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Three Ways to Raise Wages

For a lot of working people, this holiday season will be one of belt-tightening rather than shopping sprees. Let’s face it, our wages just aren’t keeping up the way they used to. Here’s a fact: Average income for the least rich 90% of us has been flat since the 1970s, although people are working more hours. Not a recipe for a holiday-buying bonanza.

The answer isn’t to cut back even more, it’s to raise wages. One sure way to put more money in consumers’ pockets and place upward pressure on pay is by raising the minimum wage—a sorely needed move that is stymied in Congress, although 20 states and as many localities have raised their minimum wages over the past two years.

But that’s not the only way.

Let’s look at three other paths to raising wages where we can see progress now:

My #1 life balance secret

“Are you listening to your life; what is it trying to tell you?” Renee Trudeau

Most people are surprised to hear that I love making a big pot of minestrone soup for my family and friends as much as I love getting invited to go to India to speak to a women’s group on work/life balance. So after almost six weeks of speaking gigs and travel, I’m ready to be at home, anchor, reconnect with my family and get clear on my top priorities. One of the ways I do this after a busy time, is by taking a personal planning retreat.

I take personal retreats-usually each quarter–to sit with the questions, “What is uniquely mine to do?” and “What is the best use of my energy and talents in the next 3 months?”

Holding it together is overrated

I’m known as the oldest of seven, the product of overachievers, a hyper-competent “woman who always has answers and knows where she’s going,” the go-to girl–the one who always seems have it together.

And as I move deeper into the second half of my life, I’m questioning how this affects me–what is the price I pay for stepping into this personae? As a life balance evangelist, I’ve come a long way: I’ve let a lot of perfectionist tendencies drop, am less controlling than before and am a big advocate for the “good is good enough” message–but what would it look like for me to be MORE vulnerable? To be less prepared, less polished, more messy and human than I have ever been before?

It takes a lot of energy to told it together. My yoga teacher Jenn shared a story about a photographer who shot Salvador Dali over a stretch of five minutes (with time-lapsed breaks in between). Seeing Dali go back and forth between “DALI!” and a tired, slightly slumped over normal guy in a chair was fascinating. It showed how much energy it took for the artist to be on stage, in personae–to “hold it together.”

From Cuddling to Canvassing

 

Lately, our idea of a hot date is to fling ourselves onto the couch. Then my husband casts me a knowing glance. I nod.  And the big turn on begins. With the touch of Casanova, he fondles not just one, but five remotes, as we settle in to enjoy the PBS series about Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Sexy? Not even I am that clinical.  But there is something satisfying about watching this series with the man I love.  Together, we learn tidbits of history that help us make sense of our world. We gasp at a sepia image of shacks dotting an urban waterfront.  Could that be Seattle? These communal moments spark some of our best conversations.  Strange, I know, but every night we drift off to sleep wanting more.

And the inspiration lingers.  Yesterday, the words of Eleanor Roosevelt gave me the courage to face the dreaded box I've been avoiding all summer, the one that's overflowing with snail mail:

Sisterhood

“We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.”  ― Marianne Williamson

I once spoke at a girls empowerment conference to a group of three hundred ten to thirteen-year-olds. As I was waiting to go on stage, I overheard a small group of four twelve year-olds talking about their day. One of them was really on fire after learning about civil engineering, and she was inspired to share her career dreams with the others. I could see her face quickly shift from a state of open excitement and joy to one of embarrassment and withdrawal as the other girls subtly expressed their discomfort at seeing their young friend so clearly own and express her personal power. And just yesterday a successful author and dear friend poured out her heart to me, sharing through tears how a long-time mentor was suddenly threatened by her success and was now “shutting her out,” and challenging her very right  to be seen and heard.

This is so not ok. Not on any level. Not ever. And it needs to end NOW.

5 Reasons I Take Retreats

“Are you listening to your life–what is it trying to tell you?”  Renee Trudeau

Stephen Cope, MSW, author and director of Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living says retreats don’t change our lives as much as they change where we stand in relationship to our lives—and our capacity to see the hidden possibilities there.

I grew up watching my parents take personal retreats–mostly meditation retreats–beginning in the early 1970s. I wasn’t really sure what they did or what happened during these periods when they were away, but I do remember how peaceful, grounded and loving they were when they returned from these respites.

Now retreats-whether it’s a one-day personal retreat at a nearby  greenbelt or a weekend or week-long experience out-of-state–have become essential to how I run my life. I think they’re one of the best investments I can make (in  myself!) and I consider them to be as essential to balanced living as oxygen.

I take retreats to support me in:

Pregnant Police Officer in Florence, KY Pushed Off the Job Due to City Policy

Office Lyndi Trischler is pregnant, lives with her one-year old daughter, and will soon have to move out of an apartment she can no longer afford because she’s been pushed out of her job. This is all because her employer, the City of Florence, Kentucky, will not permit any City employees to work with medical restrictions, unless they have been injured on-the-job.

As reported by the Washington Post yesterday:

“At five months pregnant with her second child, Officer Lyndi Trischler found that the gun belt she was required to wear on her 10-hour patrol shifts pulled painfully on her expanding abdomen. Her heavy bulletproof vest was so tight that she struggled to breathe. She began having heart palpitations.

You're Invited: SEIU Facebook Chat on Working Families

Today, too many working Americans are falling further and further behind. Thanks to decades of failed policies, there just aren’t enough good jobs with good pay or access to quality, affordable child care and health care services for enough of America’s workers.

How can we begin to fix this? It’s a conversation we think is worth having and we'd like you to take part.

Join us TOMORROW, June 20 for a live Facebook Chat on Working Families. The conversation starts at 2:00pm EST (11am PST) on SEIU’s Facebook Page. RSVP here.

Our chat experts will include SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and an SEIU child care, and an SEIU home care worker. They’ll take your questions on how workers everywhere can come together to build power through a union, increase access to child care and home care and demand a fair deal and better wages for all workers and their families.

Before the chat:

Calling Young Artists! National Contest to Raise Awareness About Poverty

With the swipe of a paintbrush or click of a camera, your child can make a difference in the fight to end poverty.  Not only that, they have the chance to win exciting prizes, and have their artwork showcased in a national campaign.

As part of our mission to build the political and public will to cut poverty in half in ten years, the Half in Ten Campaign is hosting our first ever nationwide art competition with the theme Our American Dream—What Will It Take To Get There?, and the June 30th submission deadline is only two weeks away. We are calling on everyone, ages 4 to 24, to unleash their creativity and engage in a national conversation with their families, teachers, and community members about poverty and what we need to do as a nation to tackle it.  

Thriving After Transitioning to a Third Metric Life

 

I recently finished reading Arianna Huffington’s latest book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder, and I have three words to describe it: It’s. About. Time.

 

Anyone who has a job that requires constant connectivity can identify with the social diseases of time famish and perpetual distraction. Using studies and anecdotes from her own time-strapped life that led to her collapse of exhaustion at work from stress and an emergency room visit, Huffington makes a compelling case for why the way many U.S. workers live is not only joyless – but unhealthy.

 

Stress. Exhaustion. Insomnia. Burnout. They have all been linked to physical illnesses like high blood pressure, heart disease and even premature death.

 

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