Monday, December 31, 2012

End of year regret or New beginning resolve?

We're all making NYE resolutions and hoping to keep our promises to ourselves.  Every news broadcast seen today or in the next few days/weeks offers weight loss tips or talks about the "battle of the bulge."  It's so predictable.  My new year's goals are not elaborate, but still elusive, and well-meaning all the same.

I always wish to be a nicer person and to lose some weight, not necessarily in that order.  It would be ideal to reach pre-baby weight (approaching six years on that one).  Or lose at least 10 pounds.  Or not gain any more weight.  You see how the thinking goes, or the obsessing goes.  Got to look better before it's too late.  Too late for what?

The first order of business should be to be a nicer person, patient mom, kinder friend, more tolerant partner, better world citizen. But looks seem so important, of course on the surface.  This year I wish to not obsess on looks so much, to quit fat-shaming myself and others in my mind.  We live in and become complacent with superficial judgment of how we and other people look, as if that's our sole worth.  We are obsessed with it, and I admit my own participation in the ugly process.

I hope to look back in a year and feel confident in having lightened up a little.  My thought patterns become locked in a preoccupation with eating and exercising/not exercising.  It is important to be healthy, but inner peace is certainly part of that health.  I want to be a calmer, more content person who seeks balance in life and appreciates what I have, not what I don't have.

Happy impending 2013!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Malala Yousafzai - Time magazine

"She has become perhaps the world’s most admired children’s-rights advocate, all the more powerful for being a child herself. Her primary cause — securing Pakistani girls’ access to education — has served to highlight broader concerns: the health and safety of the developing world’s children, women’s rights and the fight against extremism." 
- TIME magazine on Malala Yousafzai, the first runner-up in their "Person of the Year" issue. (via

This incredible young woman has been mentioned before on this blog, and she has been named the first runner-up in Time magazine's "Person of the Year 2012" issue, behind only U.S. President Barack Obama. Her brave example shines as a beacon for every young woman today, and her experience is a lesson for all people about equal rights and humane behavior. She was targeted to serve as an example of hatred and tyranny but lives on despite those terrorist attempts to destroy all the admirable qualities she embodies.

Miss Yousafzai is an amazing testament to the power of one person to have great influence regardless of the person's age. May she have a full recovery and a safe continuation of her life!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thanks, my friend! (December 14)

Let's get this party started!
from The New Yorker
A pop of the wine cork brought the meeting to order, as Kay banged on the garage door to assure the resident possum stayed out for the night. Members generously filled their plates and topped off their glasses as they sat down for their monthly gathering.
Kay presented the agenda for the evening, and welcomed everyone into her home as their host. "Here, here! It's time to get started. We have a book to talk about, but first there are jokes to tell and unfamiliar sexual euphemisms to learn." Kay's strong demeanor demanded the attention of the group, and the members didn't dare speak over her witticisms.
 The women inevitably strayed off topic, not only at the misdirection of their hostess, but with the rhythm of their cross-over discussions as it was usually wan to do. Conversation wrapped its way around the usual circuitous route, glossing over work weirdness, crotch picking, stranded boats, wanton cleavage exposure, and haunted nurses in crisp uniforms creeping through the darkness. Somehow redirecting the commentary back to the purpose of this discourse, Kay regained control of the scattered interaction and insisted someone say something about the book. Otherwise the night will have been lost in a diatribe of fun and frivolity.
If nothing else, they had to at least pick a book for next month regardless of whether they'd actually discuss it when the time came. Alexis suggested Shelli be kept from nominating the upcoming read (hers hadn't gone over so well this time). Rhonda insisted that Alexis was only flexing her non-threatening muscle. She didn't work at TLC so who was she trying to convince she had the power of influence here? 
 After all mental notes were stored inside of that big bean called Kay's brain, they'd be recapitulated via email later. Bottles of beer were left to drink -- there was a hidden stash out in the garage the possum hadn't gotten to yet, and it was all hers. She'd have it gone by the time she and her mom made the next Arkansas horse race. Those ponies weren't waiting to bet on themselves.
 Kim giggled so hard she cried through squinted eyelids, and Shelli got so tickled she peed herself. Kim had lasted through a long day of policing the bathrooms at B-wood, and now Shelli had leaked all over Kay's nice clean floor. She would not be held responsible for someone else's leak and made a motion that Shelli try bladder training methods before they meet again. Alexis seconded the motion, and the vote was five for and one opposed.  Sorry, Shelli, mandatory kegels.
Rhonda brought a sense of stability back to their clacht -- she was the meanie of the bunch, scared of snakes or not, who insisted they stick with the agenda. The rules must be followed. Katy just sat back and laughed at them all, having infiltrated the funniest bunch of bookish broads she'd ever met.

Kay relinquished any semblance of group unity and wished the women well on their way. She promised to distribute notes to the feeble-minded few who missed any details or definitions. The last "kwish" of a beer can pop tab resonated with their departure. 'Til next time -- meeting adjourned. 
The glue holding the evening together was Kay. She was the one who leaves everyone in stitches with her self-deprecating yet completely confident humor. As the group's beloved scribe, she keeps the official record of their one night per 30 when everything else recedes to concentrate on biblio-biofeedback among friends. 
A casual observer is left to imagine Kay's same passion for her children and grandchild -- how she must lavish them with her love and generous attention. Her wisdom and temperance serve as a fine example to them and others. Her tenacity and beautiful spirit do much the same for her friends. They know and love her spirit.  

Kay is a wonderful attribute to the Book Sluts, and I've never enjoyed anyone else's sharp commentary on life more than hers. For that and much more, I want to say, "Thanks, my friend!"

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thanks, my friend! (December 8)

10,000 styles ago - <3 this pic
You have to really trust the person who cuts your hair. It's easier when she is a friend of yours, though. No way would she chance screwing it up and have to deal with your whining. I met such a woman through our mutual friend.  I ought to thank her sometime for introducing us, but I never seem to get around to things like that.  

My friend, Susan, used to do my hair.  She is so much more than simply a stylist ... she is a self-made woman, a single mom, a hard worker, and such a sweet person.  

Becoming a new business owner is her latest triumph. Susan is motivated by her beautiful daughters, who I know are also inspired by her. Her example will show them how a person can get through life by having a positive attitude and a loving spirit.  If there was ever a woman who exudes perseverance, it is Sue.  
My trips "back home" are accentuated by visits with her, otherwise I miss her smiling face. I've been impressed with her ability to carry on toward positivism, especially in the last few tough years.  Susan loves life and shows it every day.  We should all follow her lead!  I wish her all the luck she deserves with her salon and in her life.  

Once poor Susan made the mistake of calling me when I was deep in the throes of postpartum craziness.  She "talked me down" and supplied me with the support I needed at that moment.  Every now and then when I'm bummed out, I get a little message on Facebook along the lines of "I miss you, Katy," and it cheers me up.  So it's obvious from who ... it's Sue.  For that and much more, I say, "Thanks, my friend!"

Tell a friend you love her.  She deserves to hear it!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Saw this today and love it!

"A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote."
Everyone who writes should read that statement.  Thanks, Goodreads!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanks, my friend! (Nov. 21)

There's a page on FB called "It's All About Women," and a post there yesterday made me think of my friend meme.  They asked "Who was your favorite teacher in school? Did you ever tell them they were your favorite?"
I guess I never did.  It's funny, though, because I was discussing this subject twice in the last few weeks. One of my favorite instructors was a woman named Kim Allen, and her Communication classes interested me enough to choose that area as my undergraduate major. It would be cool to be able to tell her that some time. The most wonderful professor of all, Dr. Carol Koehler, was highlighted in this meme before, and before her death I was able to tell her how much she meant to me.  

Some high school friends and I had recently talked about the subject, too.  We mainly discussed teachers we really couldn't stand.  Those not-so-inspirational ones don't count (you know I'm talking to you, Mrs. Eilers ... fire me from the 5th grade bookstore, damn you).

So this week I want to recognize my friend, Stephanie, who chose to be a teacher in the public school system now home-schools her own kiddos.  Being a caring mother and teaching you children are probably two of the hardest jobs in the world, nurturing them as people and intellectual human beings.  

Stephanie and I met through her in-laws, whom I have known most of my life.  Her sister-in-law and I grew up together, and her mother-in-law is one of my mentors and friends.  I live further away from their family than I used to, and I miss them all a lot.

She is a woman of great patience and self-control.  How any mom doesn't lose it when her child writes in green marker all the way down the stairway wall is beyond me!  She laughed about it instead of screaming, which is more than I can say of myself, and there are many other times I imagine (and have seen) her doing the same.  Stephanie has great resolve, and she demonstrates how even people who see things differently can still care for one another.  

Her family holiday letter is coming soon, which I thoroughly enjoy, and I remember back to a great Christmastime we all spent at Disney World!  Stephanie is a woman who loves her family deeply and lives and honest with great grace.  Her girls are growing up with a fine example from their mother.  I miss your smile and infectious happiness, Steph.  Here's to you, my friend!  

Everyone should recognize a friend for her great gifts.  Don't wait to tell someone how much they mean to you when you can do so right now!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thanks, my friend! November 9

This week I wish to pay tribute to another great female I have the pleasure of having in my life. We all deserve at least a little recognition from time to time. So I'm going to pat the back of my friend, Kathleen, who I get to see this weekend.
me, Kathleen & Stacey

My first thought when this woman comes to mind is that she is "a hoot and a half." We've been goofing together since we were in middle school.  By happenstance she moved to our hometown as a pre-teen but fell right into the small-town groove.  There's no end to the laughs when Kathy's around, and she tries to make those gatherings happen as often as possible. A big group of high-school buddies still get together as often as possible -- we're talking 20+ years ago graduation -- and we still enjoy each other's company.  

Even though the miles have grown between us, we can all think back to the gut-busting fun we've had over the years.  Some may criticize it a lot, but I love Facebook for the simple fact that it helps people reminisce and remain friends (most of the time). That's the case with us. We get to IM across two states and discuss our love of different narrative plots. It's great to talk about many off-the-wall books we both love. We're usually always on the same page - pun intended.

Kathy's big spiel was being tossed from the whitewater raft where too many of us were packed like sardines. I'll always remember thinking how we would have to call her mom to report if Kathleen died on those rocks that day. Thanks to that old dude who popped her back in the boat, she's still with us today. Ever teasing as she is, Kathy scoffed and reported she knew what a frog in a blender felt.

Were it happen now, I'd freak out over the possibility of Kathleen's boys being taken from their wonderful mom. She and I both had kids "later" in life but love them even more than if we were young mothers.  I think those guys have a tough act to follow with their big-hearted mom. They all lost Kathleen's parents in the last few years, but I know she keeps the boys' grandparents alive in their minds and hearts. I hope her heart has found peace.    

Being the mediator she is, Kathleen is always keeping us together. We've used golf clubs as microphones and drank beer in the morning on a float trip. Vegas, Denver, Wesport KC, Homecoming parade, or the Macy Gray concert blast in Lawrence, Kathy is always great fun!  Your blithe spirit enriches us all, and for that I say, "Thanks, my friend!"  

Thank a friend of yours, too, because she may not have had anyone say so for awhile ... or ever. We should all appreciate each other more.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

We Can Do It!

There is no way I could not share this quote today, Election Eve in America.  
from on FB
It is from Jennifer Siebel Newsom & the Team

(regarding how to increase the # of women who influence policy decisions)
"It's not just about electing women though, it's about voting for those candidates - regardless of gender - who truly value and respect all of us. It's about supporting those who embrace both masculine and feminine qualities across society.We need people at the top who advocate for equal pay, family leave, and childcare policies. We need politicians who really care about our kids' education, our health, our well-being and the environment. We need brave leadership - leadership that isn't afraid to say in public what they think in private and that isn't afraid to challenge the status quo of partisan politics. Leadership that prioritizes a healthier economy and incorporates care and caregiving into its policies and incentives."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thanks, my friend! October 25

Today's a very cool day for me.  I am the featured writer on a great site I've recently started frequenting called Studio 30 Plus that provides a meeting ground of sorts for writers and aspiring writers to commune online and give each other feedback.  There was a big lump in my throat when I clicked through to my post this morning.  It was easily swallowed with the help of some java, especially with one kind reply to it so far.  Shew ... so that's out there.
The post, along with three years of my tinnitus being silenced two hours a week, would never have been possible without my yoga instructor friend, Amanda.  When I first started taking her class at the Y, a photographer student of hers came in with the most gravity-defying picture of Amanda in a one-arm balance pose that took my breath away.  It's not actually her in these flying splits, but you have to click through to this image to get a grasp of what I mean (thanks, Jen @  Intimidation?  Nah.  Amanda is one of the most talented, down-to-earth, encouraging people I've met while living here.  
Kat Saks at
Her sweet demeanor helps her relate to people of all different walks of life, practice levels, and personalities.  She was previously an elementary teacher, so that experience probably serves her well.  Yoga students are always welcomed openly in her class, and Amanda never forgets the name of anyone who returns.  The geographic area where we live hosts a wide variety of residents and temporary residents of several local colleges, so this woman is more adaptable than your average yogi.  Amanda's sweet personality and sense of humor help her assimilate everyone into a safe place to practice yoga.  I love that she previously tried to "om" in her classes but soon discovered the "Ozark om" was more like "Ummm ... I'm not doin' that!"  As my mom would say, she's somethin' else!  
Amanda first insisted I try crow post (shown to left), or bakasana, and has helped me muster the courage to keep trying it until I can stay there longer than three seconds.  
She is a compassionate person, a good friend, and passionate about her own practice.  She inspired a character in one of my novellas, and I bet a bit more of her will be squeezed into future stories.  You bring much joy and peace into my life, Amanda.  For that I say, thanks my friend!

We all have inspiring people in our lives ... so tell them!  It's great to get a pat on the back from time to time.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why does this have to happen?

Why is feminism so often considered a dirty word?  I rather proudly attest to being a feminist.  Nebulous as the term can be, I believe anyone can call themselves a feminist if they feel women deserve more than being treated like a doormat.  It's that simple.  And this perspective is certainly not limited to women. There are many male feminists who will shout it loud and proud.

Images of perfection get in the way, though.  We are all socialized to think of women first in how they look.  Prescribing how a "perfect" woman looks makes women become a commodity, like their worth is ascribed to their appearance.  It is as if females are something to be owned, praised or berated, owned, "less than."

So why is it that in the year 2012 we are still seeing the objection of females so prevalent in entertainment and advertising?  To this day, women are looked upon and treated as property.  They are portrayed as products, not people.  Not individuals with brains, goals, individual personalities, and earning potential.  

Most television shows, popular movies, and waaaay too many advertisements feature women's bodies or stereotypes of them as their fodder. (i.e. google Bedchel test) They get the slutty part, the stupid part, the victim, the character who never speaks, or they aren't there at all.  Looking totally perfect seems to be the most important thing about them.  It's everywhere!  I am most disgusted to see these impossible images directed at young girls.  The pressure has reached such epidemic proportions it even delves into the cartoon world.  This article about Minnie proves the point.  

What the hell, people?!  It's not bad enough to see size-2 to size-6 women are the supposed norm in real life.  Now it's freakin' Minnie Mouse?  I knew Olive Oyl must have been anorexic, but I thought that was somehow attributed to how she was carried around by Popeye and Bluto, and they couldn't have really been that strong (even in a cartoonish way).  I've ranted before about Disney princesses, but Walt's little rodents have gone to the dark side as well.  Sickening.  

If calling myself a feminist can be attributed to one thing, it may be these stereotypes.  And don't even get me started on the misogynists who hate feminists and send out their internet trolls to patrol them.

Young girls and boys need someone to tell them these images are messed up .. they're not right, they're not real, and that's not the way it should be.  For them to grow up and be treated equally, as they deserve, they are the ones to grow their perspectives, evolve, take up for each other instead of break each other down, and fight to change their own futures. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The bravest feminist

It's humbling to consider the distinction of the bravest feminist title to belong to a 14-year old girl. Young Malala Yousafzai has made the ultimate sacrifice for her courage, too, as she was almost fatally wounded by terrorists last week. She lives in Pakistan without the luxury of "freedom of speech" we Americans take for granted.  Her had a price on her head for speaking up in a resounding voice about equality for herself and her peers. 

The vile and disgusting assailants were not quite successful, though. I hope this teenager lives to resonate her message throughout the universe via the internet. The message is threatening, and extremists must be scared to bring on this brazen attack. Malala's story has reached a wide-spread audience and invoked a stronger resolve to prevent such sadistic actions in the future. Women AND men (i.e., Malala's father) will strive to balance the gender power structures of the world, as females earn and inherently deserve mutual respect and access to education. An educated girl grows to be an informed and outspoken woman who won't be controlled. Hence, the struggle to dominate such strong individuals.   

Misdirected martyrs must want to send a message of their own, but it only serves to prove their depravity and disregard for human life. Such religious fanaticism and its desperate acts are piteous. If there is any justice in the world, may their creator administer just punishment. We can pray to our own gods to exact that divine balance. 

No, I don't understand the culture. I don't want to know what makes minds like theirs tick in an extremist culture of hatred and putrefaction. 

This young woman's face "like a flower" lives on, and she is reveled as a fresh leader of the international feminist movement. Her example will continue to be one of compassion, much like my beloved President Obama. Women across the globe aspire to Malala Yousafzai's sense of equality and purpose. We can all learn from her selfless and valiant activism for the good of global citizens.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why are people so damn crazy?

Isn't the election coming up bad enough without general idiocy running rampant as well?  It makes a person long for the zombie apocalypse.  Some people would just be considered junk food.

Then you're gonna get eaten!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thanks, my friend! October 4

It takes a lot of guts to leave your home for a different country where people speak a different language and you know nobody else who lives there. I imagine it's even more difficult if you come from a patriarchal country that expects young women to get their education to be "marriage material" but then not use that education once they are married, because they cannot work outside the home. Talk about a double standard.

My friend, Young, did just that back in the '90s.  She moved to the United States from Seoul and graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. From Korea to the Midwestern United States, wow. This woman has some hutzpah.  

The first time I met Young was in an undergraduate class we shared, although I don't remember which one. What I do recall is seeing her in the library some time later when she approached me with such a warm smile. She opened a dialogue about class with someone a bit familiar but still a stranger (me), no doubt honing her English skills by total immersion. Being so far away from home and speaking a second language while trying to meet her educational goals is amazing. She also had the courage to reach out to others, like me, who probably wouldn't have struck up a conversation themselves.  

My first stint of working in television came at Young's urging to apply at the station where she was working running camera for the local news. We worked together for a short time, not long enough. Much to my dismay, Young moved back to Seoul after her graduation. She has since married and has two beautiful daughters. I am sure she is a loving, wonderful mother and hope her girls grow up just as wise and strong with her influence. Young is definitely a go-getter -- someone who won't have to ask herself "what if" when looking back on her life. Her determination is admirable, and I'm lucky to have had her friendship as a part of my life.

Meeting her family is on my bucket listand I hope to visit them all one day. I miss my friend but am glad she approached me that day long ago. Her actions initiated a lasting friendship I may not have otherwise had the chance to have, and for that I say, "thank you, my friend."  

Recognize a friend of your own. We could all use a pat on the back from time to time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Judging the "other"

There's a trend in modern cable network programming. This glut in similarly themed shows is a shameful one, to say the least, but I must admit to this voyeurism myself. Remember when cable channels like History, Discovery and TLC used to actually be about something of historical significance, discovery of something new or an actual learning experience? Somewhere along the lines so many offerings on these networks simply became a viewing of the other.  
The other is anyone different than ourselves that can be looked at in a judging manner for its difference from our own realities. There is no better place to position oneself in judgment than through so-called reality programming. The only reality involved in these pre-determined, most likely scripted, antics is that the set-up sequences are really shown on t.v. 
Coincidentally, a common theme runs through those premises. I contend that American audiences are inundated and obsessed with shows about seemingly lower-class people. 
Maybe content producers see periods of national disquiet or economic instability as a perfect time to make American viewers feel better than other people. They apparently believe doing so helps people think they don't have it so bad after all. Hollywood pacified the masses with musicals on the big screen during previous wars. Why not encourage modern viewers to self-medicate with reality shows during the current war? It's happening elsewhere after all, so it's easier for us to not think about it. 

Any change of the remote control can bring you to an omniscient position above people who act weird, especially those who live in the poor south and talk funnyAnyone who talks or acts differently gets the mark of a lower IQ, and spotlighting regional accents seems the fad of the moment. We're left looking down our noses at the plight of middle- to lower-class citizens on the television screen.

Cases in point:
  • Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (TLC) spawn of Toddlers & Tiaras
  • Dance Moms (Lifetime)
  • Hoarders: Buried Alive (AETV) 
  • Swamp People (History Channel)
  • American Hoggers (AETV)
  • Call of the Wildman (Animal Planet)
Producers apparently assume viewers savor a few minutes of escape from their own realities and all else happening in the world. Hollywood did the same thing with musicals during previous wars, and we now have reality television to meet our voyeuristic needs during the current war. We don't have to think about what's going on here if the war isn't happening here in America. So why not pacify the masses with a bunch of fools acting ridiculously in their own element? Where these "reality" families live and work and act is different than our own state of being, so let's make fun of them!
by Charles LeBlanc
via Creative Commons
It's what I call the Jerry Springer syndrome. "My life really isn't so bad, huh?  Look at those idiots on 'The Maury Show.' Now that's white trash!" 
How is it okay to look down our noses at them?  It's all right if it's done anonymously from our living room, right?  Well ... it's not okay. Their misfortune and folly puts the joke on them. We can detach ourselves from other people via the couch, and it apparently makes us feel better about ourselves and think we're better than them.  
Those people may not look, act, or talk like we do, but that doesn't mean they're any less human than us. Even if they just sneeze differently or squint their eyes to see better, we still poke fun. The reality shows portray people with unique jobs, habits and maybe even mental illness. And sure ... some may even act inappropriately in front of the world and get paid to do it. 
Perhaps most "normal" people would be ashamed to do some of the seemingly crazy things seen on these shows. Making them appear so much different, and less than as a result, diminishes the reality families and dehumanizes them as "the other." But we are the ones watching the shows and only have ourselves to blame. 

I've always said, it's like the law of supply and demand. More specifically, it's the "uses and gratifications" theory of mass communication. Networks can't fund production of shameful television if viewers don't watch it. We support their creation and air time by choosing not to watch something else and by supporting the companies that endorse these shows. So how are we any better than those families? How can we continue to feel superior? That's reality for you!  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thanks, my friend! (Sept. 21)

We should all have someone who supports and champions us in life. Where would anyone be without a support system? I want to take a moment to praise the first champion in my life, the first friend I ever had, and my biggest supporter ... my mother ... because I am lucky to have her constant love and praise. Especially since I was sometimes very unworthy of it.
ours - not so idyllic
My mom came from a meager background and was only one of 10 siblings to graduate from high school. She worked to supplement the family income back then and in human services areas during her work life in a variety of care positions since, as I've mentioned in a previous post. And we were some ungrateful little brats, I must say, forever fighting among ourselves. 
Having my own child mystified me as to how Mom ever dealt with four of us -- emotionally, physically, and financially. She was our main referee, disciplinarian, confidant, spiritual example, and provider of most every type of other parental support. All the while experiencing her own, mostly silent, codependency in an emotionally-abusive relationship. Mother also served as our respite in an alcoholic home. Unfortunately, the non-addict parent is usually the one to bear the brunt of the children's pain. 
Witnessing Mom's recent physical pain brought on a bigger sense of urgency to pay homage to her. It's hard to watch her suffer and feel practically useless to help her. She's given the majority of her life's energy for other people's nurturing at the cost of her own health. With her age and body waning, the preciousness of our mortality is weighing on my mind. 
My mother lives through her children and grandchildren. It's total cliche, but not in a bad way. She is so enthused when any of us get to travel or experience new things and let's anyone and everyone in her immediate vicinity know all about it (whether they want to or not). Our accomplishments are her accomplishments, and she proudly shares that joy. All three daughters being college graduates and her son's military career, along with the escapades of five grandchildren, are the highlights of her conversation. 
Mother helped instill confidence in us that probably wasn't encouraged by her own parents. She raised us all to live ethically and responsibly, which may be more the modern exception than the norm. Mom has her own stories to tell about great fun with her friends (mainly the crazy Cackling Hens) and church family, trips she's taken, and good memories. I'm glad to have been part of many of them.

Mother thanked me for helping her this week, but I should say thanks to her. She's always been my main supporter, and I've never thanked her for that. We should all honor our mothers -- we don't know how long we'll have the pleasure of their company. Here's to my mom, I am lucky to call her my friend!

Monday, September 17, 2012

blogging style

Far be it for me to get formal. I recently read how blogs are basically meant to be informal. You bet, or I'd probably not be here.

In a post "What is a Blog?" the author proposed, 
For many bloggers, it’s a form of thinking out loud, of trying out ideas that may later develop into more thoroughly researched columns or articles. Blogging represents a unique opportunity to put one’s thoughts out there, even if–maybe especially if–they’re not fully developed, in order to see what kind of response they get and uncover glaring weaknesses. A fellow blogger once described one of my posts as a “riff,” which I think is an apt metaphor because it gets at what I see as the true nature of blogging: popular rather than classical, improvisational rather than meticulously planned, spontaneous rather than deeply considered.  
This quote from Rob Jenkins, columnist for The Chronicle of Higher Education online, who more or less warns you must be able to back up your argument in presenting it. He judges the quality of a blog with the amount of interactivity that stems from it. Tall order?   

Another academic, Julie White, responded to Jenkins' post by speaking of the "art" involved in blogging. She reiterates a previous blog comment comparing blogs to graffiti, defining graffiti, 
"a form of self-expression, often in an unlikely or illicit location, intended to provoke a reaction. One person’s vandalism may be another’s public art."
While my blog may not generate a lot of meaningful conversations, it is an attempt to elicit some bit of response. Other bloggers from across the States have commented here, and some have viewed from other countries. How could they possibly find worthwhile information from the likes of Katy Did Not?  Informal, yes -- supporting a proposed argument, maybe not so much. Maybe more like expressing a fact. Feminism is, to me, a fact. And I'm glad to promote the mutual respect for and support of great women.  
Somewhere in the back of my memory, I recall blogs taking off when deployed military service members were logging their overseas activities online. Perhaps it dates back to the first Gulf War, as my google search showed it starting to become active in '04. What a great way to keep from telling your friends and family the same thing over and over in separate emails, especially from half way across the world.

Denis Bocquet via Flickr by Creative Commons
My tiny following, or even the number of people who inadvertently stumble upon this blog, will never reach great numbers. There are so many things I want to say anyway, especially about women's rights and young girls gaining the confidence to be a formidable force in their future. It's also about women supporting each other. There's enough defiance from the patriarchy as it is. To me, these are plain facts. This blog is about just that ... my repetition of belief in feminism without sending out emails about it over and over again!

I definitely feel like I'm creating the only kind of graffiti I can, my canvas the internet, and my inscription the words.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thanks, my friend! (Sept. 14)

Some times in life you get lucky enough to land somewhere you feel fits you, where there are like-minded people in front of whom you never have to censor yourself.  I call it serendipitous to have been placed with an office-mate at my current job who fits me and vice versa.  Trust me, being possibly matched with my polar opposite in this bible-belt scared the holy crap out of me, pun intended.

In my case, I was even lucky enough to have been paired up with someone who also became a friend.  Alexis is not only a compassionate person who is loads of fun but was cool enough to invite me into her book group.  Or maybe I infiltrated it ... however you want to look at it.  The book club women have similar tastes to mine but also opened up my reading world to a much bigger place and pulls me out of some self-imposed ruts.  A summer lake trip with this "drinking group with a reading problem" is one of the highlights of my relatively new existence in this geographic area of the world.  True joy is laughing so hard your face muscles hurt, and that happens a lot with them.  Some even pee their pants, but that's probably more about old age and worn out bladders (hee hee).  

Alexis didn't just welcome me into her inner fold, she enthusiastically participates in any fun we can find around here.  She's gone to hear live music -- sometimes with me instead of her husband!  We enjoy many of the same musicians, except of dumb old Radiohead, and do lots of chair dancing.  Wild days of youth might be behind us, but we're still going to live it up as much as we can. I'm glad we both have the exuberant attitudes necessary.   

This woman is socially conscious, concerned for others and is easily inspired to selfless acts.  She is genuinely compassionate for the plights of marginalized people,speaks up for the so-called underdog often, and is caring to a fault.  Speaking of which, Alexis is one of us who can't watch those Sarah McLachlan commercials for the ASPCA without crying.  Don't try to make her watch sad clips on youtube either.  You won't, however, have to twist her arm for happy kitty videos, though.  

On bad days in the office I love to do some dancing to (and ogling of) Marky Marky's Good Vibrations.  I've got an awesome office-mate to join me.  Especially for that, I thank you, my friend!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thanks, my friend! (September 7)

I am compelled to pay it forward lately through my attempt to highlight a strong woman here each week, which has just so happened to be someone I know personally.  We women must support each other, especially in such sketchy times of the persistent war against women in America.  Support and encouragement can only help females demand the equality and recognition they and many feminists before them have worked so hard to earn.    

The women featured in the posts within this meme do not necessarily share my political/spiritual/life views, but all our opinions and feelings are valid.  More importantly, we need to support each other instead of participating the ongoing inner turmoil of our gender.  Doing so only perpetuates the demeaning images of women and minimalization so heavily mediated to young people today.  We must acknowledge each other's worth if we expect and demand the same from society.  If only girls, as well as boys, were shown more ways to respect others and themselves in the process.  But that's another story.

An amazing woman I know has lived an exciting life.  We met while working in the same office at a large university.  My friend, Kristin, was one of the few people who made me feel welcome and confident in that new environment where women weren't so supportive of each other.  It was hard to know whom to trust, and that was only the beginning of my awakening in a big city.  Here was a woman who seemed to have it all together at such a young age.  She had (and has) such a good nature that students, co-workers and generally anyone she met was drawn to her.  With her help, I was able to open my mind to much more than my small-town upbringing had manifested by then.  She and I worked hard to get it all together with each other's urging.

She is now raising two young boys who will no doubt follow their parent's example of a couple who walks what they talk.  They encourage other couples do the same.  I was honored to be in Kristin and Dave's wedding party and have never seen a happier, more beautiful bride than on that day.  She is strong in her faith and lives it every day.  I know a lot of her strength comes from within, though, which I've always admired.

My friend went through a lot on her way to get where she is, and she deserves many kudos.  She speaks her mind but never makes a claim she can't back up.  We've seen each other through some stuff, let me tell ya, but also had lots of fun!  Two lounge chairs at Bicycle Club's pool stand deprived of our deep discussions in the sun there.  I miss living near Kristin and getting to spend time with her.  We could always stir up some drama if there was none to be had.  I'm just mad she's disabled her Facebook profile with pictures to steal for this post!  But she might also be mad if I scanned the old one of us as Brady sisters ... oh, Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.

Through these weekly posts I encourage women to recognize someone important in their life by acknowledging her worth and letting her know how you feel.  It can mean a lot to say just a little.  I want to "walk my talk," too.  With that, I say thanks to Kristin who I love like a sister and whose friendship I treasure.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thanks, my friend! (August 30)

At the urging of the formidable forces at missrepresentationorg, I've been posting a weekly tribute to a woman who has had an impact in my life and/or generally deserves recognition for all her endearing qualities.  The least women can do to support each other is to give one another some kudos from time to time.  Anyone reading these posts are also introduced to some pretty damn cool people.  

Funny, I have several friends who are so nice I've never heard them say an unkind word about anyone (or at least only in jest).  Funny because I'm the sarcastic one who unashamedly talks smack on a pretty regular basis.  Someone who never does is my friend Karen.  She's one of those perpetually smiley people who's always looking at the bright side of things and people.  I was lucky enough to meet her soon after moving out on my own and invite myself along with her friends on many an adventure, along with a few mis-adventures.  Those are the most pleasurable to remember, btw.

taking my boy on his first seado ride
Most of our pictures together are at Lake of the Ozarks, where Karen and her sisters own a cottage that has accomodated a multitude of friends, their kids, their kids' friends, etc., etc.  My fondest memories are of fun times at the lake.  I would never have tried to slalom water ski if it wasn't for Karen and her sister.  Coincidentally, many flashbacks are of Karen trying to keep the rest of in line, as she seemed to have the most level head (and that's scary).  We can always look back and laugh about most incidents.  Even the craziest episodes are funny after the fact.  

We've traveled together to Memphis, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Antonio, and gone canoeing with a group of whacky women.  Karen is always the one laughing softly at the antics but never at the expense of anyone else being such a light-hearted and kind person.  She graciously hosted my baby shower with my friend, Amy.  Karen is generous with her time, volunteers in her community, and is involved in her son's activities.  

Even though we've all tried repeatedly to convince her there's a great guy out there for her, she's perfectly content by herself.  That's the strong confidence many women should aspire to have.  Karen is comfortable in her own skin, is friendly and welcoming, and takes care of what needs to be done.  Her self-deprecating humor is also a great asset, and we can all learn a lesson or two from her example.  So for all the good times and your comradeship, I thank you, my friend!

Those interested can take their own "pledge" to discern how women are represented in the media.  Part of the challenge is to pay homage to each other in an effort to contradict the negative images and cruel criticism amongst ourselves.  We are more than our looks, age, clothes, children and careers.  My personal pledge is to: 

"... make a concerted effort to see women as allies instead of enemies; and let's stop judging other women for their success, their talents or their looks" (MissRepresentation).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

the next step

So it's time.  Time to quantify, however loosely, my campaign against sexism.  It's grass roots.  The scale is pretty small.  But I wage personal wars against things I feel strongly about (i.e. anti-gay business practices by companies like Chik-fil-a and Hobby Lobby), especially against media-based sexism.  There's a feeling of vindication and personal pride at the front-lines of my tiny tirades.  

As the gurus at MissRepresentation suggest:

Step 3: Set a goal for your campaign - from numbers of signatures to phone calls made - and begin implementing your plan. 

Then how can I measure or quantify my little personal protest?  I read blogs and tweets from credible sources I trust almost every day, depending on online access.  It's my goal to inform myself via reading (articles, blogs, trusted news sources) every time time allows me to do so.  I hope that to be almost every day, and the plan is underway.  The Twitter tag #MissRep shows the great response of other people doing the same.  I use several hashtags to make my tweets searchable.  Maybe there will even be an official count documented here.

As I've said before, my personal protests may fall on deaf ears.  They are most likely unknown to the companies and ignored by the interns handling menial tasks like social media mining for political candidates on the campaign trail.  I've had my say in my small way, and I know it's out there.  Someone like Todd Akin will probably never know -- much less care -- what I think, but I vow to voice my opinion.  Sometimes it's the only participation available to the mass public, and I'm going to use it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thanks, my friend! August 23

It's about time I've gotten around to this post.  My recognition of an amazing woman, Amy, is long overdue.  There's simply so much to say about her it's taken awhile to gather my thoughts.  An unsung heroine of your life is a hard one to synthesize into a single blog post. 

We've known each other for 30 years -- unfathomable -- and seen each other through all that life has thrown our way.  Amy is one of the most hilarious, hardest-working, with-it women I know.  If she's faking it, no body would ever know.  She has worked her ass off since a teenage and spent a majority of her career helping college students in CA, CO, KS, and MO maneuver through the financial aid maze.  In a respite between those locations, she immersed her heart, soul and savings into her own business.  How brave for someone to take the chance at a long-time goal previously put on hold by other obligations.  Amy turned her dream into reality by buying, remodeling and running her own salon.  I wish it would have made massive amounts of riches, but it's a tough stint for a boss to pay her employees and be the last one on the payroll.  Hers was an admirable effort, and she can be confident in knowing she gave it her best shot.  No way can she look back and wonder "what if." Taking that chance would be too fearsome for a weaker being.

It amazes me how she continues to toil through long hours and a long commute to return to a home and partner she loves.  As I've said before, Steve is a lucky dude.  And little Alleybugs is a terrier with lots of love lavished upon her, too.  

There are few people with whom I could stand to rudder a canoe with her as pilot, ride a river raft, camp out in our two-person site, bungee jump, try to out-drink, and fearlessly tackle anything.  We share a sense of adventure, and she has patiently listened to all my whining, endlessly laughed with me, shared my sarcasm, suffered the pitfalls but relished the triumphs, and dropped everything when I needed her.  There's no one else worth that praise.  

We've celebrated and commiserated about family and friends, lost our patience and our parents together, and stuck with each other since 9th grade.  Amy graciously hosted both a lovely bridal and baby shower for me.  She was the "best woman" at my wedding.  There is nobody else I'd have wanted by side.  

Once again, I raise my glass to (and with) you and say thanks, my friend!  

Tell someone important in your life just how much they mean to you.  They deserve to hear it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

my campaign against sexism

Yesterday I was especially embarrassed to be a Missourian.  The parade of idiots started long ago with US Attorney and former Missouri Governor John Ashcroft and lately continued with Representative Billy Long.  It is horrifying to see all these out-of-touch, sexist, bigoted asshat politicians hailing from our state open their fat, hateful mouths.  They further prove to the world that we live in a backwards, socially- and morally-retarded region of the United States.  And now Todd Akin is added to the muddled equation.  How did we get so lucky in Missouri?  

I love it here otherwise but wish we could kick them out.  We live in a fairly beautiful state, aside from the humidity, that is being polluted by ultra-conservatism and general jackassery.

This ignorance leads me to the subject of my campaign against sexism.  My campaign may be a feeble attempt to do something, at least a little something, to express my outrage at common-place sexism against women in modern society.  I could be challenged for my exclusion of men, but not really.  Being female places us in a constant barrage of arrogant, ill-informed, prejudice in a so-called modern day society.  We are discriminated against in wages, safety, and "good ol' boy" public opinion as second-class citizens.  "Ah, shucks, little lady.  You get paid 70 cents to our dollar.  Whatsamatter with that?  Get back to my supper and diaper that yammerin' baby while yer at it!"  

At the suggestion of the MissRepresentation team, I vow to at least continue my Twitter campaign against all types sexist behavior in comments and advertising I see around me.  It happens every day, so there should be no problem staying active.  

I heard an approximately 12-year old boy at the swimming pool this weekend tell his friends on the steps say, "Come on, guys -- you look like a bunch of women sitting there."  As an un-involved stranger and eavesdropper of his budding-little-misogynist comment, I stated in a very loud voice, "There's nothing wrong with that."  They should be so lucky.  An adult male with their group heard me and smiled back at me.  I don't know if it was a simple acknowledgement, agreement or disdain, but he certainly didn't respond verbally.

MissRep's to do list includes:

Step 1: Talk to your friends, family and neighbors, and decide what issue you'd like to tackle.

Step 2: Research your issue and decide exactly how you will take action. 

Step 3: Set a goal for your campaign - from numbers of signatures to phone calls made - and begin implementing your plan

The plan:
Tweet my disdain to any individual, especially politicians, who makes sexist comments in public or a publicized personal setting become known through "legitimate" (pun intended), verifiable sources.  Tweet my consumer declaration on non-support (#notbuyingit) to any organization that overtly or inadvertently expressed sexist beliefs or views, especially in advertising, or otherwise uses sexist policy this is widely known and provable.  This blog has a very small following, but I ask anyone reading it to take some sort of personal action.  The need to do so is apparent on an every-day basis, and to deny such is to willingly keep your head buried in the sand of patriarchy.  Think for yourselves, and stand up for women.      

photo source: Obama for Women via Facebook

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thanks, my friend! (August 17)

Through my reminiscing on friendships lately, I'm pleased to recollect how many cool classmates I remain in contact with from college. Maybe it's not an astounding feat for most folks, but I was a part-time student in my 30s while working full-time at the university. We didn't live on campus to interact in the typical ways of first-time freshman, but we made the best of our time there. The handful of quality people from undergrad who remain in my life today bring back many good memories of those days. The internet makes it possible for us to stay in touch now.

Those friends are scattered across the world, including California, Colorado and Korea. One good girlfriend moved to North Carolina a few years back, and I miss her greatly!  Shelley is a compassionate and kind-hearted soul who makes friends easily with her outgoing nature. Her professional life has been spent mostly in non-profit entities where serving people is her business. We not only had classes together but got to know each other better and become friends.  We also saw each other progress into our respective work worlds. 

Shelley's professional life changed directions with her move to Charlotte, where I know she loves living. It's closer to her family, and her devotion to them glows through her pictures online. She met a guy who makes her happy, and I am glad for them. Steve found a great partner! 

Social media is the medium I get to experience her life through now, for which I am grateful. I miss her laugh and the fun times we had in Kansas City, but I'm glad we can at least stay in touch long distance. I hope she knows how much I appreciated her introducing me to people and inviting me along with her friends. Shelley is a strong, remarkable woman, and I miss her charming tendency to call someone a "doll."  I hope our paths cross again one day.

Distance is yet another reason we should all tell our friends how much we love them. Do it today!  You'll be glad you did.