Living with Pride

June is PRIDE Month.

May we each embrace tolerance, cast rainbows, and radiate love wherever we go.

Pride3

I put together a slideshow in honor of all those who have busted out of (or may still be hiding within the confines of) their closet.

June is a great time to celebrate diversity and love, in all forms.

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Sending rainbows,
The Musing Maven

 

© 2017, The Musing Maven, all rights reserved.

 

Showing Up, Every Day

About a week before the Women’s March on Washington, I was feeling overwhelmed… friends had shared their safety concerns regarding marching in D.C., and the reality of what would happen after inauguration began to really sink in. I knew well that the march was not going to be an arrival point, but rather a starting line. The work seemed insurmountable and I was emotionally drained.

Retro Drama Woman

On this particular day, I was heading to the GYN for my annual exam. I arrived about 30 minutes early and decided to hit the nearest King Soopers Starbucks for a cup of mint tea. Being new to mint tea and not a regular Starbucks customer, I didn’t know how to articulate my order. I wanted it minty, but not too minty… sweet, but not too sweet.

As I approached the Starbuck’s counter, it became clear that the barista was on overload. She avoided eye contact for a few minutes, said a few things under her breath, and seemed rather huffy. My mind said, “great, this is going to be a ‘fabulous’ customer service experience. Hold on for the ride.” When I told her my hopes for the perfect minty cup of tea, she patiently explained why the Jade Citrus Mint Tea would be just what I needed. The perfect mix of citrus and mint.

While she clicked my order into the register, it seemed like she was about to start crying. Her face was reddish purple and the stress lines on her forehead were turning white from pressure. By that time, I wondered if she was in physical pain or something serious. I took a chance and asked her if she was ok.

With tears streaming down her face, she said “I want to call the cops. I feel that I’ve been kidnapped and I’m stuck at my job. I have so much to do. I’ve been here since opening and I can’t get it all done. Here’s a sticky note from last night’s barista.” She handed me the sticky note which read:

Sorry! I had to leave an hour early.
I know the place is in shambles.
An emergency came up and I had to leave.
I will be late in the morning.
I’m so sorry!

After I paid, she stepped aside to brew coffee for customers who were lined up ahead of me. I heard a guy holler “Great cup of coffee! That was the perfect amount of espresso!” To which she replied in a comforting tone, “I’m so glad you liked it. See you next time.”

Her emotions seemed to range from “I’ve got this thang” to “help, I’m completely overwhelmed and I don’t know what to do!”

In that moment, I realized that I was watching a living metaphor of my life. The political landscape is like a war zone right now. There is so much to do, and some days I don’t know where to even begin. On top of that, there’s no way I can do it myself. At times, it feels overwhelming and there are moments when I’m even tempted to crawl under a rock.

Cartoon Animal Eyes Under Big Stone

As I watched and engaged with her a bit, I said “don’t worry. Just do what you have to do in this moment. That’s the best you can do, right now.”

As soon as those words spilled out of my mouth, something clicked inside of me. I realized that I had just articulated an answer for myself.

Don’t worry.
Do what you have to do.

Do your best right now.

Those words set my spirit free. I realized that I don’t have to take on the entire world. In fact, in that particular moment, I could do something meaningful for something happening right in front of me.

I walked over to the gift aisle and picked up an inspirational card. Then, I grabbed a $25 gift card to Gordman’s. I realized that in that moment, I could be a kind stranger to someone struggling. In my zest to head to march in D.C., I had almost forgotten how important the human-to-human contact can be in our lives.

I anonymously filled out the card, let her know that her work mattered, and thanked her for introducing me to the perfect cup of mint tea. I also wrote down that seeing her struggle reminded me of some important lessons in self care that I needed to remember in my own life. Specifically,

  • Take a breath
  • You can’t do everything at once. Prioritize.
  • Take care of what’s most important in that moment. The rest can wait.
  • Remember that you are not alone. Help will surface in meaningful ways. Be open to receiving help from family, friends, and strangers.
  • A cup of tea can literally change the trajectory of someone’s day.

As I sealed the envelope, I saw that she was removing her smock and getting ready to clock out. When she came from behind the counter, I handed her the envelope. She burst into tears, and I asked her if she needed a hug. “Yes please!” As we embraced, she looked up at me and said, “When someone is supposed to show up, they need to be there. They need to show up. People are counting on them. It’s the right thing to do.”

Honestly, those words from this stranger helped me reach a new level of clarity with regard to this human rights movement that I’ve stepped into. We don’t have to do it all. And there will be hard days. However, people are counting on us to “show up”. Lives literally depend on it.

I didn’t sign my name to the card, and I don’t expect to see that barista again. However, I think of her from time to time and remember the importance of “showing up” daily. In the midst of the work we are continuing to do with the organizers of the Women’s March and other progressive  groups, we must also show up daily to those who are counting on us. For me, that includes:

  • Listening attentively when my teenagers need to talk about school, friends, social struggles, current events, and their views on politics.
  • Carving time to spend with my husband. We’ve been together 25 years and investing in meaningful relationship time is critical to us making it another 25 years.
  • Checking in with friends regarding their life outside of politics (there’s still day-to-day job stress, financial hardships, health concerns, faith struggles, and good times to be had). Maintaining these personal connections is deeply meaningful to me.
  • Doing some legwork for friends who want to be civilian activists but have a more limited schedule: adding helpful links or phone numbers to posts on social media so that their words can help others take easy action; or inviting them to events or activities that are already in the works so that they can easily join in the effort.
  • Injecting light in the midst of the barrage of “more and more work to do”. I think it’s important to help my community of civilian activists celebrate milestones and wins. Kind of like the volunteers who hand off water at marathons, I want to help refresh the energy around the movement going on in our country. We really are in the midst of a long marathon, not a sprint.

I hope some of what I’ve shared somehow resonates with you. As you move forward in your life’s journey, remember:

Don’t worry. Just do what you have to do in this moment.
That’s the best you can do, right now.

Sending peace and light and love. Stay strong, take care of yourself in the journey, and accept love and kindness in whatever form it takes.

 

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© 2017, The Musing Maven, all rights reserved.

 

Why I March – A Woman’s Right To Choose

pro choice

I was raised in a fundamental Christian home. I learned early (and often) that a woman’s place is in the home; that God is vengeful; and that without knowing John 3:16, a person’s eternal destiny would be Satan’s hellfire and damnation. Those were mostly lessons from my father, with reinforcement from the pastor on Sundays.

When I was about six years old, my dad told me that, without his intervention, I would have been aborted. This story was originally shared with me around 1976, and retold many times, just in case I might forget. My father felt it was important to enlighten me on how he saved my life.

His side of the story went something like this… in 1969, when my mom first found out she was pregnant, she was so distraught that she wanted to have an abortion. According to my father, he saved my life by promising her that he’d take a more active role in parenting and that God promised him that I’d be a blessing in their old age.

He’d always wrap it up in a nice red bow, close it out with a prayer to our Heavenly Father, and send me on my way… probably to go play with baby dolls,  run through the sprinkler, or something like that.dolls
To recap… in 1976, as a six year old, in a very religious conservative home, I learned four epic life lessons:

  1. my mom didn’t want me
  2. abortion meant killing a baby (yes, he explained that as well)
  3. my dad saved my life
  4. it was my life’s destiny to be a blessing in their old age

That’s a lot for a six year old to take in. In fact, it’s a lot to carry with you for four decades. But, we all have our cross to bear.

1976 was then… this is now…

Fast forward to November 2016. Shortly after the election, I decided to join the Women’s March on Washington. My reasons are many, but I’ll focus on a woman’s right to choose in this particular post.

Over the years, thanks to inspirational mentors, insightful friends, and surviving 25 years of marriage and raising two kids of my own, my worldview has changed dramatically.  However, in my heart of hearts, there is still a fundamental little girl trying to make sense of morality and life while also desperately seeking peace, light, and universal love in the process.

zen girl

Recently, the little girl inside led me to searching for deeper personal meaning in a woman’s right to choose. I couldn’t remember the historical facts of abortion law so I did a quick Google search on the topic. Within a few clicks, I learned that Row v. Wade changed the laws in 1973.

1973.

As in, Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Three??

Wait a minute. Stop the presses. You mean, my mom wanted an abortion 4 full years before it was even legal?!

This was cause for some meditation and discernment.

The result, I believe, may well be the OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY,
and it goes something like this…

In 1969, after two miscarriages and giving birth to five children, my mom found out she was pregnant again. Professionally, my father was a traveling salesman. He was home about 50 days a year… the running joke was that he “was home just long enough to knock her up, and then he’d be back on the road.”

For all intents and purposes, my mom was a single mom during those years. The cooking, cleaning, shopping, homework help, cheering at football games, shuffling to ballet, mending socks, up at 3 a.m. dealing with fevers and vomit, diapers, tantrums, house repairs, and discipline were all on her shoulders — except about 50 days per year. On those days, Dad expected Mom to have seared steak (rare) and potatoes (mashed) on the table, his laundry and ironing caught up, and time to watch football and WWF. That’s a lot of parenting, with little support, and even less self care for my mom.

large family

In 1969, four years before Row v. Wade, my mom (who by the way was also on birth control) found out she was pregnant for the 8th time. Suffice it to say that she’d had enough. She had reached her breaking point.

In addition to legal issues, she also faced the heavy hand of my father, as well as a vengeful God who would curse her for making such a savage and selfish decision.

Desperation cannot even begin to describe the fear and panic she must have felt.

At that time, she had the strength and courage to verbally articulate her desire to end the pregnancy. Please note that her option would have been a hanger, back alley clinic, or driving countless miles to find a physician willing to help her out. She’d need my dad’s financial support, no matter which option she chose.

If I haven’t already mentioned it…
I’m Pro Choice.

And,

in the life that I’ve lived,
I choose life.

But, I haven’t walked down the path my mom walked, in a time when women were submissive to their husbands. I haven’t faced harsh medical consequences of pregnancy that made me choose my life over the life of a developing fetus. I haven’t been the victim of rape which resulted in an unwanted pregnancy. I wasn’t in high school dealing with a decision of college or motherhood. I didn’t have to make a choice between pregnancy or promotion (or travel, or or).

What I do know is that it’s not the government’s (church’s, husband’s, society’s) job to dictate how a woman is to deal with pregnancy. We live in a world where men can have as much sex as they want, and they are never forced to pee on a stick and deal with the outcome.

WomensMarchWashington

On January 21, 2017, I will lace up my shoes and participate in the Women’s March on Washington. I’ll march in honor of my mom, who against all odds in 1969 decided to unleash her inner warrior and articulate her desire to take control of her body.  I march in honor of her conviction to keep me to term, and the hours she spent in the depths of birthing pains, like only a woman can do.

I march in solidarity with women across our vast nation who will not sit silent and allow laws to regress to pre Row v. Wade norms. Let’s save the hangers for our shirts and the back alley for wandering Tom cats. Too many women (and men) have fought the tenacious fight to give a woman complete control of her body.

Period.

My Body My Choice

© 2017, The Musing Maven, all rights reserved.