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Do you mentor?

March 31st, 2014 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Learning | Work - (Comments Off on Do you mentor?)

Reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book made me think a lot about a lot of things. One of the most interesting things was her chapter Are You My Mentor? where she talks about what women are doing wrong when it comes to finding mentors.

“If someone has to ask the question, the answer is probably no.”

She says that when you find the right mentor for you it’s obvious. She says asking someone to be your mentor is a “mood killer.”

My question is: If you don’t ask, how can they say yes?

I have asked women to be a mentor to me in the past and have yet to receive any kind of bad response. I turn to women who inspire me in more ways than one. Women who work hard, are passionate about what they do, and live lives that I aspire to.

Just this week I had a conversation with a woman who is passionate in her work, has built a business, is an strong athlete and who spoke to me openly and honestly about challenges. So I asked her: Will you be my mentor?

Because if I hadn’t asked she wouldn’t have said yes.

When I was reading Lean In I was struck by a lot of things she said, but I was confused by her chapter on mentors. She talked about how women ask other women to be their mentors which apparently is the wrong way to go about it. I was confused by that because I have, in the past, asked more than one woman to be a mentor to me and never gotten bad feedback.

This week I was at a networking event and I got the chance to have a great conversation with a strong, passionate woman who has been through a lot of what I was to get through over the next few years. She’s become fit, she’s lost weight, she strengthened her marriage, she’s raised brilliant children and she’s built a business.

This woman takes no nonsense and I can tell that I can learn a lot from her about a lot of things, so I asked her if I could consider her a mentor for the future.

Sheryl Sandberg seems to indicate that asking is the problem, that men don’t ask their mentors to mentor them. To me that makes no sense. All I’m asking of these woman is the opportunity to chat with them about life and work and what they’ve accomplished. Being my mentor is not anything strenuous, I’m not asking them to consider me for opportunities or hire me for work just because I felt a connection and a desire to learn from them.

What I do with that knowledge is up to me.

I have pink eye, which means I’m currently under quarantine in the bedroom, which means I’ve been spending time tidying the bedroom.

I found a notebook that I’m quite fond of but haven’t used in a while. I liked it right away because each of the pages is designed like a wall, so when you write on it you’re doing graffiti and it’s all artistic like.

On one of the first pages I found some things I wrote about helping my baby daughter live a happy life. Some rules I would do well to remember in living my own life:

  • Be comfortable in your own skin
  • Treat yourself with respect and expect as much from other people
  • Be open to optimism
  • Know things happen for a reason
  • Be open to love – giving it and receiving it
  • Be creative
  • Let things go

It all makes sense. Just be yourself, reject the people who don’t accept that. I also wrote that we need to get fresh air, which is one of the things that absolutely keeps me happy, and something else that has always and will always be true about my daughter: She is pure love.

Since she was born I have been happier than ever before in my life. I smile more now than I ever have before. My usual expression is much more neutral, sometimes verging on a scowl.

I don’t know why I was so focussed on helping her to lead a happy life when she’s almost constantly joyful already. She brings joy, she can’t help herself.

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Mag’s best friend

March 29th, 2014 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting - (Comments Off on Mag’s best friend)

We knew when we got this puppy was that we’d have 12 or 15 years with him, more if we were lucky.

We didn’t realize that four years into those 12 or 15 we’d have a little girl who wasn’t party to those plans.

Photo on 2009-11-24 at 12.05

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“Oh, Henry, you’re staying with us forever. Even when I’m a grown up you’re going to stay with us.”

I am a person who tends to dwell on things that are going to be difficult about the future, so this is not the first time I have thought about how hard it will be on the kid when the dog leaves our family. If he stays pretty healthy, she’ll be of an age when she’s going to notice and it’s going to hurt.

When my first dog died I was 23. She was 10, very much over-weight and had gotten sick quickly. The vet told us it was going to go downhill fast. My mother had to make the decision to put her down. Next time it will be my dog and my decision.

They’re still getting comfortable with each other, these two. The poor dog has dealt with her sudden mobility, then walking and running, talking and playing with him but not knowing how gentle to be or how exactly to play in a way that makes sense to him. Some days she wants him to sleep in her bed and some days she tells him to go away, some days she puts a skirt on his head and calls him a bride…

Pretty soon I think they’ll be just about inseparable. Companions in between the time when they don’t quite get each other and the time when he’s a chore for her – feeding and walking him. Best friends.

He’s always been a part of her life and she has yet to realize that he won’t always be one.

Ear to ear smile

March 28th, 2014 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Ear to ear smile)

One of my absolutely favourite things about parenting this little girl is the look she gets on her face when I’ve succeeded in making her feel special.

Tonight I put two small braids in her hair. I had done one in mine to keep the hair out of my face and she came in to go the bathroom and saw it. I quickly did one on one side of her face, the longer side that always hangs into her eyes. She ran to look at it in the mirror and asked me to do one on the other side, so I did.

Her smiled was huge. She glowed.

And I got to make her feel that.

And she makes me feel that too. I took a picture of us the other day and showed it to her.

“Take another one Mommy, and you smile too this time!”

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I have spent a lot of my life looking for the perfect purse. I don’t go for fancy and expensive, I like usable. If they get dirty I want to be able to clean them, I want to not worry about the things inside if it starts to rain. I like to have pockets to carry all the things I need, which are various.

I have the basics – wallet, keys, phone. I like to have a notebook and pens with me. Tissues are a must, because I often have to blow my nose and if I don’t have Kleenex with me it’s guaranteed I will need some. When I was working I had to carry lunch, maybe files. When the kid was born it became a whole new ballgame and now any bag has to have a pocket designated specially for her – hair clips, lip balm, crayons.

Then there are the times I carry knitting with me, my tablet or a book I’m reading.

I was introduced to Lug by my mother and have since become hooked. I now own several different models in different colours that I have used for work, the gym, travel and every day purses. I was very excited to receive a Windjammer Everyday Tote to review. One of my favourite things about Lug is the colours they come in. I chose Marigold Yellow and I have a Grass Green one to giveaway.

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The design and colour are perfect for spring.These bags are durable, pretty and they hold everything I need. They’re full of pockets inside pockets. They’re water repellent and easy to wipe down. The front zip pocket holds all the kid stuff I carry. The main interior pockets hold all the major things I carry, and I’m a big fan of the small front pocket that fits my phone perfectly, meaning I don’t have to search through all the other stuff I carry when I need it. One thing I really like about the Windjammer is that the straps are long enough for me to carry it over my shoulder with my winter coat on, something I find a lot of bag straps are too short for. This bag also has the Lug signature water bottle pocket on the side that closes up when you don’t need it.

Visit Lug on Facebook or Twitter to see what they can offer for your needs and enter contests to win Lug products.

Leave a comment on this post telling me about the things you carry with you every day and I’ll draw a random winner on March 29 at noon.

Disclosure: I was given a Lug bag to review that I have decided to giveaway. 

ETA: the And the winner is plugin has chosen Alison Jette as my winner. Congratulations, I’m getting in touch.

Steve Paikin, well-respected host of TVO’s The Agenda, wrote a blog post about his show’s struggles to find female panelists. He says his producers aim for gender parity but struggle to get women that they contact to say yes. Paikin lists several “excuses” these women give them for not wanting to come on to speak about issues the show is covering.

Paikin says no man would ever say no because they have to take care of their children; no man will ever say no because they have a problem with their appearance – like their roots showing; and no man will ever say no because he doesn’t know enough about the topic.

What I have to say about this: Steve Paikin, this post you wrote is condescending and after reading it I can only imagine you’ll have a harder time finding women to join your panels on The Agenda. They won’t just be worried about being judged by your audience, they’re going to be judged by you too.

Mr. Paikin, you need to recognize the expectations society places on women. We are judged poorly if we are seen to be less than dedicated to our families or too dedicated to our jobs. We are judged harshly on our appearances no matter what we do.

But what I really have a problem with is your third complaint:

No man will say, “Sorry can’t do your show tonight, I’m not an expert in that particular aspect of the story.” They’ll get up to speed on the issue and come on. Women beg off. And worse, they often recommend a male colleague in their place.

Guess what? I would rather that your guests be actual experts in what they’re discussing than people who just read up on an issue and formed an opinion that afternoon after your phone call. I guess women feel a responsibility not to be talking out of their ass when it comes to something they consider important.

Re-watching Veronica Mars before I go and see the movie (!!) I have been struck again by one of the things I dearly love about the series – the relationship between Veronica and Wallace.

They have a loving, totally platonic relationship. Never once in the three years of the series was it ever suggested that there was anything but great friendship between this strong female lead and her Dr. Watson.

It’s so stark that it makes it more obvious that it’s missing from most TV shows.

Usually by the end of a series all the characters end up sleeping with one another. It’s actually one thing that I really dislike about Doctor Who – why do all the companions have to fall in love with him. (Also why Donna may be my favourite).

I’ve long been tired of the seeming requirement that every single movie and TV series has some sort of romantic element. Veronica and Wallace are buddies, they don’t look for anything more, and it’s awesome.

Tales of a 4 Year Old: “Nothing…”

March 16th, 2014 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on Tales of a 4 Year Old: “Nothing…”)

My kid has never really respected my privacy. I mean, she knows the word and clearly understands the concept, but when she walked in on my in the bathroom one day I asked if she remember the discussion we had about privacy she said ‘but I don’t want privacy.’

This problem has a fun new extension – the kid is a snoop.

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She has very good eyesight and a surprising ability to notice things you don’t want her to see.

I put things out of sight, saved for a time when we need something to do, and she invariably finds them. I hear a ruffle and then ‘oh, what’s this? What’s this mom?’

I’m going to need some sort of gift safe in the future. Under the stairs just isn’t going to cut it.

C-23: Need to know basis

March 15th, 2014 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Work - (Comments Off on C-23: Need to know basis)

Bill C-23: An Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act, also known as the Fair Elections Act – or the Unfair Elections Act if you live outside the Conservative Party.

The act has been criticized heavily on all sides – by current and former politicians, including Preston Manning, the elder statesman of the current CPC, by journalists, and, of course, by the current commissioner of Elections Canada.

Recently I was invited to like a page on Facebook that focussed specifically on one aspect of C-23 – The bill will strip Elections Canada of its education component. This means that Elections Canada won’t be able to go into schools and teach kids how we vote in Canada.

This act will kill the Student Vote program that takes students through parallel elections, and partnerships with numerous groups that help those who are least likely to vote learn how to and why it’s important.

Considering the number of people who believe Stephen Harper when he told them that a coalition was illegal because he had been elected Prime Minister, Canadians need this education.

And really, no one could say it better than Rick Mercer:

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