Tag Archives: Musing

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.

 

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.

Friends with Benefits, Starbucks, and Trump’s Genius

starbucks coffee shop

It’s been a week. The world is still spinning. The laundry is still piling up. The fridge needs restocking. And, client deadlines didn’t go away.

The election is over and we now know that some of our friends and loved-ones chose Trump.

Does that have to mean that they are not who we thought they were, at their core? We have a choice to make. Are we going to participate in hate acts that we so strongly denounce? Are we going to tell them there’s no room at the holiday table for their worldview? Are we going to officially un-friend them on Facebook? In some cases, the answer is a resounding YES. In others, it might behoove us to take a closer look.

It’s been said that we are all a sum total of our experiences. I will never be a Muslim woman or a transgender man. I’ll never worship Buddha or be able to understand the plight of the sex-trafficked teenager. I can read books, talk to people, form opinions… which, by the way, seems to change the more I read books, talk to people, and form opinions. (Anyone else have that happen?)

Opening the Door to Tolerance…

In recent days, many journalists have had to eat crow and admit that everything they thought about politics is now completely out the window. Don’t cast stones – many of us were flying in on the same plane, headed for a different landing.

Last Friday, I watched Meet The Press (I kind of have a political man-crush on Chuck Todd. Don’t judge me.) Chuck had Chris Clayton, an agricultural policy reporter on his show. It was a smart move, on Chuck’s part, because his viewers – like it or not – need to somehow figure out how to move on. The best way to start that process is by inviting a wider range of people, with differing views, to the discussion table.

I found Chris Clayton to be extremely level-headed and very eager to help those of us on the “other side” better understand our Trump-supporting counterparts. To watch the segment, click here. It’s well worth the 8 minute investment of your time.

chris clayton

My take-a-ways from the segment were threefold.

First, Democrats (and Washington) completely overlooked Middle America. Second, technology has empowered us to deepen our limited worldviews. Third, Trump is a marketing genius.

First: Democrats and the mainstream media completely overlooked Middle America. Big Time!

Trump’s campaign met mid-America where they were. His team visited the Heartland with a message of hope and prosperity. To those with farms or living in rural America, he discussed issues that were top-of-mind like water rights, land rights, oil rights, gun rights… For many people who earn (or previously earned) their living working the land, processing oil, or working in factories – the Trump message was one of hope.

Don’t get me wrong, they also heard about his indiscretions. However, most were focused more on their lost jobs, lost wages, and the growing perception that they were losing everything they grew up believing was American.

Meanwhile, their airways provided a dog and pony show including a “Crooked Hillary” laundry list with hours of justification to that end.

Over the past several decades, Democrats (and Washington) have overlooked this growing voice of concern. On November 8, 2016, this collective voice rallied far and wide. They fought for their right to be heard. Like it or not, it is our time to listen.

Yes, the result of this election will also spill over into what we hold dear: environment, human rights, and other social issues. And you know what? It’s okay. They have a right to believe how and what they believe. They are a sum total of their experiences.

And, so.are.we.

Our democracy allows us to disagree. Veteran’s Day is a good reminder of this fact. (Moment of silent appreciation to all Vets and their families who have made, and continue to make, the ultimate sacrifice.)

Second: Technology has empowered us to deepen our limited worldviews.

Since we are a sum total of our experiences, we tend to seek out information about things that are familiar to us. We can hear from a wide range of similar voices, and choose to ignore other opinions – even if we don’t realize that we are making that choice. (If you don’t believe me, read up on how social media and search engines use our selections to frame ads, newsfeeds, and other blurbs that pop up each day.)

Some of us may abhor everything that Trump stands for. However, I think we can all agree that he is a marketing genius.

If you are choking on my use of “Trump” and “Genius” in the same sentence above, please let me explain… (Good segue to my 3rd take-a-way)

Third: Trump is a Marketing Genius.

I am a marketing person and when I was working on my undergraduate degree, there was a whole section on the genius of Starbucks. It’s a classic marketing case-study which points out that Starbucks took a .25 cent cup of coffee and turned it into a $5 buck experience. Some people were outraged. And, it changed an entire industry, seemingly overnight.

White cup of Starbucks coffee on wood board.

I believe that Trump was spinning two effective and powerful messages concurrently. Those on Camp Hillary were so focused on his message to us, that we missed what he was saying to the rest of the country. It was a 50/50 A/B split. (Marketing lingo) And you know what? He rocked it, folks.

While we were busy being barraged with 3 a.m. tweets, racist comments, offensive gestures, and other forms of unacceptable rhetoric – we took the high road. After all, “When they go low, we go… HIGH!” Yup, we fought a good fight for social justice, with the intent of giving those without a voice a platform to stand on. The problem was, we never saw or allowed ourselves to truly listen to what he was saying to the rest of the country. I firmly believe that Donald J. Trump hangs his hat on the philosophy that “there’s no such thing as bad PR”. Don’t believe me? Check out Hillary’s ad spend vs. Trump’s. Checkmate.

Meanwhile, mid-America… those listed above, as well as, 1st or 2nd generation Americans whose family fought hard to take a legal path to citizenship, may have been listening to Trumps message on “Making America Great Again.”

For example, talk to the construction worker who has the last name Gonzales and is a 45 year old registered Republican. See how he feels when Democrats send a Spanish speaking Hillary supporter to his door, assuming that his language of choice, will win them the vote. His surname does not dictate his education level or worldview. No one really took time to ask. We were too busy knocking on doors.

Or, talk to the property owner who thought they were renting to a family of four and later found out that 10 illegal immigrants were also living in their 3 bedroom rental. Immigration reform looks very different from where this landlord sits. I think we can all agree on that.

In Summary…

I lay all this out, as if to say, we must stop judging the other side. America has spoken, and it’s time to phone (or text) a friend and begin rebuilding together. After all, friendship has its benefits.

Multiracial group of people with cellphones

I had dinner with a Trump-voting friend last night. It was a fabulous exchange and I believe we left our meal with a better understanding and appreciation for the democratic process. She, a republican, believes in women’s rights, marriage equality, and when asked if she gloated after the election replied, “Gloat?! Never! Donald Trump won. What’s to gloat about?” However, the topics listed above really resonated with her 2nd generation mid-American family.

If you haven’t opened your heart to reaching out to someone who selected the T instead of the H, I challenge you to pick up the phone and schedule a coffee or dinner. (Starbuck’s anyone?!)

Sometimes, in our technologically advanced world, we forget that we are all humans…searching for our place in this universe… each with a unique set of circumstances. Allow yourself to find common ground, remember your similarities, and work together for meaningful change.

Along the way, take care of yourself, speak your truth, and take time to breath. Every.day. Sometimes it is okay to disagree.

In closing, here’s a meme I saw on Facebook that seemed especially appropriate:

screenshot-2016-11-15-08-19-16

No matter what anyone says, there is more that unites than that which divides.

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© 2016, The Musing Maven, all rights reserved.