While working as an obit writer and a stringer for a local newspaper, it happened. One minute I was waiting by the fax machine to receive a death notice from a local funeral home and the next I was grabbed from behind by the hips. I felt his hot breath on my neck and he whispered in my ear, “You should wear short skirts more. It turns me on.” He laughed and then he walked away. I looked to see who it was and recognized him immediately. I was just waiting for a fax. I was just doing my job. I can tell you that the moment it happened to me I was rattled to my core. Confused. Shaken. Furious. I didn’t expect it. I certainly didn’t ask for it. I remember walking back to my desk trying not to let him see how much it affected me. I didn’t want to give him that kind of power. Basically, I ignored it because I thought it was over–but I was wrong. For weeks after that first incident, I was continuously harassed by him. He leered at me in the newsroom. He asked me out several times. He called me at my apartment. I dreaded going to work at a job I loved and really wanted to keep. The stress was unbearable. Somehow, I finally got up the guts to give him a piece of my mind, threatened to tell our boss and the cops and he never bothered me again. I never reported it although I wish I had. I was too embarrassed at the time. I was only 21 years old and it would have been his word against mine. Sadly, this was not the only time I’ve been sexually harassed. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to deal with it. It still shocks me when it happens but now I report it and then I live with it. But, I don’t typically talk about it. Until now. Being sexually harassed is a humiliating and degrading experience. It isn’t just “locker room talk.” It isn’t funny. It is pure intimidation. Just like bullying, these experiences will stay with me my entire life. They are ingrained in my memory–as if it only happened yesterday. And now I hear about movie moguls and tech employees at companies like Google and respected news anchors and even U.S. Presidents who don’t think twice about doing it. And I think of the women who speak out and defend themselves at the risk of losing their jobs. I am truly in awe of their courage and applaud them with undying support. And I hope my daughter sees them, hears them and learns from their examples. In the 21st century, sexual harassment clearly runs rampant in our schools, universities, offices and other places. It could happen to her and she needs to be ready to fight back–as I am doing now.
Crossing Things Off My 2016 To-Do List
Today, I was going through some old papers and came across my to-do list from January 29, 2016. Normally, I would throw this away with the rest of the outdated paperwork, but I was curious to see if almost 2 years later, there was anything still left to be done. Item #1 – Fix or replace the dryer. Our dryer was giving me problems for a long time. It would work for a while and then go on strike at a moment’s notice–usually, when there was a load of wet clothes ready to throw in. The repairman-who we were on a first name basis with–was always able to save it until the next time. This went on for quite some time and I admit that the dryer became a rare point of contention in an otherwise very happy marriage. I gave up on bringing it up and decided to wait out the dryer until it blew out its last breath of hot air. That day came last weekend. Finally! It was kaput. And our brand new, beautiful and working dryer was delivered this past Thursday. Almost two years later, I’m happy to report that I can cross this off the list. Item #2 – Buy new pictures for the hall bathroom. – Our hall bathroom has been designated for our kids since they were born. It also serves as our guest bathroom when the downstairs powder room is occupied. In that bathroom, we have two incredibly young prints suited for babies and toddlers – one of a rubber ducky and one of a baby in a diaper about to get into a bubble bath. Did I mention, my kids are now 16 and almost 14 and have moved on? But apparently my bathroom decor hasn’t grown up with them. The rubber ducky has got to go – but alas it is still there–for now. Item #3 – Make a dermatologist appointment. – I went to a dermatologist in my mid-30s on a regular basis when I was suffering from a bad case of adult acne. Although she was efficient and all traces of my acne are long gone, I found her bedside manner to be cold and distant. I felt like I was patient number 58 out of 1,000 instead of someone she could spend a little time with and address my concerns. I haven’t been back to her in years. But, as I get older I know should really get a skin exam and I will – just as soon as I find a new dermatologist. Item #4 – Develop a presence on LinkedIn – Ah, this one I know I have done, but I can’t officially check it off the list because it is always a work in progress. I am proud of my All-Star LinkedIn rating. I frequently write posts and read and share articles about email marketing and non profit communications. I constantly connect with new people and seek out ways in which I can lend them some professional advice. Through this social media platform, I am presenting myself in the most professional and authentic manner possible so that people will seek out my expertise and new opportunities will come my way. Item #5 – Create a book club calendar – I launched a book club many years ago with ladies in my neighborhood. We are still going strong in the way that we meet on a fairly regular basis – but I would say it is about 25% talking about the book and 75% socializing. I just wish we were a bit more organized. In a perfect world, I would ask everyone to suggest the books we are going to read and put it on a schedule months ahead of time. Some book clubs have theme nights based on the culture or topic of the book. That would be so fun! There are so many great ways for our book club to be even better, but everyone is busy and I totally get that. For now, it is a great little getaway once a month supported by my husband who nods his head in a dubious way when I tell him I’m “going to book club.” So, I’m 2 for 5 in crossing things off my 2016 to-do list. Not bad, but not great. At least I have a head start on my list for 2018.
Walk This Way
As I watch my friends post on Facebook about 5Ks, 10Ks, half and full marathons, my first reaction is how proud I am of all of them and their dedication to training for these races. It is not easy. My second thought is–better them than me. If there is anything that I am 100% sure of it is that I am not a runner. Nor am I up for any flashy events that I see advertised like the Tough Mudder or anything that ends in the words “boot camp.” It isn’t like I haven’t tried to be someone I’m not. A few years ago, I trained for my first (and last) 5K. I hired a fabulous personal trainer to keep me on track and motivate me every step of the way (so to speak). And I did it. A few months later, I crossed the finish line with her by my side. I’m proud to say that while I didn’t have the fastest time, I wasn’t the last one either. While I remember feeling exhilarated that I completed the race and I consider that 5K to be a great personal accomplishment, I can honestly say that I don’t feel the need to do it ever again. I have no interest in improving my PR (personal record) nor do I want to graduate to longer races. Running is not a passion of mine. Walking on the other hand is much more my speed. I love to walk. I walk 5K races. I walk at my local park. I park my car further away and walk through the parking lot to the store. I walk around my neighborhood and at the gym. I love to walk. Last month, I logged over 300,000 steps as I raised awareness and money for childhood cancer research. I have different walking buddies and I feel just as good – if not better – about myself after a nice workout. I find it much easier to fit in a walk as opposed to a run. I can walk in my work clothes on my lunch hour. I don’t need to map out a route for my walk – I simply walk out the door. I walk at a good pace so as to break a sweat but not worry about injuring myself. Walking has a lot of benefits to both my physical and mental health. It clears my head, boosts my memory and it is a great excuse to catch up with friends. Talk about multi-tasking. So, I will cheer on my friends who go the distance, improve their PR and smile the entire time. I hope they will cheer me on as well.