Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Feminism or reality?

“We live in deeds not years In thoughts not breaths In feelings not figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives who thinks most, feels noblest, acts the best.” [sic] Philip James Bailey

This quote came up in one of my emails as a suggestion for a meditation centering thought. I deleted it, because of the word “He,” having a knee jerk reaction to the exclusionary language. Yes, I know English usage mandates the use of masculine pronouns when mixed gender is addressed. And this was not publicly challenged in Mr. Bailey’s lifetime (1816 – 1902). But really, can’t we move forward yet?

Just as minority populations feel excluded when pictures/movies/television show only the dominant culture, I feel excluded when only male pronouns are used. In this particular case, I was good with the first few phrases, which use the inclusive “we.” Then I got to the troublesome “He,” and the following phrase stuck in my gullet and the whole thing went to the trash bin.

“He most lives who thinks most, feels noblest, acts the best.” So, the thinking person lives most? The noblest feeling person lives most? The person who acts the best lives most? Thoughts of a privileged, white, male, me thinks. Not much shows up on the internet about Mr. Bailey, so I do not know if he was ever a parent. But every parent who ever loved a child lives by their heart throbs. From the first time a baby smiles at you, to their first injury, every time they tell you, “Mom (or Dad), I love you,” until you or they die, they are connected to your heart. Good parents act as the best parent they can. They are noble, as far as acting in the best interest of the family (in whatever shape it may be) to the best of their ability.

I guess it is the first part of the last phrase that most bothers me. “He most lives who thinks most.” Most parents I know don’t have time or brain cells left for thinking during the first few years of a child’s life. One moves by rote, routine, reflex in a fog of sleeplessness (and sometimes worry). And that’s if your child is healthy. G-d help those of us whose babies are ill or otherwise need additional care and resources.

And sorry, just thinking doesn’t make one a good person or noble citizen. One MUST act to be noble. Maybe this quotation was taken out of context and Mr. Bailey expanded on his idea in surrounding text. If the editor who chose this quote for the meditation exercise had included some background and noted the exclusionary language (even by just adding "sic" at the end) I might not have deleted the message immediately. “Ifs” and “maybes,” but something to keep in mind should you have the opportunity to address people in the future.

Be inclusive. Be on the cutting edge of language and mores. Remember women hold up half (actually, more than half) the sky.

Monday, August 10, 2015

I’m one of the lucky ones.

I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s been almost a year since I wrote my last blog on the subject of domestic violence. Unfortunately I now know even more about the subject.

I just ended a romantic relationship. Prior to ending it, I normally received a few texts a day, a phone call or two, never an email. We had dinner together most nights, and a couple of weekend vacations together. Permission or agreement was always requested before coming to each other’s home.

Post break-up, I began receiving 10, 20, even more texts a day. Six to ten phone calls a day. When I blocked the phone number(s), I began receiving multiple phone calls at work. When I didn’t answer my direct line, this person started calling the receptionist multiple times. I started receiving emails, both to my personal address and work address; even though I made it clear I did not want to receive personal emails at my work address. Then, this person also began physically showing up: in my (theoretically secure) home parking garage, at my office, my doctor’s office, my local knitting store, the place where I play trivia, even the Renaissance Faire (where parking costs $10 and admittance is $30) and my church.

I began parking a mile from home and calling my son to see if the coast was clear. Because of the calls and emails at work, my Corporate Security and Corporate HR departments got involved and I had to be escorted to my car in the evenings.

By this time, I’m a nervous wreck. My supervisor took work away from me, saying he didn’t think I could handle my regular workload, much less the additional responsibility I was requesting. I stayed at the office long into the evening, because it was the only place I felt safe. I’m one of the lucky ones – I have a place where I feel safe.

Getting the restraining order was an ordeal. I’m fairly bright, college educated, computer literate and persistent. I researched on-line for what was needed, found the forms, printed them out and called a few agencies to confirm what I needed to file for a domestic violence restraining order. Still, when I got to the courthouse with my completed and signed paperwork, I was sent from office to office, told to complete more forms, then back to the office-to-office routine. It took over 3 hours, even though I thought I was thoroughly prepared when I arrived. I was exhausted by the time I actually gave the local police a copy of the temporary restraining order.

I cannot imagine trying to get this done if I were a less-privileged person. If I had been beat up that morning and escaped my home with only my kids and the clothes on our back, how could I have done research? How would I have found the forms? What if I didn’t speak English or have a computer with internet connection or transportation? My local courthouse has “help-hours” for 2 hours twice a week. The downtown courthouse has help 3 hours twice a week. Do they think domestic violence only happens on those days?

I’m one of the lucky ones. I wasn’t afraid for my physical safety (too much). I have resources and friends available. I speak English. I am stubborn and well-educated. I was granted a one-year restraining order. My former lover has to attend a 52-week class regarding domestic violence and transfer ownership or store all owned firearms at an approved gun locker. I don’t know what will happen in a year. But at least now I’m not afraid to go home at night.

At least I have a home to go to. I don’t have to try and find a bed at a shelter for me and my children. I have a job still. I’m one of the lucky ones.

It’s time to end domestic violence, now and forever. Stop the silence, stop the violence. Before you find out if you are one of the lucky ones.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stop the silence, stop the violence

Domestic violence – a phrase that has come to the forefront of the news recently because yet another man beat a woman senseless. In this case, it was a professional football play (Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens) beating his fiancĂ© Janay Palmer on February 15, 2014. In March, hotel surveillance video emerged showing him dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator. (, 9/10/2014 2:27 PM) Mr. Rice and Ms. Palmer then appeared together at a press conference put on by the Ravens. Less than a week later they married.

“Initially, Rice and Palmer both were charged with simple assault. The Atlantic County prosecutor's office later dropped the charge against her. In March, Rice was indicted by a grant jury on the more serious charge of third-degree assault [First and Second-degree assault charges are worse]. The charge carried a potential sentence of three to five years in prison… In May, Rice entered a program for first-time offenders that would clear his record of the criminal charge if he met certain conditions, including participation in counseling.” (; 9/10/2014 2:30:35 PM)

During a May news conference put on by the Ravens, both of them addressed the media. She apologized for her role in the incident, while Rice apologized to his bosses. He never once said he was sorry to Ms. Palmer. (; 9/10/2014 2:18 PM). In July Mr. Rice received a 2-game suspension. August saw the NFL introducing new penalties for domestic violence. Then the video of Ms. Palmer’s beating emerged on social media in September, and Mr. Rice was released from the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the National Football League.

One of the reasons I am so angry about this situation is that a man who knocked a woman out was originally given a slap-on-the-wrist penalty. It was only when the video of the actual beating surfaced and public outcry was heard that he received a stiffer penalty from his employer. I don’t know why Ms. Palmer, now Mrs. Rice, didn’t press charges against Mr. Rice, or indeed, why she then married her abuser. Her reasons are her own. I find it hard to understand why Mr. Rice’s assault on Ms. Palmer was only a misdemeanor offence.

In the two weeks since the NFL imposed the new standardized penalties for domestic violence on August 28, two more pro football players have been arrested on domestic violence charges. Why do we not have more of a public outcry against this abuse? If we say, “Oh, he made a mistake,” when a man beats up a woman, we are condoning his behavior. Beating someone up is not a mistake.

If we say a woman deserved to be dosed with a date-rape drug because she went to a club, we are agreeing that it OK to rape women. Rape is not a mistake.

If we say women should wear sneakers instead of heels, dress conservatively instead of revealingly, walk in groups instead of alone, then we are saying it is a woman’s own fault if she is followed, stalked, assaulted or killed.

This is wrong-thinking and we as a society MUST change it. We don’t make men wear baggy clothing, walk in groups or wear sneakers when they go out at night. Why then do we ask it of women? Because as a society we believe it is OK to abuse women. Think this through carefully. This is why rape and abuse are under-reported. Because it almost always is made to be the woman’s fault. Because we EXPECT men to abuse women. Until we no longer expect men to hurt women, it will continue.

Speak out women! Speak out male-allies! Stop the silence, STOP THE VIOLENCE.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Lenten project for non-Christians?

I don’t usually observe Lent too much. I’m not Christian in the way most people think of one and I think of how some folks “give up Chocolate” or some such thing as a trivializing of a potentially spiritually important season.

But this month I have been struggling with the success of a co-worker. This person has many fewer years in the industry than I do; brags about lack of know-how; poor grammar, inability to proof-read and has major holes in professional knowledge. Yet, he (yes, a relatively young man) has been promoted.

I have worked in this industry for 30 years, starting with typing basic forms in quadruplet. I have a B.S. in Business Management and an advanced degree. I have worked on the client and the consulting side of the business. I do pro bono consulting in the industry for nonprofits. I handle a book of business with almost no oversight from our manager.

I’ve been with my employer for 15 years; he has been here less than 5. I recommended him for “Early Career Advancement “ training program. And now this young man has a corner office and I’m still in a cubicle with no hope of a promotion. He’s now probably going to be earning 25% more in salary than I.

The green monster of envy has taken a huge bite out of my goodwill this month. So for Lent this year, I’m re-starting my 90-day challenge and giving up envy.

What you ask is a “90-day challenge?” For 90 consecutive days, I may not criticize this person. In any way. No constructive criticism, no gossip, no digs, no disses. 90 (nine-zero, count them) consecutive days. What if I slip up? Start over at day one. (It once took me over a year to complete a 90-day challenge on a particularly challenging person.)

Will this make me a better person? Probably not. Will it change my co-worker’s life? Nope. Will it change my life? Yes!

By the time I go a full calendar-quarter saying only positive things (or keeping my mouth shut) about my co-worker, I know that I will have greater compassion for him. My blood pressure will not go up when I think of him and his success. I will be able to truly smile and be happy for his promotion. I will probably even like my job more and do it better as my attitude improves.

So my Lenten season will be a little longer than 40 days. I think Jesus would approve of my non-traditional plan for this year. My challenge to you is to make your own 90-day challenge on the person you most complain about. See how your life can change, starting with just one step, one day at a time.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I didn't die

Two weeks ago today I thought I was having a heart attack. Nausea, shooting pain and tingling in left arm, panting instead of breathing, blood pressure in the 170s, feelings of anxiety (no kidding!). I called one of my dear sisters who took me to the ER and stayed with me for hours. I sent her home after they decided to admit me for the night.

Now, my mother had a history of uncontrollable high blood pressure. My maternal grandfather died of complications from strokes and my maternal grandmother carried nitroglycerine tablets for as long as my mother could remember. I began taking blood pressure pills a couple of years ago and those seem to have worked. Until that Monday.

After about 24 hours in the hospital, including two chest x-rays, a radioactive CT scan of my heart, a dose of nitroglycerine, another vasodilator, baby aspirin, various other pokes, prods and pills, I was declared heart-healthy (Thank All-That-Is for healthy insurance!). The last cardiologist told me, “If you aren’t exercising, do. If you are exercising, keep doing it.” Whew. I didn’t die.

The doctors have not shared with me their thoughts about what may have caused this scary episode. I’ve tried to figure it out and have come up with the following potential reasons:
a. Aliens invaded my body and my body tried to reject them.
b. My son told me he got an A on his mid-term college exam and essay.
c. I had over 21 days of vacation saved up.

While (a) is a possibility, no one reported any UFOs over Southern California that day. (B) would not have caused my blood pressure to rise significantly. I know my son is brilliant and capable of expressing himself very clearly, and besides, I told him I expected As and Bs on his report cards and would expect to see them each semester.

Therefore I have come to the conclusion that (c) is the culprit. My day job as an insurance broker is extremely seasonal, with May through July being horribly busy and demanding. In addition to being seasonal, it is cyclical, and we are experiencing what is called a “hardening market,” which briefly, means my job is harder to do and I work longer hours.

What does this really mean? I need to be more intentional about relaxing and taking care of myself. I have been taking steps to improve my financial health, physical and mental health and spiritual health and I need to continue and probably do even more in those directions.

So what is my action plan?
1st My son and I are working on cleaning up our home. A neat home is more relaxing than a messy one.
2nd I will find a company to clean out the home I own jointly with my ex. That is the first big step in improving my financial situation.
3rd I will continue to walk and monitor my diet with the intention of losing an additional 10 pounds.
4th I will devote an hour a day to meditation in one form or another. It may be while I walk, it may be knitting, playing piano, painting or Zen sitting. The form may vary, but the intent will be to close down the monkey-mind for an hour each day.

These are small steps. But I will do them as though my life depends on it. Because it probably does.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Hey Mom, hope you and Grandma are having a smashing good time together. You both died too young and are missed greatly here. Just wanted to give you an update on the family.

Your grandson is maturing into a lovely, thoughtful, caring and compassionate young man. Yes, he’s a slob (gosh, wonder where he got that gene?), but he knows how to clean the kitchen and living room. I usually ignore his bedroom and he ignores mine – it works for us. He’s got his own rock and roll band and plays drums and saxophone and sings in an acoustic punk-folk band. When he isn’t playing or practicing (or playing video games with the guys) he’s studying pre-law at the local community college. He likes his studies and seems to be doing well.

He reaches out to his cousins on a semi-regular basis, and tries to maintain ties to his dad’s side of the family, and to his uncle Paco. He had a long-term relationship with a very nice girl, but that ended a few months ago. After some quiet days and nights, he seems to have recovered. Just as he recovered from that horrible skateboarding accident last December (he wouldn’t be my son without the ER visits, would he?).

I’m still selling insurance and trying to figure out what I’m going to do when I grow up—Ministry is still the top runner if I can retire in the next couple of years from the financial industry. I’ve been participating in a dream group, knitting up a storm and working at the So Cal Renaissance Faire. Oh yeah, and riding my motorcycle in the local mountains. Last year I went on vacation with Jean and with Jeanette.

Your teachings have kept me on a good path:
1. Walk quickly and wear loud clothing. I may have to start sewing again to feed my need for unique clothing, but that’s OK – I’m almost ready to bring your machines and fabric out of the closets (and from under the bed and out of the hall library, etc.).
2. Be nice to the underlings as they can make your life heaven or hell. Yep.
3. Work hard, play harder. I forgot that for a while, but seem to be making up for it these days.
4. Save for a rainy day. You never know when the next ER visit looms, either for your kid or your car or your cat.
5. Don’t hit your brother or your kid or your cat. Ever. I refined this to “Don’t touch another in anger.” Ever.
6. If you’ve been crying every day for a while, go see a doctor. Still working on this one, but getting better.
7. Listen to the advice you give others and apply it to your own situation. Ouch.
8. Hug first. Hard words are easier to say when snuggling.
9. Leave the office at work at the end of the day.
10. Sing lustily.
11. Encourage creativity.

I’m sure there are more, but these are what come to mind as I think of this Mothers’ Day. I hope your grandson remembers to gift me somehow. I reminded him last week that the day was coming. I miss you.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Adventurous Projects

So. I’ve joined an on-line dating service. Trying to describe myself honestly, yet positively enough to interest someone worth knowing is a slippery thing. I’ve tinkered with the description, changing a word here, a phrase there. Added in income level, changed photos, added more about who I would like to meet.

Humbling experience, this on-line dating. In a month of actively “winking” and sending emails, I’ve had one date. I’ve had at least three scammers tell me they are in love with me within 2 emails. They are flattering, but rather scary too. How does one try to remain pleasantly naive without getting hoodwinked? I check photos out on Google Images. I Google their names. (That’s how I found out about the scammers). Did you know there is a whole website dedicated to ferreting out military-related romantic scammers? Boy, were my eyes opened!

Having been rather in hibernation mode for the last several years, it seems the dating scene has changed dramatically since I last was “on the market” (over 30 years ago). I’ve been trying different venues and activities for the past year or so but haven’t been meeting eligible people. Hence the on-line dating.

I think I’m having more luck with my devilishly difficult Damask Shawl project. But I’m not giving up on either project yet. Stay tuned for an occasional update.