Mindfulness Made Easy – I need feedback on my new book cover

Here is the Cover from my upcoming book: Mindfulness Made Easy. I am looking for beta readers so email me if you want to read the whole thing.  It’s only 50 pages. I welcome any feedback!

MINDFULNESS MADE EASY – 50 PRACTICES TO REDUCE STRESS AND CREATE CALM – FOR TEACHERS, PARENTS AND PROFFESSIONALS

 

 The way to find peace in our stressful world is through mindfulness. These 50 easy-to-use practices introduce you to mindfulness and engage you in the tried and true exercises of the sages. Each one moves you toward ease, joy and focus – through your body, your mind and your senses.

 

Join the millions of people who are benefitting from this scientifically proven method for calming your thoughts and emotions while living fully in the present moment. Mindfulness Made Easy is a collection of best practices based on the work of experts such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chodron, and Daniel Siegel, include:

 

  • How to calm your “monkey mind”
  • How to breathe deeply
  • How to scan your body for relaxation
  • How to meditate – sitting and walking
  • How to eat mindfully

 

Select one each day or practice with others! Share them with your friends and family, use them in the classroom or keep them in your office desk.

 

Fitzgerald, a former lawyer, professor and peacemaker describes how mindfulness can change your life and leads you step by step through each practice, describing what each one is, how to do it and what to notice afterwards. As Fitzgerald says, “When people pay attention to their body, their thoughts and their emotions, they wake up to a totally new way of interacting with the world and change in amazingly positive ways.”

 

If you are looking for an introduction to mindfulness or for easy tools to help your daily practice, this book is for you.

 

Praise for this book:

 

“These are great quick and easy practices to use in the classroom to create calm. A must read for teachers who want to be mindful and to bring mindfulness to their students.” [DW, Author]

 

“As a busy mom, this book provided easy and fun excercises  that I could do with my children” [A mom]

 

“If you know nothing about mindfulness and want to start practicing right away this book is for you. It makes mindfulness both practical and fun.” [Mindfulness Coach]

 

“If you only have five minutes a day, like me (a stressed-out lawyer) buy this book, try one exercise each day and you will not only be calmer, but more awake to all of life!”[Lawyer]

 

About the Author

 

Maureen F. Fitzgerald, PhD has been meditating and sharing mindfulness techniques for over ten years. She practiced law for 20 years and has written eleven books, many articles and hundreds of blogs. She has a business degree, two law degrees (one from the London School of Economics) and a doctorate degree in philosophy.In her former life, Maureen was a policy lawyer, mediator and professor at two universities. As a leader of thoughts and people, Maureen writes and speaks often about social justice, equality and mindfulness. Her motto is: Sharing the right ideas at the right time can change the world. You can find her at www.MaureenFitzgerald.com.

[copyright Maureen Fitzgerald, PhD, www.MaureenFitzgerald.com,  maurfitz1@gmail.com]

 

 

 

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Men’s Guide to Ultimate Power – Strategy #5

Here is the 5th strategy of 50 strategies from my upcoming book. I am looking for beta readers so email me if you want to read the whole thing!  I welcome any feedback!

“Men’s Guide to Ultimate Power -50 Strategies to Hold Women Back (Or Not)”

Strategy 5. Expect women to walk the tightrope of double binds

“To get ahead, women must not simply demonstrate they are qualified; they must be better qualified and willing to work harder than men. It is much like being guilty until proven innocent. Men, on the other hand, are automatically assumed to be competent until proven otherwise – and sometimes not even then.” (Solovic, 2001 p 6)

A few years ago I won a big legal case and was walking back to my office with my client, the owner of a  manufacturing business. He told me how great it was to work with me. He told me that I did great legal work, that I really listened and that I was both direct and considerate in my approach. I was deeply flattered since it was my aim to balance the harsh adversarial climate with compassionate approach. But then he said something that I will never forget. He said, “The whole process was amazing.  You were amazing. I just wish you had pounded your fist of the table a few times, to show them who’s boss.” Although I laughed at the time, the words stuck with me, even to this day.

Almost every professional woman has faced the assertive/aggressive double bind. We tell women that pounding fists and being aggressive is effective, yet we have trained them all their lives to never show any sort of hostile emotion. We ask women to be more cut throat but abhor the slightest violence perpetrated by females. We are told to be tough but not too tough, out spoken but not too opinionated.   We tell women to play hard ball but not so hard to “burn bridges.”

Women struggle with these types of expectations day in and day out. These are just a few of the tightropes or “double binds” that professional women face. They force us into no-win or catch 22 situations.

As most women know, if they act too much like a man, they will be rejected for being  aggressive or pushy yet if they do not act assertive enough they will been seen as spineless or simply invisible. If they act too much like a woman they will be ignored but if they do not act feminine enough, they will be called a bitch. This double bind comes in many forms. For example, women must be:

  • Outspoken but not too loud
  • Tough but not a ball breaker
  • The boss but not bossy
  • Career oriented but not ambitious
  • Powerful but not more powerful than a man
  • Individual but also inclusive
  • A leader, but preferably from behind
  • Ambitious but not a braggart
  • Nice but not too touchy-feely
  • Attractive but not too sexy
  • Friendly but not “chatty Cathy”

In simple terms these double binds tell women that they should act as masculine as possible without going over the fine line that makes them look like a man (e.g. strong and powerful) and at the same time act feminine but not so far as to be seen as a woman (e.g. weak and ineffectual).

If you look closer, you may notice that many of the “double binds” involve males telling females to do things “their way” based on their own male-based personal experience. In doing so they not only put women in an impossible position but they also suggest a single narrow way of doing things and assume women want to do things that way.

First, the double binds assume that the masculine way is the ideal way and actually works. It suggests that women who show masculine characteristics are most effective and efficient.  Yet most people know that things like aggression can work on occasion, but not all the time.

Secondly, these double binds assume that women actually want to play this way and desire to be more masculine. This, I seriously doubt.

Thirdly, they assume that women have the ability be more masculine and can do so in an instant. They assume that we have both the knowledge and skills to act in a masculine manner. Yet as most people know, only a few women are truly effective at this (think Margaret Thatcher). As well girls are shunned for using their masculine strengths, like a loud voice or physical strength.  Beginning in early childhood girls learn what it means to be a boy and what it means to be a girl. “Sugar and spice and everything nice.”  Males on the other hand not only learn early how to be aggressive and competitive but are encouraged to be so. In fact most men are proficient at the masculine skills and love to use them.

And here is the real catch. There is no one “right” way for a woman to behave. Every single situation commands that the woman become a chameleon. She will be perceived as direct in one situation but pushy in another and so on.  The tightrope is different for every single situation and so the amount of effort and skill required becomes overwhelming and absurd. To adhere to these double binds would make anyone completely neurotic. There is no winning, even if you do it perfectly it’s often not worth the amount of effort you had to spend doing it!

But the real cost of the double binds comes at the loss of the feminine. In an attempt to be more masculine, women forget that there is a feminine approach that might be more effective or efficient. They sacrifice their true feminine strengths and abilities like sensitivity and intuition, which are actually very powerful.  And the irony is that women somehow believe that acting masculine will give them access to the masculine world of power, status and influence but, as noted in other parts of this book, this rarely happens. Sadly most professional women have been acting our whole lives trying to be something we are not and may never be.

The bottom line. In addition to crushing standards of perfection and beauty, women also face many  “double binds” or no-win expectations. Women are told to be assertive but not aggressive, the boss but not bossy, pretty but not sexy.  We are told to be tough, but not too tough; direct but not too direct; powerful but not too powerful. We ask women to be feminine, but not too feminine.

Not only is this profoundly confusing but to walk this fine line is a full time job and ultimately impossible. In effect women are told: Do not act like a (weak) woman and do not act like a (strong) man. It’s like expecting women to walk a tight rope while running and at the same time balancing a tray glasses. Not only that, but women are told to reject the very strengths they have perfected over their lives and their feminine intelligences.

What to do. First we must notice the torturous double-binds we place on professional women and question them. Why do we expect women to be assertive but not aggressive?  This is not as simple as it sounds because these double binds are rooted in the basic assumption that the male-based way is the best and only way to be successful. And sadly we sees the feminine as weak or bad. So we must both question the masculine and elevate the feminine at the same time, so we can tap the best of both. We must stop making women continually feel bad about themselves for not being able to walk this ridiculous tightrope every day. Eventfully we will honor both masculine and feminine approaches.

[Copy only with permission. copyright www.MaureenFitzgerald.com]

 

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LEAF is fighting in the SCC today for pregnancy rights

I love LEAF (I was once on the Board). Today LEAF lawyers are appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada to fight for mothers rights. It always amazes me that we capitalists don’t understand that mothers do all the work of raising our next generation with no income! Luckily LEAF understands social policy, the law and fairness! Here are some excerpts from the press release.

“Our goal is to remind the Court that women have historically borne the burden of both the physical and social aspects of reproduction, which has limited their roles within the labour and public spheres. We are here to ensure that the law moves forward in equalizing of this burden. …

We believe that where an employer offers a benefit scheme for pregnant women and new parents, that scheme must recognize that women who give birth need time and resources to recover from the physiological impacts of birth.  In addition, all parents, including birth mothers, need time and resources to bond with and meet the needs of their new children.  To deny additional time and resources to pregnant women means that birth mothers will disproportionately bear the burden of social reproduction. Any scheme that perpetuates this historical burden on women is discriminatory.”[Source: www.westcoastlaef.org]

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Woman harasssed 108 times on a walk in NY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1XGPvbWn0A

Good for Hollaback an anti-harassment advocacy group – for a video that got 15 millon views! Filmmaker Rob Bliss placed a video in his backpack and accompanied one woman for 10 hours walking the streets of New York City. They counted how many times she got spoken at by complete male strangers. It was 108 times! OMG. It seems that harassment has become so common that we don’t even notice it any more! The take away: Do men really think that shouting,”Hey baby you are CUUUUTE” is a compliment?” “Do they have any idea how insulting this is and how vulnerable it makes women feel?” [Source: Gail Sullivan, Vancouver Sun, 30 October 14]

 

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Lawyers in BC make the world a better place

http://www.vancouversun.com/touch/news/metro/lawyers+vote+down+school/10339932/story.html?rel=813152

Here is the TWU news. I love how lawyers as individuals stand up for human rights. 75% of lawyers is an all time record!  I love it when a Law Society that regulates lawyers uses its muscle to ensure that those who educate lawyers do so in a way that is consistent with our laws (discrimination based on sex is not legal). I love how each of us can continually challenge our out-dated thinking that harms others. I hope you read Thomas Berger’s Op Ed in the Vancouver Sun this week.  Way to go!

 

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Must listen to why women attacked don’t speak out

This is a great CBC interview with an amazing woman at Vancouver WAVAW (women against violence against women). It explains why women don’t report. Think of three years under the legal microscope.  This is so sad.

http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/bcearlyedition_20141030_98259.mp3

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Four RCMP officers had sex with potential witnesses

Okay am  I crazy or is this the most offensive thing ever. Is it possible that four men (not one!) who are paid to defend our laws and our lives did not know that they might be doing something a bit wrong when they had sex with women they were interviewing for a 6 person murder trial? There are only two reasons: they either did not  know or worse, thought they were above the law (so privileged and powerful). Either way this is so wrong at so many levels I am speechless. Officers Danny Michaud, Paul Johnston, Derek Brassington and Dave Attew should be ashamed.   [Source Kim Bolan, Vancouver Sun, 30 Oct 14]

 

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Men’s Guide to Ultimate Power- Strategy #4

Here is the 4th strategy of 50 strategies from my upcoming book. I am looking for beta readers so email me if you want to read the whole thing!  I welcome any feedback!

“Men’s Guide to Ultimate Power -50 Strategies to Hold Women Back (Or Not)”

Strategy 4. Burden women with completely absurd expectations 

 

“Society teaches women, as young girls, not to be bossy, too aggressive, or a “know it all.” Did you ever have a bossy friend in your play group or in your class at school? She probably didn’t have a lot of friends because no one liked the way she bossed everyone around. Girls are taught to share, take turns, and play nicely together. In the business world, we try to preserve the inclusive cooperative nature of our play groups. Because we don’t want to be perceived as being too bossy, we phrase things in a less threatening, non direct manner. Unfortunately, it is not only less threatening but demeaning and signals a lack of self-esteem.” (Susan Solovic)

I have always been surprised at how many of my female lawyer friends are willing to work twice as hard as their male colleagues to get ahead. They volunteer for the non-paying committee jobs and work overtime well into the night. And because the “normal” work hours of a typical law firm are already completely absurd these women turn into complete workaholics and neurotics. Then worst of all, this becomes the standard for the new female lawyers!

Sadly most women accept this absurdity as the cost of a career of a professional woman. They fall for the lie that unless you want to be really successful you must sacrifice everything for the firm. Because men face similar expectations, women think its all fair in love and war. After all they have the choice to leave at any time. And leave they do.

Women are expected to have the highest marks, the most degrees, the most relevant experience and are expected to be completely dedicated and loyal to the corporation or firm. Then to add icing to the cake, women are expected to be kind, sympathetic, considerate, generous caring and friendly – to absolutely everyone. And if women want to reach the top they must also be tough, strong and even cut-throat. Women are not only told that they must be perfect but that they must work twice as hard as men to even be noticed.

What women do not see is the particular cost to them as females and the pressures that are specific to them being a woman. They do not realize that the bar is not only different but much higher for them. They cannot see, or are not willing to see the astonishing pressures and expectations they face that are often inconsistent with who we have been taught to be and opposite to what we know intrinsically as females.

From the time we were little girls, we were fed very specific cultural messages about what we can do and what we should do as females. From grandma to television females are told to be quiet and calm, to be nice to everyone and never show outward anger, particularly at another person. Even to this day we are told to be “sugar and spice and everything nice.”

One of the most offensive cultural expectations show up as double standards. This means that we label certain behaviors as good when males do them, but bad when females do them.  The exact same behaviors are slotted into a gender category so women and men learn very quickly that boys and girls well be perceived very differently even when doing the exact same thing. Here are a few examples from the book, “He’s a Stud and she’s a Slut and 49 other double standards every woman should know” by Jessica Valenti:

  • He’s rough, She’s dainty
  • He’s neat, She’s neurotic
  • He’s a hero, She’s damsel
  • He’s going to be a success, she’s going to be a stay-at-home-mom
  • He’s angry, She’s PMSing
  • He’s a porn watcher, she’s the show
  • He’s childless, She’s selfish
  • He’s a player, She’s a ho
  • He’s a bachelor, She’s a spinster

These messages are reinforced constantly in our culture via families, teachers, television, magazines and the Internet. As we observe hundreds of media hits every day we subconsciously normalize this behavior slowly over time. Thousands of pages of scantily dressed skinny women in sexual and vulnerable poses not only undermines the idea of a strong corporate female executive, but reinforces in men’s minds, that women are not to be taken seriously. Business magazine include only a smattering of women feeding the stereotype that women aren’t really in positions of power or influence.

And sadly, we are not only blind to them when we see them, we are oblivious to the impact and the specific ways it holds women back. We actually accept them as “just the way things are.”

The bottom line. Most of us do not notice the absurd pressures and expectations that professional women face. And if we do see them, we assume they are normal. There are the ridiculous modern day workplace expectations like the 24/7 work hours that both men and women face plus a host of gender-specific pressures. Professional women expected to be brilliant and hard working, to be kind and likeable (by everyone), to work twice as hard, to volunteer lots and to be completely loyal and dedicated to the firm or corporation. But this is not all. They must also be attractive and well, perfect.

Even if women tried to meet these impossible standards the odds of her succeeding are very low. Plus the pursuit of perfection takes a toll on her health and her relationships, if she has any. So when women do succeed we all applaud, yet wonder how many enjoyed the journey.

What to do. We must all pay more attention to the kinds of pressures we place on women and begin to challenge them. Although the rest of this book is dedicated to this topic, the easiest way to learn about gender-based expectations is to watch, the video, “Killing us Softly” by Jean Kilbourne. It shows how media pressures girls and women to be sexy, small and passive. It is my favorite video on gender. You simply have to watch the images and photographs to understand how the media reinforces our societies expectations of women. It promotes stereotypes and sexualizes and degrades women and girls, usually without us even noticing. I discuss several other women-based expectations below.

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Male entitlement wreaking havoc on relationships

In his book “Making Love, Playing Power,” psychologist Ken Dolan-DelVechio suggests that the main problem in relationships is the imbalance and misuse of power. He suggests that men suffer form an attitude of “male entitlement” and this wreaks havoc on relationships as well as the less entitled partner. He defines entitlement as: “the pattern in which we men prioritize and enact our thoughts, feelings and desires without adequately consulting or even considering the implications for those closest to us, and, in most cases without even noticing that we are behaving in this fashion. In other words, it is blind disregard for the inconsiderate nature of our pattern of choices.” (Dolan-DelVechio, p 23)

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Men’s Guide to Ultimate Power- Strategy #3

Here is the 3rd strategy of 50 strategies from my upcoming book. I am looking for beta readersso email me if you want to read the whole thing!  I welcome any feedback!

“Men’s Guide to Ultimate Power -50 Strategies to Hold Women Back (Or Not)”

Strategy 3. Tell women they just need more courage

A male executive once counseled me to be less direct and assertive because he found that my style offended people. When I asked if he would make the comment to me if I were a man, he admitted that he would not. Therefore, I told him that I considered his comment a compliment.” Susan Solivic,

It drives me crazy when someone says to a woman, “What’s wrong with you? Why didn’t you stand up for yourself!? Why didn’t you negotiate harder? Where is your back bone? Have you no courage?”

Have you ever noticed how often we tell women that they just need a bit more courage or confidence? Indeed Sheryl Sandberg, in her best-selling book “Lean In,” tells women over and over that they lack courage and confidence and without it, they will never be truly successful.  She also suggests many practical solutions such as raising our hands more, and negotiating harder, all of which sound awfully sensible and familiar, yet don’t feel quite right.

If you look more closely at these comments you will see that they are pure rhetoric. They are not only bad advice, but they send women off onto a path of self development, that not only does not work, but actually holds women back. Here is how this trap of “get more courage” rhetoric works.

Stage 1: First we tell women that they need more courage and must act more assertively. So women sign up for courses and read books on self-esteem and assertiveness and begin to employ strategies like speaking up more often and negotiating harder for raises.

Stage 2: As women put to use their newly found skills, they begin to feel pushback. Her colleagues no longer like her, men avoid her and she gets excluded from meetings. Women call her a bitch boss. She is told by her supervisor that she is too tough and that a more gentle approach might work.

Stage 3: She blames herself and hires a business coach to teach her the fine art of being a strong woman in power. The coach (usually a masculine woman)  shows her how to lead from behind, how to stop offending men by appearing too strong, how to be both firm and kind, and do things like, give credit to your boss for your work. And above all else, smile.

Stage 4: So the woman works day in and day out trying to master these very delicate, difficult and often self-effacing tasks.  Eventually she feels like a fraud or cameleon.  People pick up on this and call her untrustworthy. She loses self confidence and decides to lay low, below the radar of attacks. Eventually some boss sees her amazing potential and wonders why she has little courage. He tells her to get some! And the cycle continues.

It is not her lack of courage that is the problem at all. Women have lots of courage. What they don’t have is the strength to put up with continual pressure to be something they can never be. They can’t actually becaoem someone they are not.  When we reject women for who they are (such as caring, considerate and collaborative) over and over, they do one of two things. They either pretend forever and hone their acting skills or they leave.  This is the damning power of “courage rhetoric” and this message is reinforced every single time we hear someone tell us that we simply need to raise our hands more often.

If we looked more closely at research and had a better understanding of women within our cultural settings we would quickly come to the conclusion that women do not need more confidence, nor are they spineless or passive. It only looks this way to most men. Rather women are masters at relationships and assessing complex interpersonal situations. Many have high empathy, high sensitivity and are intuitive.

Many women who rise to the top actually play “the game” perfectly, otherwise they get shoved out. They state their assertions as if they were questions, not wanting to make others feel stupid. They offer their brilliant ideas as if they were just randomly contemplated to allow others to feel part of the process. They say things like, “That’s a great idea Bob” knowing they mentioned it to Bob last week.

Women have learned all their lives exactly how to behave to get things done. From the day they are born, girls learn who has the power and how to use their somewhat limited power to persuade others to listen and follow. They are not stupid. They learn very quickly what to say and when to say it. They learn early on that it is inappropriate to seek or wield power particularly in relation to boys or men.  They learn not to yell, learn not to be seen as too pushy or bossy and they never get physical. They learn how to include everyone, to like everyone, and also to put others first.

As a result most women have learned precisely when they have the power to push and when they do not. They eventually learn the exact point at which they will be perceived as too aggressive. And even more importantly, women know the high cost if they don’t get it right. If women speak too loudly they will not be invited out to lunch. If they embarrass a man in public, they will never get a promotion again. Indeed, one male author advises women that if they dare to make a man feel bad about himself she will be “deep sixed” and her career will evaporate!

Many women I know have told me of situations where they inadvertently “burned bridges” or damaged relationships with men so badly, they could never be repaired. Yet men often trash relationships with other men with apparently little impact. To men its all part of the game – you win some you lose some. To women, losing is simply too costly and must be weighed out carefully or avoided. And because so few women succeed, we have come to know that we are very lucky if we can dance this dance without being tossed off the dance floor for stepping on someone’s toes.  All of this explains why so many women do not want to take risks and do not want to raise their hands.

Indeed in my opinion many of the women who succeed in business the ones that actually have less courage or not concerned with asserting their power. Whether naively or with disinterest they stay silent, don’t rock the boat and viola- they get promoted. This may be great for them, but not usually for all the other women who spoke up and got left behind.

The bottom line. Too many people tell women that all they need is confidence to get ahead. They tell women to be assertive and raise their hands more. This advice is killing women for the following reasons.

  • It assumes that women are to blame for their lack of success and that the solution is within their individual power and very easy.
  • It suggests that women are naïve, unskilled and weak-minded. Women are so dumb that they have not learned that all they need is courage or are so weak to have not obtained some by now.
  • This advice often backfires as women get rejected for trying too hard. This results in women feeling even worse about themselves, feeling like frauds and suffering self-doubt and low self-esteem.
  • There is absolutely no research showing that women who act more confidently are actually more successful, more likely to get promoted or more happy. If confidence were such an effective strategy for women why has it not worked over the last hundred years at getting women into positions of power?

What appears to be a lack of courage in professional women are actually well-crafted behaviors. Women are masters of navigating a world where women not only have little real power, but are put in their place if they try to assume too much power. They are brilliant at navigating the land-mine filled world where men control the game.

So let’s be clear, women are not sabotaging themselves when they put themselves down or put others first. They are simply smart in assessing risk. And to tell women that there is no risk, would be foolhardy and put women in danger. Women know all too well, just how easily they can be knocked out of the game and just how hard it is to get back in.

What to do. Do not fall for the rhetoric that says women’s lack of confidence is holding them back.

  • Stop telling women that they simply need more courage to succeed.
  • Stop blaming women, stop asking women to jump off cliffs and stop putting them in jobs where only an Olympian would succeed.
  • Understand how confidence- building techniques often backfire, when women are rejected and feel even worse about themselves.
  • Honor the skill and brilliance of women as they assess risk and navigate the work and business world of hidden power-laden land mines.
  • Understand that the epidemic of lack of self-esteem can only be cured by accepting women for their true strengths and stopping the constant pressure to be something else (like tougher).
  • Give women many chances and tell them you have her back if she wants to do something risky. Don’t crucifying them for making mistakes.

If we really want women to be more confident, we need to stop rejecting them and making their lives so difficult. We need to truly accept them for who they are and stop telling them to meet impossible expectations. END

copyright Maureen F Fitzgerald PhD please copy only with permission.

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