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Monday, December 11, 2017

The Greatest Gift Of All

The current “Me Too” revolution (and that’s what I feel it is – a revolution) is encouraging to me, along with so many other women, in many ways. As a young woman entering the workforce I was confronted by not only the reality that men were my bosses and held the power of job or no job over my head, but I also felt the workplace reality of  ‘men’s work is more important than my work’. And that fact evidenced itself to me every day. In other words, women in the workplace did not, in my estimation, receive the respect that they both earned and deserved. For whatever reasons our bosses imagined or supposed, we were lesser employees. A couple of reasons stand out in my mind: men were considered the breadwinners of any family and were, therefore, entitled to more money to support their families. This was believed to be the case even if a woman was a single mom and the sole support of her children. Another was, heck, women get pregnant. They can't work if they're pregnant, then they leave. This wasn't necessarily true. Women are every bit as capable of power positions as are men. To me it all comes down to respect. Men should respect women, and women should respect themselves. Aretha Franklin’s wonderful song “Respect” comes to mind. Yea, Aretha!

With today’s uprising of women in all walks of life, whether it be politics, media, entertainment, or the corporate or sports world, women are now encouraged and emboldened to come forward and expose the long hidden sub-culture of sexual discrimination, harassment, and abuse.

What can anyone do? What can I as a writer do to help young girls to grow up strong and confident enough to overcome discrimination, harassment, and abuse? Girls must grow up secure in themselves as equals, as competent adults with the strength to succeed anywhere they choose to be.

Several of my stories for young people offer strong female characters that are presented with obstacles they must overcome. My female characters are not of the Wonder Woman ilk. They are flawed. They have human weaknesses and doubts. Don’t we all, male or female? But my characters find the strength to overcome the obstacles in their lives and to succeed. This is a message all young girls need to hear over and over. Females have long been deemed to be the stronger sex. It is often this way in nature. But for some reason, as our females reach the age of sixteen or seventeen they are often beaten down by many facets in our society (media being the most egregious culprit), telling them that they exist solely to please the men in their lives. I hope that this Holiday Season, and for many seasons to follow, parents will give their daughters the confidence to become all that they wish to become in their lives. It’s the greatest gift of all.

Try these: “Desert Ghosts”, , “Finding Hope”, , “Heart Songs”, , or “Voyage of Dreams”, , and its sequel “Voyage Home”,

Sunday, October 8, 2017

What Are You Doing?

There is a wonderful song written by Marilyn and Alan Bergman titled "What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?". It's not only a beautiful love song, but also a good question. You know that old saying 'today is the first day of the rest of your life'? Simple as it may sound, it's so true. What you've done in the past matters, certainly. But what you do today and tomorrow matters more. Here is a poem from my latest book of poems ( No Boundaries... yearning for sanity.

The Net of a More Perfect Union

The net is slipping
slowly away
the net of
Lincoln’s hope
 of neighbor
helping neighbor
of brother
helping brother
of the strong
reaching out to
the fragile
the net is ripping apart
leaving holes that
were not there yesterday
and through
the cruel empty spaces
hope falls away
leaving a heavy thirst
while in
seep hate
and bigotry
and fear
and where do we all go
from here

As a poet and writer I do feel compelled to look at what we are doing as a society and ask myself, is this who we are? Are we a violent, cruel, fearful people? At times it would seem so. But I'm hoping that the majority of Americans will look into their hearts and discover that what we are really is the opposite. I'm hoping that we discover that we are, and always have been, a hopeful, loving, generous people. Look at the neighbors helping neighbors in Houston and Mobile and Puerto Rico. I choose to believe that those people represent the true heart of America. And, perhaps, the hatred that some have demonstrated in the past, can be overcome in the future by the love I know exists out there.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Learning To Think

Over the years, since my own children were small, I have been amazed at the genius of the writers/creators of PBS's Sesame Street. Through the magic of puppetry and song children are shown different, sometimes difficult, life situations and, at the same time, how to think about them from different perspectives and work through them. Instead of a "don't do that" lecture, which so many of us were and are guilty of with our children, Sesame Street shows children why it might not be good to act a certain way. Children then get the wonderful opportunity to think about their actions and the actions of others instead of merely reacting.

Thinking is good. Thinking is essential. It is a vital element of being human.

It is very troubling and worrisome, then, to see leaders take on a "me first" attitude. This type of attitude sets people against one another, forces them to take sides, and creates great anxiety in everyone. We only have to look at our schools today to see how this attitude is affecting our children. After spending years of trying to teach children empathy, to understand how others feel, it is disheartening to see so much hate brewing in the country today.

A thought: Why don't we all sit down and watch some episodes of Sesame Street? Laugh a little. Play a little. Become childlike for a few minutes. It's a great stress reliever, and our children (and we) will be happier for it.

And, oh yes, think.