The Wackiest Thing I’m Thankful for this Year (You seriously aren’t going to believe this one)

As a woman, I have thought about the role my gender has played in my success – good and bad. I’ve studied feminist literature as well as the neuroscience around the differences in male and female brains. I’m a hard core supporter of nurturing the neuroplasticity of our brains to combat biologically-predisposed social disadvantages. What I see in the media and the marketplace is a lot of useless coddling of those disadvantages and not nearly enough focus on the magic of simply reprogramming your brain to get what you want.

Back in September, I was following the story of Bishop Charles Ellis blatantly groping Ariana Grande at Aretha Franklin’s funeral. When it happened, I spent some time studying, praying about and contemplating sexism, the #MeToo movement, and what role I could or should play in it all.

I frequently see discussions about how men treat women’s bodies like objects. The way the story usually goes is that the woman was objectified and kept quiet so as not to rock the boat or the woman said something and was dismissed.

But I mostly never say anything because as I saw it: This has never happened to me. I’ve never once been groped, cat-called, stared at inappropriately… I don’t even get hit on. I’ve never had my clothing criticized or anything so many women talk about experiencing.

Also, as a disproportionately-privileged, white, cis-gendered female, I have never been paid less than a cis-gendered male for the same work. If anything, I’ve always been paid more. And the one time I found out a male colleague was paid more (3 hours after he signed the offer letter), I walked into my boss’s office and demanded he match that guys salary, or I’d walk then and there. (Privileged – yup, obliviously so but the thought of being discriminated against was just off the table for me.)

Sexism, I agreed, sucked. And yet, it just wasn’t something that happened to me!

My question this autumn was about my responsibility regarding this issue. Why I wondered is this not a problem I face? Is this proof I am a neuroplasticity genius, who elicits different external experiences. If so, could I, should I teach those skills to others or share my experience to help others? I was clearly and firmly cautioned to sit the hell down and shut the hell up by my feminist friends. And I listened. I listened. I read. I did my own work and did not expect other women to do my work for me. I didn’t deny the experiences of sexism that other women reported, but I did make a commitment to understanding mine.

A couple fellow white, female, cis-gendered friends, suggested, I actually had experienced sexism and I just wasn’t identifying it that way. So, I set out to look for sexism. I wasn’t expecting to find it, but I was open to it. Maybe my eyes had been closed and they needed a little opening.

I could see sexism all over the place happening to others, just not ever happening to me. Was I just so tuned out I missed it?

Truth time: Part of why I was so curious about this issue, was, frankly, that I felt left out. Unwomanly. Like I missed something. How come I wasn’t being discriminated against too? Was I not pretty enough to be harassed?

It’s not that I wanted to be publicly groped or anything, but I worried it was happening because I wasn’t thin enough, or attractive enough, or that I’m too masculine, or intimating or direct for anyone to bother to treat me like a “girl.”

“Nope,” my friends assured me, “You are being discriminated against for being a woman all the time. We’ve seen it.”

And so, I set out to look for it.

I looked for it on stage in Toronto at the Archangel Summit and again back stage while sharing a couch and a coffee with Brendan Burchard and Mike Koeings. It wasn’t there.

I scanned the First Class Lounge at Heathrow and the streets of Malta while running errands for a friend’s wedding. Nope, not there either.

I checked under the table and behind the bar at the campfire I was hanging out at with Richard Branson over Halloween… no sign of it.

No matter what my friends said, I was sure, I was the one woman who had never experienced sexism. I wasn’t missing it. It just wasn’t there!

As is my standard process, I had given myself 3 months (September to November) to study this issue. I had just about put this one on a shelf, and then… it happened.

A couple weeks ago I had some clients over to my house to talk about their books. About 15% of our authors are men, and since sexism doesn’t happen to me, I never wonder if they will treat me differently than my female or non-binary clients. They don’t. It doesn’t happen… or at least I hadn’t noticed it until now.

In this group of clients was an older, white, cis-gendered man, whom I was confident I could help. I treated him like I treat all my clients – with an unwavering commitment to helping them reach their goals for their book. And yet, for 3 days, there was nothing I could say to satisfy this guy. Every answer was met with skepticism and critique. I was frustrated, but assumed I was failing as a teacher and a leader, and so I tried harder. I stayed up later, I worked extra hard. Knowing the problem was me, I went to work to “be better” and to “lean in.”

None of it worked. The complaints brewed, but there was gaslighting too, secret whispers to me of thanks and about my “brilliance and beauty” and appreciation; all while he was throwing me under the bus to the other clients. I questioned myself again and again. How could the techniques I’ve used to help hundreds of people, not be working for him?

I bobbed, I weaved, I swerved, and I smiled. I would win him over by being better. I would be strong and take the punishment. I would be a good girl and find a way to please him.

No amount of external effort or brain power was working. So, I called on Source for strength and clarity. I would be guided by love and serve from a place of surrender. And so… I prayed. Yes, it had reached that point.

“What is this man here to teach me?” “I am open to receiving the lessons this man is bringing me.”

“I release my attachment to the outcome.”

I prayed… and I waited. And the next morning, after he left, the answer was tied up with a bow on my bedside table, like a little gift from my spirit guides overnight.

“THAT right there, THAT was sexism!”

Sexism? Hmmm

I didn’t sound likely to me. I don’t get discriminated against because of my gender…

And then the paragraphs I’d read, the films I’d watched, and the conversations I’d had flooded my brain.

OMG! THAT IS SEXISM!!!

I knew I was right! I had allowed myself to have the experience. And what’s more, I learned how and why I had protected myself from having it before.

Instead of looking outwardly at patterns of behavior, I looked inwardly and asked, what was it about ME that caused me to deserve to be treated like this. I took full responsibility even when all the responsibility wasn’t mine to take.

I had been discriminated against based on my gender. It was right in my face all along. He didn’t want to take advice from a girl. And he loved making me work for his approval.

My friends were right all along.

This was the answer I’d been looking for. I was being discriminated against as a woman, all the time, as all women in leadership are (See the latest Nancy Pelosi mess for details) but I hadn’t seen it because I was too busy blaming myself for being inadequate.

I’m not sure what this changes for me. So much of personal development is about being able to witness yourself in your own life with loving detachment. And just the awareness often brings about any change that’s needed. I’m sharing this journey because one of the things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving is that sexist dude.

Gifts don’t always come in the packages we want them to come in, but the universe keeps on sending the mail. We just don’t always collect it. I’m grateful I did this work because now I can really FEEL how fucking unfair it is to be discriminated against and I can tap into that anger in so many ways. Anger is powerful fuel for the fire and having a visceral and not just an academic experience of sexism is a game changer for me.

This work of personal development, it’s taxing. My head was more comfortable in the sand than it was being attacked and gas lit in front of a bunch of clients in my own home. And yet, the kind of person I am becoming says bring it on. It’s safe to feel any feeling. And it doesn’t mean you need to do a damn thing except actually have the feeling all the way through to the end.

So… that’s the wackiest thing I am thankful for this year – Sexist Jerks. Well or at least that one Sexist Jerk anyway.

What’s the wackiest thing you are thankful for? Let me know in the comments!

31 thoughts on “The Wackiest Thing I’m Thankful for this Year (You seriously aren’t going to believe this one)

  1. Wow! What an eye opener! I too have struggled with a bit of the ‘why not me’ mentality but your experience shifted my perspective! I’ve always been so busy ‘running my own race’ that I have never put a name to the gaslighting, “you’re not good enough” talk you described. You’re so right! Sexism manifests in many ways and if we don’t recognize it in all it’s forms we can’t fight it. Thank you sharing! Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Great and interesting article. I was always confused with the term cis-gender. Seems like the opposite of transgender. Why does it have to be identified as such. What exactly is cis-gender?

    1. It’s important that we all be more aware in this day and age. Hopefully more people are taking the necessary steps to reflect on their actions!

  3. I tend to evaluate and analyze my life by semester, approximately every 100 days. As the fourth quarter of 2018 nears the end, and as I prepare to continue and walk through another threshold, I am grateful for the following top three blessings:
    1. I am grateful that NPR sent me the story about the latest medical discovery about sadness in the human brain. Why? I learned about the amygdala, a brain cell that is responsible for a person’s emotions. Psychiatrists in California claims that this new discovery will help patience with Mood Disorders. My eldest son was diagnosed with thought and mood disorders after his twenty-one day stay at the county mental hospital. Reading the scientific explanations have been valuable as I continue to combat his defensive thoughts and excuses.
    2. I am grateful that I applied and was accepted the morning of Fall semester to the MLA-English Department and deferred the start of my MBA. My UST library-mate, Jennifer, suggested that I enroll in a few writing courses, “take a break from all the stress you’ve experienced with your family…” I selected Professional Writing & Editing, taught by Dr. Sabino and Memoir Writing, taught by Dr. Lowery. Why? Both professor’s assignments have given me the opportunity to experiment with my writing skills and to determine if I have any writing talents. The Professional Writing & Editing course made me a better listener and inspired me to elevate my vocabulary for both writing and speaking forms of communication. I am intrigued by reading Biographies and Memoirs and have a different pair of eyes when I read about each person’s life story. Both will be valuable when I begin the MBA education.

    3. I am grateful to have made the decision to continue my presence at the University of St. Thomas and enroll in two graduate programs. I will return to my original MBA studies for the Spring 2019 semester. And I had the courage to submit two MBA applications to two universities in England.
    Of the top three my feelings are indescribable. First, I am grateful to continue talk therapy with Dr. Rose Signorello at UST’s Counseling & Disability Services. Her style of talk therapy has been the strongest as I work through the final stages as an incest survivor. I regained my strength to speak up and stand up to significant family members. For example, I physically blocked my father from a physical attack. When he lifted his hand to block me from entering a room, I lifted mine and gripped his wrist. God, why didn’t I have this courage at 16? I now believe that the physical and intellectual work I provided to help my parents with their Hurricane Harvey restoration, DO have monetary value. This means that I will not reimburse him the funds he willingly gave me to cover all my Maslow needs. With Dr. Signorello’s coaching, I have also been firm and tenacious with my eldest son, Ian, as he and I maneuver through another round with his thought and mood disorders. Next, I am grateful that I am an Alumni of the Communication Department. With Dr. Williamson and Dr. Bornegia’s positive affirmations, I am experiencing love and acceptance. I enjoy seeing each of them and exchanging greetings and smiles. They are both thrilled that I decided to continue my academic studies and bless me with my work search. Third, I am grateful to the staff at the Financial Aid department. Every UST employee has given me their genuine heart and guidance with the necessary funding for my education and living needs. With their guidance, I received a FAFSA refund and a Grad Loan to support myself during the Fall semester. Next, I am also grateful to Dr. Lowery for being honest with my memoir writing and pushing me be totally honest and reveal the dark secrets. She wants me to open each memoir with the dramatic events of each piece. All these emotions have been revealing a Dorit I never knew existed. And finally, I am grateful to Dr. Sabino for allowing me to revisit the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory. I am almost standing on the fifth level, becoming the fully, active, self-actualized woman and mother I was bent to be. Standing strong against the forces of my son’s depression, my elderly father’s demands, and experiencing freedom from my mother’s emotional and mental dysfunctions, I am approaching the threshold of the final weeks of 2018, with a smile on my face, joy in my heart, and love in my soul. I am grateful that I am a Jewish woman and Alumni of the University of St. Thomas, a private Catholic University.
    Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018. Another wacky topic to include in the above list. Clicking the subscribe and linking to The Author Incubator company website. This morning I read Dr. Angela Lauria’s message and blog, The Wackiest Thing I’m Thankful for this Year. Her writing style draws me closer to her work. I wrote two significant sentences that resonate with the debates I’ve been exchanging with my son. I will modify them in my next interaction with him. I hope this is not plagiarism. The phrases that stand out today are:
    “And yet, for [___ ____], there was nothing I could say to satisfy [my son]. Every answer [verbal, text or email message] was met with skepticism and critique.”
    “What [is my son] here to teach me?”
    And:
    [Ian,] “your head is more comfortable in the sand than [lifting it up at the planets and stars.”

  4. This very moment, I’m thankful for you and your honest search for understanding. It challenged me, as an older white male, to continue searching my heart and mind for relics of modeled beliefs and behaviors. Fortunately, I had strong accomplished wonen raise me so that established a framework for me as a youth. My secret and perhaps most destructive issue: prejudice towards myself.

  5. Thanks, Angela. The male-female dynamic is usually present in some form. But whenever I am not in agreement with a presenter, it seems more that my mindset just differs radically at the outset. I’ve had experiences where I did not appreciate the depth of what I was learning, and considered the experience a waste of time, probably because I was expecting, or wanted, another type of experience. For example, on touring the “chalk downs” in England, and not having prepared myself with information beforehand, it seemed a long way to go to see a bland landscape, until I looked down at the ground and found clumps of flint rock, at which moment I could connect the importance of flint to the discovery of fire, and my whole outlook changed. A classroom experience I recall was when I was expecting to be taught how to develop charisma by some sort of personality theory, and was instead presented with examples such as how charismatic people take up space–the wierdest example being a photo of a couple on a bench, specifically with the girl being squished by the guy to one edge of the bench and the guy’s milk carton being about two feet away towards the other end of the bench. Another picture was Ronald Reagan walking down a very narrow garden path with a woman, and he, as a larger person, took up 3/4 of the path, with the urged conclusion to “Who is more charismatic?” being, well, Ronald Reagan. It’s easy to see how one might react to such a claim with disbelief and an urge to refute it. Yet those images have stayed with me, interlaced with a recollection of how I rejected the idea at the time but later accepted the idea that space-consumption can be an aspect of charisma, and maybe ridiculously so. So, understanding that your male student might have started out from a radically different point of view, and had to go through a radical revision of his own mental processes to learn from you, in time, the important stuff will be processed. So it could be more valuable than expected to keep in touch with this person to try to track down some type of end result, once he reaches the “sticking” point.

  6. Angela don’t make me work so hard oooh so good it tastes I bring a pen to this write you bring an aircraft carrier group along with tug boats in tough you bad girly 👧 you bobbed weaved swerved now I smile while I read discriminated against 🚺 bantor and how good this read of your 🔥 your friends were right you say but can they right this oooh so good. What a great gift you have girl you have been hit on with a pen ink shouldn’t taste ooh so 👍 ☺ Thanksgiving from me Brian k Maynard now lets feed the turkeys.😀

  7. I am thankful for my 15-year-old twins multiple disabilities.
    First off because they are both here, alive after being born at only 24 weeks gestation. And mostly because their disabilities – the CP, the Autism, the hearing loss – have brought the most AMAZING people into our lives. I have grown in ways I could not have imagined and put myself “out there” for them in ways I might never have done had it not been for something that was essential for them.

  8. Hi Angela,
    This is beautiful compilation of so many thoughts and experiences that I can relate to. You have a fabulous way of writing. One question I have right off the bat: how do you help the author get their Amazon Best Sellers Ranking below, let’s say, 80,000, which to my understanding is about 3 books/day sold? I realize this is an ever-evolving number, but is there a strategy you have for positively affecting it? Thanks so much. Have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

  9. For you and your courage. There are so many times I wished we could talk and that I could be more supportive of you on your journey. There are so many times I smile and laugh at what a delightful and impressive person you are. I am thankful I know you and, quite literally, always wish you the best. Love You, Ron

  10. I am thankful for being able to work through what happened to me. It’s taking a life time but I understand it was not my fault and I should not b carrying around shame for the rest of my life. I believe if they had’t taken my virginity and then I became pregnant, had to get abortion. etc ….. If I had had counseling, maybe I would have gotten over it sooner. I don’ t know. I would have never told my Mom it happened it I had not become pregnant. I was 15.

  11. Chapter one that sexist teacher the one that reached her inner girl no longer docked now she will reach the rest of the world.

  12. Dear Angela,

    The social imprint of sexism is always prevalent whether we choose to see it or not. Just like racism and any other kind of stereotypes create a subconscious affect. But there’s always more than one side to the story. Looking within helps us learn new ways of overcoming those conditions until they are no more or minimal impact i our lives.

    That being said, there is little we can achieve trying to control the world. The only thing we have control over is ourselves and trying to speak or change the situation (even if it’s just planting a seed waiting for time until it grows) However, social influence aside , the man in question wasn’t targeting you. Like all your other clients, he was just unsure and likely was burned too many times for his ideas. To be honest, there was probably very small tiny portion he actually was being sexist. Most of his troubles come from his experiences and the fear of uncertainty.

    However, when you choose to see the sexism lens, you are actually choosing to become the victim instead of truly understanding the barriers between you two. He didn’t throw you under the bus, in truth its a breakdown in communication where your logic was trying to overrule his emotions.

    You’re used to working with women who trust in the source or use their feelings as primarily logical mind. In this as you were dealing with a man who doesn’t know how to trust his own emotions and therefore could not trust you. Its not personal, but can be easily bridged by empathizing with his struggles. You kept trying to give solutions but when he was caught in emotion, logic mind turns off. Another words, you kept trying to answer his question on the surface instead of trying to help him resolve the root of his block.

  13. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to live in my 50s and make time to do introspection.
    I am blessed to be able to work on reprogramming my own false beliefs & other (family/cultural/societal, etc) belief systems as well as negative behavior patterns and traits.

  14. Some people are raised to apprehend the world with discrimination. It is not their fault, it is their parents. This is the reason why people need to be fit and well prepared before conceiving a child. This client is just a case. The world is growing and the global consciousness is improving. Let’s keep it positive no matter the circumstances because the future looks brighter than the present moment. The world is going to God, not to the devil.

  15. My husband’s alcoholism and my codependency with him because it sent me on a healing and completely transformative journey that gave me the ability show others how to know what God is trying to tell them.

    1. Christine, I’m so happy that you were able to come out of that with healing and such a positive outlook! Sometimes we need those tough experiences to open up our eyes to our truer purpose.

  16. The wackiest thing I am thankful for is coming home from work to see the mess my kids have done. I say, “thank you Lord that my house looks lived in “. The reason I’m thankful for this is because I have friends with picture perfect homes that wish they had kids to give life to their homes. I also work with the mentally and physically disabled in which I’m sure their parents would of done anything to have them home running around and playing with toys making a mess. So yeah, I’m thankful for the mess.

  17. I am thankful at the age of 57 I am finally overstanding life and my purpose. When one is consumed with keeping a household going one tend to forget oneself. Not that I inferentially forgot myself, my children were the first priority. The youngest is now 16 and have a solid foundation.
    I said to my husband two nights ago, I must travel the world come 2019 sharing with women how they can regain their wings and fly. My platform is living life after domestic abuse also becoming aware of the essence of your ancestors and knowing one has a job to do because we are their representative.

    1. That’s wonderful Camille! Sometimes women need to be reminded of their power. I’m glad you found your wings and want to share that message with others

  18. Peace
    Thank you for sharing, what a powerful piece.Wow, I can see myself in every part of this writting.I am grateful for my 75 year old Mentor and Spiritual teacher.She is a Former Civil Rights Leader, a Researcher of culture and community.
    Like, your experience, she taught me how to sit back in silence, and listen more to observe my surroundings.She has taught me how to name things for what they really are, including discrimination in the work place.
    I am a Project Manager in a fairly racist organization, that ironically serves marginalized communitities.Bieng in a leadership role, as an African Immigrant waman, is a choice I made, because, if I do not seat at that table, my community will never taste Equity.
    I am thankful to learn how to stand up to rasism and other (isms), through responding that reacting.I have learned about naming what I observe and when one of my colleagues asked me not to “feel that way”, i hax a teachung moment with her about MICROAGRESSIONS and how they actually work, as she was.
    It has been liberating to share my truths with my oppressors and still show up to do a great job for my community.
    Thank you.

  19. Thank you Dr. Lauria for sharing your experience with us. I can honestly say, ” I am sorry that you had that experience but I read what you may now understand about being discriminated against. Self-assessment to make us ‘our best selves’ or cause us to realize that inwardly, we are in the best possible place with who we are and how we are to each other is very powerful and humbling. After I read, “The Wackiest Thing I’m Thankful for this Year (You seriously aren’t going to believe this one)” I wanted to ask this question: When realized you were being discriminated against as a women, did you or do you wonder if you have ever (unknowingly) discriminated against someone else? This is one of the questions I asked myself as well. Using this information, I briefly scanned some of my recently past actions, decisions and attitudes when interacting with people. My brief self-assessment didn’t provide any evidence but it would be interesting to me, to hear what some of the people I’ve worked with or served may have to say…

    I would love to know what it feels like to have a life as you stated yours has been before you had this experience. To live anywhere in the world and be able to say, “I have never known racial, gender, religious or any other type of discrimination”, would be a Utopian experience for me. Discrimination is (unfortunately) become a way of life that so many people continue to fight against outwardly and inwardly struggle not to become the ‘thing’ or like those that treat us unfairly. Your writing about this Dr. Lauria, spoke to several aspects of what happens to people and how a person thinks or re-acts to being discriminated against.
    I hope everyone reading what you’ve shared, and those that have not experienced discrimination, will at least start to understand, that discrimination or being discriminated against is not a situation or situations of misunderstanding but breeding grounds for violence and murder.

    With that being said, I am most thankful for the positive endings that sometimes come from negative situations.

  20. Thank you Dr. Lauria for sharing your experience with us. I can honestly say, ” I am sorry that you had that experience but I read what you may now understand about being discriminated against.

    Self-assessment to make us ‘our best selves’ or cause us to realize that inwardly, we are in the best possible place with who we are and how we are to each other is very powerful and humbling. After I read, “The Wackiest Thing I’m Thankful for this Year (You seriously aren’t going to believe this one)” I wanted to ask this question: When realized you were being discriminated against as a women, did you or do you wonder if you have ever (unknowingly) discriminated against someone else? This is the questions I asked myself. Using this information, I briefly scanned some of my recently past actions, decisions and attitudes when interacting with people. My brief self-assessment didn’t provide any evidence but it would be interesting to me, to hear what some of the people I’ve worked with or served may have to say…

    I would love to know what it feels like to have a life as you stated yours has been before you had this experience. To live anywhere in the world and be able to say, “I have never known racial, gender, religious or any other type of discrimination”, would be a Utopian experience for me. Discrimination is (unfortunately) become a way of life that so many people continue to fight against outwardly and inwardly struggle not to become the ‘thing’ or like those that treat us unfairly. Your writing about this Dr. Lauria, spoke to several aspects of what happens to people and how a person thinks or re-acts to being discriminated against.
    I hope everyone reading what you’ve shared, and those that have not experienced discrimination, will at least start to understand, that discrimination or being discriminated against is not a situation or situations of misunderstanding but breeding grounds for violence and murder.

    With that being said, I am most thankful for the positive endings that sometimes come from negative situations.

  21. This is not a difficult post, there is just not enough time in the space provided to explore the depth of discrimination that I encounter as an African American woman and chaplain. However what is wacky is that the universe would provide me via this post the exercise of searching through the blah, blah, blah, and white noise of life to find an authentic response. I can honestly say the wackiest endeavor that I engaged in this year was writing my dissertation which uncovered the dirty underbelly of Christianity (the faith tradition which I am liscened and ordained in). And in spite of all of the atrocities that have been committed in the name of “Christian” faith I still believe in a God that loves and welcomes all people, regardless of gender identity, age, race, economic status, and faith tradition to the table. I learned that pain is a catalyst for change, an indicator of healing as well as illness, and a conduit for transformation. I struggled, but kept showing up, kept writing, kept trusting the process. When I was finished my eyes were opened to the importance of taking care of my spirit. I could see clearly how 21 century ministry is about facilitating the spiritual journey of an individual holistically. It is not a pie in the sky, walk the straight line endeavor. It is a day to day, moment by moment practice of intentional mindfulness everyday. It is what drives my ministry when I conduct spirituality groups with addiction recovery and behavioral health patients. It gives me the foundation to be present for others, that at first glance discount my ability or gift to walk with them on this spiritual journey. It fires my passion and reminds me to trust the process even in the midst of the blah blah blah and white noise of this chaotic community because there is hope.

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