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2020 has been enlightening, thought-provoking, validating, and downright exceptional in all the best and worst ways.

But one thing stands unique among the rest. The unexpected gift of personal connection in the absence of physical connection, connections that would be put off in any other year because of distance, time, culture, or geography. But instead, this year enabled a new kind of connection with so many different people from so many places around the world. People who are doing amazing work, hard work, and whose ideas are important, valuable and necessary for the advancement of humanity. People who are motivated by the belief that we can be better, do better, and who know that to be human is to be strength, weakness, and vulnerability at once. People who understand that growth and learning is about adapting, changing, and being open to new frontiers that might otherwise be left undiscovered. …


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Every year, for each of the last four years, my daughters and I have held fast to the holiday tradition of hosting a mother-daughter cookie exchange and it’s something we look forward to each year. Lots of sweet treats and even sweeter friends all coming together to kick off the holiday season.

So, given the realities of 2020, we decided not to cancel but to instead reimagine our “cookie-exchange” into a gingerbread house building contest complete with online photo submissions and virtual voting.

This year, no gathering, no exchanging of fresh-baked cookies, no light-hearted worrying about the dog or little ones sneaking cookies off the table. Instead, just family unity, cooperation, creativity, and love coming together in the safety of our own homes. But, my visions of holiday music playing in the background, a fire burning in the fireplace, laughter in the kitchen, and perfect family collaboration were quickly dashed the moment the first bag of candy was broken open. …


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Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

The unequal distribution of unpaid work is still one of the most pressing problems affecting women in our time and, in particular, their economic advancement. Why is it, that today, there is still a gendered division of labor even in the most progressive and equality driven countries? …


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Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus were, among a long list of other things, stoics. The origin of the modern word “stoic” was derived from these ancient times but its definition has since become muddled. Today we often think of someone that is stoic as someone that is void of emotion or someone that can endure without complaining. But, the stoics of ancient times were far more emotionally evolved than this simple modern definition.

Stoicism was a philosophy that believed we have the mental flexibility to frame our own life circumstances in ways that can improve our lives. In other words, the stoics believed that if we could, in the moment, view setbacks as challenges to behold, as opportunities to become better humans, we could then minimize our suffering and banish negative emotions. …


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Photo by Norbert Tóth on Unsplash

In a moment of pre-teen mother-daughter angst, my strong-willed oldest stomps out of the room shouting “sorry you had to be my mother, that you are soooooo buuuurdened by it!” She is wicked smart and when she wants to sting, she knows exactly where to do it.

But, this is what I also know. She is confident with her sting because she is safe. She knows I wouldn’t trade motherhood for the world. She knows I love her and that I love being her mother and that I wouldn’t give up any of the joy or anguish of it.

Yet in that moment she got me and it hurt. She knows the work I do, fighting to break down barriers for working mothers, highlighting the challenges that mothers face, and advocating for organizational change. She knows all of it, and she used this as her leverage and power and it worked. She successfully attacked a piece of my identity. Psychologists call this a moment of “self-threat” when our identity is being challenged or dismissed. …


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Art by Alessandra Olanow @aolanow

Unicorn Space. Doesn’t this sound like a beautiful mental and physical space, albeit mythical, to frolic and flourish? It conjures up something untouchable and fantastical, that only certain highly qualified and privileged people could possibly find.

Let me begin by saying I did not coin this phrase. Eve Rodsky, in her book “Fair Play”, aptly describes “unicorn space” as the passion and purpose that drives us to be the best version of ourselves. She goes on to say that if we don’t nurture what makes us come alive then identity, relationships, and fulfillment will be at stake.

So, why then, do so many mothers give up on the aspirational space that is “unicorn space”? Lack of time, yes. The finite resource that is “hours in our day” is almost always the answer. But if it is so important to our identities, to our relationships, and to our self-worth why do we give up on it so easily? And, not only do we give up on it, but we often lose touch with what our individual passions even are, wrapped up and lost inside our sole identity as mother to our children - the “reason” we have no time. …


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Photo by American Heritage Chocolate on Unsplash

Today is the first day of the last year in my forties. Meh.

What the F*ck happened to this last decade? I’ve hardly come up for air from my 40th birthday and yet suddenly this decade is now coming to a close. The decade that said “40 is the new 20”, that said “life begins at 40”, the decade that promised the 40's to be fabulous. Bueller, Bueller?

Instead, the decade ends not with a bang but with a flare that fizzles at the side of the road, topped off by a global pandemic. The truth is a double meh.

But, here is what I also know to be true about this decade that is my forties. I’ve always known who I am, yet this decade tested that, twisted that, and shifted my sense of self beyond measure. However, despite all of that, I still came out as me in the end. The “good-me”, the “could-work-on-things-me”, the “hopeful-me”, and the “things-always-happen-for-a-reason-me” showed up in the end and in a better-than-before version. …


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My father died when I was 28. In the scope of death readiness, in which we are almost always underprepared, I got an F. I was shell-shocked and disbelieving. He was only 60 years old. Cancer had temporarily taken over part of his body and yet, while he died at the hospital, it was not because of the cancer. Instead, death came knocking in the form of a piece of food that blocked his airway, undetected by medical staff until it was too late. …


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Photo by Vincent Garnier on Unsplash

Everything has a label these days.

To label something with a sassy moniker is to make it real. It’s like Pinterest for the worriers and the naysayers, let’s just pin-it to a safe place and then we can look away.

When it comes to gender topics (most especially those associated with women) we see this negative rhetoric all the time. We hear things about the motherhood penalty, the double burden syndrome, and the stalled gender revolution. We also can’t forget about the walls (maternal) and the gaps (pay).

If you aren’t in the know, you may see these terms and wonder where is the war, who is getting fined, or will I catch the syndrome? If you are in the know, you may still question if these are actual real things or just marketing trends making their way through your online and offline worlds. …


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Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

The silver bullet is this …

Get to work now on gender balance in your organization because there is no silver bullet.

Yes, that is correct. There. Is. No. Silver. Bullet.

There is no easy fix. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. And, there is not just one thing that you can do that will magically shift the balance of gender at your company.

But, please, don’t let this reality throw you into a tizzy fit that freezes you from doing anything about it all. Why? Because I know you care. I know that if you are reading this, you are smart and that you care about gender balance. You care that your sisters, daughters, wives and co-workers will thrive in environments that support them and value them for their full worth. You care that not just your organization will be better with gender balanced teams and executive boards, but that our world will be better too. …

About

Kristi Rible Scobie

Motherhood+Work+Culture. Bringing a Gen X perspective to the Future-of-Work and Life. Cultural Literacy Counts. www.kristirible.com

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