Growing up, I was exposed to many opposing messages of what it meant to be a woman in American society and the workforce: From the etiquette classes of the ’50s and ’60s, where women were taught how to walk “properly” by balancing books on their heads, to the women’s rights activists of the ’70s such as Gloria Steinem and powerful cinematic characters such as Norma Rae. These were opposing messages to me. Know your place. Fight the power.
It felt as if women had made little progress in advancing our status in the workplace over the previous four decades. Today, wages have risen somewhat but they still lag behind men’s wages for the same level positions. Many of the industries I’ve worked in, such as animation and software development, are male dominated, with few female employees.
Even though there was awareness of the hypocrisies in the workforce, not enough had been done to significantly balance the scales between men and women. I believe that is changing now. The #metoo movement has served as a catalyst for the outing of sexual harassment in the workplace and beyond. And that movement has expanded to other areas of our society, beginning to shift it from a patriarchy to one in which men and women are on an even footing. It’s becoming commonplace for women to be outspoken and express themselves. And here at Vidyo, it’s encouraged.
In honor of International Women’s Day, Vidyo brought in NLP (neurolinguistic programming) and hypnosis practitioner Goulie Scheer to guide the women of Vidyo toward self-empowerment, awareness, and expression—a far cry from the days of covering your shoulders and knees in the workplace. Goulie led our room full of career-driven ladies through several deep meditations and practices designed to bring out our inner joy and happiness. She challenged us to expand the definition of ourselves to go beyond our job titles.
Goulie began with an inspirational quote about how women are masters of expansion:
“I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men. They are far superior and always have been. Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she will give you a baby. If you give her a house, she will give you a home. If you give her groceries, she will give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she will give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.”
—William Golding, British Novelist, Playwright and Poet
She pointed out how unique each one of us is as an individual and how it is our gift to the world to let all our special aspects be expressed. As an exercise in bringing out our inner joy, she had us put a straw between our teeth to force a smile. We were to sit in this smile for at least two minutes to trigger the neural pathways in our brain into thinking that we were happy. And it actually worked! The sight of our peers doing this exercise alone was enough to spark a few smiles and giggles.
Then Goulie guided us into a deep meditation designed to have us to look back into our past for some of our happiest moments in life, with the purpose of being able to draw on those recollections to lift ourselves up into a state of joy.
Some other tips were to make sure we stopped to take a few deep breaths before transitioning to the different sections of our day. She reminded us that we aren’t just career women. We are mothers, sisters, neighbors, pet parents, and friends. Our second shift begins after work ends. We have many roles in our day. It’s important to check in with oneself and take time to breathe and be present for the next moment in our day.
Goulie reminded us to look at our habits (nail biting was the example) and to look more deeply into why we create those habits. In this particular example, it was to relieve stress. She asked us to look more deeply at our stressors and discover healthier ways of dealing with those stressors—such as using the breath instead of nail biting.
She encouraged us to be kind to others. To bring a smile to our friends and co-workers and make sure to ask them about their day. The act of checking in on someone can be an uplifting moment for the person receiving the inquiry.
Overall it was a wonderful hour of self-inquiry and self-discovery. To be encouraged to take a moment out of our day to stop, breathe, and acknowledge how awesome we all are is pretty fantastic. We closed the event with a wonderful luncheon and some parting gifts. The women of Vidyo had time to connect and chat together in a rare moment of relaxation.
Vidyo holds a special event every year for International Women’s Day. It’s an opportunity to bring the women of Vidyo together to remind ourselves that we do not do it alone. We all struggle with the same things. We are all human. We are all women.
Never before in the time that I have been on this planet have I heard more loudly and clearly that it’s time for women to be who we are. It’s not cool anymore to act like the other girls on the playground or feel like you have to wear the latest fashions. BE YOU 100%—without shame. Share the gifts you were brought into this world to bestow—and do so with joy!
For Vidyo to take the time to pull us out of our work day to remind us of how incredibly amazing we all are is a beautiful thing. As a single mother with a corporate job, my day begins at 5:30 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m. when I fall flat on my face with exhaustion. Between those moments requires a dance of breath, balance, poise, and self-love to keep all those plates spinning with a smile on my face. It’s wonderful to see corporate America acknowledge how challenging that can be at times. And to remind me that I can do it all because I AM AMAZING. I AM WOMAN.