Category Archives: Women

Dear Choice Books

This spring, Hubs and I attended a church fundraiser where I “won” a self-care basket in a silent auction.  It included lots of lovely items, such as a various sugar scrubs, a gift card for Starbucks, a cd of piano music. It also included a little book entitled “Letting Go and Trusting God”, with 180 devotions for “Life’s Tough Decisions”. As a Christian, I thought this would be a comforting, uplifting read. This turned out to be mostly true.

However. 

The other night, I hopped into bed and grabbed this little book of mine with the intention of reading a passage or two before I conked out. Here is the passage I chose that night:

But first: the following was written by the female author, who will remain nameless in this post as my commentary, after I share this with you, may put me in jeopardy of being sued.

I’ll pretend you don’t know how to use Google.

Side note: on the back of this book, the publisher, Choice Books, states “We Welcome Your Response”. Well,  I think I will take you up on that offer, kind sirs. 

I will highlight in red the parts that infuriated me the most, for reference. 

“One Small Decision”

One day, Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the young women who lived in the area. But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and raped her. 

Genesis 34:1-2 NLT

No question about it, the bulk of the blame for Dinah’s rape falls on Shechem and his unbridled passions. He looked, liked, and acted on impulse, with no thought for the consequences. Certainly he never cared what this would do to Dinah’s life. He made an awful choice with terrible results for Dinah, himself, and his people.

But that awful decision would never have happened had Dinah also not made a bad decision. Here she was in a strange place, and she went out alone. You might compare it to a lone woman going out in a less-than-savory neighborhood today. 

Though Dinah’s mistake doesn’t remove the blame that can be placed on Shechem, it did open her up to the rape. Savviness about dangers is something both genders need to have, but women just have to look out for themselves in ways that men don’t. It’s not fair but it’s the way things are. 

One small decision had an impact on Dinah’s life. It’s the same with us. Are we careful about the places we go, always considering how they could affect us physically or morally? Do we use good judgment about the people we spend a lot of time with? Those small choices can impact our lives, though perhaps differently from Dinah’s.

Okay, now for my commentary. 

First off, the “bulk of the blame” falls on Shechem Phleghm? For real? This “insight” from the author was written in the current times. This book was published in 2016, for fuck’s sake. Excuse me, but the “blame” is 100% on Phlegm, not Dinah. And his “unbridled passions”? From my view, “passion” is not a part of this or any rape situation. It’s more like “unbridled evil, anger, and hatred for women”.

Can I get an “Amen”, brothers and sisters?

Then there’s that “awful decision” that jackwad Phleghm made that would “never had happened had Dinah also not made a bad decision”. So, a gal decides to go and see her girlfriends in an unfamiliar place so that means she asked for it? Blame the victim much?

“It’s not fair but it’s the way things are”. Oh. My. God. You bet it’s not fair, sugar, but does that mean we as women are to accept it? It is what it is, you say? I don’t accept that notion. I refuse to. Instead, I will do what I can as a grandmother to my 4 year old grandson to instill in him respect for women and ensure he comprehends that “no” means “no”, no matter the environment, the circumstance, or the way the woman is dressed. My hope is that all mothers, grandmothers, aunts and other females that have boys in their lives will do the same so we can turn this shit around.

Sometimes the Bible sucks. Yes, I said it. But what sucks even more is people’s small-minded, backwards, idiotic, misogynistic interpretations of passages such as this.

Anyone want to join me for a book burning party? And I’m not referring to the Bible here, just for clarification. I am a Christian, after all.

When I grow up

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I’ve gotten to know a lot of people since moving to Colorado with Hubs almost 2 years ago. I’m appreciative of this. I’m especially appreciative of the older women I have come to know, as they inspire me to strive for graceful, healthy aging. Like the women I volunteer with each week at the food bank. Or the women with whom we attend church.  And the women I work with along with the female senior citizens I serve in my job.

These women I’ve come to know don’t seem to let their age impede them in any significant way. They generally seem to take life in stride and their feathers are not easily ruffled. They have a strong sense of self  and understand they still have the ability to help and inspire others. Their ages do not define them, which I believe is how it should be. They embrace the lives they have and do not wallow in the physical or mental changes that aging has foisted upon them.

One 80 year old lady I know gives me the impression that who she is now is who she’s always been. She is open-minded, witty, and her fingers and toes are always immaculately manicured.  She once expressed a combination of confusion and frustration when a client referred to her as “cute”. She recognized this was an ageist statement and rightly took offense to it. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another older woman I know is exceptionally loving and caring. She never had children, by choice, which makes her a rare bird in her generation. However, that doesn’t prevent her from looking out for people younger and less wise than she, as she has the ability to embrace and appreciate one and all. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another female senior I know is a fun loving social butterfly.  She readily strikes up conversations with anyone and peppers them with “dear” or “dear-heart”. She is a snappy dresser and tells great stories about her life as a wife to a Vietnam vet and mother to her now grown children. She recently visited Disneyland with friends and their teenage granddaughter and shared stories about how she and the teen rode almost every single ride together in the park. What other almost 80 year old woman do you know who does that? I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another woman I’ve come to know here is savvy and smart. She takes no shit from anyone. You know where you stand with her. She is not a word-mincer, which is a quality I sort of envy. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Yet another lady I’ve gotten to know, at our church, is adventurous. She travels frequently with girlfriends she has had since she was in college in the 60’s. She is big-hearted and a great listener. She happily donates her time and money to causes she believes in, but she is never showy about it. One time at church, I asked for prayers for someone I love very much who was experiencing a lot of struggles in a personal relationship. This wonderful lady called me a couple of weeks later to check in and see if things had improved with my loved one. I also want to be like her when I grow up.

Then there are the two retired women, who I believe are sisters, who come into our food bank at work about every other week and donate several bags of just purchased food. They look over the shelves and ask me questions about the types of foods our seniors seem to especially enjoy, so they know what to buy at the grocery store the next time. They do this out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. I want to be like them too when I grow up.

I also have a food bank client with bright blue eyes that do not betray her age. This lovely lady once struck up a conversation with me about cooking, which is a common occurrence when running a food bank, and promised to one day bring me her recipe for pork green chili (a Colorado staple). Lo and behold, a couple of months later, she gifted me with her handwritten recipe for this tasty dish. I think I want to be like her when I grow up too.

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Not so sure about buying that lard, though!

The thing is, we are all aging. Day by day. There’s nothing besides death of course, that is going to stop this process. I think that we all have the ability to choose how we are going to age. Some older women are preoccupied by their health problems, or the health problems of others, and seem to be stuck in a never-ending loop of worrying what illness will strike next. This negatively impacts their relationships and their quality of life.

However, these dynamic, older, and wiser women of Colorado that I’ve been fortunate to come to know give me hope and inspiration for my future as a female senior citizen.

Why Oprah shouldn’t run in 2020

I along with I suppose gazillions of people on earth watched the Golden Globes last Sunday night. Oprah’s speech was a major highlight, as she inspired us all with hope for the future. People cried, cheered, and many took immediately to Twitter, declaring “Oprah for 2020”.

I get it. If the election was held today, I would vote for her. She has earned the trust of the American people by her inclusiveness, her honesty, and her integrity over the span of many years. And I suspect she’d probably win by a wide margin, especially if she was running against Trump. 

While I could just as easily pen a post declaring the reasons why Oprah should run,  I maintain she shouldn’t run for POTUS.

Why, you ask? In a nutshell, I think she’s got more important things to do. I also suspect that in her heart of hearts, she doesn’t want to be POTUS. I’ve heard her say multiple times in interviews that she has no interest in serving our country in this capacity.

Oprah is an expert, in my opinion, of lifting others up. I loved that unlike some people, she used her podium in this speech not to talk about herself and her own accomplishments, but to lift up the #metoo movement, making sure to note that this movement includes women from all fields, all walks of life, who have been sexually abused or harassed by men in power. She lifted up Recy Taylor  (who I had never heard of before this-thank you Oprah) and Rosa Parks. She emphasized the need for all of us to speak truth to power in these tumultuous times. She said what I think we all needed to hear.

You see, Oprah has exquisite judgement of who it is that deserves our attention. Our support. Our loyalty. I think we need to pay close attention to who she champions as our next political leaders. The female leaders that have political experience. The female leaders that have the right combination of heart and intellect. The female leaders who have the vision to move our country forward, in a positive direction.

Oprah has the financial means and the social influence to shine a bright light on whoever our next candidate for POTUS should be.

That should be her role. At least for now. I would suggest that whoever is our next POTUS, that she appoints Oprah to her cabinet, perhaps as Chief Advisor. That’s something I could really get behind.

National Sister Day

Did you know there happens to be a very big Holiday happening today? It’s National Sister Day! And a perfect excuse for this blogger to express her love and appreciation for her sister and her “sisters”.

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So, I only have one biological sister. Her name is Kelly and she’s 8 years older than me. She is also a very humble and fairly private person. In many circumstances, I would say she is easily embarrassed. So instead of calling her saintly, my protector, or my biggest life role model because I totally could, I’ll keep it simple.

Kelly is generous. She is a fabulous shopper, and shops year round for items to present as gifts to everyone she loves. And she has great taste in clothes and jewelry, which I like to think I got from her. Kelly is kind. She wears her heart on her sleeve and empathizes with people when they’re in pain. She possesses a great sense of fun and is always open to trying new things. She is strong. She pushes through life with a sense of purpose and goodwill, no matter the obstacle. I love her with all my heart.

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Me and Kel-Kel Poo Poo, 2010. Isn’t she lovely?

I am also abundantly blessed with other, non-biological sisters. They all hold a special place in my heart.

I hit the in law “jackpot” when I married Hubs. Not only because my MIL and FIL are the most kind, generous, thoughtful people in the world, but because of Mary Alice. Mary Alice, Hub’s younger sister, is a sweet, beautiful, smart, fun loving spirit who I adore. She and I enjoy doing lots of “girly” things together, like shopping, eating out, drinking good quality red wine, and talking about boys together.

When I was 17, my folks thought it would be a grand idea to take in an AFS (American Field Service) student for a year.  I was beyond excited to play at being a big sister for a year. Her name was/is Lisa and she’s from England. When she came off the plane in the summer of 1983 with her cool British accent, super stylish short blond hair, and tight cropped jeans, I knew she was going to be super cool. And she was. And still is. She brought a sense of fun and adventure to every day of my junior year in high school. She cracked us up with her imitations of how we Minnesotans spoke. She was the instigator of such shenanigans as conning me into drinking booze from my parents liquor cabinet (aka the space under the kitchen sink-man these people were trusting!) whilst they enjoyed their vacation. Good times. Good times indeed!

Gail was my “big sister” in our sorority during our college years. She had this superpower of always having my back, like when she would drag my drunk ass out of the bar after “Thirsty Thursday” so I could avoid getting lost on my way back to the sorority house or heaven forbid kidnapped and thrown into the Mississippi River. Or when she got into verbal fisticuffs with Hubs to ensure his intentions with me were pure. They ended up being great pals. As I mentioned in a recent post, Gail passed away from cancer 5 years ago, at the age of 48. God, I miss that woman so much. And cancer seriously bites the big one.

Sara is the “sister” that I’ve known the longest (besides Kel Kel PP) and she is my dearest friend. She was also in my sorority and one of my many roommates over the span of 3 years in the sorority house. She was the one who officially introduced me to Hubs (whilst the three of us were donning sheets togas after one of those crazy frat parties.) She and I were together, partying with a group of our friends at her family’s cabin when she met her now husband.  She and her husband are our closest and oldest couple friends. We treasure them (and their spawn) like family. Sara and I have shared so much together. The trials and tribulations of jobs/careers, the stress of relationships with crappy co-workers, the angst of mothering daughters (we both have two, but they are very far apart in age), and so much more. We were in each other’s weddings. She is simply the best.

So, to all you blogging sisters and bloggers with sisters and plain old sisters with sisters, I  wish to you the best National Sister Day ever!

5 Things Learned Along The Way

Hey all! I’m baaaack! Yipee!

Our big road trip visiting family and friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin came to a close when we landed home last Monday evening. The trip had it’s share of ups and downs. The downs are why I have not posted anything on this blog since our return. I, for lack of a better term, needed a “vacation from my vacation”. I realize that is utterly a “first world problem” but given my emotional/mental state after this two week journey, it is 100% true. I assure you, however, that there were more ups than downs.

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Surely this was the biggest and bestest “up” of our vacay!

It is so absolutely flipping awesome to be back home again in my happy bubble in Colorado. Back to our own comfy cozy bed. Back to my wonderful microwave that pops my popcorn to perfection with one small tap on the “popcorn” button. Back to counting bunnies on my (mostly) daily strolls around our neighborhood. Back to my weekly volunteer gig at our local food bank, where I have the pleasure of directly helping those in need while not being responsible for navigating the day to day trials and tribulations of my clients’ lives (as I did as a social worker in Wisconsin for years). Best of all, I’m back to blogging.

Time spent in the car traveling through Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin provided me with ample opportunity to do some personal pondering. I took stock of the varied life experiences I’ve had and how they have informed who I am in the here and now.  That said, here is a by no means comprehensive list of lessons learned during my life as a girl and a woman. These lessons, in small and sometimes big ways, led me to become the 50 year old creative writer/optimist/politically aware and engaged/spiritual/feminist/truth-telling broad/hot mess I am now.

First lesson learned: There are truly good guys out there-you just have to be patient. And I deserve respect, dammit!

Moment: I was the girl in college who, thank-the-good-lord, chose to not stay with and/or marry the boyfriend who referred to my breasts as “clangers” (as in “hey honey, your clangers are looking fine today”). I shit you not. I met Hubs in the nick of time.

Second lesson learned: It’s okay to look like a fool. And you feel better about yourself if you resist the impulse to run away, crying in shame. And it’s okay that you just gave your fellow Zumba pals a funny story to tell over margaritas later. 

Spoiler Alert: I may have learned this lesson from a goofy lady who annoyed Bob Barker.

Moment: I was the woman who at 40-something  decided on a lark to join a Zumba class. Probably 2 classes in, I tripped over my own feet while attempting to keep up with a fast paced number, landing ever so gracefully on the floor with a thud. Shortly thereafter, I popped back up to continue the dancing festivities. I think this was the moment I decided to stop caring if I looked like an idiot in public. I imagine I may have looked a little like this:

 

Third lesson learned: God is among us.

Moment: I was the UCC’er (United Church of Christ) who experienced the most spiritual moment of my life when, at Hub’s and my one and only year of attending Lay Academy, our group was re-baptized under a sunny blue October sky in Wisconsin while singing the hymn “Here I am Lord”. The connectedness to the spirit and humanity in that place was palpable. Growing up, and as a young adult, I could not have imagined myself in this scenario.

Third lesson learned: You can survive the ultimate embarrassment of your mother doing this:

 

As a pimple faced, awkward 14 year old with a bad perm,  I miraculously survived this epic mortification. Even in spite of the knowledge that all of my high school classmates got to watch it when it aired during the school day (it was a moment of civic pride for our small Minnesota town), I managed to keep my head held (somewhat) high.   Thankfully I got to stay home with my family for a private viewing. I am ever so grateful my mother’s 15 minutes of fame happened in ye olden times before the advent of social media.

Fourth lesson learned: At the core of true friendship is kindness. 

Moment: I was the 13 year old girl who desperately wanted to follow her big sister’s footsteps and be a cheerleader (Go Agates! Yes, that was our sport teams’ name. You can only imagine how much crap we got for that).  My best friend, Therese, was also trying out for cheerleading. When she was picked and I was not (mind you, I had the voice and enthusiasm but absolutely no other cheerleading skills such as doing the splits or a cartwheel, so this shouldn’t have come as a surprise), she offered to decline the position in order for me to snatch it and bask in the glory of the cheerleading life. I refused her offer. To this day, this may be the single most kind thing another human being has done for me. Did I mention that all of the girls trying out made the team but me? We had a small high school. Don’t judge.

Fifth lesson learned: Choose your friends wisely, and treasure them always.  And cancer sucks the big one.

I was the bride who had the good sense to appoint the best possible personal attendant in my dear friend Gail.  She arrived armed with necessities such as safety pins and kleenex. She was a skilled wedding dress hoister-upper while I peed and smoked a cigarette to calm my nerves in the bathroom at our wedding reception. She passed away from cancer 5 years ago and I think of her often and miss her so so much. Cancer is such a cruel fricking bastard. This is why I will support political candidates who believe in financially supporting medical research. I wish everyone could have a friend as special as Gail was to me.

How about you all? What moments in the timeline of your lives contributed to the life perspectives you have now?

 

 

Lifting Up Those Girls

Okay, get your mind out of the gutter,  you heathens.

Because I believe that 2017 is indeed the Year of the Woman and that it is beneficial for the future of humankind to lift up all the smart, strong, funny, talented, kind, generous, and powerful women I know or have yet to meet and that it behooves the vagina owning creative writers of the world to follow suit, I’m going to give a loving shout out to a specific group of broads that all have one thing in common: they are all named Jennifer.

I think it’s pretty fair to say that I’ve never met a Jennifer I didn’t like. So there’s that.

Jennifer Lawrence: She is the actress I wish to adopt as my younger sister. She is, I believe, naturally funny. She is not self-obsessed though IMHO she is her generation’s finest female actor so she may just be acting as if she’s not self-obsessed. She’s that good. Either way, I suspect that 88% of the time she is the funniest person in the room. That’s why I like Jennifer so much.  And just today I saw on t.v. that she earned herself  a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for 2018! And then there’s this:

 

Jennifer Aniston: I think that she is the chick you’d want as your best friend. She would totally alert you when your shirt is buttoned incorrectly or when you have kale in your teeth. And she would serve you kale in her on the patio of her seaside mansion because she cares about your nutritional health. She would be such a good influence on me. And she has wicked comedic timing. Have you not seen the movie Bad Bosses? Her performance is hi-flipping-larious.

Jenny Lawson: I’m including her because she is truly yoo-ni-que. I am currently in the middle of reading her book “Furiously Happy” which I am enjoying tremendously. Through her authentic, hilarious writing style, Jenny embraces her weirdness in a way that inspires me.

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Jennifer Garner: To me, she is totally the All American Girl Next Door. I can’t imagine there’s been harsh words spoken about her. And if someone did speak harsh words about her, I’m sure there’d be an army of Jennifers that would gang up on them and beat some sense into them. It seems to me that she always picks movies to be in that have a heaping helping of heart in them, like Valentine’s Day and Juno. And let’s not forget what is certainly one of the best chick flicks ever: “13 Going on 30”. Plus she totally kicked ass (back before she was hugely famous movie star),  in the t.v. show Alias (of which I was a huge fan).

Jen Sincero: I have mentioned her in previous posts, and because I admire her so gosh darn much I’m not letting this blogging opportunity pass me by. Now I’ve read my share of female penned self-helpy type books (and will continue to do so for the rest of my livelong life no doubt), but Jen is the real deal people! Her “You are a Badass” book came into my life at just the right time. She writes as if she is sitting down right across from you, bursting with enthusiasm to impart what she has learned about her place in this world of ours and firmly but nicely commanding you to get out of your head, grab life by the cajones and be the best you that you can possibly be. She Sin-cerely (get it? ha!) wishes the best for all of her readers. And I think I can assume for humanity in general. That is how she rolls.

 

I love this commercial. The actress playing the teacher is so relatable. She is like your next door neighbor, who is single and bought her first house which she is fixing up with the help of her parents and younger brother who still  lives at home. And I’m sure she lives in Wisconsin, because that is where nice people like her live.  She is hard-working, earnest, kind, smart and an overall sweetheart. And I’m naming her Jennifer. And I truly hope she has the kid-free vacation of her dreams.

Then there are the Jennifer’s I know in real life. There’s the Jennifer who was my first boss after I became a certified social worker. She used the word “savory” when talking about food one time and I thought that was cool. She was super organized and had a very fair way of explaining opposing perspectives to me which did not put me on the defensive. She was supportive and encouraging and a great sounding board. Terrific qualities for a management position. There was Jenny I used to work with who was a hard working single mom barely making ends meet, who had such a big heart for providing care and attention to the developmentally disabled clients on my caseload in my first case management job. There is my super smart younger cousin Jennifer who is a single mom who works as an attorney in Minnesota. I’m sure that there are more Jennifer’s out there that I already know or have yet to know, but instead of racking my brain trying to recall each of them, I’ll leave you with this….