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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The March of Women

Over the weekend I heard reports of women marching both near and far away.  I tried to relate, but was embarrassed by most of what I saw.  I tried to relate because I usually feel an instrinsic connection to with women that transcends opinions.  I wanted to connect, but I could not.  Today I saw women marching and I was proud.

I saw a young woman marching into the classroom to teach even younger women-to-be and future men the basics like reading, math and science.  It's her first classroom and she is still learning, too. But she shows up each morning with a smile and a positive attitude.  She modeling the march for little girls and boys each day.

I saw another woman marching into a middle school before she had to be there to help a student who has fallen behind.  She earned nothing extra for her twice-weekly efforts or her consistent presence to make sure he stays on track in his difficult subject.  She is quietly and consistently marching.  Her work may never be documented by the media, but our family will never forget her investment.

Earlier this year I was moved by another woman in the super center who was shopping for back to school.  She was marching to gather supplies and provide for her own woman-child, the one marching to the beat of her own unique, middle-school drum.  I was moved because this woman has faced serious setbacks, addiction, jail-time, false starts.  But she kept marching.  She was marching for her daughter.

Not long ago I was able to dine with a woman marching in high places: government, management, leadership.  She marched with kindness, determination and focus.  She was disciplined and credentialed.  This woman marches in places of great influence.  She inspires me to march well, also.

This week I see women marching to the gym to donate their time and their talents to teach little women basketball.  I see women march to the church to donate money and time to share hope.  I saw an elderly woman slowly march to her front door, leaning heavily on the aid of her friend and her walker.  She marched through great struggle.

Every day I see women marching.  Some with energy and zeal, some with resignation and struggle, some with pain and longing.  Yet they march on and with them the future for womankind and humankind everywhere.

I get it, I have personally experienced many of the struggles that are particular to being a woman: bullying, poverty and government assistance, infertility, special needs, single parenting, childcare woes and zero pay for maternity leave.  I faced childhood sexual trauma and our family has grieved with illegal immigrants who are lost in the underworld of being undocumented.  I have to discuss pornography with my children,  We attend Title One schools. I struggle with working and finding balance for family life and personal aspirations.  I've been a corporate warrior and a secretary as well as a work-at-home mom.  I relate with most women in some way and draw from that connection. I do not march with some who protest in parades, but I am proud to march daily in conquest for what is right and dignified.  I am honored to be a woman.  I am pro-woman and desire to empower women everywhere.

There are days when I am required to stand up and stand out.  But most days, my best effort is made by marching forward and onward, looking to my left and my right and nodding in camaraderie with those marching, too.  We link arms and reach out to those who are trying to get their own footing and together we rise.

Monday, January 16, 2017

What's Your Connection Cue?

Our home is a busy one and I'm sure that yours is, too.  Life is full and hectic, which makes it very easy for married couples to become task-oriented rather than relationship-focus.  I myself get fixated on too many details and schedules, when I would rather focus on connections that last.

Because of this, it's so very easy to fall into the tag-team pattern of running a household and parenting where I take care of one thing and Mr. Wonderful deals with another, so that we operate in parallel worlds.  It works for functionality, but the connection and personality gets starved from our relationship.  I've lived in a marriage like that before and I am vigilant against allowing that pattern to creep into our home.

So we have little rituals that remind us that we are more than the grown-ups responsible for the housework and maintenance of life.  We are two people madly in love a devoted to one another for life, not just someday when the to-do lists are done, but right now in the crazy and madness of all that requires our attention.  I want Mr. Wonderful to know he is my priority.  He is more important than dishes or laundry or bills or the best show I can find on tv.

So after the children are tucked into bed (and sometimes before they even get there when our schedule gets crazy), Mr. Wonderful and I site together on the couch and just let ourselves relax.  Often, I find myself giving him a little foot rub or neck massage.  I can feel him let go of the daily cares and the physical act of touching brings an intimate connection that is so satisfying.  In this brief interaction, often just ten minutes or so, we move from coworkers managing life into partners pursuing each other.  It signals loud and clear that while I must cook and clean, I choose to connect.

This has been the most obvious connection cue, but I notice there are others throughout the day.  That moment in the mornings where we pause during the mad-dash and embrace, kiss and move on to our individual schedules.  The quick call or text as we move through individual itineraries.  So much of life inevitably pulls a couple apart.  We must find a way to intentional draw closer to one another and remain connected.  There are many ways to do this and much freedom for creativity.  For us, it's a simple cuddle as we shift from corporate warrior and home manager into a couple who are simply satisfied in each others' company.  What is your connection cue? Me? I rub feet.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Easing Into January

It is the season for yearly thoughts of looking forward and looking back.

I am grateful that we are able to slowly ramp back into our regular routine.  This continued week of a lax schedule reminds me of how much my children need unscheduled downtime.  I do believe this is more true for children who move between two homes.  There is added chaos and disruption to their lives and routines, so additional recovery and downtime is so helpful.  The extended winter break is a gift this year.

At one point, it was warm enough to be out with no jackets.
I've been back to my normal work schedule most of the week and the children have been home.  Mr. Wonderful has been in his home-office much of the week and my step daughters are home, too.  It's been a week of much-treasured togetherness.

Sometimes, the lack of routine, travel and extra-togetherness brings conflict, drama plus extra noise and hassle.  Thankfully, things have been different this year.  I've gotten to read and look over the aspirations I had for 2016.  New goals are rising in priority and lots of thinking about what is working and what is not.  I usually solidify my ambitions by the time my birthday rolls around in February.  There is always plenty of stopping and starting.

Mr. Wonderful received a new TV for Christmas - we are using it!
I hope that 2017 is already treating you well!  It's snowing just now and I foresee a weekend of additional togetherness and warm snuggles...and soup!  It's just that kind of day.