Well, days 15 and 16 seemed to slip away as I was having too much fun with my youngest sister. This was one of our best visits thus far and with her new job, I hope to have more. Not growing up together created an unfortunate gap in our relationship over the years, but having more time alone together than her last visit, we covered a wide range of conversations that revealed more of who we are today. Not to mention, how much we are alike. Which is quite awesome I must say.
What I’ve noticed is that as the oldest of four siblings, I seem to have quite naturally fallen into more of a mother-hen role. One that I embrace as this far outweighs my previous role growing up as bossy-beyotch.
Kidding, they’re too scared to call me bossy.
What’s curious is there seems to be the common belief among my siblings that I’m laden with self-sufficiency and emotional strength. This isn’t to say they don’t ask me how I’m doing or aren’t there to listen, but there’s a small element of disbelief that my world is sometimes rocked a bit. How do you think one obtains this vast wisdom that I willingly share?
I’d like to think it’s an accumulation of life experiences, including those things that one keeps on the really-really-stupid-what-was-I-possibly-thinking list. Everyone has THAT list. Talking about all sorts of things with my sister this weekend brought that list front and center. It’s those you highly regret that are cause for conversation to help you rationalize. It’s when you don’t own your mistakes in life that you can’t get past them.
I can attribute it to youth, but to a younger sister that’s more of an insult and highly unhelpful. Answers are needed, specific answers, and even though I don’t have all of them, sharing what I do know is therapeutic for all people involved. The key word here is empathy – even if you can’t process what you’re hearing, you must have empathy for those you love and care for. There's no room for judgement here, ever.
So, keep that in mind as you start thinking about your list of moments that most would respond with “No you didn’t!” Because, yes. . . you did.
It seems good old Dad has given me a blog post subject for tonight, nostalgia. It began earlier this evening with his posting of random photos of me around the age of my two teenage sons. Talk about blowing their minds to see me at 14. It’s also nice to recognize that the friends in the photos are still my friends today. Well, they’re more than friends at this point, they’re family. I lost them in the early 90s, but delighted to say have found all of them and this is where Facebook’s powers are used for good.
First there was a reunion with Bridgette in December of 2010. She and I met while I was working at Palais Royal in Houston back in 1989. I worked in the Men’s department, of course, and Bridgette worked in women’s fashion, naturally. No one knows fashion like Bridge. My favorite memories are of us going the Post Oak Ranch after work for happy hour. We owned that place back then! Cowboys in business suits?
We lost touch once I moved to Miami in 1994 with the Husband. I decided to look her up in 2010 as she came to mind. And what do ya know, she was living in Jacksonville! We’ve pretty much been quite a team since then and a force to be reckoned with if I may say so. Fortunately, she has retained more memories than me on our adventures. My favorite being when a less than attractive guy approached her while we were out one night. Being the loyal friend that I am, I convinced him that she was deaf. Hey, what are girlfriends for if not that?
Then there’s my girl Gayle! I’ve known Gayle for as long as I can remember and my Dad reminded me of some of the fantastic times in my life that wouldn’t have been so had she not been there. Our families went camping every 4th of July in the early 80s and later she was my requisite person for the buddy system my parents required when I began dating around 1987. And if you knew the things we got ourselves into, even after she moved to North Carolina and came to visit, you just might blush.
She and I both lost track of each other after we married and the distance didn’t help. And guess where I found her? On Facebook, in January of 2011. The first time we saw each other again I went with my family to North Carolina, we all had dinner and it was fantastic catching up. But, when she came for business to Florida and we got together without three pairs of little eyes, Shazam!
So, first, thank you dear Father for reminding me how lucky I am to have these two amazing women in my life. And, yes, thank you Facebook for reuniting me with my family.
Here's to reconnecting with those we've lost along the way and being a better person because of it.
This summer’s social studies assignment for my fourth grader included reading a biography, or autobiography, of someone they want to represent in an American History Wax Museum. The idea is that the kids will dress like the person they read about and be able to tell their story as if it were their own life experience. Gigi and I both sat down and made a list of usual suspects like Abraham Lincoln, Ben Franklin, and naturally, Elvis. I realized that my daughter would only select someone she was already familiar with so I decided to take the opportunity to expand her knowledge considering our history lends itself to so much more than the popular few. I came up with the brilliant idea to make a list that only included women who made their mark in American history.Image: NASA
I first offered Abigail Adams who gave her husband support and advice that even he didn't know he needed - “Remember the ladies” letter comes to mind. I told her about Helen Keller and, of course, Anne Sullivan - favorites of mine when in elementary school. Helen for overcoming the odds of being blind and deaf to be an advocate for those with disabilities, and Anne for helping Helen realize that she could be said advocate. Both very admirable for using their traumatic childhood experiences to encourage others. I wrote down a few others who opened doors for women, such as Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, and as an English major, I selfishly chose Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (some of you may recall Age of Innocence, it's not just a movie).
I found it a bit of a struggle to make a soon to be nine-year-old understand the accomplishments of my choices. Or, at least understand enough for her to want to read more about these fabulous women to emulate them for her classmates. So what do we do when we need more ideas? We Google it. As a list of women filled the page I quickly scanned and knew immediately who would fascinate my Gigi to the very end, Sally Ride - the first American woman in space! It couldn't possibly get more exciting than that, could it?
My daughter hasn't quite realized that there was a time women couldn't do what they wanted, so this was a sort of awakening for her. We picked up Sally Ride: First American Woman in Space from the library and it’s been a learning experience for both of us. Did you know that Sally was also the youngest American to ever be in space? According to the biography we read, Sally never considered being a female as an obstacle because her parents led her to believe she could do anything and be anyone she wanted, so she did. This is exactly what I tell my own daughter.
This isn't to say it was easy for Sally to soar above the clouds a little over thirty years ago as she was one of six women chosen by NASA in those early days, but what an amazing bio to share with my daughter. Sally made it happen because she wanted it and worked hard to achieve her goals. That’s the way it’s supposed to happen, male or female, and I want that more for my daughter than I've ever wanted for myself. I want her to believe that being a girl doesn't decide her path, but her devotion to what she wants does.
When I read the line from the first chapter of the book, “This launching marks the first time in history that an American woman will fly in space,” I felt a bit emotional. In fact, I was surprised that I got a little choked up and I really can’t explain why. Maybe I feel gratitude toward Sally, or perhaps a bit of pride? I can only describe it as that same feeling that I feel when someone sings the Star-Spangled Banner, right when they get to the part where we “yet wave” and pause for a bit. I’m good until that line of the song and then . . . hot mess, every time.Image: NASA.gov
I may be a bit more enthusiastic about Sally Ride and her accomplishments than my daughter at this point, but she did interrupt with all sorts of questions and observations. Some being silly, like “Why would Sally like Superman best when Spiderman can shoot webs from his arm?” And, more importantly, “What does it mean when the Challenger only reached a force of 3 g’s? What’s a ‘g’?” In case you were wondering, a “g” is one earth gravity, the acceleration of the objects due to gravity on Earth. There’s more to it, but that’s a whole other blog.
Reassuringly, this means my ever-so-intelligent daughter was, at the very least, paying attention. Her inquisitiveness gives me hope that I’m doing my job right so far as she never seems to consider that being a girl is any reason to not be or do what she wants. I look forward to the day when my daughter decides what she wants to be when she grows up and rest assured that I will be there to cheer her on.
"Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see."
Just a bit more about Dr. Sally Ride
- Audio of the 1983 lift-off
- "Remembering Sally Ride, Space Pioneer"
Mashable.com - "10 Badass Quotes from Sally Ride"
Sally Ride Science - Founded by Sally Ride to educate, engage, and inspire students
Women@NASA - Honors Sally Ride
Pardon me I as step up on my soap box, but I thought I would share my personal views on sisterhood. It is defined as a feeling of kinship or solidarity amongst women, a bond. And like with all sisters, there can be differences of opinion, catfights, arguments, etc. However, when we look toward common goals like equal rights or trying to obtain a sense of empowerment we stick together like glue. We all feel we should be able to do what we want with our bodies, but we may differ on issues of abortion. We all feel we should have any job we want, but we may differ on the value of what each job may hold. It is because of this that all women, whether they admit to it or not, are feminist (except those who truly believe men are their superiors, which is a whole other soapbox moment).
Collectively, we wholly advocate the equality of women on some level, and just because you aren’t burning your bra or marching on Washington it doesn’t exclude you. You are a feminist. The term has been diluted through the years, but nowhere does it imply hate men, be a bitch or bring down others for your own personal gain. It’s about using your individual autonomy and having that right without any restrictions from society – in its simplest terms. If there’s anyone who doesn’t like to be told what I can’t do, it’s me…actually, it’s probably every woman on earth.
When it comes to sisterhood, even if we don’t like the same things our 'sisters' do, on some level we can still be proud of their accomplishments…or jealous, whichever. For example, I may not care much for Hilary Clinton’s view of politics, but I think it’s fabulous she's the Secretary of State and ran for president! I was genuinely concerned for her when she was being pelted with shoes and called “Monica” while visiting Egypt. Shoes, what woman doesn’t love them? But, being called by the name of your husband’s mistress? Not so much. Would I vote for her? Probably not. Would I insult her or her accomplishments? Never.
I mention this because I came across an article in Vanity Fair about Condoleezza Rice being one of Augusta Golf Club’s first female members. I don’t really care much for golf, yet I do recognize the importance of this private men’s club finally tossing aside their misogynistic rules. However, the female writer chose to introduce our former Secretary of State as Muammar Qaddafi’s love interest. Seriously? Where is the sisterhood in that? Or, how about an “Atta Girl?” Why isn’t the shame on Augusta for taking so long, instead of it being given to a woman who was our country's Secretary of State? It wasn’t Rice’s fault Qaddafi was a very sick man with an unhealthy obsession. Which this writer also wrote about using phrases like “love affair” that only demean Rice, not Qaddafi. Shouldn't we be proud of any woman who handles herself with class when faced with the infatuation of a sadistic dictator? Talk about lack of focus on the real issues. Aren’t there enough things that divide us and not enough positive things to bring us together? Fortunately there are other female writers who agree with my point of view about giving credit where credit is due, like Elisabeth Bumiller, who writes for the New York Times. Her article was positive and uplifting for women everywhere.
So, I say congrats to Condoleezza being able to play golf in her new green blazer at an exclusive male-dominated club if she wants to. Praise to Hilary for holding her head high in tough situations time and time again at the expense of her husband. Oh, and kudos to the female writer who has the freedom to post articles for a prestigious magazine that provides her the opportunity to express her sardonic accolades to women of accomplishment. Atta girl!
My photo adventures in Florida