Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Know Your Worth


I don't know when or how women realize their worth. Some women never realize their worth. I think young girls need to be taught to value themselves, so others will immediately know, "This person has confidence. This person is not malleable." Parents, teachers, relatives, and friends can help in many ways by encouraging and challenging girls to do their best regardless the task like fixing the tire, cutting the lawn, building a tree house, etc. Lessons learned in childhood will reap many benefits in adulthood.
My childhood was the typical girl childhood. I played with dolls, cleaned, washed dishes, cooked, and baked. I learned how to sew, knit, and crochet. I was not expected to attend college. My brother learned to cut the grass, fix cars, build sheds, and balance a checkbook. He went to college. He was preparing to lead while I was preparing to follow.
I was in my thirties when I realized I had been short changed. I went to college and the more I learned, the more I realized how poorly prepared I was for the world. I watched my sisters as they maintained the house and let their husbands do the rest. Their husbands set the rules and they followed. Financial decisions were totally the husband's and my sisters knew little of their worth, literally. Their lifestyle motivated me to establish my voice. I began asking questions about our expenses and our financial security. I wanted to balance the checkbook, and for many years I did. I became assertive and learned to make decisions regarding the family and the finances. I learned I was worthy of respect. I wish I had felt that way before my thirties, but I had to learn.

Now, as I hear stories from other women many years my junior, I wish they too would realize their worth!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Vision



All of a sudden I sense
I
reaching
 clinging desperately
To life
And when I finally
Open my eyes
 to see
It is you - God
Beautiful, golden, awesome-
I am saved
Yet sad -
What about the others?
There are many looking  up 
Staring, questioning
Why I am up there?
Clinging –
they think
This is no nightmare-
 it is a vision of my life
My journey and my soul’s
Survival.

Women at Work


Every semester I ask my students to tell me who does the cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and who does the lawn, plumbing, and painting around the house. Invariably, the jobs are divided with mom handling the household chores and dad taking care of the lawn care and maintenance. Nothing much has changed in forty years except the percentage of women in the workforce. According to the United States Department of Labor, nearly sixty percent of women work, an increase of thirty-five or so percent from forty years ago.
Women are required to work in order to increase the family income, yet little is being done by the employer or the husband to improve conditions. An article in Business Week states that, most men continue to expect the woman to clean, cook, and take care of the children. It is the wife who is called when an emergency arises. It is the wife who stays home when the child is ill or when school is out. Where is the equity?
Employers are not considering childcare options because they fear it is impractical and expensive. Yet, research shows that those companies that have in-building childcare gain employee motivation, morale, and productivity. Absenteeism and tardiness are greatly diminished and mothers tend to be more productive when their children are nearby (Business Week). There is less anxiety and more productivity.  
Again, women are not demanding. We are asking, politely. We think men will get it; they will eventually understand. I doubt it. Why should they when we don’t make it seem that important. Think how women finally were heard. We raised our voices in unity. We worked together for a better life. We demanded until we were able to vote, until we were given jobs of our choice, until we fought to enter the military, until… We must once again raise our voices to be heard, but we must do it in unison. That will bring change.
Adams, Courtney Lee. “Get Real About What Employers Can Do.” Business Week. n. d. Web.
Hahn, Cliff. “Happy Parents, Kids, and Corporations.” Business Week. n. d. Web.
“Women in the Labor Force.” United States Department of Labor. (2010). Web.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Worry



Some people worry because they do not worry-
their life considered a waste land of inactivity
family that is non existent - elusive.

Some people worry about everything
they cannot change or what has changed.
Their life an imbroglio of too much
action without reaction except to worry.

Some people do not worry
they let go and let God.
They are at peace-
it is obvious in their eyes-
the windows to their souls.

Ask for a Promotion, Dammit!


Why don’t women ask for a promotion? So much has happened in the past fifty or so years, yet women continue to minimalize their needs, putting others before them, even strangers. Studies have found that nearly one out of ten women will ask for a raise or promotion compared to nine out of ten men. Men believe they are entitled, while women still believe they should be given the raise or promotion based on their efforts. They simply do not ask!

I once worked for a retail company. I had been working there for quite some time and was still getting paid the same salary as when I had first begun. I was doing the work of the assistant manager while being paid the salary for a clerical. I was discussing the situation with a very wise man (my husband), and he said, “I want you to go in tomorrow and ask for a raise and a promotion. Don’t come home unless you’ve asked!” I know he sounds mean, but he was right. Of course I could go home; he was being forceful, which was exactly what he wanted me to be.

The next day, I approached my District Manager with much trepidation: my face was red, my knees were shaky, and my voice trembled, but I asked and was dumbfounded by his response, “It’s about time,” he said.

That was a lesson well learned. We women deserve to be paid and to be promoted when we have proven we can do the work and do it well. We need not be considered bitchy or pushy. We must get over that and acknowledge that we are being assertive and determined. A wonderful article published by Forbes Women delineates how and when a woman should ask for a promotion. The same may be said for a raise.

“Moving on Up: How to Ask for a Promotion.” Forbes Woman.4 Oct. 2011. Web. 21 May 2014.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Recycle


Family should be recycled like cans and paper
once used as essentials when young
their use should be changed as one grows older

My newspaper is important to me when first
I read it
Like sisters and brothers are when we
live with them
but, like the newspaper that has been read
the function of siblings changes with age.

I still love my newspaper as I wrap a gift
just like my siblings -
if you get my drift...


Monday, May 19, 2014

Julia


She speaks with a French accent
or maybe it's more Valley Girl
This four year old who is loved
and adored beyond reason.

The comments she makes lighten
the heart and soul
Her tone serious yet we have to
hold back the smiles and laughter.

Jewels makes funny faces 
when she's sad, happy, mad, angry.
She gestures with hands this way and that
because her entire life is passion.

She loves Drew
hates being told what to do
gives thumbs up or down
depending on her mood.

Her sisters adore her
her mother and father smile
at the mention of her name
for she is truly Jewels.

Gender Equality - Ask for a Raise


It is quite disheartening that in 2014 America women are making 77 cents to every dollar earned by a man. Why is this still happening? Women have proven themselves again and again, yet we continue to earn less. This morning I heard that the executive editor, Jill Abramson, of The New York Times was fired. The reason is ambiguous, and I doubt the general public will ever really know the true reason, but she maintains it is because she asked to be paid the same amount her predecessor, Bill Keller, had been paid. I am sure there are two sides to the story, but even the publisher’s side tends to reveal a sexist attitude.
How can we change a patriarchal society? I believe women are strong and unbeatable. So, we must gather our strength and revive our appetite for equality. It begins one step at a time with one item at a time, in this case, money. An employer whether man or woman will not pay more to an employee who does not request, require, demand, or petition for a higher salary. Remember the squeaky wheel gets the oil? Well, women need to start squeaking, loudly.
Prepare for an argument, for there will be one. Write down the time you have been employed, the positive aspects of having you as an employee, the salary you began with and the salary you have, and the success of the business and how you have contributed. Decide on the amount you will be asking before you enter his/her office. Let the amount be reasonable not too much or too little. Research to learn the best approach to asking for a raise, and then for the benefit of all women, do it and share your success.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dance of Innocence




The little girl dances to the innocent tune of childhood
Swinging herself to and fro to the music
She laughs and tosses her head back and forth
Long hair falling carelessly down her back
One day, the laughter ends and the music stops.

Long rough fingers touch her innocence
The moment is frozen in time
It is then and yet it is also now.

Laughter is forbidden
Music is for days gone by
A little girl is crying
Alone in her room, door locked,
 she wants to die.

Inside her head she wants to scream
To those who do not hear
children should not suffer
For dancing to the music.




Monday, May 12, 2014

Friends for Life

I am amazed by the longevity of some relationships. It is a wonder and a mystery how some friendships remain strong through the decades. I've heard of friends staying friends from elementary school through college and beyond. How do these people do it? What's their secret?
I can only go by my long lasting relationship with my husband and my children. We have gone through very difficult times, severe character changes, yet we remain friends. We have adjusted and adapted to changes in religion, education, political affiliations, etc. We don't agree on various topics, yet we agree to disagree. When we're together we can discuss a plethora (I hate that word) of subjects even though we have different points of view.
We are all affectionate, generous, and loving. We forgive each other's faults easily and readily. We love unconditionally.
Maybe that's what really good friends do. Maybe that's why their friendships last forever. They are to each other what families are to each other. Their commitment is made not by blood but by love. There's a lesson in this. I'm sure I'll figure it out soon.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Love

I sing to the mother who loves
her child ~
the mother who instills
wonder
curiousity 
awe ~
the mother who respects
her child
from its birth as part
of who she is
who she has been
and who she will be ~
the mother who inspires
her child
to succeed
through good deeds, love and generosity ~
I sing to this mother
who deserves to be called
mother, mommy, mom, mamma ~
She does not have to be blood ~
it is her goodness
her smile
her hugs
and her unconditional
love.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Homemade Potato Salad

Potato salad does not have to be difficult to make. My sister Sadie's recipe or my brother's recipe takes much longer than this one, yet trust me this is just as good and takes half the time. I will include their recipe at a later date, but try this one for now.


5          lbs. potatoes
2          stalks of celery, chopped very small
1          carrot, chopped very small
1          small onion, chopped
1          tbs. vinegar
2          cups mayonnaise
salt & pepper to taste


Boil potatoes (any type will do) whole till tender when fork is inserted.  Drain and cool completely.  Peel and cube potatoes to the size you like.  Add other vegetables (celery, carrots, and onion).  In small bowl combine  mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Combine wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Flying Free


Cumulus clouds drifted above her head. The sky promised a glorious day. Evelyn had wanted to visit Siesta Key for weeks, but the cold weather had kept her prisoner inside her spacious house. Now, armed with a beach blanket, a sun hat, sun glasses, cheese and crackers, and a chilled bottle of Clos du bois Chardonnay, she ventured forth for a fun filled day of kite flying.
One hour later she parked her red Nissan convertible and trudged forth with her weighty belongings unto the pristine sands she loved. Evelyn spread the blanket before taking off her sandals and long sleeve shirt. The breeze was mild yet the blanket folded in itself till Evelyn deposited the cooler, hat and kite strategically to keep the blanket in place. She stood watching sea gulls above the mild surf and breathed in the salty, tangible air. She licked her dry lips with pleasure and in anticipation of the calm day ahead. Suddenly, a family of five planted themselves nearly on top of her blanket.
“Why?” she thought, “why do people insist on sitting so close when there’s an entire beach to choose from?” She wanted to experience freedom not congestion, so she picked up her gear and headed further down the beach where no one, not a soul, rested their blanket on the desolate sand. She wanted to be alone, to think, and to mull over what had been happening to her. She needed alone time to get life’s intricate garbage sorted out in her head, so she could emerge a different person, wiser and more in tune with whom she believed she could be. The person who had been mirroring her was some other person with an attitude unlike hers. Who had she become?
The breeze chilled her. She no longer felt warmth from the 70 degree weather or from the comforting rays of the sun. Evelyn always grew cold when she was tired or when she was upset. Today, she was both. She slipped on her shirt once again and hugged herself for warmth. “Thank God I wore jeans. If not I would probably have to pick my stuff up and go home,” she thought with a sense of despair.
She knelt on the blanket and began to arrange the wine bottle, the wine glass, and the cheese and crackers on the cooler tabletop. “This should warm me up,” she thought as she poured a glass of wine. Evelyn took a few pieces of cheese before taking a sip of wine. It tickled her throat and a nice tingle lingered on her tongue, but the best part of all was the immediate sense of tranquility she felt. “Ah, life is a beach, or is it life is a bitch?” she spoke to the wind, knowing it would not come back to haunt her. “Life is a bitch, and I’m not sure I even know why.” So much of her life was beginning to annoy her. Her house was too big, too grand. Her husband was too good, too docile; she wanted the strong and confident man back. Where had he gone? Since his retirement, he was passive and reconciled to a simple lifestyle. Evelyn didn’t even recognize his personality anymore. She was annoyed with her mundane existence of work, home, exercise, more work, and then sleep. The next morning started the cycle all over again. “What’s wrong with me?” she asked, “I have everything a woman, wife, and mother could possibly want, yet here I am miserable.”
Evelyn jumped when she heard a clear and distinct voice coming from somewhere within the recesses of her mind, “You need change. You’re bored. That’s all it is.”
“I’m bored? How can I possibly be bored when I’m so active? I never stop!”
“True,” the voice continued, “but you do the same things day in day out.”
“Yeah, so what do you suggest?”
“Well, let’s see. You love the water, yet you hardly go to the beach. You depend on others to take you or be with you. Go by yourself for goodness sake and stop playing the victim.”
“I’m here today, aren’t I?” Evelyn was beginning to get upset with this inner voice that was reprimanding her as though it were her mother or son, for he too believed she should stop her whining and get over it. She un-wrapped her kite from its casing, assembled it and then embellished it with colorful ribbon she had taken from her sewing basket. “I’m going to fly my kite; in the meantime, you just shut up.” She took another sip of wine, finishing off her second glass.
“Great, just great!” Evelyn realized others had joined her little desert island, “Can’t people just leave me the hell alone,” she thought. Evelyn walked several yards, so she could have more room to fly the simple red kite with the rainbow ribbons. She worked the rope and ran, lifting her arms, motioning the kite to fly high into the sky, but it dragged on the sand, making a stream of convoluted shapes. Others were experiencing great heights and long air time with their masterpieces of dragons, butterflies, and eagles, not Evelyn. Her kite lay lifeless on the sand. It drooped and flopped dead even when she tried with all her might to give it speed and wind.
“Dam kite won’t even try to fly,” she groaned. She removed the colorful ribbons, thinking perhaps that would change the outcome, but to no avail. She tried over a dozen times to elevate her kite, but it refused to budge from its funereal ground.
Kite flyers watched her in dismay, yet no one asked her if she needed help. “I’ll be dammed if I ask anyone for help.” Tears began to well up, “No, I’m not going to cry,” she said, determined not to let this day become another failure.
Her head buzzed from her frustration and from the amount of wine she had drunk. Evelyn poised her kite above the cooler and then lay down. Several hours later, she awoke to the most beautiful sunset she had ever seen.
The sun was half of the way into the horizon, and all around was this lavender, orange glow of twilight. A smile formed as she sat amazed at nature’s wonder and at her own foolishness. All the kites were gone and Evelyn was alone on her little stretch of beach. She reached for her kite and began running toward the lighthouse in the distance. She didn’t look back, so she didn’t see that her simple kite was flying ever so high. When she did turn around, she began to laugh at its unnatural height and the freedom with which it flew. And then, just as it was about to touch the edge of the sunset, without thinking twice, she let it go.




Say no!

Several years ago, I was nominated and voted in to head a committee. I wasn't there to voice my objection or acceptance. I found out about it in passing. At first I laughed, thinking they were kidding, but I found out they had actually voted me in for this important position. I became upset and frustrated. How could they do that? I didn't want the responsibility. I didn't want it, period.
At first I thought I would accept, but then I thought "no, I don't want to lead that particular committee, so why should I accept?" I turned it down. Of course I initially felt badly, yet I realized they had played in an underhanded way.
This was a good lesson for me, for I rarely say no, especially when I'm placed on the spot. I began realizing that one must stand up for oneself because others definately will not. I know of many people, friends of mine, who can't and won't say no and then complain about the responsibility. They are miserable and overworked and yet they continue to take on more and more assignments.
The first no is the most difficult. You might want to practice at first, and when you begin to feel comfortable saying it to yourself, you might want to finally say it aloud to someone who deserves to hear it.