During the early days of women seeking more equality, people were listening closely to national figures such as Gloria Steinem and Phyllis Schlafly debate the issues. This was the early 70s, a long time ago.
Gloria was pushing for change, as she spoke nationally about women's needs and co-founded Ms. Magazine. But Phyllis, an attorney, and mother of six, was saying we should use caution. She opposed the Equal Rights Amendment.
Everyone seemed to have an opinion about how women would carve out a new path. Women knew they wanted more options in life, but figuring out how to achieve this was tricky. And, it still is.
"I have a tough job and three kids," says Vicky, a friend of ours who is a physician. "On the outside, I look like I have it all together. But inwardly, I am screaming for more help. I'm under a lot of pressure."
Feeling liberated would ideally mean good work/life balance. But, for many women, achieving a workable lifestyle usually means getting up at 5 a.m. and going to bed near midnight.
"I used to think if I could double my salary, I could hire a lot of help," says a friend of ours who is the mother of two young children. "I can visualize my ideal lifestyle, but I'd need to clone myself several times in order to be there for my extended family, kids, husband, and friends. There is too little good help to be found. Sometimes, babysitters don't show up."
As women's roles evolve in today's world, these tips can help:
-- Don't try to copy someone else. Plan your own life, so that it fits you. Maybe your friend can work two jobs and coach the girls' soccer team. However, it's perfectly okay if you want to stay at home for three years with your new baby and back off from volunteer work.
-- Work on your friends group diligently. Unless you are blessed with a huge family of sisters, you're going to need them. If you have a death in the family or your child needs a ride home from school during an emergency, you need friends.
-- Conserve your physical and mental energy. It's perfectly okay to pick up fast food on a Friday afternoon and crash in front of the TV with your family. You don't have to plan recreation for your group at every opportunity. It's okay just to rest.
Living in harmony and finding your place in the world are two separate issues, however. It's possible to have a great family life and not have a great life at work or in the world at large.
"Women need to strive to gain respect," says a friend of ours who is principal of a high school. "I have teachers in their fifties who dress like they're 17. I even have one teacher who gets a regular admonishment about her short skirts."
There is a fine line between being beautiful and sexy and appearing professional in today's world. Maybe the key goal to strive for is dressing "pretty." The late Helen Gurley Brown, publisher of Cosmopolitan magazine often wrote that a woman couldn't go wrong by striving to look pretty.
As women, we don't want to become men, and we want to enjoy all the perks of being a woman. However, our voice will speak loudest if other people admire and respect us.
(Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe at www.usawellnesscafe.com. Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)
(c)2017 Person to Person
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