I can’t help but cry on September 3rd and December 22nd, and that still, bright light in my heart that will never go out. And so much more.

So grief is really a continual process of acceptance. One of allowing yourself to feel all the things you don’t want to feel because sometimes you really don’t want to believe that the person you lost is gone. But just because they can’t live any longer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Thinking of my friend motivates me to live more fully than ever, to do the things she never could, to treasure the time that I’ve been given. Because not everyone gets as much as you and I have. And really, even though all this is so damn hard sometimes, I’m lucky I got to know her at all, just as you’re lucky to have known someone you lost. I’m lucky that I’m one of the people who holds her light in my heart. And we’re lucky that we get to carry their lights with us, and that we get to keep living.

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Intro to Style: Form & Function

Style is fun. It’s wearable art. Any kind of art takes a certain knowledge of your self, your preferences – what colors belong on the palette? What are you painting on? What types of brushes do you prefer? These are the questions that must be asked when figuring out your style. I could write a whole essay on the case for having personal style, but put simply – don’t you want what people see to represent you accurately?

What do you want your painting – your art – your self – to look like? Some prefer garish prints and neon colors, while others enjoy muted tones with a focus on texture. Really the possibilities are endless. The two principles to consider, under which all others rest, are form and function.

Form should follow function. This was a principle of the architect Ansel Adams that always stuck with me because it makes sense – and his work is gorgeous, workably beautiful. I like to be comfortable in my clothing, but that doesn’t mean wearing sweats. The function of clothing is also make me feel incredible. A bomb outfit boosts the confidence. But it begins by feeling good in it. The two go hand in hand.

I can do anything in a long pleated skirt.

I can do anything in a long pleated skirt.

Form

This is the visual aspect, the textures, colors, prints, silhouettes. It takes getting to know your coloring, body type, preferences. Do you look better in warm or cool colors? Solids or prints?  I’ve done this through trial and error. I’m drawn to textures – I have velvet shirts, leather and wool skirts, a denim dress, silks, and all kinds of blends. I like clothes that hit my natural waist, calf-length skirts, backless anything, and fitted shoulders. With experimentation, I’ve found that shades of red belong both in my hair and in my wardrobe. Warm colors, olive greens, oranges, mustard yellows – rich, fall hues. I wear far more color in the summer than I do in the colder months. I like my accessories to be black and versatile. All my jewelry is gold, with various gem stones.

To figure this out for yourself, pay attention to what compliments people give you, to how you feel in various colors, etc. I once saw an episode of Scrubs in which Elliot returned a dress because she didn’t get three compliments on her first day of wearing it. This is excessive, but it’s worth noting that people don’t usually lie when they compliment you. And people notice when you feel good. Feeling good is the ultimate goal. And that leads us to…

Function

I like to be comfortable, to be able to move freely. I like room around my waist because I don’t want to feel like I can’t breathe. Soft, luxurious fabrics feel nice against my skin. I have two bags – one backpack with sturdy straps, and one simple black cross body number. I have a shoe for every occasion, but only 4 pairs, all of which are comfortable and worn regularly. I wear the same pair of earrings every day and rotate through five rings. All of my clothes can be mixed and matched [part of why color palette is so vital]. Everything goes with everything. It makes getting dressed so much easier. But it’s still fun! Like when you were young and had a Barbie doll with a 4 piece clothing set that allowed for at least 10 outfits. That’s me every morning. And it gets fun trying to find all the combinations.

Notice what you feel comfortable in. Take into account your lifestyle, your daily activities. There’s no point having a closetful of sky high stilettos if you’re on your feet all day and rarely go out in the evening. They might be nice to look at, but it feels better to use everything you own, to make your wardrobe your own.

Another aspect of function is price. I like high quality, always have, but I’m forever on a budget. And maybe it’s my Jewish heritage, but I love a bargain. And I find some of my nicest pieces on clearance or at a thrift store. The hunt is part of the fun. I also customize things – little fixes here and there make pieces uniquely your own.

Style is a journey. Hopefully seeing mine will inspire yours.

Style is a journey. Hopefully seeing mine will inspire yours.

Style is important to me. Remember that the phrase, “Look good, feel good” is axiomatic; “Feel good, look good” rings just as true.

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