I journal, in my journaling nook

FullSizeRender-1What are mornings like in your house? Are they serene or crazed? If you identify with Team Crazed, how do you feel about being marketed to because of that?

I was thinking of this after several alert readers sent me a link to Organic Valley’s recent commercial on mornings. It starts off mocking the Women-In-Commercials world, in which mornings start with yoga, and “journaling, in my journaling nook.” Then it cuts to real life, where real women don’t have time for all that. We are rushed! We often skip breakfast! We need a portable breakfast shake with 23 grams of sugar! (albeit organic fair trade sugar, natch).

There are some good lines. What is up with the tiny spoons in commercials? I have to say, though, I am skeptical (and not just because I journal in my journaling nook — though I did spend a lovely 30 minutes writing out on my porch on Saturday). First, I have seen hundreds of “real” women’s schedules — real, busy professional women with families — and I know that plenty of people do exercise, or journal (or do other me-time activities), and make a real breakfast that does not have twice the sugar of Lucky Charms. No one has to do these things, and most people don’t do all of them, but these women are no less real than anyone else.

Second, Organic Valley notes that it is basing the stats in its commercial on a survey of real women — which it is! But like all surveys, this one can be twisted in a way to make it sound like life is more “cray” than it is. I followed their invitation to find out what real women’s mornings are like at RealMorningReport.com.

First, the headline figure is that 45 percent of women skip breakfast at least once during the workweek. Of course, that means that 55 percent — the majority! — eat breakfast every single day. Also, at least once can mean, you know, once. And it turns out that another 20 percent said they eat breakfast 3-4 of every 5 workdays. In other words, 75 percent of women are regular breakfast eaters.

The commercial talks of women checking work email before they get out of bed. Did you catch the number? It was 21 percent, and that was the combined proportion who said daily (5 percent) or sometimes (16 percent). In other words, 79 percent never do. That could be a different headline: 4 in 5 women would never check email in bed! Or, only 1 in 20 women often start their days with work email. Very different story.

And finally, that whole bit where the woman says only 16 percent of women would use the hashtag #blessed to describe their mornings? This was not a yes/no question on #blessed. This question gave multiple options, including #metime, and #carpediem (to say nothing of “other”). So of course #blessed is going to get a low percentage. That was built into the survey design.

Mornings are not always smooth and wonderful in my house by any means. But I do take issue with people trying to shape the public conversation in a way that implies the life of a working woman is inevitably harried. It is not. Also, it takes 5 minutes to scramble two eggs. Or something like 90 seconds in the microwave. You could do a quick crow pose while waiting…

Photo: Where I journal — a semi journaling nook

16 thoughts on “I journal, in my journaling nook

  1. yeah it annoys me when i’m being marketed to by companies that think they “know my life”, and also when statistics and data are misused so egregiously! I don’t eat breakfast…because I’m not hungry. I made a full batch of pancakes for my kids this morning, though. I could’ve eaten them, too. Then we played Legos for a while before school. Other days I exercise. My mornings are rushed “at least one morning per week” because I have to be at work pretty early, but that means “up to 80%” of my weekday mornings are pretty leisurely!

  2. Even our milk carton talks about “busy families.” The cult of busy is ridiculous. Every morning one of the two adults in the house works out (we alternate), all four of us eat breakfast and manage to get where we are going on time. Why must we discuss day to day life as if it is nearly impossible?

    1. @Kate – oh, because it’s fun to compete in the misery Olympics! Seriously, it is not actually that hard. And yes, the cult of busy is everywhere (spotted on a milk carton, no less!)

  3. Our mornings are not particularly crazed and I eat breakfast every morning – I could journal or do yoga if I wanted to. I often meditate for 10 minutes, and when my knee heals I’ll start exercising again.

    I like that ad, though, because it pushes back against the vision of effortless perfection and serenity that still dogs a lot of media aimed at women. If someone’s going to generalize about me, I’d rather not feel as if I’m failing to measure up.

  4. Laura – you know that I usually agree with you, but this time I’m not on the same page. I found that commercial to be really funny, though it didn’t do anything to convince me to buy its product, so in that sense it was a failure. In particular, I found the swearing interlude quite amusing. I think that just like “crazy busy” can be a narrative, so can “I am a perfect woman who has it all and all at once”. The reality for most women, I think, is in between. It’s nice to at least see a commercial that shows something other than these perfect mornings.

    1. I liked the bleep part the most, I chuckled and thought ‘that’s how my mornings feel’. Laura’s view reminds me that sure, maybe 2 or 3 days may go like that, but that’s not every day. but if it is every day, maybe you need to change something, lol.

  5. The commercial is funny, but the fact that they are trying to make the statistics sound real is what contributes to all of us feeling more frantic, because everyone tells us that’s what we are supposed to be. I used to think that this perfect morning is just an unattainable lifestyle, but a bit by bit I developed a wonderful morning routine that includes journaling, meditation and yoga, and a sugar-free protein shake (whipped up by my hubby) for breakfast. And no coffee. I’m sure a lot of other people actually start their days like this, or they could if they made the decision to. I also have two jobs and report to work at 8 AM, so it’s not that I lead a life of leisure.

  6. I think our culture is hooked on “business” instead of productivity; one reason why I think your writings are an important observation.
    Yes, many of us have a lot going on (families, professional careers, personal development/life goals), however women really set the tempo for how life at home will play out.

    After a year home I’ll be re-entering my profession next month. Yesterday I spent some time diagramming what I’d like my work day mornings to look like, taking into consideration nutrition/exercise, child prep, pet care, and a small household task like throwing in the laundry. It made me realize that I CAN accomplish these things at a reasonable pace; I just need to allow enough time and not sleep as late as possible! So my first step is that in implementing a”bedtime” for work nights. That’s my project for this week, then I’ll start inching my wake up time backward to 5:30am. I’m hoping to finally become a morning person at age 49. Challenging, but not impossible!

  7. I’m one who found the commercial funny, but also didn’t take it too seriously. I liked that it showed an alternate version of women’s lives than the perfection-and-tiny-spoons version, but what jumped out at me wasn’t the misleading presentation of statistics but the absence of men. By continually framing family/child/home/morning life as the sole responsibility of women, media like this — even when it’s funny — perpetuates the idea that the burden falls on women. Crazy-busy or serene mother-women (to borrow a term from Kate Chopin). So that made me nuts. It’s like the “bumbling dad” stereotype (like the saran wrap commercial where the “babysitting” father uses cling film on everything, which reinforced the stereotypes of “controlling mom” and “bumbling dad” while trying to joke about them).

  8. The ad cracked me up – I like the refreshing change but agree that it’s not necessarily a great alternative narrative (and wholeheartedly agree with Meghan’s point)
    But their claim that “science says” did REALLY annoy me. That’s not science! That’s marketing research. And as you point out, poorly presented research at that.
    I appreciated the Playing big’ piece in your newsletter – would love to see a future post on books and advice for people approaching a career crossroads? I have six months of grad school left and am already feeling nervous about what’s next….

    1. @Lily- glad you liked the newsletter! It’s a good question – While I have been doing the same thing more or less for 15 years, on the other hand, I feel like I reinvent myself from time to time too. I let go of old clients, and find new ones. This past year I transitioned more into speech giving than ever before. As I am coming out of the baby stage I am trying to figure out what to do with my newfound capacity. It’s a good question to be asking, but I don’t want to fill time just to fill time. So…a question to ponder (and something to write about!)

      1. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a ‘set and forget’ career – especially for women coming in and out of baby stages, but also because of the rise in short-term contract work, freelancing etc. So it’s something to ponder regularly: what’s next?

  9. I admit that I laughed during the commercial, and agree that the statistics have nothing to do with being busy (e.g., love of dry shampoo and hiding stains), though they were framed that way.

  10. It’s very sad. Anything that skews the truth and feeds on the brains negative bias is unkind to all. I eat breakfast with my kids 6 days a week ( Saturday’s I’m out for my long run). The 11 year old and I scan the morning paper ( which he trained our lab, Bonnie to bring in, makes us all laugh every morning ). Breakfast is balanced, homemade prepped on weekends. Smoothies contain no sugar and are prepped on weekends too. We all pitch in. The only one usually sitting is my youngest at the breakfast nook, the rest of us are moving around the kitchen while eating, but together, talking, sharing. My mornings start early (5:30am) with a 75 minute work out, I only miss it if I make the mistake of reading email first or eat badly and or late the night before. I usually do a quick check of email while my youngest gets in the car. Once I get to the office I meditate in my car for 10 minutes before I go upstairs and start the day by reviewing my morning plan that I made the night before. I usually journal at bedtime. It isn’t serene and there are morning s when it goes all wrong and they are crazy and panicked but those are the exception and I try to go to bed earlier that night. Decide what is important to you and prioritize. No one outside your heart and head can tell you what your life is or should be like. If the information isn’t positive or helpful, turn it off…there are only only 168 hours or 10,080 minutes a week. Why waste them?

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