Featured

Two more countries now have paid leave. Guess who’s not one of them?

The U.S. is the only industrialized country without a national paid leave program. A few months ago, I wrote this article about the lack of paid leave in the U.S. Since then, I was informed by the WORLD Policy Analysis Center that two more countries implemented paid leave programs, Swaziland and Lesotho. (We’re working on a new infographic.)

So now the U.S. is one of only three countries in the world with no national mandated paid leave program. The other two are Papua New Guinea and Suriname, and a few South Pacific islands. It’s time for us to catch up.

And there is a way, right now, that we can start. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Rosa De Lauro co-sponsored The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act, S. 1810 and H.R. 3712), a bill currently in Congress that outlines the way to bring paid leave to the U.S.

This is a self-funded program much like disability; it uses 2/10 of 1% of the employee’s salary, which ends up being about $1.50 a week from the employee and employer. It does not add to the federal debt, and the office for regulation will be within the Social Security department. For more info, check out the fact sheet here.

Inevitably, the next question is: Why should I have to pay in to this program? Employers will not be paying employees on this leave program. The money will be drawn from a fund for all Social Security-eligible Americans. It is important to understand that this is not just a maternity leave program. It’s also for those with sick family members, and you never know when that may happen.

The FAMILY Act was introduced so that you never have to choose between a paycheck and your family. You may not agree with this bill, but there’s a good chance you’ll reap its benefits.

So please help us spread the word. Help us get the FAMILY Act passed and put some substance behind our so-called “family values.”

Why “Badass” is staying on my business card

In which I talk about really owning my badassery.

I have many titles in my professional life, some of which are quite mainstream.

Naval Flight Officer.
Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor.
Executive Director.
Mother.

But I also have a few self-assigned titles that aren’t as mainstream or accepted.

Visionary Badass Changemaker.
The QuickBooks Badass.

Recently, someone told me that I’d have to remove “Badass” from my business card before they’d work with me.

You may think I’d say “oh, hell no” without a second thought and move on, right?

But I’ve really wrestled with it.

Because I have this strange dichotomy that I think may be pretty common; I want to be liked, accepted and respected by…well…everybody, really. But I also have a burning need to live authentically and unapologetically. And here’s the thing.

It’s been working.

I have gained clients simply because of the Badass in my title, and I have retained those clients because they find out that it’s true.

Embracing my badassery is a relatively new thing. I’m both military service member and female. Society discourages us from touting our accomplishments. I’m not “supposed to” be walking around calling myself a badass.

But some colleagues helped me realize about two years ago that I have earned the title. I was the only female aviator in my squadron and one of a small minority on my ship. I have almost 1000 hours in my aircraft and am an Advanced Mission Commander. I have birthed and breastfed two amazing children. I am starting a nonprofit. I am going to graduate school.

These are all things I can take pride in, and I’m not going to apologize for it. Nor should you.

We should not apologize for stepping into our power and owning our accomplishments.

We have the right to tell the world what we can offer.

I have been accused of being an “attention whore.” And for years, I rebelled against the title. But I have to admit, it’s true. And then I ask myself, what do I do with that attention?

I divert it.

I’m not actually comfortable getting face-to-face praise. I’m not great at accepting compliments. But I’m happy to talk at length about other people and issues. I have been known to get on my soapbox at parties and rally reluctant party-goers around paid leave and the FAMILY Act. I have gone on at length about normalizing breastfeeding and supporting all mothers regardless of their choices.

In other words, I use that attention to try and make this world a better place – for women, for families, for children. For all of us humans.

I have always been adventurous, outgoing and semi-blunt. I have always had a strong need to help people and make a difference. I have always spoken out when others wouldn’t or couldn’t.

I am a Badass. And you are too.

Leave a comment and tell me about yourself. Would you feel comfortable calling yourself a badass? What would you tell people about your accomplishments if you had no fear of looking cocky or arrogant? What would you do in my situation? I’d love to hear from you!

Love and purple,

Eve

Feminine power in a man’s world: Lingerie under my flight suit.

Until 2010, I was an active duty Naval Flight Officer (NFO) in the E-2C Hawkeye. I was the only female aviator in my squadron, the World Famous Rulers of the Planet VAW-123 Screwtops. Yes, we actually called ourselves that. It was even in my official military orders. I love Naval Aviation.

20140719-164201-60121875.jpg
Photo credit: Derek Gordon

Flight school was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I was stressed in a million new ways, and in the beginning the stress was bringing out the best in me. I excelled and was feeling pretty good, even a bit cocky.

That was all about to change.

Things ramped up as we got closer to the winging ceremony, which is, as you may as figured, the ceremony wherein the students officially get their wings. I had a lot of flights and simulator events to get through, and my multitasking skills weren’t as good as I thought they were. My confidence wavered, and my performance started to take a nose dive, so to speak.

I am eternally grateful for my mentor at the time, a talented and dedicated female instructor who took extra time to work with me. She even came in on weekends to help me in the simulator, and I know that extra bit of practice and instruction is what finally got my skills where they needed to be.

Fast forward to my last flight before wings. I was incredibly anxious, because I was scheduled to fly with a notoriously nerve-wracking instructor. Even though I had improved dramatically, I was letting self-doubt creep in where it didn’t belong.

There’s a reason that aviators tend toward cockiness. It’s practically a required trait. Generally, it applies more to pilots than NFOs out of necessity; pilots need to have the confidence to land an 80 million dollar aircraft on a flight deck the size of a 7-11 parking lot. As an NFO, you still have life and death decisions to make, just not as often, and in different arenas. So you need to be good, and you need to know you’re good. I wasn’t so sure. That’s bad.

20140719-111839-40719203.jpgDon’t worry, I got my wings.

Although I had wavering confidence in my military prowess, I never doubted my sexual prowess. (For a long time, I did not use my powers for good; that’s a bad girl post for another time.) So what do you do if you’re a sexually confident military woman who is nervous about an event? Wear racy lingerie under your uniform.

So that’s what I did. Lacy bra, matching thong, garter belt, stockings, everything but my whip and handcuffs.

And it worked. Every time I got sweaty-palm nervous controlling aircraft or getting grilled by my instructor, I took a deep breath, recalled my knowledge, thought “he’s got no idea what I’m wearing under my flight suit” and kicked ass.

It’s kind of like imagining your audience naked, only it’s you. And not naked. Ok, it’s a bit of a stretch, but you know what I mean.

For me, it was a tool to alleviate my stress and focus on the task at hand. It was a little bit of “I know something you don’t” that gave me a much-needed confidence boost. Every human interaction is a power play, so having a little extra knowledge secreted away gives you an edge.

Tell me your stories. What methods do you use to cope with stressful situations? Would you try mine?

Love and purple to you all,

Eve
aka “ODB”

One nation under Goddess: Why I can’t worship a man

I love my husband, my son, my father, all the men in my life. But I can’t deify them.

Yet isn’t that what we do every day? 

I have some very close gentile friends who are devout Christians and wonderful people. And it irks me to no end when they talk about “His will for me.” Why not G-d’s will? Or the Creator’s will? Because as long as “He” continues to permeate our mainstream vernacular, we will not be equal. 

A patriarchy wrote a holy book to solidify the institution. The Bible has done a bang-up job of perpetuating it. How can we be equal when male = godliness and female = helpmate?

One of my dearest friends once told me about a program at her preteen daughter’s school called The Brotherhood. I expressed concern that the girls might feel left out. She assured me that “brotherhood” didn’t really mean only boys, that people consider it gender neutral. 

Really? Which people? I’m betting they are male. And even if girls don’t consciously feel excluded, the subconscious effect of brotherhood as gender neutral could have a long-lasting impact on girls’ confidence and feminine pride.

But “he” is just a generic pronoun, some say. 

No, it’s not. No more than “she” is generic to men. 

When I say goddess, there comes the eye rolling and pronunciations of Wicca and dancing around a fire. But G-d is fine. The difference? Gender. 

But G-d has no gender, you say. 

My point exactly. Let’s go on the assumption that we had, whether still around or not, a creator. And let’s say we call that creator G-d. If G-d has no gender, then why does it matter what pronoun we use? Why can’t I say Goddess and have Her revered in the same way?

When half the world’s population is excluded from godliness, what can we do? It’s an uphill battle. 

When it comes to religious ramblings, all I can offer as credentials are my Hebraic studies minor (I’m a super Jew!) and an upbringing in a predominantly Jewish community. I’m lucky to be part of a religion that encourages discussion and dissection.

Until we really delve into the maleness of G-d, I don’t know how far we can get within a patriarchy that is literally worshipped. 

But I’m sure as hell going to try.

I’m a Badass Changemaker™ and proud of it. Now you say it.

Recently I answered a post on LinkedIn that asked us to describe ourselves in one word and explain why. Here’s what I wrote:

“Badass. I’ve worked hard for everything I’ve achieved, I am an unstoppable force for good, and a woman to be reckoned with. (For instance, I fearlessly end sentences with prepositions.) And most importantly, I’m finally embracing who I am without apology or shame.”

It felt so good to write that. I’ve spent way too long being concerned that people would think I’m cocky or arrogant or bitchy, or any words used to describe someone who challenges power assumptions.

No more.

I’ve worked hard to become who I am. I’ve been challenged by the military, by parenting, by society’s expectations, and I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought possible.

And I’m not done. Not by a long shot.

I’m a short Jewish chick who has been told repeatedly that I can’t do what I’ve done: race cars, graduate flight school, deploy on a carrier, sing with soul, have purple hair, love everyone.

Change the world.

I’m a Badass Changemaker™, and I’m gathering my tribe. You know who you are. The ones who aren’t satisfied with the status quo of this existence. The ones who want more for their children and their children’s children. The ones who want to leave this world a better place than it was when we came into it.

We have much to do. Challenging modern medicine’s approach to birthing and parenting. Elevating mothers and families on our list of priorities. Getting paid leave in our country, the last industrialized nation without it. Bringing authenticity and love to the forefront of our ideals, ahead of strength and financial success.

Who’s with me? Comment and tell me why you want to be a Badass Changemaker™ too. And there’s a BC website coming too, so be sure to follow me for updates on that.

We can do this. It’s starting.

Love and purple to all of you,

Eve

20140615-162103-58863836.jpg

“Silence” by Anasuya Sengupta

“Too many women in too many countries
speak the same language of silence.
My grandmother was always silent, always aggrieved
Only her husband had the cosmic right (or so it was said)
to speak and be heard.
They say it is different now.
(After all, I am always vocal and my grandmother
thinks I talk too much)
But sometimes I wonder.
When a woman shares her thoughts, as some women do,
graciously, it is allowed.
When a woman fights for power, as all women would like
to, quietly or loudly, it is questioned.
And yet, there must be freedom — if we are to speak
And yes, there must be power — if we are to be heard.
And when we have both (freedom and power) let us now be
understood.
We seek only to give words to those who cannot speak
(too many women in too many countries)
I seek to forget the sorrows of my grandmother’s silence.”

ANASUYA SENGUPTA

Be kind. F*ck nice.

A friend recently asked me to write a letter to people who are always worried how they’re coming across to others. She doesn’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings by sharing hers, but she’s also sick of editing herself. In her awesome words, “I mean, when will I stop fretting over this sh*t?” (Oh dear, someone might be offended by my language. Oh well. F*ck it.) Sound familiar? Do you constantly censor yourself because you’re worried about other people’s reactions?

In our hunter-gatherer primitive nature, women especially have an inherent urge to nurture and protect. So it is completely natural to care about the feelings and opinions of others. What tends to happen, though, is that we too often put those feelings and opinions above our own. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about how our words impact other people. Of course that matters. But the more we hold back our authenticity, the less connection we feel. How great it would it be to feel truly comfortable in your own skin, no matter where you are?

I love this quote:

20140602-103533-38133069.jpg

I tell my kids to be honest and kind. Over and over I say it, honesty and kindness. Because I don’t want them to fall prey to this unfortunate social epidemic of white lies. I guess it hearkens back to “if you don’t have something nice to say, blah blah blah” which has merit at its root, but that has morphed into never talking about how we really feel.

It’s created a culture of nice insincerity and political correctness.

If we are really going to be kind, we have to be our best, truest selves. We care about what others think; now we just have to work on caring about ourselves more. And it needs to be a social contract where we ALL do it. We speak the truth with kindness, and we believe the best of others. We need to give other people the latitude that we’d like them to give us.

Will you join me in showing our true selves with honesty and kindness? Let’s spread the word. #bekindfucknice. Or #bekindfcknice. Whatever floats your boat. I won’t judge.

Love and purple to you all,

Eve

20140602-102953-37793155.jpg

An open letter to my son: I’m sorry for circumcising you

This letter originally appeared at The Purple Mama on October 13, 2013.

My sweet Buddy,

First of all, I love you and I’m so very proud of you. And I’m incredibly grateful for our family. You and  your sister make me burst with happy laughter every day. (Sometimes I pee a little. Look, I’ve had two kids, ok? You’ll understand eventually.)

20131018-081549.jpg
Chances are that when you read this, most of your friends and peers at Jewish school are circumcised, you’ve never had a problem with it, and you’re perfectly happy (G-d willing.) But now that you’re old enough to know about intact vs. circumcised, and if you feel wronged or violated in any way, there’s something I have to tell you. (And no more jokes for this part.)

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that I let my religious upbringing override my mommy instinct. I’m sorry that I didn’t give you a choice. I wanted to make sure you feel like you belong instead of feeling different the way I did growing up.

What I know now, though, is that different is not such a bad thing. And belonging isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

It took me over thirty years to finally and truly love myself, and I hope and pray it doesn’t take you (and your sister) half as long. Because if I had fully embraced my true belief system earlier, I would have fought tooth and nail to leave you intact. To let you decide if you want to follow in some of your male ancestors’ footsteps, whatever the reason. Every part of you was perfect when you were born, and every part of you still is. I just wish I hadn’t decided to remove part of you without your consent.

Your bris was a beautiful and moving ceremony, and I’m glad we had it. But if I could talk to the pre-bris me struggling with this decision, I’d remind myself how often I tell mothers to ignore others and listen to their inner voice.

I’d remind myself how much research I do on anything that impacts my family. (I wish I had known about the Brit Shalom ceremony.)

I’d remind myself that we (and many other Jewish families) don’t keep kosher, or strictly observe Sabbath. That we pick and choose from biblical directives based on myriad factors. So why choose to continue this one?

I have no good answer. Only the real one: this is how we’ve always done it. Which is a phrase that always made me shudder when I was the Aviation Safety Officer for my squadron. That phrase rarely leads to good things.

Please forgive me, wonderful son of mine. Or if there’s nothing to forgive, just come give me a hug. Or call me, because I always love hearing your voice.

I love you and your sister to the moon and back, to the infinity power. You two and your father are my everything, and always will be.

Your eternally devoted and fiercely loving Mamabear

I guess I’m a whip it out mom

originally published 9/13/13 on The Purple Mama

We’ve all heard it. Some of us have probably said it. “I support nursing in public, but some women just whip it out…”

And it baffles me every time. I mean, have you really ever seen someone do this? “I’m gonna feed the baby now – HEY EVERYONE HERE COMES THE BOOB! WOOHOO!” It makes us sound like Nursing Moms Gone Wild.

And let’s look at the but, shall we? (Heh.) If you say “I support nursing in public but…” then you do not support nursing in public.

Here’s the thing. All I’m trying to do is feed my kid. I’m not trying to flash anyone. Honest. But my baby (and many others) won’t nurse under a cover, nor should he have to. It’s summer. In Florida. Y’all, it is effing hot. A nursing tank top is part of my daily outfit, so there’s going to be some boob showing while I’m feeding my boy. And that’s ok. Breasts are primarily for nutrition. Breasts are not sexual organs or genitalia. Breasts are loved around the world because they are the first thing we ever knew and loved.

Please know that the mother you see is only trying to nurture her baby or toddler with the food that is meant for her little one. Why should she be banished to solitary confinement so she can nurse? Why should she have to remove herself from social situations because other people aren’t yet comfortable with the normalcy of nursing? She needs to be with the rest of us, because that’s the only way people will get used to seeing it. That’s the only way we can truly re-normalize breastfeeding.

Let’s review:

Breasts are not sex organs. We are not whipping them out for you.

We. Are. Mothering.

It needs to be said again. And again. And again.

So next time you see a nursing mother, or a bottle-feeding mother (because people aren’t always nice to them either, but that’s another article coming soon), please give her a smile, a friendly nod, or some sign that says “hey, thanks for doing what you do, and keep doing it.” And here’s the key: do that even if you don’t agree with what she’s doing. Because that, my friends, is how we will bring back the village.

Please tell me your story, and how much support you did or didn’t get. Let’s figure this out together and make things better for all moms.

Much love and purple to all of you,

Eve