perspective

Doctor Doctor

A not-so-well-known fact about me: I’m a doctor. No, not the kind of doctor that prescribes medications or carries a stethoscope. I’m a doctor of the mind – a PhD. Earned in 2012 in Language and Literacy Education from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!)

Why do I bring this up? Recently I read an op-ed and surrounding arguments about our incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and whether or not she should own her “Dr.” title. The author raised all kinds of small-minded reasons why she should drop the Dr. title, even calling her “kiddo” at one point, as if her using the title she earned was childish and deserved a patronizing pat on the head. The arguments he made only showed his own shallow thinking and aren’t even worth reviewing here. Still all this made me mad, and also made me reflect on my own title.

I’m not going to bother to defend the work it took to earn my title. Six years, countless courses, teaching, publications, awards, etc. I have an obnoxiously long academic vita that does that. In some ways the PhD is a measure of stubbornness and I earned that through and through. I also won’t argue that all Dr. titles are worth the same. Especially now, when we see even more brightly how health care is heroism, I can’t even begin to equate what I have with what they can do.

What my PhD shows is that I have learned how to think. I have learned how to collect data, analyze it, theorize it, and write about it at length. When I earned that title, I knew that it was one of the few things no one could take away from me. I am one of the two “Drs.” in my building. Maybe it won’t surprise you that a school actually makes a big deal about a doctorate. Yes, my kindergarteners call me Dr. Friese. (Sometimes, with a wink at Southern custom, they call me “Miss Dr. Friese.”) For a while I wondered if the students should use my title or if it really mattered, but now I think it’s good for students to see that thinking is valuable in all areas of life. If they love that kind of advanced-level thinking and intellectual work / play, it can be pursued in countless contexts. Doctoring isn’t just in an office or hospital. We don’t all wear scrubs (and special props to those who do!) The more people see different possibilities, especially kids, the better.

On the flip side, Dr. has its downsides. I can be a total snob about things. I can’t unsee typos on a professional document. I ask too many questions at times, which can lead to the “analysis paralysis,” or being so stuck in overthinking I don’t get anything done. (I’m trying to remedy this with my OLW this year: DO!)

I also know that titles aren’t everything. Several people I know are much smarter than me learning from the school of hard knocks or lessons from in the trenches. I’ll be the first to argue that my classroom smarts doesn’t always help me “in the streets.” I embody the absentminded professor stereotype in many areas of life. Many will make a better living and a happier life taking paths that don’t necessarily lead to titles, certifications, or initials. So a Dr. isn’t everything, but it is something and it was the right challenge for me. Whether it’s initials or just more digits in your bank account, I’ll honor what you have earned.

What bothers me most about how this writer treated Dr. Biden is the tone and the underlying sexism of it all. As if being First Lady should make anything else she does or has done take a back seat. As if prioritizing her work as a highly educated educator is sort of laughable. As if the title conferred by marriage is the one she should favor over the one she earned for thinking, writing, and persisting. How many times have I gotten mail directed to Dr. and Mrs. instead of Mr. and Dr. or even Dr. and Mr.? Why does doctoring default to men? Why should women minimize what they earned when it takes nothing from anyone else? Sometimes I even minimize what I have earned myself, if I let the opinions of others invade my mind and erode my confidence.

When I taught at UGA, my students called me Beth. It was a personal choice and I had my reasons. These days, if someone calls me Mrs. Friese at work, I don’t correct them but my bosses often will if they hear it. Although my interests have taken me elsewhere, all this has revived my thinking about that title, what it means, and what it’s worth. Some might say I don’t use my doctorate, but in many ways I use it daily. I think. I write. I argue. I reason. I plan. I observe. I analyze. Every. Single. Day.

So yes, you may call me doctor. If you don’t, it doesn’t change who I am or what I’ve earned. In the mean time, I won’t waste energy worrying about what you think of me or my title. I’ve got too much to plan and DO to fret over small-minded guys.

dare to be different

Life’s Penalty Box

Growing up I knew about the penalty box. That’s where you got sent in the hockey game when you committed a foul of sorts. Bad behavior I would say in the heat of the moment.

I wanted to go into the penalty box. Maybe not to stay but I wanted to. I told my parents I wanted to play hockey. At the time I was enrolled in figure skating and I was decent and my training partner ended up going to the Olympics years later so I will say I was okay. But in figure skating girls had to wear white skates and sometimes they had fur on them.

I wanted pads, a stick and the black skates like my brothers and the neighborhood boys I played in the street with. My mom was horrified. Where would I dress out? In the hockey room silly…that was my response.

My mother’s response was absolutely not. A locker room is for boys only. They have jock straps and male parts. No way she said. This is the first time I learned about equal opportunity. Despite my mom’s resistance she let me do it. Play hockey that is on the all-boys team.

I’m sure the coach hated getting the token girl but they couldn’t say no because there wasn’t a girls team! Hahaha I thought to myself then and I giggle about it now as well. I had to change in the ticket office season after season. The window office that you pay money at but it had a wood piece covering up the window when I had a game so I could change. Little did I know I was receiving an accommodation because I lacked a penis.

I started on the C line (or the crappy line). I had to show my worth and do everything the boys could do in practice. And oh I sure did. I made it to the B line and then the A line. That’s when I became respected as a contributor. I liked reading my name in the paper each week for goals scored.

I moved on to baseball, not softball. Another no girls allowed club. I tried out for little league team. The powers that be wanted me to play triple-A instead. So I went and whomped on all the little boys and my coach also coached football so he said I’d like her to come play for me. I was excited. Bigger pads and a new sport to conquer.

Only there was a big but. My mom threw down the gauntlet. She said no. No more boy sports. I think she was horrified where my dad was thrilled. It ended up working out okay as high school was approaching and well, I hit my glow up. It worked out better for me to be one of the guys but look good in a dress too so I just went with the flow. How funny is it now that I can be one of the guys but still look good in a dress?!?!

Now as an adult I smile when I see the all-girls hockey teams at the collegiate level, when I see girls crossing over in male dominated sports. Why? Because it prepares the young girls for adulthood.

I fight for a seat at the man’s table more often than I’d like to admit. It sucks but I don’t back down. I have to check the box on applications stating I’m disadvantaged in business meaning I operate a women-owned business. There are so many eyebrows I raise as an adult that are not that different than when I was a kid.

I love my male counterparts, don’t get me wrong. I love their energy, their strength and their abs most days. I do however appreciate a level playing field if we have to compete. That could be a scaled weight in a lifting competition. It could be fair treatment in a business loan application. It could be a fair shot at a head coach position vs. an assistant. I mean you can see this all the way up to the presidency.

The world has come a long way but surely has a long way to go to even out the playing field. Today’s post is all about the modern day sexism that surrounds us all in one way or another.

This post was titled life’s penalty box for a reason. I said I liked to see what it was like to be in the box. The box is full of life lessons. They will be there tomorrow, they are there today and they were there when I was a kid. I embraced the challenge of the box when I was kid and am doing so now as an adult.

Heck I even go in and out of the penalty box within the four walls of my own home. Which gender is expected to cook, clean, do laundry, bring home the bacon, and attend parent conferences? Ahhh the penalty box is somewhat like Pandora’s box.

Since this is a 2 chicks blog site I am entitled to such a rant. Xoxo to any males who read this.

inspire, partnership

Feel the Power

Recently I stumbled on a story. I can’t remember the origin but it caught my attention. A book was mentioned.

I wasn’t in a position to procure the book, read the book or anything really. However, I was intrigued. With the curiosity I garnered the help of my business partner, whom I trust as an extension of me.

I said could you do me a favor? Sure! Grab the book and give it a quick read. She is a speed reader luckily so I knew it wouldn’t take her nearly as long as me to get to it. Little did I know that book would bring up many similarities in my relationship with my business partner as is shown in the book itself. I’d called that highly coincidental.

Like an amazing partner, she not only read the book but she passed it with some footnotes. I clearly love footnotes from her as her take is often different than mine but valued just the same. This is an exercise we have done in the past but it’s been a while.

Now my turn to read. I’m pleasantly surprised. So many crossovers to my life yet different in many ways. One of the items I enjoyed most in the book were the quotes. Some I liked more than others but they all spurred thought in my mind.

The one pictured above has to resonate with almost anyone who reads this blog and for that I am happy to share it!

I even passed clips of this book on to friends as motivation and plan to rehome the book as soon as I’m ready to part with it.

Recently I wrote a post about take the class. Now I’m saying read the book. Read the damn book people.

Make the time. I didn’t really have time but I fit it in while riding my stationary bike or waiting in offices and other places I found a few minutes of down time.

Grow your knowledge. Stretch your limits. Inspiration and motivation can be hidden in the places we least expect them to be.

Be honest with yourself. You will grow into greatness when you reach the point where you can continually learn in any environment. This week alone I learned many things about myself.

Some pleasant some not so pleasant. Now what I choose to do with that knowledge will set me on fire or leave me sitting in the same spot I was yesterday.

I normally chose forward progress. What do you normally choose?

Today’s post goes out to two badass chicks who wrote High Heals. While I may not be endorsing their line of work I am however endorsing their forwarding thinking, creative minds, and all around badassery for leave their mark on the world.