Edith’s Challenge Not Unlike Many

Monday, February 10, 2014


I am tired of watching Edith of Downton Abbey ruin her life by one careless move after another. Edith will continue to struggle until she learns to live out her own quest plot. She needs to find some event to transform her life from waiting to be found by a man who will take care of her to doing something unconventional and new whether that is building homeless shelters, leading advocacy activities that push women’s rights, or obtaining a university education. It is not the nature of the event but the focus on performing, doing, challenging, dreaming or concocting her own “eccentric” story which is important. Edith’s life would change immediately if she molded relationships with exemplary women who use their life energy to make the world a better place. She has spent too much time sulking, crying, whining, and wasting time being a willing victim. She needs to do whatever it takes, no matter how unpleasant, to promote growth in herself. She needs to expect much more of herself and the gifts she already possesses. If I could sit across from Edith and share a cup of tea or a strong glass of Jamison whiskey, I would tell her it is time for her to live an authentic life, to build her own life purpose and to hold herself accountable. I would encourage her to see that it is she and she alone that has both the right and responsibility to build a whole life. For Edith, and for many girls and women, that means leaving boys and men alone until they learn to rely on themselves. Until they learn to do the hard thing, they can expect more of the same: being used by others.

The Pulse of Hillary Clinton

When Hillary Clinton was hospitalized for a blood clot inside her head caused by a fall, news media across the world covered the story around the clock. Many women stopped whatever they were doing and paused in disbelief. She had just recently made the news for being chosen as the most admired woman in the world for the 17th time surpassing other formidable women like Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Thatcher to name a few. Many of us have come to believe that Hillary would always be here and there working endlessly to protect democracy across the planet. We take for granted that her voice will continue to be heard in the darker parts of the earth that still exploit and brutalize girls and women. We continue to expect that she will advocate for basic human rights for girls and women and especially the right to education no matter which continent they happen to live upon. She seemed unstoppable.

As I followed the updates on Clinton with marked concern that she would be able to recover fully, I could not help but wonder what the nature of the deep connection to her was that so many of us experience. I have never met Mrs. Clinton and I don’t travel in the elite circle that has been her domain for decades.

I think what connects us to Hillary Clinton is that she has been a model on how to live a female life no matter how gifted, how challenged or ordinary that life can be at times. We have watched her handle gut wrenching personal crisis played out on an international stage. While many men and women criticized Hillary for not divorcing her husband during his most public infidelity, Hillary conducted her personal business privately. She taught us that the first step in a personal crisis of any kind is to focus inward and build your own strength. Rather than playing on an international divorce stage, Mrs. Clinton ran for the senate and won.

We have also learned from Hillary Clinton to reject perfection as a standard applied to women those in and out of the spotlight. While Hillary Clinton‘s job performance approval rating is still at an all-time high, higher than any man in national politics, what pundits want to talk about is how bad her hair looks or how tired she appears. What is notable is the response from Mrs. Clinton on those unflattering remarks: silence.

Perhaps the most important lesson Mrs. Clinton has taught us is the wisdom of investing in one’s own human capital and dignity and the strength of character to make one’s own choices. This is not to be confused with going it alone for anyone who has watched Hillary Clinton has learned that at the end of the day, the most important choice is to support and stand by other women both in their aspirations and in their major life challenges. We do need to continually build and rebuild a strong physical and emotional well being as we traverse the decades of our lives. The reality is that most women will live the last of their years on earth on their own.

The pulse of Hillary Clinton that resonates within me and within many women is to continue to learn from her as she navigates the rest of her stunningly accomplished life.


Why Write

Monday, October 28, 2013

I just returned home from a lunch meeting with a writer friend who has finished a young adult novel and is looking for a publisher. It is the story of a 16 year old who is dying of cancer. We talked about life and writing and accept that most people who know us think we are wasting our time. We smiled at each other and laughed as we acknowledged that we make excuses for not attending the endless list of lunch fund raisers and charity luncheons; instead we select three good causes we support and send in a check. That leaves us with plenty of time to struggle over our manuscripts, grow our gardens, take good care of ourselves and at the same time think about the next stage of our writing. We accept that we don’t fit in the women’s social groups. We have little to add to the conversation and no one knows what to say when they ask us why we spend so much time alone writing something that few will read and we answer: because we can.

Why the Interest in the Status of Girls and Women by the Republican Party?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why the Interest in the Status of Girls and Women by the Republican Party?

What is very apparent to me is the goal behind the anti-woman agenda in this country. Women are now the majority of college students and college graduates across the country. The more you educate a woman, the fewer children they have. College educated women pursue and attain jobs and positions once held by men only: and many men got the jobs they had and retained those jobs even when they performed mediocre because of the belief among many men that it is the natural right of a man to work.

Women historically, those educated and those not, support public schools and the value of providing the best and the most education for their children as possible. It is rare to find a mother who believes that a good education is not a highly held value of hers. The Republican agenda/Koch brothers etc. want a cheap and needy supply of workers to work their hotels, factories etc.; workers who they won’t offer benefits to, won’t provide health insurance or retirement. Their goal is see the best jobs going to men, whether these men are educated or not. The R agenda is to push women back inside the house, with no money of their own and barriers to birth control to increase the probability of producing more and more children to needier and needier women to be governed by a chauvinistic agenda that was the rule not the exception in this country and all over the world prior to 1960’s and beyond. After all, the R/Corporate agenda absolutely needs to insure that there are plenty of young 16 and over poorly educated and needy workers to make their greedy agenda work. They do not give one second of serious thought to the issues of women’s’ rights, health care for children and the elderly other than how they can make the most money and rob the American tax payer by billing them for unearned work (see last weeks 60 Minutes Show on the fraud of corporate for profit hospitals all across this country including the one where you live). The goal of the Republican party and US Corporations is to make the United States more similar to Mexico, Vietnam and China with respect to the power and greed of the very few at the expense of pain, quality education and freedom of girls and women.


Inappropriate for whom?

Monday, December 31, 2012

When I was in upper elementary school, 7th grade or so, I walked to the local bookmobile in St. Francis, WI every two weeks and loaded up with as many books as I could carry home. One time the bookmobile librarian did not approve of one of the books I had selected and said I needed a note from home to take it out. My aunt Frances wrote her a note that said if I had picked out a book that she did not think was appropriate, she would talk to me about it when she saw me reading it as I was an avid reader and carried my books with me where ever I went. I read English, French and American novels. Most were in the adult section. My aunt never questioned what I was reading. The only question she ever asked was how did I manage to carry so many books the 12 blocks or from the where the bookmobile parked and the house. Yes, there was plenty of sex in the books. I remained a virgin until I was in college and had my first child three years into my marriage. Books about sex were not the biggest threat to my well-being; it was the sex discrimination and cruelty to smart girls and women that were my biggest obstacles to surviving and thriving in the American culture of the 1970s and beyond. But survive and thrive I did. And I think I learned a strategy or two from those inappropriate adult novels.

Are You Safe Inside Your House or Business

Monday, July 23, 2012

Last week I wrote about my frightening experience of getting locked inside a small bathroom in my home. Once I managed to find my way out, I had a locksmith come over a few days later. I had described what had happened to the appointment person at the business so the locksmith knew what had happened when he walked into my house. His first request of me was to show him how I managed to get out. He said while there were a number of ways one could get out, all required some kind of tool- a big hammer, drill etc. He did say I made the right choice to focus on the lock mechanism and the door knob plate with the manicure tools rather than using those “tools” on the door hinges as I would have probably ruined the only tools I did have on a strategy that would have not worked with manicure instruments.
Here are the other recommendations he made based upon what happened to me:
1. Remove all locks on internal doors in your home. They cause problems and some are life-threatening. Privacy can be obtained by closing the door. If a child or an adult gets locked inside and they have a health crisis or are too young to tool themselves out, the consequences have been and can be dire.

2. Use a professional to select and install lock devices in your home; both internal locks (if you still go this route) and others. One should view the door not as a simple door knob installation but security. He noted that antique looking glass door knobs had been upgraded on my door. He said they were cheap and the large bolt mechanism holding the door knobs together was stripped badly. Most do-it-yourselfers make the wrong decisions when selecting and installing door knobs and locks.

3. Have a lock pick kit in every room that does have an internally locked door. He asked me to go purchase one while he was working on all my internal locks. I shared the two kits I had purchased and he noted that the lock picks look a lot like my manicure tools except one had a small hook on it and the instruments were sturdier than manicure instruments. While I no longer have lock mechanisms on any of my doors inside of the house, I have one of these kits in each bathroom in the event of other issues arise with the door knobs.

This locksmith spent a lot of time sizing up my survival strategies and teaching me better methods to create privacy inside my home without sacrificing privacy. He upgraded and repaired another faulty door lock mechanism on an original internal door that leads to my front entry way.

His bill for all of this: $125.00. My security and life is worth at least that.

Locked Away

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another morning of having the house closed up and the AC blasting away! Soaker hoses on by 8am along with laundry in so made my way to Forest Hill Cemetery for my morning walk. Did six passes at the incline hill doing all of the supposed to be good for you yoga breathing and paying attention to my core and letting my extremities glide from it as Michael, my dance teacher, instructs each week. I arrived home hot and sweaty; went into my very small sun room bathroom to put water on my face before changing. I generally push the door closed more out of habit than necessity as I have a wall of large picture windows just outside the bathroom forgetting that my new fence in the back yard gives me all the privacy I need.

I live in a 1920 two story Dutch Colonial house and most of the interior walls, doors and trim are originals. When I went into the bathroom, the door closed, the doorknob on the inside fell off and the bolt locked tight against the door jam. Okay, I thought, I can handle this. I tried to grab the post that was left to pull it towards me so I could put the doorknob handle back on and turn the lock. As I did that, the doorknob on the other side of the door fell off leaving me with no doorknob handles on either side of the door and a bolt still locked tight in place. I started to panic. My cell phone was in the kitchen along with my glasses to correct farsightedness which means I can’t really see small things up and personal very well….like doorknob screws and bolts. My AC was turned on; windows closed as well as were most of my neighbors. I started to yell for help; the more I yelled the more my panic mode geared up. After a minute of that I realized that unless I got myself out of the bathroom, it was unlikely that anyone would hear or find me in a few days…maybe a week.

So I drank some water and opened the vent to let AC air come in full tilt. I told myself the first step was to calm down and drink water. I sat on the stool cover and drank water and breathed. I thought about what was in the bathroom that I could use as tools. I pulled out my manicure instruments as they were strong yet small enough to maneuver around what was remaining of the doorknob setting and the bolt. I thought if I could unscrew the setting that held the doorknob in place the bolt would also loosen up. I used one of the manicure instruments as a screwdriver and got the four screws out of the setting and it fell off. But, the bolt remained firmly in place. I kicked and pounded on the door but that strategy did nothing except bruise my hand. I started to panic again but told myself this could be worse. I could be locked in this small bathroom on this 90 degree day with no AC! And, so what if it took me all day to figure out how to loosen up this bolt? I wasn’t going anyplace anyway. I sat back down on the stool cover and eyed up the bolt locked into the door jamb connection. I took one of my cuticle pushers and tried to jimmy it behind the bolt. It was too big. Dug around in my manicure tools and found a small cuticle pusher with a sharp edge. I slid it slowly behind the bolt and it fit. I then pushed the bolt toward the left unlocking the bolt. Since I had no doorknobs to use to open the door, I reached with my left arm and hand to the top of the door that had an inside door stopper and pulled on it towards me. The door opened and I was free. I duct taped the bolt against the door and taped the bolt hole closed so I cannot inadvertently repeat the same drama. If I had been a short lady or someone who had not learned some basics about working through a problem on my own, I would still be locked away. Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that there may be some people who would think that would not be such a bad thing. But no doubt, you will do as your mother instructed you long ago: not every thought needs to be spoken.