We must stop being played

 

 

This week’s  presidential tweet aimed at Senator Gillibrand makes me yearn for “Once upon a time” when Donald Trump was a television celebrity and wasn’t our Tweeter-in-Chief.

Frankly I find his latest effort of presidential shame tweeting involving powerful women sad.

Once upon a time in towns and cities across America  little girls were told to be nice, don’t fight, or get angry.  They were told heaven forbid don’t make waves–or question a male authority figure– because honey it’s a man’s world.

Back in the not too distant past girls were taught early on that boys grow up to rule the world. Girls grow up to help make their future husband a success.

Women have made inroads since I first read story books to my child that began with the phrase, Once Upon a Time.  We have become CEO’s, ranking officers in the military and successes in dozens of other professions once thought to be man’s work.

We are slowly seeing women move up the ranks to fill seats in local, county and national government. We are also joining forces and building coalitions to raise and resolve serious issues impacting our families, friends and neighbors.

Many of us have married men who believe we are their equal.  They are men who also believe their wives and daughters have every right to take a seat at the table of power.  Yet every day I am reminded there are still  men in power who  draw and redraw the line that women must not cross.

Scrolling through Twitter since Donald Trump won the presidency— it’s hard to miss his  attacks against the news media, our sports figures and our women lawmakers.  If fear mongering were a talent, the President would win bigly on America’s got talent.  We must stop being played.

 

 

 

 

Womens’ Work

We’ve been told

We are not smart enough.  We are not strong enough.  We are too young. We are too old. Wait your turn.

 We have been beaten. We have been sexually harassed and abused.

We’ve been told be good. Don’t tell.

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We have

Given birth to, set the table and  fed a nation.  We have fought in wars; domestic and foreign.

We are nurses, doctors, educators, farmers, wait staff,  daycare providers and serve tirelessly in many professions.

We hold down jobs, bring home the bacon (cook it) and  raised families

We have sacrificed our health and well-being so that others may thrive.

We have learned from our experiences and we, the women survive.

We do not

Value the measure of a person simply by the balance of their  investment portfolio.

 Nor  do we pre-judge a person by age, the color of their skin, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

We Must 

Support future and current leaders who have lived our stories.

We must work to ensure our government is reflective of all the people it serves.

 We must also step up and become those people in every level of government.

It is time 

Women take a seat at the table.

 

 

My body—my story

When I was eight months pregnant I developed a pulmonary embolism and was rushed to the hospital.  At the time, I seriously thought that chest pain, severe shortness of breath and swollen extremities were standard operating procedure, right along with baby showers, weight gain and a glowing complexion.

A mad dash to the emergency room in Duluth and two weeks in the hospital convinced me otherwise.

I will always be grateful to the doctors and nurses who saved my life during a very frightening time in our lives. 

In my 9th month, I gave birth to a robust baby boy.

Before we left the hospital the doctor told my husband— that in no uncertain terms—-we should never be pregnant again.

Faced with a potential life or death situation… the issue of birth control moved front and center in our lives.  Luckily future pregnancy prevention was available and I am  here today to celebrate joyous and life affirming events including our son’s wedding this summer to a wonderful woman…. with the hope that one day I will live long enough to be a grandma.

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My story is mine and has a happy ending.  But over the years I have listened to the heart-rending stories of other women who have been faced with more difficult decisions involving birth control and pregnancy termination.

Their stories have strengthened my belief that our government and politicians should stand down and defer to the decisions made between a woman and her doctor.   

Coming of age in the 1970’s–I cannot imagine a time when family planning options are not available.  Yet, it seems there are those who are willing to chip away at a woman’s right to own and control our bodies. In honor of the women who fought to make choice a reality I will fight to maintain the right for other women to access affordable birth control and access  to reproductive healthcare.

A woman’s place is in the house and senate

When my mother was raising seven children she took part-time work to help fill the financial gaps during a time when a woman’s place was in the home child rearing, homemaking and budgeting the income provided by the man of the house.

Mom was also the referee, nurse and teacher of right and wrong.bettycookie

While others in our small rural community may have considered us poor, we never went to bed hungry, regularly scrubbed clean and sent off to Sunday School most weeks.

A child of the Great Depression she carefully guarded money and knew how much we had right down to the nickel.

When I was five years old I learned the value of that nickel and the dangers of foolish spending on a hot summer day.  The neighborhood kids were headed to the store to buy frozen pops and I wanted to join them on their adventure.  For weeks these kids had taunted me that their folks had threatened to call the “welfare” on my family.  I didn’t know what the welfare was… but there had been lots of talk at home about the poor house and how people who didn’t have money were sent to that terrible place.

My mom kept her big black purse on the highest kitchen shelf.  Somehow I managed to move a chair to the counter, climb up and take the money without being caught.

That precious nickel was spent on that long ago summer day and helped me feel like a normal kid as my tongue became stained by the ill-gotten frozen pop.  When I got home I was caught red-handed. (or should I say purple tongued.)  Mom grilled me and explained in no uncertain terms stealing was wrong and hurt everyone. She sent me to the living room to await my punishment when Dad came home.  Sobbing and filled with guilt it seemed as if hours passed until I learned my fate.

When Dad did come home he said not a word.  Mom’s punishment had been enough.  I had learned stealing was bad and a nickel meant something for a family struggling to make ends meet. 

This is just one childhood memory of a time when a woman’s place was in the home and one of the many lessons defining  who I’ve become.   

Pulling up my news feed today and reading about Senator Susan Collins and her courageous stand against the latest Trump Care proposal  I cannot help but think about my mom. She would have made a hell of a politician.

Reflections and forward thinking

I spent the better part of my life working as a radio and television news journalist. At 60 something… I approached the tail end of my career with fear and misgivings. I was the oldest woman delivering the news on a nightly basis in the state of Minnesota.  That was a job in itself.

We live and die by our ratings. I was fortunate the Northland audience continued to tune in, despite my wrinkles and thinning hair.  Looking back It felt as if I were taking part in a grand experiment.

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The fear and misgivings have passed and now I am charting a new course. No more long commutes, nights away from family and more than enough time to rediscover myself.

When I first started my career it was thrilling to deliver the news night after night and tell the stories of the Northland and its people.  News folks are often viewed as celebrities in their tv markets.  You are recognized by strangers even when you just want to be yourself.   You are judged. And rightly so.
I spent decades keeping my opinions to myself, seeking out both sides to a story and fighting not to pre-judge others.

My advice to the young journalists at the start of their careers? There is so much more than gathering the facts; Who, What, Where, When and Why. We must honor our instincts and maintain a code of ethics. We must also honor those who share their stories. When someone agrees to take part in a story they put their trust in our hands. That is a grave responsibility.

Caring deeply about my community I  will not become a “slacker 2.0” as I move into my so-called Golden Years.  I continue to  expand my horizons by attending leadership workshops and learning how our democracy works.
As I dive into my new life it is with  great hope that I will continue serving my community and maintain your trust.

Growing a thick skin

Some new friends  recently told me I was brave for sharing my social and political opinions in light of the backlash they are seeing  on social media.  The anonymity of tapping away a response to a Facebook or Twitter post has emboldened some to attack those with an opposing viewpoint. As a result, these friends have stopped posting their personal views.

(image courtesy Wikipedia More details

The Princess and the Trolls –The Changeling, by John Bauer, 1913.)

 

I get it…trolls are often hurtful, and in many cases fail to make a point without harsh and often nasty comments they would never verbalize in a face to face conversation.

Checking my Twitter notifications I find I now have a troll. I considered whether to share this comment because it would give this person the publicity or recognition that they seek. In the spirit of free speech I decided to share one of those comments here.

I will spare you the more nasty ones.

The thing is, we cannot allow others to silence us or to prevent us from having a meaningful dialog with those who may not agree with everything we believe it.  My goal is to find a list of common issues and possible solutions that we can all agree and act upon for the sake of our country.

Growing thick skin can be painful…but we must stand strong and resist the effort by trolls to silence our voices.

 

 

Sisters it’s time to huddle

 

After hundreds of thousands of women marched on Washington, many questioned whether it was a moment or a movement.

One of my moments came in the middle of a crowd of strangers  as I stood next to the Hubert H. Humphrey Building.  As dozens of young adults were pounding out a beat on five gallon pails  and elders joined in to chant against injustice –my emotions got the best of me.  I stood very still in the middle of this empowering crowd and let go of my tears.  At that moment I knew in my heart the resistance had begun and I would be a part of it. womensmarch-wewhobelieve

Our moments will sustain the movement that brought together millions of women, men and children around the world on January 21, 2017.

What is happening in Washington DC is no longer simply a matter of politics.  When the top US Senator shutdowns another senator for reading the words of an honored civil rights leader we must condemn his action.

When nominees are unqualified for the top jobs in our country we must question them and pressure our representatives to put aside politics in favor of our country.

I live in Minnesota a great state with deep roots in the Democratic Party (Democratic, Farmer and Labor) tended by such great Americans as Mondale, Humphrey and Wellstone.   I count among them, Klobuchar, Franken and Nolan now serving Minnesotans.

Growing up I was taught to respect others, love my neighbors and work for the common good.

The events unfolding in Washington under our new administration is cause for alarm. The current leadership seems determined to claw this nation back to a time when labor had little power over corporations.  A time when women were muzzled and held few rights— and a man’s character was measured by his skin color –and the right to love the one you love was locked away in a dark closet.

It is time we stand up for America. It is time that we huddle to develop a game plan. Our country’s future and our way of life needs to be defended.

Here is an invitation from the Women’s March Organization;

During the first ten days of Feb, we gather together in our neighborhoods all over the world to define our next steps, and envision how to transform the energy we saw at the Women’s Marches into local and national action.  Find a huddle near you and bring your ideas!