The Women Who Made Me

 

Ladies, in case you didn’t know – Wednesday is OUR day.

International Women’s Day. A whole day to celebrate us because, being honest, we’re pretty bloody great aren’t we? I find so much to admire about my gender and the people who fall into it. I’ve been lucky to have been around some pretty fabulous women my whole life. I am a combination of these women; their lives, experiences and influence have helped shape me in to the woman I am today.

The women who made me come from everywhere. All over. Some real, some make-believe. Some I know personally. Some I don’t. Their influence on my life has been no less because I don’t know them on a personal level, or because they are the figment of someone’s imagination.

I am surrounded daily by women whom I admire, women who have traits and qualities I covet, women that teach me things about myself and the world, that influence me in all areas of my life. The women I surround myself with are my biggest cheerleaders, my biggest challengers. Badasses, the lot of ’em!

The women I am about to write about are the women that I feel had the biggest influence on turning the painfully shy, socially awkward Michaela into the less shy and slightly less socially awkward Michaela I am today in the years when I was still trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be.

 

My Mum – the ever delightful Mazza.

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Those of you that know me well would know to expect to find my mum on this list. What can I say about the woman who raised me? She’s fuckin’ nuts. She really is. Aside from the standard ‘mum’ lessons that most mums instill in their children, the biggest thing she has taught me is to laugh. Life is there to be enjoyed; laughter is the best medicine. She taught me humility and gave me the gift of being able to laugh at myself. She gave me my love for music – without which I would be completely lost. Music is my best therapy, aside from writing, and there are many times in my life – without sounding too dramatic – that music has saved me from feeling too lonely and lost.

 

My siblings.

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My sisters also deserve their own shout out because they too have had a hand in making me who I am. I am really mix of both of them. They have both always been very protective of me as the youngest child. Melanie is loud and strong, stubborn as a mule – traits that have definitely rubbed off on me. Melissa is quiet, shy and can be quite conservative, I have those sides of me too. One thing that I have gained from these betches is balance. As I said I am a mix of the two of them – so whilst I can be stubborn I am often the one that helps Melanie see the other side of the story and that goes for situations I find myself in too. Being able to see both sides is a trait I’m proud I possess. Melissa has helped me developed my “fake it till you make it façade” – when I push the status quo too far Melissa is there as my moral compass, keeping me on the straight and narrow.

 

Cinderella

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 Cinderella was my favourite Disney princess growing up. She was kind, gentle and she persevered through a mass amount of abuse from her stepmother and step sisters, and she still managed to come through the entire ordeal without wishing them any harm or wrongdoing. The animals were her friends. She lived in harmony with them – she even treated Lucifer (I hated that cat) with respect. She was soft but strong. Something that I aspire to be, even now. She was the lesson that whilst you cannot always change your circumstances or how people treat you, you can make the best of the situation – you can control your reaction to it.

Miss Glover/ Miss Meredith/ Miss Rao / Miss Brown.

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I have no pictures of my old teachers so here is one of Miss Honey from Matilda.

Miss Glover – Year 2 and 3 teacher

Miss Meredith – Year 6 teacher

Miss Brown – Biology teacher in Year 8 and 9

Miss Rao – Psychology teacher in years 12 and 13

These women are the female teachers that made me love school and learning. At 27, I still love to learn. Without sounding arrogant I was a bright student; academically I was above average in everything, except perhaps I. T (I still hate technology). I was however a lazy student – if the subject matter did not interest me, or the teacher was not engaging I would switch off and there was no going back. I fluked my way through all my GCSE and A-Level exams; rarely looking at revision books or notes.

Miss Glover was the first teacher that made me enjoy learning – she coaxed answers out of me in front of the whole class, something which no other teacher had been able to do. I was so shy in my first years at school that I would tell my friend what I thought and she would tell the teacher and rest of the class, until Miss Glover came along. To this day I still have no idea how she did it.

Miss Meredith was the first teacher I really looked up to. I remember just really liking her and would have happily stayed at school long after the bell rang when I was in her class.

As those of you that have met me know I am shorter than average. 5’1 to be exact. Of course growing up I was aware that I was much smaller than most of my class mates and it was never something that gave me much trauma but I was always very aware of it. Miss Brown was also a petite lady but she more than made up for it in attitude and she helped me see that being short didn’t mean you had to be ignored – you could still be short and sassy. She helped me learn how to own my height and be comfortable with it.

Miss Rao gave me my love for all things psychology related. Even now the human brain and psyche fascinate me. I love to observe people and find out why they do what they do, mental health issues and diseases fascinate me. I also just remember her being so cool for a teacher. She was young when she taught me, maybe mid twenties. She loved to travel in the holidays and would come back and tell us all these stories of what she’d done and where she’d been. I was just in awe of her and her confidence and how she carried herself – she really made being intelligent (and passionate about things) cool.

 

Keltie Knight nee Colleen.

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Keltie is an entertainment journalist based out of LA. She used to be a dancer and has danced with everyone from Beyoncé to Kanye, Panic at the Disco to Christina Perri.

I was going through a really tough time when I found Keltie online, it was around 2010 that I began to follow her. She used to send out emails to her blog followers called ‘Moonbeams’ – a weekly lesson or thought. She has provided me with food for thought for the last 8 years and continues to do so now. She has reminded me time and again that people need other people and spreading happiness can be effortless.

Her book “Rockette, Rockstars and Rockbottom” taught me to own my vulnerabilities, to not be ashamed of the bad times and the sadness that surrounds them. That it’s ok to be sad and have a pity party every now and again but you can’t stay there – you have to get up and fight again.

Diane Alice Lorraine.

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Funny story: when I met Diane I didn’t like her. She hired me when I was 17, buggered off to run another store for a couple of months, came back and I hated her. I still remember the first thing she ever said to me and where it was. Fast forward 10 years and I’d be completely bloody lost without her. She’s put up with the majority of my crap over the years, calling me out on my shit when it’s needed and providing me with some much-needed pep talks. The one thing Diane has taught me, I think more than anything, is that it is ok to want more. Some people are happy to settle but it’s ok not to. As a girl from a working class background that grew up on a council estate people would expect me to settle – so many do, Diane made me see it’s ok not to. In fact she actively encouraged me not to. Thanks, C**t.

Marina Diamandis of Marina and the Diamonds

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“Are you satisfied with an average life?”

“Look like a girl but I think like a guy”

“Can’t let your cold heart be free,
When you act like you’ve got an OCD”

“It’s okay to say you’ve got a weak spot
You don’t always have to be on top
Better to be hated
Than loved loved loved for what you’re not”

Marina was the first female singer / songwriter that I related to – her lyrics where about everything from not feeling good enough, mental health issues, being bored with what society demanded of females and the standard idea of beauty we see in gossip magazines. Of course she wasn’t the first EVER female to sing about these things but she was the first I related to from my age bracket that I listened to. Her lyrics could have come out of my journal, even my friends have remarked over the years that her songs ‘could be about you’. Especially her song ‘Girls” of which Marina herself has said: Of her song

“It’s a call for women to stop being their own enemies. These days you’re either a nun or a whore, to be both and neither, all in one. I want to help redefine women’s place in society.” I love her.

 

These are, of course, a handful of the women that helped make me who I am. I have 4 Aunts who each have played their part in who I am. Up to the age of 20 they and those name above were without a doubt the biggest players in making me, well, me. There are friends that I have made over the years too that have played a part. Becky was my first best friend, Rebecca in middle school – I remember many a sleepover at her house, Neysa in secondary school – she helped me find my singing voice, encouraged me to join the choir which led to many more memories… I could sit here all day and list the women that made me, everyone that has influenced me. The list would be never-ending because I guess in a way, everyone we come into contact with impacts us. We are the people we surround ourselves with.

 

To the women that have made me, thank you!

To the women I know and surround myself with – thank you!

To women all over the world – you matter, your stories matter and you fucking ROCK.

 

Here’s to having a vagina!

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xoxo Micks

I’m not a bitch, I’m the boss.

 

First I need to do some background checks. The LadyGang podcast. For those that don’t know The LadyGang is a super fun weekly podcast (Tuesdays are the new Fridays, girls) hosted by Becca Tobin of Glee fame and fash blogger extraordinaire, Jac Vanek the ultimate scene queen and owner of a rad clothing line and my lifespiration Keltie Knight, former Rockette and entertainment journo. Ladies, imagine Sunday brunch with your gal pals talking, laughing, drinking…that is this podcast. Every week they have different guests –mostly fierce females because…LADYgang….duh… the official description is “LadyGang” is a celebrity driven podcast from the minds and mouths of Keltie Knight, Jac Vanek, and Becca Tobin where no subject is off limits. Inspired by their bottomless mimosa brunches, each week, a celebrity guest joins the girls for a raw, honest, and hilarious look at what life is really like under the bright lights of Hollywood.

This weeks guests were the two Foster sisters who created the VH1 show Barely Famous, one of the questions they were asked was around their place as females bosses in Hollywood which is generally dominated by males in power.

This is what they said…

“Whats very hard for women is knowing how to be say what you want without feeling like you’re acting like a bitch. And I have fully accepted acting like a bitch if that’s how it comes across. I think you have to have confidence in your choices, it’s very easy to be talked out of things and I do believe that men will be condescending and by the way women are condescending too….

 

“I don’t need you more than you need me, I am willing to lose what I have, I’d rather do that than stand behind something I don’t believe in.”

 

If a man goes nuclear its fine but if I go nuclear it’s “is it that time of the month, she’s crazy! She’s difficult… but when a guy does it he’s just being a boss.”

 

“As women we learn to justify ourselves and I think as women as soon as you justify yourself you’re asking people to treat you like a child… don’t justify you living.”

 

As someone who has worked herself up from being a minion to being a boss, a female one at that, this is a subject that piques my interest. For various reasons but mainly because it is true and it is something I have experienced more than once whilst I have been management. You should also bear in mind that I work in a very female dominated company – the majority of my fellow store managers are female, the higher up you go the more penises you encounter. I cannot speak for my colleagues when I say I have encountered this, I guess you could call it sexism, but it is something that I have been subject to – especially by customers.

 

I have been spoken down to more times than I care to remember, I get I’m 5’1 and most people have to talk down to me because most people are taller, but being spoken down to because you are a woman, and a short one at that, is something that is a very real thing for me. Or at least it used to be.

 

Over the years, like the Foster sisters suggest, I have stopped trying to justify my existence and stopped trying to, almost apologise, for doing my job. If you do something wrong, I will tell you off. Not because I have my period, because I am the boss. I will tell that customer no, not be because I am hormonal but because I am the boss. I will step in and take over when someone is verbally abusing a member of my team, because I am the boss. Just because I have a vagina it doesn’t mean I am hormonal. It doesn’t make me a bitch. It means I’m doing what I am being paid to do. I am being the boss.

 

If I am being honest, being hobbit sized probably doesn’t help. I do not know what my fellow little ladies have found, but, certainly working in retail, I have found that men, not all men let me make clear, but rather a certain type of man, will try to use their height and general masculinity to try to intimidate me into doing what they want. They will become aggressive, swear, hit things, shout… all to try to make me cower in the corner saying yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir. Take what you want, do what you want just please don’t make poor, weak little me cry. Well I’m sorry dudes, all this does is two things 1. Piss me off more and make me less likely to go out my way to help you 2. Make me think you’re trying to make up for something else. You need to show your masculinity to the world in that kind of way? You’re insecure, bro.

 

If you google ‘Female Boss’ it makes my heart drop.

“Are female bosses really that awful?”

“Why men and women prefer male bosses?’

“Don’t work for a female boss”

Just a few of the headlines you’ll find when you google ‘female boss’.

Really? Like, really, really? Are we that bad? I don’t get it. The female bosses I have worked for, which has been a lot over the last decade, have not been bad. Some of them did leave me wondering how they actually got the job in the first place, but none of them have made my life hell. If anything it was those women that empowered me and taught me all I know. It was women that gave me the opportunity to progress and coached me into being the manager I am now. Of course I’m not perfect at my job, but I work at it.

 I could sit here a list ways in which you could get ahead in the workplace, or lessons I have learnt being a female boss but there are enough articles on the web that can do that for you. All I will say is this… the Foster sisters hit the nail on the head

STOP JUSTIFYING YOURSELF.

Erase the word ‘just’ from your vocab. You’re not ‘just’ checking up on the progress on the report that’s due. You’re checking up on it. Cut the fluff. You’re doing your job. It’s business,it’s not personal; if anyone takes offence to that or calls you a bitch for that, screw’em. I mean, still be polite, manners are free, but don’t apologise for doing your job. Your employee isn’t going to be the one sat in a room with your boss explaining why that shipment didn’t come in on time, or that deadline was missed. You will be. So make sure no one puts you in that position. You’re in control.

Own it.

Work it.

Get it done.

Preferably in a fabulous pair of shoes.

Xoxo Micks

Subscribe to the LadyGang podcast for a does of awesome every Tuesday on itunes or listen on Podcast one. You can also sign up to their mailing list at http://www.theladygang.com

Shop Jac’s site: http://www.jacvanek.com

Follow Becca’s blog: http://www.junemoss.com

Follow Keltie on Instagram because she’ll love you forever @keltieknight

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