"We need to make a national examination of conscience. Why do we need a national examination of conscience?? Because suddenly we Americans seem to be panicking. It's time to stop moaning and wringing our hands. It's true; the country is in a crisis. But we have always been in a crisis. We ought to thank God we are. Because then we always have something to test us -- like a piece of steel that stays strong precisely because it is enduring great pressure."
These extremely timely words were spoken on February 7, 1968 by Sargent Shriver in a speech he gave at Notre Dame University. With the economic situation looking bleak, mayhem and riots running rampant in other parts of the world and our own country's Occupy movement growing larger week by week, it is easy to see the glass half empty. I don't know what the answers are. I do know we have overcome difficult challenges in the past and we will endure many more in the future. I take comfort in Sargent Shrivers words and trust we will rise to this test --"like a piece of steel that stays strong precisely because it is enduring great pressure."
Faith and prayer. It may sound innocent and naive but it's all I've got at the moment. And history. We've got that on our side too.
Wow. The summer has just begun and I feel it has already gotten away from me! Victoria's last day of school was Friday and Stevie left yesterday to return to South Bend. His summer is over. Two classes and football everyday. Victoria will follow him to South Bend in a few weeks to begin her Summer Scholar program at Notre Dame in Pre- law (she is envisioning "Legally Blonde" and I hope she won't be too disappointed!) and Alex starts grad school in August. I know there are many countries where the kids go to school all year 'round but I am just not used to it. I miss the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. No alarm clocks, just sweet songbirds serenading you awake in the early morning sunshine. Life is so crazy and competitive these days for our youngsters. Sigh.
I have been "missing in action" from my blog as of late. I am in the middle of quite a few exciting new projects and I plan to be sharing them with you real soon. They have taken me out of my comfort zone "big time" and that is a good thing! I did have a couple of articles published in the online edition of MORE magazine for woman at MORE.com. I was very excited! My last post made it to the front page of the BEAUTY section!
Meanwhile, HOW ABOUT THOSE HAWKS!!! We celebrated Victoria's 17th birthday in the city and the kids went to the game. Chicago is rocking! GO BLACKHAWKS!!!
I have found myself noticing lots of woman lately. Mostly woman of a certain age. Woman who have a depth and vitality about themselves that their younger sisters cannot duplicate. Woman who radiate this light of self love and self acceptance so brightly, everyone around them is drawn in like a moth to a flame. And the most striking common characteristic I find is that these women have not succumbed to society’s insatiable appetite for anything and everything “young”. These women have not felt the need to inject or alter their faces to “appear” younger and yet these women would leave their frozen and plastic counterparts in the proverbial dust in any true beauty pageant.
What ever happened to aging gracefully? Everywhere I look I see ads for Botox and implants, injections and surgeries. The television is filled with young and beautiful woman but have you noticed they are becoming a bit plastic looking? Have you noticed? Their features seem to all blend together and it is hard to tell one woman from the other. They all look alike, just like giant Barbie dolls. I was at a department store last weekend. The young woman waiting on me at the cosmetic counter was 26 years old. 26 years old and she nonchalantly informed me she "had" to do botox because the lines in her forehead were just too awful.
What are we teaching our young women? If we run to every new anti-aging gimmick that appears, what are we saying about ourselves? We can blame the media and we can blame the doctors and drug companies. And while I myself like to blame the drug companies for much of our woes as a society, we are the ones that must stop and look at ourselves with brutal honesty. What are we afraid of? As for me, it is very hard to let go of the "image" in my head. That image of me in my younger days. The image of the beautiful young woman, the "babe”.
But whether I like it or not, the "babe" years are gone. No matter how much I inject and pull, tug and shrink, I will never be a "babe" again. AND this is how it should be. Now I can be the complete woman I was always meant to be. I can be attractive and sensual in a new and more powerful way because I am no longer the "babe". I have learned to accept my faults as well as my gifts. I am learning to show the same compassion and love I shower on my family and friends to myself. I am learning to truly love myself in my complete authenticity, warts and wrinkles included.
Every stage of our lives are filled with wonder and beauty. The clarity and confidence of women who have reached a certain age, is a breathtaking aphrodisiac also. A woman who is fully owning her years and her wrinkles as well as her wisdom and humor. A woman who is unapologetic for gray hair and laugh lines. A woman who carries herself with elegance and dignity. A woman who is confident of herself and proud of her choices. That's the sensuous woman I want to be and most importantly, the woman I want to model for my girls.
I will always care about my appearance and I will continue to wrestle with the little voice in my head that urges me to be better, dress nicer, loose more weight. It is one of my many inner voices that I have finally made friends with. The shadow side may be terribly critical but she only wants me to be my very best. She only wants me to be loved and cherished. The catch is, I must love and cherish myself before I can expect it from anyone else. Together, we will continue down this path to wholeness one day at a time. Hold the Botox, please!
And thank you to More magazine for printing wonderful articles such as the interview with the luminous Paulina Porizkova in the April issue. With more role models like Paulina and More, we women will continue to be empowered to make our own choices while embracing our wisdom years with grace and authenticity.
We had the opportunity to increase the love and compassion on this planet with our response to 911. While some of us feel we failed at this task to truly live our beliefs and walk our talk, what happened, happened. Today we have come full circle. The American people have elected a man of honor and humility. A man of peace and compassion. May we all, ALL of us on this earth, live in peace and harmony, today and always. God keep and bless Barack Obama and his courageous family as he leads us down paths both old and new to a brighter tomorrow for our children and our children's children in every nation on this beautiful place we all call home. God bless us everyone.
Alex, my 21 year old daughter is a senior in college. She has been interviewing for jobs since classes began in the fall. All of the dire economic news and job losses have taken their toll on Alex and her friends. They are worried and anxious about their futures. They have done their best to prepare and that may not be enough. Our young people are being asked to grow up quickly as their time to leave the safety of their nests and prepare to fly on their own rapidly approaches. We do our best as parents and then we have to let the fragile little birdies go out to test their own wings.
Alex accepted a job offer with the company of her choice. She was asked to choose between San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Atlanta for her home base. She chose Chicago and is making plans to get an apartment in the City after she graduates in May. My first little birdie is ready to leave the nest. Where did the time go?
As a bird soars high
In the free holding of the wind,
Clear of the certainty of ground,
Opening the imagination of wings
Into the grace of emptiness
To fulfill new voyagings,
May your life awaken
To the call of its freedom. John O'Donohue
The day of the election my 21 year old daughter Alex called me. "Mom, I'm not voting." My heart stopped. "Why honey?" "I just don't know who to vote for, I am so confused. I like some things from each candidate." Having made my mind up years ago, I was taken aback by her indecision. I could feel a motherly lecture coming on. I bit my tongue and tried to step back and gain some sort of balance.
I take our right to vote very seriously. Actually, I consider it an obligation. A sacred trust. How many people have given their lives for our opportunity to make our voices heard? How many people all over the world are still giving their lives? Our own young men and woman among them. I knew this was not the time to dive into a diatribe of this nature. She was clearly distraught. I was distraught. I cannot remember our parting words. I felt like a total failure. In an issue as important as an election, THIS ELECTION, I could find no words of wisdom to help guide or inspire my daughter. The excitement of watching the returns had dimmed. I went to sleep with a heavy heart.
Wednesday morning I drank my tea and watched the celebrations and the replays of the speeches. Tears ran down my cheeks as I tried to practice my seemingly unending opportunity to let go. Letting go of my daughter. Letting go of my image of mothering and wisdom. Letting go of the results of all of the letting go. Everything is as it should be, whether I think so or not. I was coming to a place of peace and acceptance when the phone rang. "Hi Mom!" "Guess what I did yesterday?" "I voted!" My grateful feet barely touched the ground for the rest of that glorious day.
A new generation has arrived at the gates. I pray we leave them a world filled with compassion and love. A world filled with hope and opportunity for all of God's children. A world that is better because we have been here. Each and every one of us.
I am taking the next two days off to pray, to contemplate and to give thanks for the women who risked their families, their comforts and their very lives to ensure that all women were granted the right to vote. Thank you, thank you, and again thank you to our most courageous fore bearers, The Ladies of Seneca Falls. Thank you also to Miriam Gurko who so brilliantly documents their struggles in her classic tome, "The Ladies of Seneca Falls."