Doing the Girl Thing

I have two impressive clients, one a lawyer and one a doctor. They are highly accomplished in their fields.

On the same day, each separately asked me the same question at one point during the session:

“Am I doing the girl thing?”

And I knew exactly what they meant. But, being a coach, my job is to ask more than answer and so I asked what they meant. Here’s what they said, more or less:

“You know, that thing where I have an idea, then totally kill it, or think that what I’m offering isn’t good enough, even though it’s more than enough. Or when I have success in something after working hard, then put myself down. You know, the girl thing.”

I do know. The girl thing.

In fact, yesterday I was sharing this very story with a friend. She just received a big promotion at work, and closed a new deal faster than any one ever has in the history of the 30-year company.

Then, she explained away her success as luck, not really a big deal, a long time coming, etc. As soon as she did it she realized, “Oh my god! I just did the girl thing!”

Yup. So I asked her what she could say instead. She came up with:

“Thank you! It’s a great client — I’m excited to start working with them.”

Perfect.

But the unspoken “girl thing” that too many of us understand is no longer working for me. And, as the mother of a daughter, it’s really not working for me. I want the same opportunities and possibilities for all my children, no matter the gender. Not 79 cents on the dollar for my “less valuable” daughter. I don’t want to see the world teach limitations into her core, as it has for me and my clients.

I want my 2-year-old daughter, who is pretty badass already, to not recognize “doing the girl thing” as what my doctor, lawyer, and business friend and I recognize too easily. Putting yourself down. Making excuses for your success. Apologizing for your creative ideas. Hearing yourself “you can’t” before you say “I can”.

Let’s redefine what “doing the girl thing” means. What if doing the girl thing meant that girls:

Celebrate, like Brandi Chastain

Lead, like Golda Meir

Act, like Margaret Thatcher

Help others, like Ina May Gaskin

Are Brave, like Malala

Are Strong, like the Williams Sisters

Create Justice, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Do What’s Right, like Eleanor Roosevelt

Blaze A New Path, like Hillary Clinton

Are Entrepreneurial, like Martha Stewart

Guide Others, like Harriet Tubman

Stands up for Your Rights, like Susan B Anthony

Care for Animals, like Jane Goodall

Teach, like Julia Child

Manage Money, like Janet Yellen

Rock, like Joan Jett

While writing this post, I got a call from a client who set a lofty goal for herself 3 months ago. Today, the dream became reality. She called to tell me about the interview that lead to the offer, and started by saying: “I’m not going to lie, and I hope this doesn’t appear arrogant, but I did a GREAT job. I knew I had it and I did. I could tell during our conversation. I just nailed it.”

When I asked her what she did in the interview that was so special, she said, “You know what? I just said what I believed and I acted like myself. I was totally honest. And it worked!”

That’s the 2016 version of doing the girl thing. Just finding that thing you’re great at and doing it. Being honestly and authentically you.

The No-Nonsense Stepmom Speaks Up!

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I’d be speaking at the Online Stepmom Summit. Today, I’m the featured stepmom. Check out my billing:

Allison Task: The No-Nonsense Stepmom and Positive Role Model: Using Food, Fun, and Other Techniques to Bond a Family

Something tells me that the conference host was thinking “No BS Stepmom”, but went with “No-nonsense” instead. Because for those of you who know me…I’m full of nonsense. I just don’t put up with BS. 🙂

stepmom coach

Laughter is the best medicine.

The Online Stepmom Summit is a special online conference for stepmoms that provides quality tips from leading experts to guide stepmoms through the challenges of a blended family so that they can find find fun and fulfillment at the same time. You know, get through the nonsense.

You can join me and my 1/2 hour interview here, for free for the next 48 hours.

You can also watch interviews with many other experts and people who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with stepmoms. Register for the Online Stepmom Summit here.

Plenty of learning, fun and tribe-finding at the Online Stepmom Summit.

Get on in here — the water’s warm and the women are miracle workers.

Allison

stepmom coach

C’mon Get Happy

The old Partridge Family song takes me back. I’m a kid again, dancing around on a shaggy blue carpet. Nursing a serious crush on David Cassidy. No responsibilities. Little to no power either, but it’s the singing and dancing that I remember. And the feeling of being happy.

Segue to today: I’ve been reading a particularly fabulous book, recommended by one of my clients, called The Sweet Spot, by Christine Carter.

It focuses on that whole overwork / work life balance thing. (You know, what I do for a living :-)). Though it may seem like well trodden terrain, she offers solutions for getting your life back, enjoying it, thriving at work and  having a short fitness routine that will get you in solid shape.

One thing I’ve started doing is using this free app called Happier. If you bob and weave through the solicitations (not that hard to do), you’re able to use it to record something every day that makes you happy. It automatically pulls up your pictures and prompts you with your own visual memories — just in case you forgot how fantastic that trip to the garden with your daughter was.

Minimal investment, maximum happy.

Minimal investment, maximal bliss.

I like doing this daily; it’s a quick passage to emotion (like the kind I get when I look at the old David Cassidy pictures), which encourages the building of neural pathways of joy. It reminds me to sit in that moment – an take a deep tub soak of positive emotion. There’s ample research to demonstrate the impact of regular positive thinking, gratitude and connecting with emotions.

Plus, after a few weeks, I have this incredible flip book of happy moments – the moments that seem inconsequential at the time, but are the tapestry of your life. So record your happy once a day, or once in the morning and once at night. However you choose to remember your happy, the benefits are clear.

As a wise man once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” And when you stop to capture those seemingly insignificant, powerful and joyful moments, you’ll be able to marvel at your own incredible life.

Join Me at the Stepmom Summit (I have free tickets)

If you are dating a man with kids, in the process of planning the rest of your life with a man who has kids, or you are already married and have been crowned the title of “stepmom”, I wanted to let you know about an online event coming up.

I’m speaking at it.

There’s over 15+ successful authors, therapists, and coaches who will be sharing proven and strategic ways that any stepmom can use that will encourage her to respect herself, nurture her marriage, and appreciate her role as a stepmom.

The event is called the Online Stepmom Summit. It’s all online and you can watch it from anywhere.

Since I’m presenting at it, I have a free ticket for you.

Register HERE for the Online Stepmom Summit!

Plus, I’m offering 50% my stepmom coaching packages from now through Mother’s Day just to say thank you to all the incredible stepmoms out there.

What I love about this online event, is that it’s for stepmoms at any stage of their journey:

Respecting Yourself:

  • The Down and Dirty of Dealing With His Ex While Maintaining Your Integrity and Sanity (Jenna Korf)
  • Discover the Biology of Our Thoughts, Strategies to Overcome Self-Doubt and Anxiety, and Ways to Visualize a Bright Future in Your Blended Family (Barb Goldberg)
  • Second Shift: How to Grow Your Part-Time Passion to Full-Time Influence While Being a Mom, Stepmom, and Wife (Dr. Harold Arnold)
  • A Roadmap and Guide, from a 35-year survivor, to Being a Stepmom (Sonja Ridden)

Nurturing Your Marriage:

  • Mandatory Date Nights, Required Family Meetings, and Strongly Suggested Planning Will Result in Solid Relationships Over Time (Yaffa Balsam)
  • The 7 Rings of Marriage: What Ring Are You Currently Wearing? (Jackie and Stephana Bledsoe)
  • Get Debt Free and Enjoy Your Money (Dustin Riechmann)
  • Stripped Down: 13 Keys to Unlocking Intimacy in Your Marriage (Alisa DiLorenzo)
  • Depth Psychology, Couples Therapy, and EFT (emotional freedom techniques): What They Are, How They Work, and How They Can Help (Hillary Straus)

Appreciating Your Role as a Stepmom

  • Elbow Room: Approaches to Combining and Organizing a Blended Family While Respecting Personal Space and Needs (Amy Payne)
  • Single Woman Seeking Single Man…With Kids? (Erin Careless)
  • The No-Nonsense Stepmom and Positive Role Model: Using Food, Fun, and Other Techniques to Bond a Family (Allison Task)
  • Legalities of Being a Stepmom: Surprising Facts and Proactive Steps (Stephanie Lefler)
  • Tips, Tricks, and Tools to Help You Communicate With Your Stepchildren (Karen Becker)
  • How God’s Word Reveals to Us the Path to Becoming a Godly Stepmom and Navigating Challenges Along the Journey (Heather Hetchler)

Grab your free ticket now! 

And remember, if you’re interested in seeing how coaching can positively impact your stepmom experience, I’d like to offer 50% off my stepmom coaching packages from now through Mother’s Day just to say thank you to all the incredible stepmoms out there.

 

Why Modern Wives Withhold Sex

Newsflash! Wives are withholding sex.

I know, I know it’s a bit cliche. Before you were married, it was hot sex all over the place, then honeymoon sex, maybe some fun pregnancy sex, and then…SPLAT! kids. “Honey, we’ll wake them up”, “The baby is watching!”, “I don’t feel good about my body!” and everyone’s favorite: “I’m just soooo tired.” Wives aren’t faking headaches anymore, they’re just passing out.

But how is this different from the classic cliche of Lucy and Desi-style separate beds in the same room?

sex and relationship coaching

Modern Retro Marriage

Well, for one, we’ve undergone a pretty intense sexual revolution since then. Women are allowed to like sex, even supposed to like it. Women and men have friends who are just like Samantha Jones. Miley is twerking and the girls of Girls — every shape size and color, are having sex and lots of it. Taking sex advice from our universal Jewish grandmother, Dr. Ruth, now seems quaint and dare I say prudish? A quick walk down a NYC street in the summer shows as much skin as soft core porn in the 60s, and today’s moms are pissed off when their daughters are thrown out of school for short skirts and belly shirts. No, they’re not mad at their daughters wearing skimpy clothes; they’re mad at the schools are coming down on those girls.

Judith Warner, in Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxietyexplains the situation thusly, quoting one of the many modern married moms she interviewed for her book:

” ‘I can’t say these days our marriage is about love,’ says a working mother of two in New York. ‘It’s definitely not about romance.’ It’s like we run a small business together. We’re business partners.’ ”

Hot, it’s not. Martin continues with the following analysis:

“…then they talk about sex. About how, as more highly evolved females, they don’t need to have sex, don’t want to have sex, while their husbands, being men, well…”

sex and relationship coaching

Frustrated. And in need of an orgasm.

Eek. Sure, sex is fun, physical and gratifying, but what about that whole making love thing? What about the intimacy that comes with sex? Are we beyond that too?

In the celebrated Primates of Park Avenue, Wednesday Martin said almost the same thing, that women were establishing their own single gender tribes, and have moved beyond sex — though they are not without physical gratification: there’s always Pilates and ultra marathons.

Not Having Sex Has Become A National Trend

Martin continues her analysis, “There was something sinister in the fact that the very same women who would tell me how wonderful their husbands were would, in the next breath, let me (and a roomful of avid listeners) in on the most awful humiliations of their mates’ private moments.” Talking about how pathetic their husbands were, masturbating in bed after these wives refused their advances, flowers and all. These wives enjoyed shaming their husbands behind their backs, in public.

Ouch.

But why is this happening? It’s actually pretty straightforward: wives are angry. Women are still doing the housework. Women are still the primary child caretaker. But wait — we started out equals; it wasn’t supposed to be this way.

One of Martin’s interviewees explains, “When my huband and I started dating, I made more money than he did. I had more status than he did. Then all of a sudden — whoosh! I went part time. I don’t think I’m ever getting it back. He now starts conversations with me with the words, ‘Here’s what I’d like you to do.’ I want to say, ‘You can shove it up your ass.’ ”

sex coaching

Doesn’t This Seem Like Fun?

This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. We were peers. We were equals. The wives, have more advanced degrees. We traveled side by side, we had sex on top, underneath, all over the place. We made money, we had plans. We were peers in and out of the home.

And then we had children. And now the Mrs. is working, or not, but either way she’s setting up birthday parties, play dates, interviewing babysitters and au pairs, cleaning out the fridge, making or ordering dinner and organizing doctor appointments and immunizations.

She’s pissed. She may let you know it directly, or she may be passive aggressive about it. But the fact remains: you’re not getting any.

And given this tense situation, in a culture where raising children goes largely unsupported, especially in the first five years, wouldn’t both partners benefit from a couple orgasms, some intimacy and a hug?

You bet they would. Here are two ideas to address this situation that has worked with my clients:

  1. Masturbate. A lot. You know your husband is doing this, but are you? Ok, you might be mad and not want to have sex with him, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the health benefits of an orgasm on a regular basis. You’ve earned this. Head to your favorite sex shop or go online. You can be mad at him, but don’t punish yourself.
  2. Remember Those Cheesy Cosmo Quizzes? Well, the self-help aisle has tons of similar ones for couples. The most popular amongst them is this: The 5 Love Languages. It’s quick, easy, and I promise you’ll learn something about your partner — and yourself — by the end.

In the end, remember: it’s not his fault, and it’s not your fault. American culture has given women opportunity, but not the support to back fill what’s traditionally been considered women’s work: raising children and tending the home. It’s not fair, it’s not right, but it’s not his fault. Talk to each other, love on each other (and yourself), and remember to fight the common enemy instead of one another.

And if you still feel stuck, you can always call me; it’s what I do, after all.

relationship coach

Come to Momma!

Deadbeat Moms & Ex-tortion

Growing up in the 80’s, I knew lots of kids from divorced families. They lived with mom, their dads remarried or lived somewhere else or both. Dads were tan. They were usually coming back from skiing in Aspen or sailing in the Caribbean.

None of my friends lived with their dads. If there was a divorce, mom ended up with the kids. Period.

And here we are in 2016. There’s a new divorce normal, and it isn’t shared parenting, it’s deadbeat moms. More than half the divorced families I know today were the result of moms walking out — not because they were abused, neglected, or mistreated in any way. They just wanted a different life. They wanted to pursue their art, or their modeling, or just have the experience of living on their own. http://www.fira.ca/article.php?id=150

They left their children with their soon to be ex-husbands and just walked out. Call it the new feminism, where feminism has been misinterpreted to mean “I can do whatever the hell I damn well please.”

Divorce Coach

So What Did The Dads Do?

They picked up the slack. They took care of the kids. They parented.

And when it came time for those men to face their soon to be ex-wives in court, it was as if there was a time warp in the courtroom: It was still the 80’s. The judges had a hard time believing that the children lived with the father, that the father still lived in the family home and did the bulk of the parenting.

divorce coachDeadbeat moms were becoming the new normal, but the laws, set up at a time when women couldn’t even get their own credit cards, financially favored the lesser earner, which was typically the wife, and made sense at the time.

Today in New Jersey, here’s how the law works: If the deadbeat mom and dad share the child equally, and the mom chooses not to work, the mom is entitled child support from dad.

That’s right, folks — in a situation where the child responsibilities are split equally, the lesser earner needs to be covered by the bigger earner. And if the mom chooses not to work, even though she has a couple advanced degrees and a history of 6-figure incomes, that’s fine. Dad has to pay child support.

So, if mom is the deadbeat sort, the kind that would walk out on her children in the first place, it’s in her best interest to not work, and fleece her ex-husband.

The Law Stands By Her on This.

I am a lover of men, and a lover of women. I love people who parent their kids and enjoy their work. I believe in the dignity of work, and that people feel better about themselves when they’ve found something to do with their skills and talents.

I however, cannot continue to stand by and watch the trend of deadbeat moms extorting their ex’s just because they can. Very few people stand up on behalf of high earning men these days, but that doesn’t mean they should continue to be exploited because of outdated laws.

My evidence is personal and anecdotal, but it’s a trend I’m seeing more of and it’s very real. The courts are biased and dads are afraid: one wrong step and they might have their children taken away. Better to appease the ex than stand up for what’s right.

Divorce is painful. However, it doesn’t have to be completely unfair for the individual who is gainfully employed, just because their ex chooses not to work.

The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one: let’s not let this issue go unnoticed; let’s not let these dads who are trying to do the right thing continue to be punished. Is this a trend you’re seeing too?

How To Support A Stepmom

On my wedding day, I became a stepmother. That word, with all it’s ugly connotations, was a coat I put on top of my wedding dress. After the honeymoon, I looked at this coat (not at all my style), and I thought: what have I done?

Sounds horrible, doesn’t it. I felt like the ogre I was destined to become for just thinking these things.

How to support a step-mom

Is this your destiny?

And yet, my 10 year old stepdaughter and I had a solid relationship. We met when she was 7, which is the “right” time, according to all the experts, and had ample time to get to know one another.  We talked about the “step thing” (we both hated those step words — both stepchild and stepmother), and how our relationship was up to us, and we could make it whatever we wanted.

And we did.

But little did I know, my relationship with my stepdaughter was going to be the least of my challenges. Coordinating with her biological mother, managing carpool logistics and birthdays, handling alimony and child support, and most importantly, managing society-at-large, which is still moving forward with the tired assumption that children of divorce stay with their moms and see their dads infrequently, and more importantly, that dads (and by proxy stepmoms), are passive parents as soon as the divorce and remarriage papers are signed.

*Sigh*

In modern co-resident families (children of divorce, moving between homes), 85% of men get married again, within four years, which means the children will have a stepmother.

85% of children of divorce will have a stepmother. And while we should consider the welfare of the children (full stop), I can tell you one thing for sure: that stepmom needs a hand.

You know the old phrase “If momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy”? That goes triple for stepmoms. And there are so few proactive support resources — it’s time we help these sisters out.

She doesn’t need pity or sympathy. She needs empathy and understanding.

She needs what all moms need: help being the brave kick-ass woman she is, remembering that she is herself, after all, inside that stepmom coat. And she needs help supporting her marriage. Ayelet Waldman said it, now I’m saying it too.

Because only with a strong marriage can you possibly take care of the avalanche that is stepparenting. Before you can take care of your children, you need to take care of yourself, your marriage, your communication, and your tribe. Especially in stepfamilies.

Why? Here is a quick list of some things stepmoms have to deal with that regular mom never have to:

  • coordinating schedules, on a regular basis with your husband’s ex-wife
  • figuring out how to deal with your husband talking with his ex on a regular basis, and the loaded feelings that go with that
  • managing holidays, birthdays, vacations
  • helping your stepchild navigate between two homes with very different sets of rules/expectations
  • managing teachers, camp, doctors appointments
  • managing illness (do you send a kid to her mother’s house when she has the flu, it’s not “your day” and you’ve got an important work meeting planned?). Welcome to guilt vs. resentment.
  • in-laws who side with the ex (and don’t like you)
  • other moms/opinion leaders in town who don’t like that you’re _______ (fill in the blank: young, pretty, successful, a good stepmom)

Step Mother's Day

And I’m just getting started. If you don’t have a strong baseline with your husband, each and every one of these small things become a drain on the relationship.

It’s a hell of a lot to put on a marriage just out of the gates, isn’t it?

So sure, you can head to therapy. You can head to a psychiatrist. Or you can head to the bar. But I believe, a far better place to go is to a coach. A coach’s job is to see the you you want to be, and to hold you accountable as you get there. To see the thriving fabulous women you were before you became a stepmom, look at the realities of being a stepmom and look at the stepmom that you and your husband can help you be, together.

What’s A Life Coach? (Video)

Part of the fun of working with a life coach is picking a partner who you connect with. After all, we’ll be working together closely on something that’s of absolute importance to you.

You may be wondering:

  • How is a life coach different from a therapist?
  • Are my questions that insightful?
  • What is it like to work together — am I upbeat? Is this fun?
  • Do I have an annoying Jersey accent?
  • What’s the point of a coach, really?

Here’s a little sample of me in my office answering the question “What is a Life Coach”. We’ll meet here in my office, or virtually via Skype or phone.My role is to be your advocate as you go for this big goal — something you’ve been working on and wanting to achieve.

We’re about to get to know each other really well.

So here’s what I’m like. As you can see, I’m pretty fired up about what I do.

Need More Time? Fire Your Staff

There’s a trend I’m noticing with some of my clients right now: They’re putting more hours in their day by getting rid of the weak links on their teams.

time management coaching

Don’t postpone the inevitable.

Don’t get me wrong, my clients are not “You’re fired!” type, who enjoy terminating their staff. They’ve given their staff every opportunity to succeed, and still….

Sometimes you just need to fire someone. 

I have been guilty of this on more than one occasion. Keeping an employee around, making lots of excuses, having talks, providing learning opportunities and otherwise shoring up someone who isn’t acting like they want the gig.

When you, as an employer, finally get to the point of letting that person go, it’s often been long in coming and it feels fantastic to have that release.

We dread the conversation — everyone dreads a break-up, but after the fact, most clients feel as relaxed and happy as Kermit in a field of daisies.

time management coach

When’s the last time you’ve felt this good at work?

And when you look at it through the lens of time management, the time you spend working to inspire someone who isn’t acting like they want to be there, well that’s rarely time well spent.

Plus, through the lens of team building, when you keep someone on who isn’t doing her job, they’re not only taking hours out of your day, they begin to sour the team. And the team may begin to question you’re judgment as a leader.

Top corporations have institutionalized firing, forcing reviews onto a bell curve so that the weaker players are continually culled. For some this feels Darwinian (and Microsoft has allegedly dropped the practice), while at other times it feels refreshing, keeping standards high.

Have you ever been fired? In retrospect, was this a good thing?

Or, are you in a situation where you need to let someone go? I’d love to hear about it.

Ever Throw the Game?

Have you ever decided that you couldn’t do something?

Maybe it was run a marathon, bake, or do calculus. Maybe you decided that you couldn’t play the piano, guitar, or figure out texting.

For me, it was coffee. When I graduated from Cornell with few job prospects, I went for entry level jobs. I ended up as an assistant to a CEO of a CD-ROM company, with an understanding that in 6 months he’d give me an opportunity to work in marketing.

I was a great assistant. I knew how to deliver service — I had bartended and waitressed for years. However. I didn’t want to be too good at assisting, if you catch my drift. I didn’t want to be irreplaceable.

And so, I made a terrible cup of coffee. Just terrible.

career coachingWe had a coffee pot and grounds, and I was supposed to clean it and prep.I was responsible for coffee, and coffee service to clients. How is it that an Ivy League-educated girl, with bartending and waitressing experiencing could NOT make a decent cup of coffee?

She didn’t want to.

I know I’m not the only one who does things like this. Last weekend, I was visiting my parents in Florida, and had to do some laundry. Laundry is a pretty straightforward activity. I walked toward the machine, arms full of clothes, and asked a couple questions over my shoulder. My mother said, “Don’t ask your father, he doesn’t understand laundry.”

My father is a smart man. He graduated from an engineering college and made a long career for himself in business. He knows stuff, especially about geography and history. He’s a fantastic card player.

I looked at my father and said, “That’s quite a racket you’ve got going on. You’ve got mom convinced you can’t do laundry?” He smiled without making eye contact. “I do other things.”

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

This choice, what you can or cannot do, comes up all the time for me with coaching clients. I have clients who have decided that they have no financial skills, or no cooking skills, or no time. Now financial and cooking skills are not talents you are born with — they are things you learn, either by exposure through your family routine as a child, or active study as an adult.

Not having enough time? Everyone has the same 24 hours. It’s how you use them. Is your commute too long? Are you watching too much TV? Vegging out with Facebook? Are you not getting enough sleep which renders you less effective all day long? There are always reasons.career coaching

Personal choices are active. If I don’t want to make good coffee, I’ll never make good coffee. If you don’t want to cook, you’ll never pick up the skill. And if you decide to be excellent managing your finances, find a career where you’ll make a lot of money, or climb that fence, you’ll do whatever you believe you can do.