Monday, August 22, 2011

Yes, I Am C.A.T.T.Y. (and proud of it!)

I just got back home from a very energizing evening, so energizing that, even though I would be normally be getting ready for bed at this time, I feel like writing. What did I do this evening that energized me?  I spent the past four hours chatting with a woman, a sociology professor that teaches at the college where I work.  

Last Thursday, I had lunch with another woman who is the President of the Chamber of Commerce in the county where I work.  I'd met her at a luncheon for an alumna of the college, and the following semester she did a workshop on advocacy for the young women's leadership program I coordinate.  Since then, she's been a big supporter of my women's program.  

At church yesterday, a woman that I've known for the past seven years through our small group came and sat next to me.  We hugged and talked during the announcements and offering.  

What were the topics of conversation with these women?  Well, the woman at church and I were talking about the classes we would be taking this semester.  She's a mother of two with a busy husband whom she sells real estate with, while writing for a newspaper and writing lessons for the church small group curriculum, who is also pursuing a Master's degree in Social Work.  I'm not married and I don't have children, but on top of my job, I run a women's leadership program that takes up a lot of my time.  I also take time to go to New York City as often as possible to help care for my elderly mother.  I run my household by myself, try to get to the gym a few times a week, and now I am starting a doctoral program in Higher Education.  I hadn't seen this woman in over two months.  Could we have caught up on church gossip?  I'm sure.  However, we were more interested in talking about how we were planning on balancing our busy lives with the expectations of graduate classes.

The President of the Chamber of Commerce and I talked about fear.  I told her that I would be starting school in about a week, and that I was scared.  She told me that for the past eight years since she's been President, she's woken up scared, telling herself, "I'm going to my new job."  She said, "For eight years, I've been calling this my 'new' job!"  And she told me something that will stay with me for the rest of my life: "If you aren't scared, you're complacent.  It's good to be scared.  People who are scared are people who take risks."

The sociology professor and I had dinner with her son and his friends, then sat down with coffee and talked about pedagogy (a fancy word for "teaching").  We discussed a strategy I'd learned in my master's level counseling program, and talked about ways she could use it with her students.  We brainstormed a few more ideas, then talked about the process of connecting with others, and finally we talked about power and strength.  I told her about my journey toward embracing my power, and how for some people, my power could be intimidating or overwhelming.  Her words: "You are the Presence of Health (or the Divine, or God), and sick people will either be drawn to you because they want to be healed, or they will want to destroy you because you expose their illness."  Deep, right?

While the television networks are showing us images of women fighting each other and exposing either their thongs or their Spanx on so-called "reality shows", REAL women are having REAL conversations.  While society would have us believe that women are catty (as in spiteful or vindictive), I am having conversations with strong, amazing women who are supportive of my strength, as opposed to competing with me to see who's stronger.  

Women and men both say that women are catty.  They say it without thought, as though it is a given.  Every time I hear that comment, I say, "I beg to differ."  I have seen the difference that confidence and support make in my own life as well as the lives of the young women I work with.  I don't see anything catty about the women I encounter.  However, if you still think I'm catty, or that the women you work with, or go to church with, or network with are catty, then I'll agree, as long as you know that we are:

C - Confident and strong
A - Aware of who we are 
T - Tenacious and persistent
T - Tantalizing (We're women, how can we not be?)
Y - Young at heart, in mind, and in spirit

So go ahead, call me C.A.T.T.Y.  I'm proud of who I am, and of the women I know who aren't afraid to be C.A.T.T.Y. too!

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