Sunday, January 22, 2017

American Woman

I have had the blessing of being a female citizen of the United States for 47 years.  I consider myself fortunate on so many levels.  For twenty-six of those years, I have enjoyed a career in education. Every career has its criticisms.  But, in all, I am quite happy to call myself a teacher.  Spending my day with children is awesome, even on our worst days.

In those 47 years, I also consider myself a force. I am not an easy person to "handle" because I speak what needs to be spoken, and sometimes what does not want to be heard.  I have been a leader.  Others have been the sheep. No matter what I seem to do, leadership has fallen in my lap ever since my tween days. I accept that burden, as part of me enjoys it.  And the other part?  Well, it gets pretty pissed off at women who are A-OK with others having the uncomfortable conversations.

So, my Sisterhood of Women.  You marched.  You got out there.  You showed numbers and solidarity.  I could not be prouder. Now, how will you insure that you do not become sheep yet again, allowing a few to speak up while you silently agree? How will you make damn sure that the "Women's Movement" does not get labeled the "Planned Parenthood PAC," and PP does NOT represent the views of all women? How will you allow ALL women at the table, regardless of whether you agree with them or not? How will you make this about us and not just a show against President Trump's mouth?

How will you change your workplace?  Example, my career is dominated by females---except in the administrative positions. (Check out Where Are All the Women Superintendents?)  What about your workplace?

How will you empower young women?  When was the last time you volunteered at, not only your child's school, but any school?  Do you know if local schools have groups, like my school, that work to empower girls? When was the last time you spoke to your daughters about how they should treat other women?  How to rise up instead of tear down? Does your daughter leave your house knowing that you believe she is strong and capable, not just well-dressed and polite?

Do we teach our daughters that hate speech does not cancel hate speech? That empathetic listening and action are the keys to change? Or do we teach them to be female dogs when they are jealous or don't get their own way?  Better yet, what do our actions show them?

Yes, they might have at least one male boss who is threatened by their spirit, their brains, their leadership, and their ability to call him out when he needs it. And that person will do his best to be sure she does not get the positions she deserves.  And, alas, they might have female bosses who have the same characteristics. Are we sharing the reality with them?

Do we support one another? When a new mom comes back to work for the first time, do we comfort her?  Do we say, "OH MY GOSH, I KNOW what you are going through?!" Do we give help when we know a colleague was up all night with a sick child?

I have spent today wondering what is next.  I am praying the march wasn't a "We'll Show Him" movement, because guess what: HE DOES NOT CARE. Do not do things thinking that you will change his mind.  You won't.  He does not accept criticism, and he does not validate that the march was a reaction to his ill-spoken statements.  HE DOES NOT CARE.  We have to be agents of change for ourselves.

Let's go grass roots, ladies.  Keep the momentum going. The Civil Rights Movement was not just a march.  It was a revolution. It was day in and day out struggle. It continues to this day. March in your own territory. Change the portrait of the American Woman every day of your life.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Are You Happy?

A nighttime ramble--

Sometimes, people are just ridiculously stupid.  Oftentimes this stupidity is induced by the sinister tentacles of social media, or rather, electronic media...the fast food for our brain in the 21st century.  And its long-term effect is like that of eating a Big Mac meal every night.

As I near that half-century milestone in the next few years, I have come to realize that three words are all that matter: Are you happy?

These are the words said to me by my father over the phone when I told him I was engaged 26 years ago.

Him: Are you happy?

Me: Yes, I am.

Him: Then that's all that matters.  Did your train stop in...

And the conversation strolled on.

I now realize the power of that litmus test.

I have added flavor to it over the years.  When worrying about finances at 11 PM, I embraced the phrase, "It's [insert time here]. The bank is not open.  There is nothing you can do about it now.  Quit worrying."

To my family members who have done various things to automobiles over the years, my response has been, "Were you hospitalized?  Did you hurt anyone else?  No? Then keep perspective. Calm down."

We have before us a glut of information.  We hear from media outlets that are trying to break a story before checking their sources. We read opinions of our "friends" who might not think as we do.  We "converse," and then ask ourselves whose mind we are really changing by even commenting.  People "tweet" pithy remarks, like writing graffiti on a wall. And I have one question.  Do these things make you happy? Sometimes yes, most times no.

My soul is interwoven with a sense of righteous indignation.  Trust me.  I get it.  But I also know what it feels like to have torn my soul into so many pieces that I don't have anything left with which to fight the good fight.  I must now be choosier about that fight.

Enter the change of American President.  Wow. In my lifetime, there's been Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama, and now Trump.  People, we have been through this before. No one human being will ever be perfect in that position. And I am a chick in Central Illinois on my computer at almost midnight.  Do you really think any of this "discourse" will make a difference?

My answer: No.  We are just pissing each other off.  Here's my action plan.

Pray | For those with whom I agree and disagree as well as the President-elect and his crew.  I did not do this enough during the Obama administration's 8 years.  I think it could have made those 8 years less contentious for me.

Love | One another.  Everyone.  Especially the seemingly unlovable.

Respect | Everyone.  Because none of us is really superior to the other. We may think we are, but that's not the way we were fashioned.

Discuss Issues | I am irritated by the presentation--the brand-- our President-Elect represents.  That has muddied my thoughts. I want to stick to issues instead of getting lost in persona.

Embrace | I get this day.  Maybe not even the day.  I get this minute. What am I doing with it?  Is what I am doing making me happy?

[end of ramble]