Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Back to Making It A Girl's World!

Well, I originally started this blog three years ago with the best of intentions.  But, life got in the way (as it often does for a full-time working mom of a medically fragile child).  But, I feel like I'm back in a place where I can focus a bit on writing and when I thought about what I REALLY wanted to write about, it was the topic of this blog.  Making the world a better place for my DD and all the other girls out there who will be making their way through this world in the coming years.  There is a lot that needs to improve, but there are also a lot of opportunities to make those changes.  So, this is the (new) start...

So...what is a girl's world?

You may be asking this questions as you land on this website.  After all, shouldn't the world be for everyone?  The answer is yes, it should be.  But, as a woman, raising a daughter, I find that the world is still not totally open to a girl.  Sure, we've made progress.  We have a female candidate for President after all!  But, we also live in a rape culture where girls and women are sexualized at alarming rates.  We live in a world where girls are not allowed to attend school in some places.  We live in a world where women still shoulder the majority of parenting and housekeeping duties, even while working full time.  So, the goal of this blog is to be another voice, raising awareness and hopefully providing some possible solutions.  I want to highlight the good and identify the places where needs exist.  I want to connect those who hurt with those who can help.  I want to be an idea gardener for ways to make the world better fo the girls of today who will be the women of tomorrow. Like, my wonderful DD, pictured below.  

Make it a girls world

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Looking Back, Looking Forward

"It is safe to be open and accepting of inspiration and communicate love through purposeful thoughtfulness."

As I read those words, a question jumps out at me:  Have I ever really felt totally safe?  I have definitely had places where I was comfortable, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt safe.   It may go back to my childhood with an alcoholic father.  I have never really identified what may be the long-term impacts of that experience.  Feelings of shame, guilt, confusion, and fear are definitely in the mix.  But, I have spent a lifetime hiding them behind a smile or another excuse.  My mother taught me to hide things.  I’m not sure why.  She is still doing it to this day. Hiding her illness from her siblings is the latest, but it has been a lifetime of hiding information that may be disturbing to or judged by others.  So, I followed suit.  Very few people in my life knew my dad was an alcoholic, despite the fact that his alcoholism was probably obvious to many.  No one ever said anything and I certainly didn’t volunteer the information.  We never had a lot of close family friends for this reason.  It makes it harder to hide things when people are just dropping by or staying over for extended stays.  So, we didn’t have much of that.  I had a core group of friends that I had from Kindergarten through high school and although I’m sure they knew my dad drank, I’m also sure they never knew the extent of the problem. 
So, now as an adult, with my dad suffering from dementia that may have been caused by all those years of drinking and my mom hiding her cancer from her siblings and none of us really knowing how to talk about anything in any sort of meaningful way because we have worked at keeping it hidden for so long, I try to navigate my own life.  And, I find myself coming up short quite often.

I am more open with the facts of my life with my friends and family – my daughter’s illness is public information.  But, there are areas of my life that no one knows that much about (even me?).  Those same feelings of shame, guilt, confusion and fear are definitely still in the mix. 

And so I enter this stage of my life, with a child of my own and relationships to build and I want nothing more than to be able to live life feeling safe to express myself – my real self – warts and all.  I want to be open and accepting to others who inspire me to be a better self, but still my real self.  Not some fa├žade that I have to keep up for appearances.  I want to express myself and my love to others with purpose and thoughtfulness. 
It is difficult to move from shame and guilt and fear to a place of safety, love and appreciation, but it is what needs to happen.  I am ready to move towards a better place and arrive at that place a better, happier, and inspired person.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blog Dare - If My Parents Had Ever Found Out...

Oh...there are so many things to discuss here, I don't even know where to begin.  And I was a relatively well-behaved child (IMHO).  But, there were a lot of rules in my house.  My brother was a wild child from high school on and I think my parents decided more rules = less risk of the same thing occurring with me.  So, I had to get around some of those rules by lying.  I think that some secrets from your parents are inevitable.  But, often, with girls, I think we have more restrictions put on us than boys in similar situations.

It brings to mind a couple of things - the song "Just A Girl" by No Doubt:

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes
I'm exposed
And it's no big surprise
Don't you think I know
Exactly where I stand
This world is forcing me
To hold your hand
'Cause I'm just a girl, little 'ol me
Don't let me out of your sight
I'm just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don't let me have any rights

Oh...I've had it up to here!
The moment that I step outside
So many reasons
For me to run and hide
I can't do the little things I hold so dear
'Cause it's all those little things
That I fear

'Cause I'm just a girl I'd rather not be
'Cause they won't let me drive
Late at night I'm just a girl,
Guess I'm some kind of freak
'Cause they all sit and stare
With their eyes

I'm just a girl,
Take a good look at me
Just your typical prototype

Oh...I've had it up to here!
Oh...am I making myself clear?
I'm just a girl
I'm just a girl in the world...
That's all that you'll let me be!
I'm just a girl, living in captivity
Your rule of thumb
Makes me worry some

I'm just a girl, what's my destiny?
What I've succumbed to Is making me numb
I'm just a girl, my apologies
What I've become is so burdensome
I'm just a girl, lucky me
Twiddle-dum there's no comparison

I think that just about every girl feels these restraints being put on her at some point in her life.  My parents were definitely more liberal with me than other parents.  I got a car at 16.  I was able to drive to the next town over for swim team practice by myself.  But, I was not allowed to go to concerts until I was a senior in high school.  I had a curfew my first two years of college (I stayed home and went to a JC).  So, although I was given some freedoms, there were still some restraints on me.  But, now, as a parent, I appreciate that the rules were made out of love and not necessarily sexism.  I don't think it would have been different for a boy who followed my brother.  But, I also realize that my family worked hard to make me feel that I should not be treated differently because I was a girl.

The second thing that comes to mind is something I just heard this week on NPR - The Hidden World of Girls (March 22nd edition).  This is a captivating listen, with the stories being told reflecting what I'm sure are many, many girls' stories.  I loved the way it was put together.  I loved the stories that were told.  And, I loved that it focused on girls!  I have not previously heard of the Kitchen Sisters, but I will definitely be checking out their stuff in the future.  I highly recommend The Hidden World of Girls!  

Parents, teachers, older siblings...they all have blind spots when it comes to the children they work with and live with.  After all, every child has a little bit of a secret life they lead...whether its trying a big cigar from an amusement park (I'm sure they don't sell those anymore for exactly this reason) - yes, I did that as a 12 year old - or talking to their alien connections on Venus (check out this episode of The Hidden World of Girls for more on this).  It is in these secret lives that children push the limits, stretch the rules and even push back against reality.  

I think its important to both impress upon girls that they are not a "just," while also giving them the freedom to explore those Secret Lives and figure out who they are and what they care about in life.  We'll see if I can maintain that view as a parent!

Wordless Wednesday - Dog Tired!

Playing a Little Catch Up

I have fallen behind in posts for the Blog Dare.  I have been at debate tournaments for six of the last ten days and spent yesterday recovering and doing laundry.  So, today will be a bit of a catch up day for me.  I will choose not to post on some topics, that I just don't think I have something interesting to say...So, I think I left off with:

Jan. 4 - What I shouldn't have bought this holiday season

I am sure there are many things that I could have done without this holiday season.  The one thing I would list here is some Oro Gold Skincare products.  It was one of those days right before Christmas and I was in the mall for the only time this Christmas season (I did a good job of staying out of malls) and the guy at one of those little temporary kiosks got me and once I was there, I was not getting out without buying something.  I will say that I think I got a decent deal after checking online and the stuff seems to be pretty quality stuff and since I'm getting older, I need to take better care of my skin.  But, it was something that I definitely could have done without this holiday season.  But if you're looking for some quality skincare products and ready to spend some money, check them out.  I really do think the stuff is good.

Jan. 5 - Something Lost

I originally tried to write a post for this prompt on the fifth and ended up erasing what I had wrote because it seemed a little too forced.  So, I'm leaving this one unanswered.

Jan. 6 - My "special" Place

I am a lover of baths!  I definitely feel most relaxed when sitting in a hot bath full of bubbles and reading a book.  I don't get to do it very often (in fact, it seems like I rarely can take a shower without my two year old yelling at me to "get out" lately), but when I do it feel fantastic and I feel like a new person afterwards.  I really need to prioritize fitting these in more often.

Jan. 7 - Something you need daily - coffee?

Yep - I definitely need coffee daily.  Multiple times daily.  I love, love, love coffee.  And iced tea.  Once the coffee time of day passes, I drink iced teas until the day ends.  I get headaches and very cranky when I don't get my coffee and/or iced teas!

Jan. 8 - Too much television

Wow...can we just laundry list every one of my vices right now?!?  Coffee...and TV...I guess I could have worse vices.  My problem with television is it is much more of a "background" item than something I really have to watch.  I have discovered that Murder She Wrote is on Netflix - every season!  200+ episodes.  Its the perfect background show because the plots are simple and somewhat predictable, I love seeing all the stars of today when they were getting their start (George Clooney in No Laughing Matter, e.g.) and its just kind of kitsch, which I love.  But, I will play episode after episode as I'm working, cleaning, whatever.  Half the time I miss half the show, but it works.  I used to DVR a lot of stuff, but now I feel like I don't have time or energy to invest in paying that much attention.  Which probably means I should just not watch TV at all, but instead, I watch Murder She Wrote incessantly.  :)

Jan. 9 - I never thought I'd find this in my child's room...

An empty bed!  I never, ever, ever thought I would be one for the "family bed".  In fact, I remember chuckling about people who believed that before I had my daughter.  Now, her bed is empty a majority of the time and ours is full to the brim with her, the cat, me and my husband and sometimes the dog will join us...I didn't set out intending on sleeping being a family affair.  But, with my daughter's health problems, I think my husband and I were both paranoid about making sure she was breathing okay, keeping her from crying so hard she vomited (which still happens every once in a while), etc.  And now, its become a thing.  I'm sure we will have to transition away from it soon, but at this time, we are fighting battles with separation anxiety, fear of the dark, etc. so it all seems a bit much.  But, we will work at making year three the year of independent sleeping!

Jan. 10 - A favorite retro toy

Its not really a toy, but a game.  I love the game Clue!  Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, Mrs. Peacock...the little tiny weapons...the game is just classic and fun!  I'm sure they have newer versions that are cooler (probably electronic clue "envelopes" or something), but I will always hold a special place in my heart for the old school version.  I remember begging my friends to play it at least once every time we would get together to play.  No one seemed to have quite the affinity for it as I did, but they would play it once with me.  It may have been a pre-cursor to my Murder She Wrote affinity...and my love of all things Nancy Drew.  Its a mystery kind of  theme in my life!

Okay...caught up!  Next post - today's actual prompt!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bucket List...Should I Make One?

Have you seen The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman?  Its a pretty good flick.  I watched it a while ago and I thought about what I might put on my Bucket List, but I've never actually made one.  Today's Blog Dare 2012 prompt is to review your bucket list if you have one and check off things or add to it.  Since I don't have one, I feel a little lacking.  But, I also feel a little intimidated at making such a list.  What would I put on it?  What are the things that I absolutely want to do while on this earth?

It seems that I must not be the only one who struggles with the question.  In a search for Bucket List, I came across this resource with a list of different things one might consider for their bucket list. But, it seems a little forced.  There is a whole Bucket List community online where you can make your list and get help from others in achieving them, much like Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman did in the movie!  The reaperlist.com sounded a bit too morbid for me.  But the Food Bucket List for 2012 sounded kind of interesting.  In the end, I just don't know if I can actually come up with a Bucket List.  I am not so absolute in most of my wants, so making a "must do" list sounds like too much of a commitment for me.  But, in the interest of sticking with the Blog Dare challenge, I will start a list of items here:

  1. Drive across the U.S.
  2. Spend a few days in one of those all-inclusive resorts (I've never been to one).
  3. Take a vacation to Europe 
  4. Visit all professional baseball parks in the U.S.
That isn't very many and the last one really isn't a must-do, its more of a "it would be nice if..."  

I would like to talk about the fact that being able to make a bucket list is quite a privilege.  There are so many people out there who can't think in terms of things they would like to do because they barely get by in the day-to-day.  And many of those are Women and Children.  If you want to see some really moving and disturbing stories, check out Sasha Abramsky's Voices of Poverty website.  

I am one of the lucky ones.  My daughter's illness could have caused a severe slide into poverty for my family, but I had a job with excellent insurance and a job that allowed me the time off I needed to take care of her in the hospital when it was needed and a job, period.  Many are not so lucky.  There are so many families who are only one medical emergency or job loss away from losing their car, their home, their ability to feed their kids and themselves.  

Because we are so often insulated from the individuals who are impacted by poverty, we can put them out of our minds.  Because their voices are so often not heard, we can forget that they exist.  Because we live a life of comfort and security, we can often forget about those in need.  I would like to add something to my bucket list because I am secure enough to be able to make a bucket list.  I would like to consider Abramsky's plea:
That fifty million Americans live in dire poverty, their economic security shattered, their prospects dim, ought to trigger both outrage and creativity: outrage that such a situation has been allowed to fester, to grow, for so long; creativity in that solutions to these problems have to emerge at every level of society - amongst the political classes, but also at the grassroots; amongst regulators and policy innovators, but also in classrooms, in community credit unions, in union halls and amongst the poor themselves.
Fifty million Americans.  Let that sink in for a moment.  I would like to add the following to my Bucket List:

       5.  To create or participate in a creative solution to the problems of economic insecurity.

That is a rather vague one - but it leaves me open to really look for ideas and plans and educational things that can contribute to solving this problem.

Anyone else want to join me in adding this to their bucket list?!?  Check out what George and Billye McPherson did in their small community, on their own, to help their community deal with issues of poverty and hunger (click on picture to access the related audio file):