Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Note From Nadine: An Advice Column, Nov/18/2015

Dear Nadine,

I’ve been dating a guy for the last three months.  Things have been going pretty good and he’s a really nice person, but we’re taking it slowly because I had a bad break up six months ago with a guy I had been seeing for three years.  Anyway, I’m of Columbian descent and grew up in the NYC area.  This guy’s White and is from North Carolina and moved up here ten years ago for college.  Last week he wanted me to meet his friends, and we went out to dinner.  At first I thought they were nice, but then I couldn’t believe how insensitive they were.  They seemed shocked that I grew up in the neighborhood I grew up in, asking me what it was like growing up in the neighborhood I did,  and one girl said, “You’re Columbian.  Really?  I thought you looked White!”  I’m really hurt and upset and now I don’t know if things can work out between me and my new boyfriend.  Maybe we’re just too different.  I’ve never dated a white guy before and if this is how his friends are going to treat me, maybe it’s not worth it!


Dear Insulted,

I’m so sorry to hear about the ignorance of your boyfriend’s friends.  Their questions certainly sound insensitive.  They were not at all considerate of the fact that this is a new relationship – a first meeting with friends is a time to get to know you as an individual (not as a stereotype!) and put you at ease.

You may be surprised, but I’m going to give you some credit for this.  I’m getting the sense that you must have an engaging presence which put his friends at ease around you and so they started asking personal questions (albeit in an ignorant manner).  If you have such a positive effect on people, making them feel comfortable, think about how you could use this as a way to educate them and dispel some of their preconceived cultural biases and prejudices.

On another note, remember, the comments came from the friends, NOT your boyfriend!  Tell him how the comments made you feel and give him a chance to respond.  Your different backgrounds didn’t get in the way of your getting together.  So, hopefully, it doesn’t have to split you apart.  I know you are tentative after your recent break-up, but if this guy is sensitive to your feelings and supports you in letting his friends know that what they said wasn’t “cool,” you’ve got a good guy there and should give him a chance.


Dear Nadine,

I’m in the last year of graduate school, and I have to find a job soon.  All these job fairs are coming up and companies that are recruiting are coming to my school to meet the graduating students.  I am so worried about these upcoming interview it’s making me miserable!  I just feel like I’m a quieter person than my classmates.  It’s driving me crazy being around them because I keep thinking they are all so good at small talk and know about so many things –I can just talk about my coursework, my family, and shows I watch on TV.  One girl keeps saying how nervous she is but she’s so loud and perfect at everything, it makes me kind of mad and scared.  How am I going to make a good impression at an interview?  I keep feeling smaller and smaller.  What should I do?  Help me get out of my shell!

Feeling like a Turtle

Dear Feeling like a Turtle,

What’s inside your shell?  That’s what I want to know.  There must be lots of fascinating stuff in there.  You may have heard from well-meaning friends and family that only the peacocks make it.  So you’re wearing yourself out and beating yourself up because you’re not a peacock at this moment.  That’s certainly not going to help you with your interviews.

So check out your shell, YOUR interior.  What drove you to go into this field in the first place?  What do you love about it?  Why does it suit you, and what unique qualities do you bring to it?  You might very well be coming from a deeper place than many of your classmates.  If you can begin to articulate what motivates you, what special strengths you bring to what you do, and then connect with your interviewers on a quieter yet genuine level, you’ll far surpass some of your move ostentatious peers.  You may even find others wondering what’s so fascinating inside that shell of yours that it keeps you so absorbed.  And you may even begin inviting more people to join you in there.


Nadine Bernard is a Board Certified Life Coach and playwright who specializes in working with women who are grappling with issues regarding their careers, relationships, motherhood, self-expression and self-esteem.  She uses techniques based in coaching, psychology, and theater as she partners with women to find clarity, fulfillment and balance as they become the heroes of their own lives.  She works with clients locally in Montclair, NJ and across the country via Skype.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Note From Nadine: An Advice Column

A Note from Nadine:

Dear Nadine,

So I’ve been working at a health club for eight years now.  I’ve known the owner for a long time and although I consider her pretty good friends, I do feel like sometimes I’m asked to do things for too low pay.  Anyway, I like working there, and I was recently certified as a Zumba teacher and just started teaching a class.

 There’s this other instructor who’s a lot younger than I am, let’s call her Jane, who was also certified in Zumba when I was.  Now, I don’t know what her deal is, but she’s always seems to be in my business, telling me I’m doing something wrong.  Just recently, she did two things and I’m wondering if she’s trying to jeopardize my position there.  One time, I called the girl at the desk to say I would be there on time, but I wouldn’t be there in time to set up the studio.  So Jane goes outside, and immediately calls my boss to tell her I wasn’t on time, and I got a text from my boss asking me what was going on with me.  Another time, Jane asked for a sub for her Zumba class.  I emailed that I could do it.  Then never heard from Jane.  She goes and tells my boss that I took too long getting back to her. 

She’s driving me nuts and I don’t know what to do, or if I’m reading into the situation – should I confront her, talk to my boss, just avoid her?  What do you think?

Exasperated and a little concerned.

Dear Exasperated,

Remember, it’s your space, not hers! You need to cement the cracks, and don’t let her get in there.  It sounds like you avoid standing up for yourself and defending your boundaries, and now’s a good time to start!

I’d say, “YES,” -- avoid her when you can and confront her when she steps on your boundaries.  Don’t give her the opportunity to give you advice, or put you down.  Walk away, stay clear, and get it straight, in a polite yet firm manner, that you don’t need her stepping on your toes, and that you’re handling things fine YOUR way.  Jane seems threatened by you -- perhaps because you have more years of experience and know the boss for a longer time – and she doesn’t want you around.  You’re not reading into this!  If she tattles on you one more time, definitely talk to your boss about it.  Tell her that Miss Jane needs to mind her own business when she’s at work.   If she’s really a friend, she’ll understand. 


Dear Nadine,

So, I’ve been in a committed relationship with a man for ten years.  We’re not actually married because I thought things were fine the way they were.  He’s got a son in middle school and I’ve got two girls, one in kindergarten and one in third grade.  These kids have tons of activities, and he won’t help me out with stuff, like picking them up in the evening when I’m supposed to be three places at once!  He says he’s too tired after work.  But my days are crazy too and I work part time at a cafe.  Actually, he won’t do anything to help besides his job.  He can’t even screw in a light bulb!  Seriously, he’s terrible around the house and doesn’t even know how to work a grill.  He says he’d be lost without me – he just gives up on trying things way too fast.  I do everything!  But if I push back too hard, don’t I run into the danger that he’ll get mad and fight back financially?  Some stuff is good, like we do some family stuff on weekends.  But I plan it all.  Why can’t he help more?  I’m tired!

Tired and irritated

Dear Tired and Irritated,

Doing everything for the family is hard.  I get it!  But you’ve got to stop for a moment and ask yourself, “What do I get out of feeling superior to my partner around the house?”  Because you two have fallen into a pattern of him making more money and you being better at everything else.  You said that you're worried that if you push back and don’t do everything for him, he might get angry and walk.  But what about your other fears?  You’ve got to conquer the fear that, if he doesn’t need you and rely on you so much, he might not stay.  Especially since you’ve decided not to marry him.

You have to believe in your worth, that you’re worth being around, not just because you do things for him.  Then, you have to be ready to let him in on your tricks.  If he’s had women caring for him all his life, he needs help catching up.  Think kindergarten!  Take a few deep breaths and then teach him how to use that screwdriver.  Get a sitter one night and enjoy a barbeque together, patiently showing him how that thing operates till he feels comfortable.  Teach him to cook up some warm munchies and enjoy them together with a glass of wine.  As for taking care of him – teach him the skills he needs to know -- like making his own breakfast, putting the storm windows in his office -- and then he’s on his own, cause you’re too busy picking up his kid!


Nadine Bernard is a Board Certified Life Coach and playwright who specializes in working with women who are grappling with issues regarding their careers, relationships, motherhood, self-expression and self-esteem.  She uses techniques based in coaching, psychology, and theater as she partners with women to find clarity, fulfillment and balance as they become the heroes of their own lives.  She works with women locally in Montclair, NJ and across the country via phone or Skype.