Are You Disrespecting Other Women?

Are You Disrespecting Other Women?

Stay tuned for WELLwomen's workshop on female bullying: coming soon! 

Stay tuned for WELLwomen's workshop on female bullying: coming soon! 

Disrespecting someone means showing lack of caring for the feelings, traditions, rights or wishes of someone else. It also means lack of courtesy. 

Recently, I was incredibly disrespected by two women who I genuinely cared for, routed for, and supported. These women knew they had the power to choose how to handle something. Instead of taking a graceful, respectful route they chose a different route. I knew I was on the receiving end of disrespect, because there were 100+ other ways to handle this situation that would have left both parties feeling uplifted. Now, they may have their reasons for choosing this approach as opposed to having a professional, intelligent conversation, but here is where I pause: Is there ever good reasons to be disrespectful or hurtful or discourteous? 

I personally don’t think so. I personally don’t think disrespecting women (well, humans for that matter) is ever the way to move forward. There are better, more elevated ways to approach life. 

Are you knowingly or unknowingly disrespecting the women in your life? 

You may be disrespecting another woman if… 

You’re dismissing her thoughts, feelings, ideas, wishes or opinions. Being dismissive sends the direct message of “Who you are and what you’re feeling simply does not matter here.” Dr. Jamie Long, psychologist, says, “Invalidation is one of the most damaging forms of emotional abuse.” Are you ready to invalidate another woman? 

You’re standing by and allowing another female to be dismissed, bullied or disrespected. Being a witness and allowing it to happen makes us just as guilty. Know that you can stand up and say, "This isn't the best way to approach this." Standing up for your fellow females and keeping everyone in check, including yourself, is important here. It matters. 

You’re choosing to emotionally attack her personal attributes. As women, we tend to have easy access to our emotions. As author Emily V. Gordon says, women tend “compete, compare, undermine and undercut one another.” If you are choosing to personally attack a fellow female instead of having a professional, fact-based conversation, then you are actively disrespecting another woman. You are sending the message that she is not capable of having an important, non-emotional conversation, as well as ending the message that you are not capable of having that conversation either. 

You’re failing to return a greeting from a fellow female. Deliberately choosing to ignore another female is hurtful and immature. It only reinforces hurtful thoughts, feelings or behaviors on both sides. 

You’re speaking to a select group of people and not making eye contact or speaking with select others. This passive-aggressive attempt to not acknowledge another woman’s existence reminds me of behaviors you see on an elementary-school playground. It’s petty and clearly reveals your intention: to hurt someone else’s feelings, by choice. 

You’re name calling and gossiping. Talking about another woman under your prescribed label is extremely disrespectful to her, but also reveals your character and intelligence. It doesn’t help either one of you to live life at that level. Also, sharing a personal story of a fellow female’s that isn’t your story to tell is an invasion of her privacy and trust, sending her the message that you do not respect her. 

Your body language is closed, shut off or aggressive. This includes eye rolling, shouldering out someone, keeping your back to them, never making eye contact, avoidance. This body language reveals your inner thoughts of disrespect, anger, revenge, or whatever may be fueling it. Does this behavior make you feel empowered? 

You’re choosing to ignore the relationship. You may be friends or co-workers or family members. Whatever the relationship may be, if you’re choosing to move forward with actions or behaviors completely ignoring the relationship you have, you are telling the other woman that relationship doesn’t matter. You are telling that woman the time you spent developing that relationship doesn’t matter. 

You're knowingly manipulating her. If you have your own secret intentions and you’re using another woman, without her knowing, to achieve those intentions, that is manipulation. That is you using another woman’s feelings, energy, efforts, talents and time. Read that again: That is you using another woman. 

You’re withholding compliments she deserves. If another woman deserves a compliment but you’re choosing to withhold that, you are bullying her. For example, withholding deserved compliments such as, “Thank you for your efforts, time and energy here. You were an incredible asset” or “Your work here is wonderful. Your ideas really shined,” is a way of invalidating her efforts and time spent. Choosing to withhold a compliment is more about jealousy on the other end and less about what is fair and deserved. 

Nobody is perfect and sometimes we hurt our fellow females without intending to do so, but pausing before deciding to disrespect a fellow female will help our world. 

Instead of disrespecting her, show her the respect of a professional conversation. If she has asked for a response, provide her with a response. If she has asked for your assistance or feedback, and you are in a place to do so, uplift her with constructive feedback. 

Be the kind of woman you want to be and ask yourself: Do I want to be the kind of woman who chooses to disrespect other women? 

The goal is to encourage, uplift and support each other. Let us all move forward with that intention in this challenging but beautiful world. 

By: Sheena Jeffers, Chief Experience Officer, WELLwomen, Inc.

You are worthy. You can do this.

You are worthy. You can do this.

"I want to start running." This thought has never occurred to me before. It took me moving onto a sailboat where space is confined to first have this thought (at age 31). 

This morning, I got up, pulled on my stretchy gear, laced my shoes and started running? I have no idea what I'm doing, but I force myself to recall every running fact I could remember from elementary school: inhale three footstrikes, exhale for two; breathe through your nose and mouth continuously; run for one minute, walk for one minute. 

I ran through the small neighborhood that we have moved into. This is a quaint neighborhood and should definitely be used to film a movie one day. All of the neighbors know each other, so I'm "the new girl." I heard some whispers at the 4th of July parade: "That's the new girl. They live on a sailboat at the marina." They haven't asked me my name yet, but we're working on that. 

I said, "Good morning!" in the chirpiest tone I could muster while running and after only one cup of coffee. 

I ran all of the way to the bay then plopped myself down on the sand to catch my breath. 

That's when it occurred to me: I feel tremendously out of place

Who is this girl? Running? Living on a sailboat? Scheduled to crew in a race this evening? RUNNING?

When I start to self-doubt, I'm really great it. I immediately tell myself: You don't know what you're doing. You aren't strong enough (literally, muscular wise) but also, heck, while we're at it, you're not strong enough emotionally either. People know so much more than you. You're doing it wrong, for sure. You're making all of the mistakes. 

But as I sat there on the beach this morning I said to myself, "We aren't doing this. Not today. Not tomorrow. We're not doing this." And I reminded myself that I am worthy; I am strong; I am capable. 

So, just in case someone hasn't told you this today: 

  • You are worthy. Whatever you're hoping for lately, you are worthy of it. You are worthy of great love, of marriage (if you want it), of children (if you want them), of the promotion, of the life change, of weight loss or weight gain - whatever you're working on. You are worthy. 
  • You are strong. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Maybe you don't feel 100% strength every day, but the fact that you can ride the waves and remain yourself is strength. The fact that you recognize the give-and-take, the push-and-pull of it all, is strength. You carry your strength with you every morning and every minute of the day. 
  • You are capable. You can absolutely do this. There was ways to learn, people to guide, lessons to process. Whatever it is you're trying to achieve, know that you are capable. And if you're needing help figuring it out, do not be afraid of asking for help. 
  • You are powerful. Your energy is unique to you. Your thoughts are unique to you. Your approach, your desires, your skill set, your talents are unique to you. They are the patched quilt that makes up your visions, your decisions and who you are. That is powerful. That is a force. 
  • You will, you are making a difference. Throwing a small stone sends a ripple through the water for a long time. Everything you do, say, decide, choose, act upon sends a ripple. You are making a difference every moment of the day. 

I stood up from the beach feeling far stronger. And now when the taunting voices in my head say, "Who is this girl?" I have an answer: I am worthy. I am strong. I am capable. I am powerful. I will make a difference. 

I know you hear me, but are you listening?

I know you hear me, but are you listening?

So often we get caught up thinking that we are doing an awesome job at the whole listening thing.  We assume that we are nodding enough, that we are providing the right verbal prompts to keep the conversation going, that we can mentally multitask because this story is just draaaggggiinnnnngg on, we have to-do lists to make, and our coffee has gotten cold. 

Here’s the thing, hearing is not the same as listening.  This huge disconnect can sneak into both our professional and personal relationships with detrimental effects.  Not listening well can lead to misunderstandings, arguments, poor client relations and more. Let’s break it down…. 

Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by using your ears, it’s one of our five senses. We hear street noise, we notice a dog barking. For most of us, hearing just happens. 

Listening is an active exercise in hearing. Listening requires us to make the conscious choice to process the messages we are receiving and concentrate on interpreting (or decoding) those messages. 

There are TONS of barriers to listening, though, like:
•    We don’t think we need put work into listening;
•    We aren’t interested in what’s being said;
•    We don’t like the speaker or they aren’t speaking well;
•    We are constantly comparing what’s being said to what we already think/believe/know; or
•    We are succumbing to internal or external distractions. 

If we remove the barriers, listening still takes work because many of us fall into the bad habit of listening for the wrong reason. This can make us ineffective listeners if they aren’t the desired response from the speaker. Things like: 

Listening to respond
This happens when a person is speaking and mentions something that we relate or connect strongly to and we think of an awesome story or a great fact that we want to respond with and then….we stop listening. We stop listening because we are focused on what we want to say, not what the person is saying to us. 

Listening to judge
It’s a natural tendency to evaluate what’s being said as a person is speaking.  This gets sticky when we stop listening to learn/experience/empathize and we start listening to assess. Things like, “well, that’s not the best idea” or “are you sure that is what you want?” are statements judging what you’ve just heard.  Why is this ineffective? Because we get to the assessment before fully understanding the situation. Once an evaluative response is thrown out, it’s hard as a speaker to pick back up. 

Listening to fix
Have you ever wanted to just vent to a friend, colleague, or significant other and all they do is try to fix it? While sometimes helpful, it can end with feeling unheard or put off by the whole interaction. As a listener, it’s not our job to interject with solutions at every pause - it’s our job to listen until we’ve been asked to fix it which may not happen. (My favorite example of this is this very tongue in cheek video, check it out!)

So what do we do with all of that information? We practice. Listening effectively is an active choice to not be distracted and care more about what’s being said than about when you get to speak next. It’s about being active and present with the goal of understanding. A good practice if you are unsure of how to listen is to ask: would you like to hear my advice/experience/etc.? 

Listening is vital to connection and to progress. It’s not easy, but you’ve got this! 


p.s. We're hosting on interactive workshop on the Practice of Reflective Listening on July 31, join us to get some practice!

Learning to Nurture

Learning to Nurture

This was going to be a commitment to a continuous series of actions to preserve something or someone I love. 

The Seven Devils

The Seven Devils

Poet Marie Howe said, "I love Magdalene. And I think of her as someone who really struggled with her subjectivity too and came into it and found herself. I’m fascinated by her as a woman who has lived over centuries, why she had to be made into this person." 

Mary Magdalene is a mysterious character in the Bible. A woman turned, verbally and through writings, into a prostitute and known for her physically intimate relationship with Jesus, which suggests kissing. 

The Bible says, "Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven devils had been cast out." Luke 8:2.

But Marie Howe was curious: "Why she had to be made into this person..." 

She wrote a riveting poem about Mary Magdalene, giving Mary her own voice, about these unknown Seven Devils that men wrote had been cast out. 

Note: Mary was not actually a prostitute. She was never described as a prostitute in the Bible or that she had a sexually intimate relationship with Jesus. It was just always said about her. Mary Howe gave her a voice.

The Seven Devils by Marie Howe

The first was that I was very busy.

The second—I was different from you: whatever happened to you could
not happen to me, not like that.

The third—I worried.

The fourth—envy, disguised as compassion.

The fifth was that I refused to consider the quality of life of the aphid,
The aphid disgusted me.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The mosquito too—its face.    And the ant—its bifurcated body.

Ok   the first was that I was so busy. 

The second that I might make the wrong choice,
because I had decided to take that plane that day,
that flight, before noon, so as to arrive early
and, I shouldn’t have wanted that.
The third was that if I walked past the certain place on the street
the house would blow up.   

The fourth was that I was made of guts and blood with a thin layer
of skin lightly thrown over the whole thing.

The fifth was that the dead seemed more alive to me than the living

The sixth—if I touched my right arm I had to touch my left arm, and if I
touchedthe left arm a little harder than I’d first touched the right then I had
to retouch the left and then touch the right again so it would be even.  

The seventh—I knew I was breathing the expelled breath of everything that
was alive, and I couldn’t stand it.
I wanted a sieve, a mask, a, I hate this word—cheesecloth—
to breath through that would trap it—whatever was inside everyone else that
entered me when I breathed in.

No.  That was the first one.

The second was that I was so busy.  I had no time.   How had this happened?
How had our lives gotten like this?

The third was that I couldn’t eat food if I really saw it—distinct, separate
from me in a bowl or on a plate. 

Ok. The first was that. I could never get to the end of the list.
The second was that the laundry was never finally done.

The third was that no one knew me, although they thought they did.
And that if people thought of me as little as I thought of them then what was

The fourth was I didn’t belong to anyone. I wouldn’t allow myself to belong
to anyone.

The fifth was that I knew none of us could ever know what we didn’t know.

The sixth was that I projected onto others what I myself was feeling.

The seventh was the way my mother looked   when she was dying, 
the sound she made—her mouth wrenched to the right and cupped open
so as to take in as much air… the gurgling sound, so loud
we had to speak louder to hear each other over it.

And that I couldn’t stop hearing it—years later—grocery shopping, crossing the street—

No, not the sound—it was   her body’s hunger
finally evident—what our mother had hidden all her life.

For months I dreamt of knucklebones and roots,   
the slabs of sidewalk pushed up like crooked teeth by what grew underneath.

The underneath.  That was the first devil.   It was always with me
And that I didn’t think you—if I told you—would understand any of this—

Copyright © 2008 by Marie Howe. Originally published in American Poetry Review

Hi, from Sheena & Jess!

Hi, from Sheena & Jess!

Hello, lovely! 

We are so glad you're here! The About WELL page introduces both of us, but we want you to know us a little better. 

How Sheena & Jess became Sheena & Jess...

You know how your parents always said "don't talk to strangers!"? Well, we don't really believe in that mantra.

In 2012, Jess was ending her first year of grad school at ODU (Let's go Monarchs!) and needed a new apartment.  She researched beach-y places and ended up in Ocean View, moving in with a young professional woman she didn't know beyond the interview lunch...did we mention she found the place on CraigsList?

A few months later, Sheena made the huge decision to leave her corporate role of several years and return to Hampton Roads to pursue a grad degree in the arts. She signed an OV lease (again, off of CraigsList!! Sorry, moms!) after only meeting one of the two roommates, since Jess was never free at the same times.

Two months after sharing a residence, we finally met in person. It's been an amazing whirlwind of projects, growth, coffee, yoga, wine, and sand ever since. 

Five things Sheena wants you to know about Jess:


1. You cannot speak to Jess before she's had coffee in the morning. If you decide to proceed and talk anyway, she will stare at you and walk right past you as if she heard nothing at all. 

2. She is the best person with which to test academic research at a bar. 

3. She will point out important key facts to you at important key times. For example: "Sheena, that is not a tropical beach bird. That's someone's pet.

4. She is an excellent friend: giving you a listening ear, when you need it; following up on you, when you need it; celebrating or crying with you, when you need it. 

5. She appreciates receiving selfies with her cat, mostly because he won't pose with her.


Five things Jess wants you to know about Sheena: 

1.  Sheena will stretch on anything, anywhere. She'll do a full yoga flow in the kitchen. 

2.  She will say your name as a statement while raising her eyebrows to emphasize a point.  Example: "JESS. Jess, There's a bird in the house."

3.  Sheena has tiny feet, which comes in handy since her shoes take up less room.  Like the 10 pairs that are always in her car. Along w/the tutu.

4.  She's incredibly patient with her dance students of all ages and abilities. Even when those kids just won't stand on their dot.

5. Sheena's a passionate advocate for everyone in her life.  She'll brainstorm and fight for your dreams as hard as you do.