Sheila K. Collins Website



March 2013  

Masthead Sheila K. Collins from Website
Dear Greetings! ,

During these past two weeks of March we've been celebrating Women's History Month, Social Work Month, and last Friday, International Women's Day. (a national holiday in 32 countries). Not sure how this blistery month got chosen for all these causes close to my heart, but given the cultural winds of change that seem to be blowing, it seems an appropriate selection.


Inspired by the theme of women's careers in the news lately thanks to Sheryl Sandburg's book "Lean In," and the fact that I was honored at a Women of Achievement event here in Pittsburgh last week, I've written about some of my career experiences and how they didn't quite fit the mold established by men in the workplace.


Last Friday Wing & A Prayer Pittsburgh Players presented at the Area Agency on Aging Care Manager's Conference to help participants put some playful fun into their work places. For those of you in the Pittsburgh area, come join us Sat. March 23rd at the library in Squirrel Hill for the class InterPlay: Telling Our Stories, Moving Our Lives.


Let me hear what you think about all this women's stuff, and don't forget to wear your windbreaker.


Sheila         Find me on Facebook   


people holding hands


Upcoming Events

InterPlay: Telling Our Stories

Saturday March 23, 2013   

1:30 - 3 pm


In a recent column, Maureen Dowd raised the question, "Why can't filmmakers tell the story as it actually was?" Lamenting the creative license taken in Oscar nominated films, she objected to the fabricated car chase in Argo, done for dramatic effect, ....


Wednesday March 6, 2013

Several years after I left home to pursue my own life, I returned for a visit and found my kid brother's report card on the family refrigerator. A senior in high school, he hadn't always done his best, but ....


On a recent March afternoon, when the seemingly relentless winter took a brief respite, I was sitting at my computer by the window, grateful to finally see the sun.  A brilliant red male cardinal began tapping on the window and peering into the dining room. It seemed like he was trying to get my attention, ....


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Success, Awards, and Women's Careers

"My mother's always been ahead of her time," my then 24 year old daughter said of me many years ago. She was at a party I held to celebrate my not getting tenure, in spite of an 8 - 1 faculty vote in my favor. After my six-year journey towards that goal ended, I felt it important to invite friends to help me dance with the career barriers I was not able to overcome. As Sheryl Sandberg and others are finally discussing at, women aspiring to SKC RecognitionAWARD career success have had plenty of occasions in the past 50 years to dance with the challenges of disappointment, and the grief of lost causes. But we must learn how to step up to embrace recognition and success as well.


Recently I was given such an opportunity when, in celebration of Women's History Month in Pittsburgh, and as a fundraiser for the now national non-profit, Cribs for Kids, I was honored, along with twenty-five other women as we received Women of Achievement Awards. I'd never imagined this happening since the tapestry of my crazy quilt career has gone against most all the elements necessary to encourage being recognized for it.


Recognition comes to people, most often men, who have stayed within a particular field of endeavor, and who have done something in that field that was appreciated at the time 

Award pic

they did it. It's also helpful if the person lives most of their life in the same geographical community, making it possible for people to keep track of their accomplishments.


None of these elements were present in my career path. Starting out as a professional dancer, then social worker, professor, therapist and director of a clinic, I've zigzagged across the lines that commonly separate the arts, education, and social sciences. Thankfully award sponsors came up with a new category for me, Transformational Arts. In this my encore career I'm a dancing social worker whose memoir, 'Warrior Mother, fierce love, unbearable loss and rituals that heal' will be released this summer.


As my daughter wisely noted, my efforts often went to projects that, at the time, people in general did not yet 

celebrate, (training for Title IX, equity in women's education, and founding a Women and Work Center at a university). Like my professor emeritus friend Jim, whose FBI file is thicker than some of his publications, he was not universally applauded when he engaged in protests against the Vietnam War. But unlike me, he was lucky enough to get tenure before he did something too unpopular.


Multiple moves in response to job opportunities, from IL to KY to NY to MI to NE to TX to PA (no, my family and I were not in the military), created a situation where past achievements were reduced to thin lines on a resume. In the new community people see you only for what you are engaged in now, and once you become "a woman of a certain age," don't be surprised if you become invisible.


So as unlikely as it was, I did stand up in front of several hundred witnesses, with women entrepreneurs, attorneys, social workers, bankers, a university president, and even an

Award recipient Sheila Collins
left to right  - Joann Forester, Dr Collins, Mary Zappala, District Attorney Stephen A. Zappal
owner of a women's football team. To help me step fully into this honor, I thought of my foremothers, who did not have the opportunity to enter most of these fields, let alone achieve in them. I would accept this recognition on behalf of them, because they opened the doors that we walked through. I accept also, on behalf of my granddaughters, who I hope will always know, as Nelson Mandela, in quoting Marianne Williamson put it, "Your playing small does not serve the world. Who are you not to be great? As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." 
Our Deepest Fear | Coach Carter Motivational Speech
"Our Deepest Fear" -Coach Carter
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
"Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg
Sheila K. Collins, PhD 

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