Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Why Victorious???

I'm often asked two questions that annoy me, almost for the same reason: (1) why do I think it's so important for a woman to be victorious and (2) is Victorious Woman a religious thing.

I'll rant first about the latter, the Victorious Woman being religious. It seems that many people think that the only woman who would want to be called victorious is the one who is fighting the devil...or Satan...or some other evil force. It's as though a woman can only have a fiery passion - or maybe it's the right - to act victoriously when it's about religion. I think, at best, that's small-minded thinking. It's wrong on so many levels that I can't even start to address them, except to say that it's one those subtle biases that, on the surface, seems benign but packs a punch...against women.

Which leads me to the first question about the importance of being a Victorious Woman and the phone call that got me fired up today. The woman who called me was married for thirty-two years. When she first got pregnant, she gave up her career to be a stay-at-home mom. She raised three children, did all the household, school and chauffeur stuff, and was soon to be an empty nester. Then one day, she got the "I want a divorce/I found someone else" speech. She was suddenly single, devastated, and petrified to go back into the workplace...or date...or be alone. After years of being a "good girl" and playing it safe, she felt as though she was thrown to the wolves.

Now she has the opportunity to stretch into her victorious self. Of course, she doesn't see it that way at the moment...and might still not see it that way for a while. What makes it hard for her is that, year after year, she gave away little pieces of herself. She bent this way and that to accommodate her spouse, children, parents, friends...and after a while, she became someone else. Now she has to find her way back to herself. Her SELF is covered over with years of everyone else's gunk and she has to peel back the layers that numbed her passions. She has to search for the spark that is her excitement. She can do it...but it'll take time.

That's why keeping the Victorious Woman in you alive and vibrant is so important. Like all of us, you don't know what the future holds. You have to be ready for the events that challenge your comfortable status quo. For my caller, it was a sudden divorce. For you it could be something else. If you aren't consistently building your victory-making muscles, you make your life - and the challenges that come with it - more difficult.

Dear Victorious Woman, make a promise to yourself right now to do something everyday that makes you use your victory muscle. Challenge yourself into doing something that you don't feel confident enough to do. If you make a mistake, good. It'll show you what doesn't work, so you can try something else the next time. With each victory exercise, you'll grow stronger and, at some point, you'll be counting on the Victorious Woman in you to get you through. And you'll be really glad you know her!

Victory is Contagious. Catch the Power and Spread it Around!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Jessie Davis: Isn't it a Shame?

The news today reported the body of Jessie Davis was found in a shallow grave in a park. Her boyfriend, the married police officer who fathered her illegitimate son and the little girl she was carrying, was charged with her murder. A women, who allegedly helped cover up the murder, was also charged.

There is no excuse for Jessie Davis' murder. None. In her pictures, Ms. Davis looks like she was a beautiful young woman, full of life and love. Her death for any reason would be a tragedy. But, for someone to make a choice to snuff her life out? Inexcusable.

My question is this: Ms. Davis' death should never have happened, but why did she set herself up? Why did she not only have an affair with a married man, but also have a son with him...and continue the affair and get pregnant again?? How did she justify a lifestyle that made her a victim from its very beginning?

Some pictures of Ms. Davis show her proudly and happily displaying her pregnant belly. What was she so proud about? Where was the shame for being a mistress with a child and another on the way?

Do I sound harsh? Sure, but that's because our society has made the degradation of women so acceptable that we actually support women as they slide down the moral scale. We don't condemn them, or the men they're mixed up with and, instead, pretend we're socially evolved enough to accept it.

We're wrong. When homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women and when something like this happens, I believe we all can accept some accountability. How? We cannot continue to turn our heads and pretend wrong is normal...or at least OK. It isn't.

Some cultures do it differently, I live near Amish country and, in their society, they have a punishment called shunning. When a person is shunned, s/he is ignored by the community. The purpose of shunning is to (1) bring the wrong-doer into a state of awareness and repentance for doing something against someone else or the community and (2) keep the wrongdoer away from everyone else. When I first learned about shunning, I thought it was a terrible thing. I used to think that, just because someone made a mistake, they shouldn't be "put out" of the community. Now, though I still feel that being shunned isn't good, I no longer think it's bad. In fact, I believe we could learn a little something from the Amish tradition. For example, if men were shunned for disrespectful mistreatment of women, wouldn't they stop it...or at least tone it down? If judges were shunned for being soft on abusers and deadbeat dads, wouldn't it change? If advertisers were shunned for sexist and women-debasing ads, don't you think they'd change their strategy? If society didn't make it OK for women to get knocked up, do you think there'd be as many unwed mothers?

I know my thoughts aren't very popular in a liberal society. But think about it...and Jessie Davis, her grieving mother and parentless child. Isn't our vacillating attitude toward wrong-doers and over-acceptance of moral depreciation contributing to disrespect toward women, domestic violence, and even murder?

Also, consider this: while we defend a woman's right to be the least of her good nature, aren't we automatically failing to support her in being her best.

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Why Do We Think Settling is OK?

I watched a news show this morning and sadly, once again, a pregnant woman is missing. During an interview, desperate mother Patty Porter explained that she got concerned when her daughter, Jessie Davis, hadn’t called her. Jessie was mere days away from delivery, and mother and daughter talked daily, so it was odd. When she went to her daughter’s home, Porter discovered Davis was missing and her toddler grandson was alone, crying for his mother.

As her story unfolded, I learned that Ms. Davis is unmarried and expecting her second child by her married lover, a policeman who was about to divorce his spouse. “Everyone is cooperating,” said the officer with the heartbroken mom. Big deal. The girl is missing and the circumstances are suspicious.

Did you know that the statistics show that homicide by an intimate partner is a leading cause of death among pregnant women? How do we change those statistics?

Unfortunately, if the man is some psycho like a Scott Peterson or a Mark Hacking, the answer is a mystery. Some awful events are surprises, but others aren’t and are more predictable. That’s where you DO have control. You CAN refuse to knowingly putting yourself at risk.

How are you at risk? When you get involved with a man who you know is a deadbeat, you increase your odds of becoming a statistic. How do know he’s worthless? He’s cheating on somebody else to be with you. If he’s a cheater, he’s poison. You wouldn’t knowingly drink poison, so don’t date it. Get rid of him immediately.

Do you think it’s too late because you didn’t learn he was attached until after you’d “fallen in love” with him? No. In that case, kicking him to the curb immediately isn’t soon enough. There’s NO second choice.

Face it. The man (or woman) who cheats is a two-faced liar. He is already telling lots of lies – that’s part of the nature of cheating. Since he’s a liar, you already know he is morally on the skids. That slippery slope into moral bankruptcy results in uncaring, non-supportive and abusive behaviors. The further a person slides, the more easily even murder can be justified.

Why do cheaters cheat? Because they can. One of my guy friends told me that a long time ago, and he was right. Cheaters know how to find a woman who is needy enough to buy his smooth talk. The woman can be anyone - a professional, non-professional, stay-at-home mom, corporate executive or anything else. It makes no difference at all.

There is only one thing that should surprise you about a cheating man. That is how he can look you right in the eyes and lie to you. He delivers his lines with perfect panache as he tells you any of the following:
he loves you (he doesn’t); or
he needs you (sure, because you’re willing to lower yourself and give him what he wants so he doesn’t have to find someone else); and
he can’t live without you (trust me, when you leave he’ll be looking for someone else within 24 hours); or even
he isn’t being treated right by his spouse or current girlfriend (who, most often, is doing everything for him including raising his kids)
His list of nonsense lies goes on and on.

Over time I’ve know many women who bought some dopey line a guy gave them…myself included. Getting dumped is tough. So is dumping someone you have feelings for but who is clearly a bad match. However, the women who suffer the most are the ones who are duped into thinking they had something with a man who can’t even make himself happy (which is usually the reason he cheats) and is always looking for that next thing that will satisfy his big ego. When you come across a man like that, you have to realize that his heart is only big enough for one person…him.

Here’s what I want you to know: you deserve better. You deserve a relationship that is a two-way street of give and take, where the person you love is the one who loves you back. Sure, like all of us, you might meet some creep when you feel emotionally needy and are most vulnerable to the slick willies. But that doesn’t mean you have to lose your personal power and fall victim to them.

Just remember this: you aren’t going to feel better when he dumps you for someone else…and he will. As a woman, know you are stronger than your vulnerabilities. Choose to act on your strengths, not give into your weaknesses. That’s what Victorious Woman Nancy Hill learned. In her Victorious Woman! chapter, “A House is Not a Home”, Nancy advises women, “Do not compromise yourself for nothing and nobody just to have a few quick things…if distractions come along, tell yourself, ‘That’s not what I want to do,’ and then get busy with some worthwhile endeavor or goal-focused activity.”

Nancy found out what many women, including me, learned: there is someone out there who will love you for the wonderful woman you are and who will make you as happy as you make him. The price of that relationship is both patience and refusing to settle for what you can get and, instead, waiting for what you want. However, in the meantime, you can use your time to become the strongest, smartest, and best woman you can be.

In the end, by refusing to settle for your most readily available but least desirable match, you’ll be a happier woman. Your satisfaction with yourself and your life will last and expand. More importantly, you’ll have a confidence and self-respect that will stay with you for a lifetime. That’s definitely more than what you’ll get from those few torrid dates and that cheater who is here today and gone tomorrow…and is certainly better than being national news for being missing.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Women Helping Women

Last weekend I accompanied my spouse to the all-school reunion at the boarding school he attended in Scotland PA. This was his (and our) third time back. I'm pretty much along for the ride at this event but I always enjoy the people from his class as well as the surrounding classes.

This time, however, was special for me. One of the women bought my book, Victorious Woman! She made a point to tell me how much she enjoyed the writing, but more importantly, she said it helped to give her more confidence in her life. Because she got so much help from Victoirus Woman!, she started passing it around and recommending it to other women.

Naturally, I felt good about her compliments. However, as I told her last weekend, I wrote Victorious Woman! so that women everywhere would have more confidence to move off the "victim" or "surviving" stepping stones and onto "advancing" and "victorious" (I explain these in an earlier blog). By reading the stories of each Victorious Woman, ones who courageously shared the ups and downs they experienced on their way to out of challenges on onto success and victory, I wanted women like you to feel inspired and encouraged to get on your own victory path.

If you haven't read Victorious Woman! yet, go to your local library and rent it, or buy it online at my website (http://www.victoriouswoman.com/order.htm) or amazon or at your local bookseller. Though this seems like a shameless plug, it isn't. I really have the intention of knowing that millions of women will make wonderful changes in their lives...and their changes will positively change the lives of everyone they touch...and together we will transform the world.

Shining Your Light...or Hiding It Under A Basket?

I was in a Starbucks yesterday when some woman started practically shouting over my shoulder at the clerk. At first, I wasn't too happy. I just wanted to get my cup of tea and get on with my day.

As it turns out, that location was having an art exhibit the next day. The exhibitor was the twenty-something clerk and the shouting woman was either her mother, friend or agent. She was shouting because were no signs advertising the art exhibit anywhere...not on the door, near the register, on any tables...nowhere.

So, in my own special kind of Victorious Woman butting-in, I asked about her art. Apparently, at least according to the shouting woman and the other clerk, she was pretty good. However, the artist-clerk got really rattled when she talked about herself...so much so that she forgot to get my tea. "I just like the painting," she told me, somewhat embarrassed. "It's what I really want to do with my life. I just don't like the whole commercial part of it."

I cringed as I always do when I hear that attitude from a woman. With that attitude, that young woman runs the risk of forever being in a clerk-type job while spending her life wishing someone would love her work enough to make her an artistic success.

But it's what we do, you know. We downplay our good works, we minimize our accomplishments, we give someone else the credit and we cheat ourselves (and sometimes others) out of the fruits of our good work. Too often we seem to be afraid of becoming one of those aggressive, cut throat, cigar-smoking neanderthal men. Or worse, one of those women...you know, the successful ones like Martha Stewart and Oprah that everyone calls "b" or worse. How dare they have the audacity to compete in a man's world and win! Who to they think they are???

You gotta get with it. While those male stereotypes seem to stick in our minds, that's not how most men are. And women like Martha and Oprah take a lot of criticism mostly because they don't fit the "good girl" mold.

Who do they think they are? They are women, ones who are living their purpose. Martha brings us wonderful ideas and products, while Oprah consistently gives us the information we are looking for. And, they make a lot of money for doing their jobs well. You may or may not like their personalities, but who cares?

Here's the point: if you have something that is the energy of your soul, you have to do it. When you do it, you have to let people know about it. Understand going into it that you'll get more rejections than accolades but that's the way it is with everything in life. How many times do your kids tell you "no" before they do what you tell them? As a mom, you already get rejection before you get accepted...you know the drill. It's the same thing in business, just the kids who are telling you "no" are bigger and have better facades. So, why not get the rejections and accolades for something that is important to your inner self...something you can use to give yourself a happier and more satisfying life?

Here's what you need to focus on: your special gift might be just the thing that turns your life, or someone else's life, around. If you don't put yourself "out there" and make it available, no one will ever know. Making yourself stretch past your comfort zone is what victory is all about. We all need more and more of us to make that victorious stretch and encourage each other. Also, we are the models for the next generation. We can tell our young women to "go for it" all we want, but they will learn better by watching us do it.

So I have a challenge for you: what can you do today to let your light shine bright enough for others to see it? Go out and do it...and let me know what happens so I can share it with others who aren't as courageous as you are going to be today!

©CopyrightAnnmarieKelly2007. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Seasons of Change and Transition

If you are one of the many women who are going through some kind of change, you'll be interested in my latest newsletter. In it, you'll read about how, though we talk about change and transition as though the are the same thing, they aren't. Knowing how and what to do during the change process can make a big difference in the outcome.

You can find it on my website at http://www.victoriouswoman.com/. Click on "Tips and Free Stuff" and download the May07 newsletter in pdf. While you are there, sign up for my newsletter mailing list. You'll be the first to get my quarterly newsletters, receive special offers before anyone else, and find out when I'll be on the radio or tv! You can also preview a few pages of my book, Victorious Woman! Shaping Life's Challenges into Personal Victories.

Let me know what you think!