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.
Hummingbirds floating above a feeder faded pink by the sun… in a cloudless sky framed by giant cottonwood trees…in the distance the rhythmic sound of a creek snaking its way through McElmo Canyon; for the next few days this is my piece of heaven on earth.
Pecking away on my laptop I’m sitting in the shade steps from our cabin at the Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch. My husband is working nearby cleaning and repairing an old saddle retired by a long ago cowboy to one of the many storage sheds on the ranch. I should be precise here. For him working with saddles isn’t work, it’s fun. This will be his third saddle since we started vacationing at the ranch.
Once or twice a year we pack up the car in Minnesota and make the long drive through Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado. Climbing to the top of Wolf Creek Pass our anticipation of the days ahead climbs right along with the altitude. As Gary guides the car along the hairpin curves we chatter about our destination; how big are the long horn calves? Will Bessie Mae’s surprise litter of puppies look like her? What about the mountain lion spotted in the canyon?
Questions soon to be answered when we settle in at the ranch and catch up with the owners and our friends Ming and Garry.
During our multiple visits over the years we learn this magical environment is dependent on limited water supplies that must be rationed and respected. Observing the day-to-day lives of the men and women who call the canyon their home I can say without a doubt their’s is hard work—a labor of love— requiring an eye to the future if their life is to be sustainable.
I’m struck by the similarities of ideals shared by these ranchers and our Native American friends and neighbors in Minnesota as they work to protect natural resources as an investment in the generations that will follow in their footsteps.
Many might view this piece of heaven in in the Four Corners in stark contrast to the abundance of water and lush forests back home in Minnesota. In a state where weekends mean a trip to the family lake cabin and the waining days of summer bring fall colors and the harvest of the wild rice crop… it’s hard to imagine that our ten thousand lakes and rushing rivers will ever go dry or that our fresh water supplies will ever become contaminated.
But the truth is—whether we live in the land of endless sky blue water or the land of enchanted canyons dependent on rationing and respect… our water is under threat. Our water must be protected. Water is life.
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.
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.