We all want to be better listeners. It’s a great skill to have and people like good listeners. But the sad fact is that while we want to be good listeners, we really want others to listen to us. We like to talk, and we want people to listen to us, because at the end of the day, it’s really all about us, right? Seriously, though, I am going to talk about listening. First of all, there’s hearing and there’s listening. I hear you but I don’t know what you said because I don’t really care. To truly listen and absorb meaning, you have to close down your brain to unruly activity and focus completely on the other person. This is the hard part, for this means it is about the other person, not you. When you truly listen, a wonderful things happens. You connect to another person in a very intimate and personal way. This is how relationships are built. Continue reading
The Women’s March on Washington has come and gone, but the commitment remains. For every woman who marched in Washington or any of the hundreds of other marches that feeling of sisterhood just won’t go away. We continue to wear our pink hats proudly as a symbol of resistance. It’s a symbol that says “I am woman” and “take me seriously because I really mean it” and “it’s time for me.” I think that 2017 just may be the year of the woman.
I”m not really sure why it has taken so long. We make up more than 50% of the population, we lead companies and families, we wear the uniform and defend our country. And still the fight continues. We are underrepresented in Congress, in the boardroom, and continue to be underpaid in sports, the workplace, and elsewhere. Men just can’t resist mansplaining, protecting, patronizing and putting women in “their place.” In this time and this place we finally have our chance to be in the front lines. The time is ours.
I’m not sure that men quite realize this fact. We continue to see laws being promulgated all over the country to restrict and roll back reproductive rights for women. It’s an inconvenient fact that women have babies and men do not. We tend to be smaller and are viewed as quieter and weaker. Also inconvenient facts. Women generally do not demand pay raises or apply for jobs for which they are not qualified. When we fight back or raise our voices we are called shrill or shrews or worse. Men are tough and strong and assertive. The same behavior gets a completely different table. I was in a battle like this this afternoon. Larry and I went to visit one of our state representatives and when I raised a bill that I did not agree with he began to lecture me, raise his voice, and wondered “how do I not understand this.”
This is the ultimate female conundrum that I have not yet figured out how to resolve. If you fight back in kind, you fulfill their view of you as a petulant, ignorant, shrew. If you back down and let them rant, you feel weak and beaten down. And they know this. Eventually I just said “we’ll agree to disagree.” I was beaten down and I was angry. He went on for another thirty minutes to have a conversation with Larry and never made eye contact with me again. I was not part of the conversation, I was a minor actor, the little women.
My mother taught me that women have good manners, know how to dress for every occasion, get a good education, and have household talents like cooking and decorating. I picked up some of these skills, but others I rejected. I came of age in the 1970s and 80s when women were learning how to wear pantsuits and carry briefcases. Being feminine meant walking a tricky line between being taken seriously as a professional and not appearing to be a man-hater or even worse, like a man. Mostly it was trial by fire. And still we fell behind in wages and promotions to senior positions.
So here’s my question: how do women fight back? How can we let these neanderthals know that their behavior is unacceptable and downright nasty? Larry has an answer for this question. He says don’t get mad, get even. By this he means that women need to stop complaining and get out there and get in positions of power where we can influence the political scene. Marching and knitting pink hats is one step in this greater march, but it isn’t enough. It’s time for women to put their money where their mouth is. We need to get out of the kitchen and the boardroom and get into the state house and the Congress. It’s our time to shape our future and finally demand and expect equal treatment. Are you with me?
I just got back from visiting my parents in New England. My father has severe dementia and barely recognizes me, and my mother is becoming more frail and declining cognitively. When I get a phone call from the assisted living facility where they live it usually means that something is wrong. Lately it’s been my mother. She had been in the hospital after a fall and was going to a rehabilitation center. I had to convince her to go, so I wanted to go and provide my support. I try to make the drive without stopping often; one stop usually does it for me. I fill up the gas tank, hit the bathroom, and grab a drink or a snack. On this trip I was nearly out of gas when I saw a sign for Newtown/Sandy Hook. I can’t explain exactly why that had such an impact on me, but it did. I pulled off the highway. After filling up with gas, I headed down the road to see the school. Continue reading
In December we went to Orlando to see Larry’s family. We did something we had never done before: visited a theme park. We took an extra day and decided to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m a big fan of Harry Potter. I’ve read all the books and own the DVDs. We watched some of them to prepare for our expedition. I have to say here that I generally avoid overly commercial forms of entertainment. For Harry Potter world, however, I made an exception. Continue reading
Larry and I got back from vacation a few days ago. While we are still recovering from jet lag, we jumped back into our lives. The dogs need to be walked, and laundry awaits. As I listen to the wind outside and watch the temperature drop, I remember the warm breezes of the Big Island of Hawai’i. This was our first time in Hawai’i and we decided to get a bit off the beaten path. No beaches for us. On the Big Island we were greeted by highly changeable weather and micro-climates, and found common ground with the people we met, both tourists and residents. The population is diverse. Native Hawaiians live beside mainland transplants looking for warmer climes, descendants of Chinese and Japanese immigrants, and every other race and creed. We learned that Hawaiians are not shy about expressing their opinions. They were enthusiastic participants in the Women’s March on Washington in Kona. I think this may have been the last Women’s March in the world. We joined in, and my pussyhat came along for the ride. Continue reading
In the past weeks I have been literally knitting my fingers to the bone trying to complete as many pussyhats as possible for the marchers in the Women’s March on Washington on 21 January. Last weekend I had to go out and buy more yarn. Pink yarn is getting hard to find. Word has spread about this project and it seems that everyone who can lift a needle is making pink hats. I still have to make labels, photograph them and get them in the mail. Somewhere in deep stash I found two more skeins of pale pink yarn. All over the country messages are coming in on Ravelry, requests for more hats to warm more heads who have a seat on one of the buses going to DC. I am living vicariously through all the anticipation. I won’t be there, so it’s especially important that I do my bit to support the sisterhood. Continue reading
We rang in the new year quietly with a mildly alcoholic drink and a movie. No late night parties for us or big celebrations in a bar or hotel ballroom. Maybe it’s because we’re not in our twenties anymore or just that we enjoy being at home with our canine friends. Whatever the reason, we were satisfied with our quiet evening at home. We are at the point where we didn’t even have to explain to each other why we spent our evening at home. Our priorities had changed. Continue reading
I don’t celebrate Christmas. Even so, I do not have a problem when people cheerfully say “Merry Christmas” to me. Of course, this greeting may not apply to people who are not Christian and for whom Christmas Day, other than being a day off from work, may be just like any other. In that case, we have the all purpose “Happy Holidays” which I like, and also “Joyous Kwanzaa” for African-Americans. I always look forward to December 25th as a delicious day. It is a day without responsibilities, with nowhere to go and nothing to do. A day to catch up on laundry, watch old movies in my pajamas, or read a good book while curled up in a chair. Continue reading
I hope my readers will forgive me using a certain word in the title. It’s actually taken from a website and a hat initiative called “pussyhat project” which can be found here: pussyhatproject.com. I am a knitter and lately a bit of an activist, so this project appealed to these two interests. I came across the project on Ravelry, a social network for knitters. Last week I ordered 18 skeins of pink yarn when my favorite yarn store offered free shipping. On day four I’ve completed three hats. I keep coming across more and more people who want to attend the Women’s March on Washington — website here — and who need a warm pink hat. Because baby it’s going to be cold outside!
A blogging award, oh my!
Most people who blog do so because they want share what they write with others. Hopefully, bloggers also get something out of it. That something is usually related to an emotional need to put idea to (virtual) paper, or to have a record of our innermost thoughts that we hope someone else in the Internet universe will enjoy. We have many choices and probably thousands and thousands of blogs to read. I watched my readership rise slowly, from onesies and twosies, to dozens. So, I was surprised and pleased to be nominated for The Liebster by Laura Bruno Lilly at http://laurabrunolilly.com/blog/. I love to read Laura’s blog. She feels like a kindred spirit. Her artistic pursuits and deep faith resonate with me. She has a curiosity about people and places that I love. Continue reading