Posts Tagged ‘Women’

Rewarding AND Fun

April 4, 2009

I was going to wait until I start my autism blog for this, but this is as good a place as any for me to address something here – and it is about a misconception about what I do for a living.  I provide therapeutic services to children and adults with autism in the areas of sports and exercise, social skills, and academics.  It’s not that people always misunderstand what I do, but they often have some preconceived notions about it. 

The reactions I get are sometimes very positive – some people really appreciate what I do and find it very interesting.  For every time that I have received that reaction, though, there have been many times that people have had reactions that fall into one of the categories below.  Surprisingly, it’s often women who have these reactions – sometimes on a first date or upon an initial conversation that starts with “What do you do?” Then after I answer, the follow up response is something like: 

“Oh, that must be so hard.”  They say this with a really pained expression on their face.  (Remember those commercials a few years ago – the Bitter Beer Face?)  They say it as if to say, “Wow, I would never be able to do that, and I would never want to do that.  How unfun and boring.”  Their body language gives away the fact that the last thing they would want to do is work with kids on the autism spectrum.  I try to explain that it is hard sometimes but it’s also a lot of fun. 

Kids with autism are like neurotypical kids except that they have different skills and abilities.  They are just more extreme.  To put it simply, if you don’t like children with autism, then you don’t like children.  And I’m surprised at the number of women in the Washington area who don’t like children.  Your job, whether it is being a lawyer, a pharmaceutical sales representative, or a consultant, would be unfun and boring to me.  While you’re watching the clock, I’m in the flow and time is flying.  So have fun with your spreadsheet. 

(I don’t mean to imply that career oriented women aren’t good with children.  You don’t have to be a teacher, a pediatric nurse, or a volunteer to be good with kids.  And people need to make money, and careers should be important.  But if you think that your career is more important than anything else, and you don’t value the idea of having any experience with kids, that’s a little extreme.)

There is also an attitude that people have about children and adults with disabilities that they are to be felt sorry for.  While this may be a normal initial reaction, once you get over it, you can’t feel sorry for the kids too much because if you do then you’ll spoil them and let them get away with just about anything. 

“Wow…what you do is really great.  That must be really…rewarding.”  However, they say this with a hushed tone, and look at you as if you are from another planet.  How could someone want to do something like that?” I usually follow this one up with, “Yes, but it’s also a lot of fun.”  One time, I actually had someone reply back to me, “No, you mean rewarding, but not fun.”  I responded back, “No, I mean fun. 

The tone with which they say, “That must be rewarding,” again, seems to imply, “Wow, that must be so tough.”  “Rewarding” happens when you help a charity when you don’t really want to, but you make a sacrifice in order to achieve some good.  Like serving food to the homeless.  For me, that would be boring and tedious, though certainly honorable.  What I’m doing isn’t unselfish – it’s selfish – because what I do is highly enjoyable.  

“Oh, you’re a do-gooder.”  Usually they just think this instead of say it outright, but recently someone I met said that exact sentence to me, in a condescending tone.  She followed it up with, “I work in the hotel industry.  I get people drunk for a living.”  The implication seemed to be, “Oh, you’re a goody two-shoes.  I like to party and have fun.”  Now you might say that was just being self-deprecating and was actually putting what I do on a pedestal.  But no, in this case it was condescending. I agree that partying is fun.  I did it from the time I was in college through my early 30s.  Is that not enough?  I partied with the best of them and had a lot of fun.  But you can only do so much of that. 

Playing sports is also fun.  Catching a touchdown pass in a coed football game, hitting a backhand winner in tennis, scoring a goal in soccer, or throwing a long pass in ultimate Frisbee are all fun.  

Going to a great concert is fun.  So is seeing your favorite team win a big game.  Traveling to new places is fun.  Being at a party when things are rolling is fun.  Seeing a great movie is fun.  

And teaching kids is also fun.  If you can’t appreciate teaching a child to learn to read, converse, do math, play sports for the first time, develop a sense of humor, learn to make friends, and make progress in all these areas, all the while improving behaviors, then I feel sorry for you.  If you think that working with the coolest kids in the world isn’t fun, then what kind of a parent will you be?  These kids are miracles and miracles are happening, although slowly.  

It’s like trying to explain music to someone who doesn’t get it.  If you like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” or any number of inspiring songs, and you try to explain that to someone and they don’t get it, then, well, they just don’t get it.  So if you don’t like kids, then you don’t like kids.  Just admit it.      

Of course, many people say these things with the best of intentions and really do admire this type of work, but many women have a high regard for men who work in more traditional roles such as lawyers or salesmen.  I’m not looking for admiration – I just don’t want someone to look at what I do as a negative.  You don’t have to love my job, but don’t hate it.  

My point is that this work is not only rewarding, but it is also fun.  In his book, “Authentic Happiness,” psychologist Martin Seligman says that using your strengths to forward knowledge, power, or goodness is great.  Doing all of that while you’re having fun is the best of both worlds.  So doing kind and fun actions creates a lot more satisfaction than doing things that are only kind, or things that are only fun.  

Or you can sit in your office and do neither.


Now and Then

December 15, 2008

“I know many fine feathered friends.  But their friendliness depends on how you do.”

– Cat Stevens 

A few years ago, I had a girlfriend who was a major TV network news reporter.  We dated for a year, traveled to Australia, New Zealand, and three corners of the U.S. – Maine, Florida, and Arizona, and almost got engaged.  She’s probably one of the best looking women on national news.  I broke up with her because I didn’t think we were compatible enough.   

But the point is that, when we were together, I got a lot more respect from people, probably because of her looks and her status.  Getting a huge amount of respect from people when I was with her was somewhat expected, and I understand it – it’s human nature to a certain extent.  But the difference between the way some people treated me then and the way they have treated me since then when I’ve been single has been so blatant and over the top.  It’s a sad commentary on society that so many people put so much emphasis on looks and status when it comes to how they treat people.  Here’s just one example.  I had a couple of acquaintances walk right past me on a narrow sidewalk a while ago, pretending not to see me.  If I had been with her, there is no doubt they would have stopped to say hi.  

I’m basically the same person now that I was back then.  In fact, I like to think that I’ve improved in many ways.  But without someone like her with me, I get a whole lot less respect.  It shouldn’t be that way.  But it is.  (To her credit, she was very down to earth.)  The difference between the way I am viewed overall now by certain people as compared to the way I was viewed then, is absolutely astounding.  There are people who are so fake and put so much emphasis on looks and status in how they treat people, it’s unbelievable.  It’s a good litmus test though, for finding out who your friends really are.  Or aren’t.

Most Beautiful TV News Women 2008

December 5, 2008
Here’s my very subjective list of the Most Beautiful Women on TV news.  Of course, it’s biased toward cable because I watch mostly cable, and I know there are many beautiful local reporters around the country (and the world) who I haven’t had a chance to see.  The truth is, you could put most of the top 50 on a list in any order and not be wrong.


(By the way, I know I may seem hypocritical, because in another blog entry I rip people who put too much emphasis on looks, but in that one I’m mainly saying it’s a shame that people treat people better based on looks and status.  You can admire beauty and still treat everybody equally.  I treat women who aren’t as beautiful just as great – probably even better.  This list is basically just a fun thing.)


Anyway, I think that personality (at least as much as you can tell on TV), humor, moxie, and intelligence count for a lot so that’s why there are a few non-traditional choices on the list. For example, I think that Karen Finerman and Nicole Chang are amazing.  Their pictures aren’t the best but they come across much better on TV. 


I decided to do this in a single-elimination “tournament” format after ranking the top 16 seeds.  See the attached bracket for how things ended up in the fantasy tournament (This is the one area where you can use the word “fantasy” and sports together and it actually fits.  I know – I need to get a life).  So let’s begin.


  1. Sharon Tay, Anchor/Reporter, KCAL, Los Angeles.  I think a lot of the women in TV news are good looking but many of them look the same (i.e. the ones on Fox News).  Not Sharon Tay.  My jaw dropped to the ground the first time I saw her on TV.  Forget about TV anchors – I think she is one of the most beautiful women in the world.  The only possible downside is that she is only 5-2.
  2. Mélissa Theuriau, M6, Paris, France.  Often called the most beautiful TV news reporter in the world.  You really can’t make an argument against her.  She is pretty stunning.
  3. Georgie Thompson, Sky Sports.  ESPN wouldn’t know what hit them if she came to work for them.  She is a superstar. 
  4. Amy Robach, NBC.  She just about has it all.  A beauty who became a newswoman who also has a lot of credibility.
  5. Jackie Johnson, KCAL and KCBS, Los Angeles.  Meteorologist.  Classic tall blonde looks.     
  6. Carmen Dominicci, Univision.  Awesome, devastating, exotic look.  After four blondes in a row, Dominicci crashes the party.     
  7. Lisa Sylvester, Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN.  Amazing eyes, hair, and smile. Ranks 6th on list of top ten hairstyles in the world.  I can vouch for that (we dated for a year three years ago.)
  8. Amy Poehler, Weekend Update, Saturday Night Live. Wow.  She is funny and great looking.  She has radiant eyes and an unbelievable smile. They will have a very hard time replacing her. 
  9. Karen Finerman, Fast Money, CNBC.  Obviously there are others who have better classic looks.  But there’s something about her.  She is so cool.  She has excellent knowledge.  And she is very good looking. 
  10. Kristine Johnson, WCBS, New York.  I haven’t seen her on TV but her pics look pretty great. Brown hair, brown eyes, awesome.
  11. Nicole Chang, Sports Action Team.  This is a fake show, and she isn’t even a reporter on the show.  She’s plays the producer.  But she is hot.  And humor and moxie rank highly.    
  12. Tracey Neale, former anchor, WUSA, Washington.  Both beautiful and cute.   
  13. Courtney Friel, Fox News.  Very solid.  I had to include someone from Fox but I think many of them are overrated.
  14. Susan Lisovicz, CNN.  Classy and older.  Represents the financial set along with the Chairwoman.
  15. Hannah Storm, ESPN.  She is very sharp.  She’s gotten better in sports knowledge and looks as she’s gotten older.  I didn’t expect to include her but now I can’t keep her out.  Her work is absolutely stellar, way better than it was years ago.
  16. Play-in game:  Norah O’Donnell, MSNBC vs. Campbell Brown, CNN.  Who says vanilla is boring? 

Honorable Mention:  Julia Boorstin, CNBC; Contessa Brewer, MSNBC; Erin Burnett, CNBC; Colleen Dominguez, ESPN; Erica Hill, CNN; Robin Meade, CNN; Arthel Neville, KSWB.


So here’s how the tournament played out.  The newswomen played a one-on-one game of basketball up to 11 – having to win by two.  There was one fairly significant upset, and a few minor surprises, but for the most part the games held to form.  Check out the brackets. (Obviously, this tournament is purely fictional.  Don’t you wish it was real, though?).


Click here for the brackets!  Most Beautiful TV News Women – 2008 Tournament Brackets 

Play-In Game


Norah O’Donnell, MSNBC vs. Campbell Brown, CNN.  This was a very evenly matched game.  O’Donnell’s tenacity gave her the edge in the end over Brown’s solid decision making as O’Donnell advanced into the main draw.


First Round


Sharon Tay, KCAL (1) vs. Norah O’Donnell, MSNBC (16).  O’Donnell couldn’t keep up with Tay’s repertoire of shots and moves in this one, as the speedy point guard ran around O’Donnell all game long despite O’Donnell trying to post Tay up. 


Amy Poehler, SNL (8) vs. Karen Finerman, CNBC (9).  Finerman pulled the minor upset here – the Chairwoman studied hard and analyzed trends to prepare, using fundamentals to get by.  Meanwhile, the spritely pixie had fun and entertained, but jokes didn’t result in a victory. 


Jackie Johnson, KCAL and KCBS (5) vs. Tracey Neale, WUSA (12).  You always have to watch for upsets in the 5-12 matchup and it happened here.  Johnson didn’t know what to expect from the underrated, scrappy former DC anchorwoman, who upset Johnson and her superb inside shooting by taking the tall meteorologist outside and playing tough defense. 


Amy Robach, NBC (4) vs. Courtney Friel, Fox News (13).  The opposing coaches, Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly, started arguing before the opening tip and were both ejected, resulting in a ban of all coaches from the tourney.  The actual game was much more civil, but wasn’t much of a contest with Robach using her jumping ability and elite athleticism to get past Friel.


Georgie Thompson, Sky Sports (3) vs. Susan Lisovicz, CNN (14).  The hard working Lisovicz put up a game effort, but this superstar from across the pond possessed superior athletic ability.  Thompson’s netball skills translated well to basketball as she sent the classy financial whiz packing.


Carmen Dominicci, Univision (6) vs. Nicole Chang, Sports Action Team (11).  Dominicci dominated this one from the outset, using quick and precise moves.  Chang’s skill at being a Bossy Boots didn’t help sway the refs in this one-on-one matchup.


Lisa Sylvester, CNN (7) vs. Kristine Johnson, WCBS (10).  This eagerly anticipated matchup of graceful, photogenic stars went to Sylvester in overtime with help from, or perhaps despite, Lou Dobbs’ incessant taunting of Johnson, reminiscent of Robin Ficker heckling opposing players at Washington Bullets games. 


Mélissa Theuriau, M6 (2) vs. Hannah Storm, ESPN (15).  Storm played like her name, making this a surprisingly close battle.  She just gets better with age, but Theuriau’s silky smooth, fluid skills did the prolifically talented Storm in.


Second Round 


Sharon Tay (1) vs. Karen Finerman (9).  In one-on-one battles, quickness and agility usually win out, and Tay’s athleticism proved too much for Finerman, who pored over stats and tendencies to prepare for the game, which was close only in the first half.  Critics questioned Finerman’s decision to play in a business suit, while Tay’s short shorts allowed for greater flexibility.


Amy Robach (4) vs. Tracey Neale (12).  Neale didn’t have much left after the upset of Jackie Johnson.   Robach, who never loses her cool, displayed a killer jump shot, and used crossover and spin moves to get to the hoop.  


Georgie Thompson (3) vs. Carmen Dominicci (6).  This one was a double overtime classic.  Fans lined up for hours for tickets.  Each player had vociferous fan support though Thompson’s UK fans became a little unruly.  Dominicci’s aggressive play led her to the Final Four in Hotlanta over Thompson and her creative arsenal of shots.


Lisa Sylvester (7) vs. Mélissa Theuriau (2).  Sylvester kept this one close, using her trademark great intensity and versatility, but Theuriau had a large contingent of French soccer fans who made the trip to support their countrywoman in the basketball game, inspiring the French star.  In the end, Theuriau had a little too much.


Final Four 


Sharon Tay (1) vs. Amy Robach (4).  Sparks were flying in this matchup, held in Hotlanta, of a national anchor against a local major market star.  Tay used her quickness to slash to the basket and create opportunities against the former gymnast, who had Bela Karolyi behind the bench exhorting her on, yelling, “You can doo eet!” Tay withstood Robach’s impressive athletic ability, overcame a 3-point deficit, and drove to the hoop for the game winner to make it to the final.  A few L.A. stars even showed up to support Tay as Hollywood beat the Midwest.


Mélissa Theuriau, M6 (2) vs. Carmen Dominicci (6).  Giving the Final Four an international flavor, French fans flocked to Hotlanta to support Theuriau while raucous Spanish speaking fans everywhere chanted, “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole” to support the Puerto-Rican born Dominicci.  This was a true clash of the titans. Theuriau’s scoring mentality and determination helped her score almost at will at times, but she was a little overwhelmed, perhaps even intimidated by Dominicci.  The Univision model-journalist delighted fans by dancing during timeouts, and pulled the upset with strong, polished moves around the basket, getting the win despite playing the first quarter in high heels.    


Championship Game


Sharon Tay (1) vs. Carmen Dominicci (6).  A sold out crowd was on hand in Hotlanta to witness this historic battle of two 40-year old beauties in their prime, and they did not disappoint.   Dominicci threw everything she had at Tay, with an impressive array of spin moves, double pumps, fakes, and even rejected the shorter Tay 3 times.  However, the relentless number one seed twice stole the ball from the taller Dominicci, driving to the hoop and drawing fouls several times, and used her overall perkiness to win the championship.  Tay was virtually unstoppable in crunch time and showed why she is the best.    


It was a spectacular tournament.  Stay tuned for the real tournament – March Madness in 2009, when there will be a great deal of controversy over who gets the 64 spots in the tournament.  Millions will be glued to the tournament announcement show, studying brackets, making bets, watching intently, and wondering who will make it to the Final Four.  But enough about the Newswomen Tournament of 2009.  Don’t forget about college basketball…