16 Books Every Woman Needs to Read plus a few extra

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16 Books Every Woman Needs to Read from Bustle.

Plus, the books that I’ve read this year that I would recommend, either about women or by women or both:

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Harnett and Wendy W. Williams

The Jet Sex: Airline Stewardesses and the Making of an American Icon by Victoria Vantoch

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More by Janet Mock

Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (fictional)

The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman

Game of Queens: The Women Who Made Sixteenth Century Europe by Sarah Gristwood

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Domestic Violence Should Not Be Politics as Usual

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​Sunday will be the sixth anniversary of my friend’s death. She was murdered by her ex while simply living her own life, washing a tea kettle out when he came up behind her and ended her life. For all of us who are touched by domestic violence and abuse, we ask if there was something we could have done, something we should have been aware of. I participated in my own share of victim blaming until I saw the larger picture of having your finances and only home tied up with someone who is threatening. 

I think we all like to believe the best of people, and if we’re wrong, we just pick up and walk away. Everyone has friends they can rely on, but how true is that really? Can a mom, the mom who seems to have all the problems, is never on time, offering flimsy excuses with the two kids, both in diapers – can she crash on your sofa or spare room indefinitely? Are you friends with her domestic partner? Who will you believe?

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, and it takes on a variety of forms. Some, though not many, don’t realize they’re abusive; it’s the way they were raised, and they think it’s “normal” to slap your wife and kids or grab her or slam doors and drink a little too much. Others seem like the perfect couple, family, etc, and no one knows what’s going on inside someone else’s home?

For B, my friend, when she had nowhere to live, she arranged to live in her house. Her house, that she paid for, contributed to the down payment of, was responsible on the deed for, but also on the property where her ex lived. I thought that was crazy. However, what else could she do?

He threatened her, but people say things they don’t mean all the time.

Why didn’t she call the police? Well, she did, several times. In fact, the police paid a visit to their house the night before she was murdered. They didn’t believe there was a problem; not a real one. Don’t set him off, though.

I didn’t understand.

Now, in Congress, in the House of Representatives yesterday, a bill was passed that will now go on to the Senate to be voted on. If it passes the Senate, I have no doubt that President Trump will sign it. He signs whatever he’s told to.

This new bill, that might become a law, which by the way also exempts members of Congress from its new rules and changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as affecting private insurance and employer insurance along with Medicaid and Medicare, defines pre-existing conditions in horrific ways and will affect someone you know.

They say that pre-exisiting conditions will be covered, but that depends on the state you’re in, and legal access to health care doesn’t mean that everyone will have it or be able to afford it.

For example, four of the pre-existing conditions mentioned specifically are: domestic violence, sexual assault, c-section, and post-partum depression. What do these four things have in common? In addition to being completely and arbitrarily unpredictable and randomly occuring, they also only happen to women. The first two – domestic violence and sexual assault – are perpetuated by men onto women, but as is the case in many instances, women pay the brunt of the violence against them.

This is one of the most blatant and disgusting and obvious moments of victim-blaming.

They’re looking at getting rid of well visits and preventative care, maternity leave, and pre-natal care as well.

I’m appalled.

In today’s Congress, had my friend survived her gunshot to the head she would be blamed for it as a victim of domestic violence. It would be considered a pre-existing condition and not covered under the Republican’s repeal and regress health care plan.

They’ve had eight years to come up with something, and they’ve failed. However, they continue to punish women for their failure.

Do not let this Republican controlled Congress and White House continue to abuse women and their families.

If you or someone you know are in danger or in a domestic abuse relationship or situation, contact the The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. They can help you and find resources for you wherever you are.

If you or someone you know are an LGBT+ youth and in an abusive situation, contact The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. They can put you in touch with someone who can help you.

You are not alone.

The Future is Female

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In honor of the March for Science, held today across the country, a little word art. There are two women’s names that I’ve listed with only a last initial. Those are two women scientists I know in my personal life. They are an inspiration to me in more ways than one, and certainly more than just scientifically. 

We all have those girls and women in our lives.

Who are yours?

The Future is Female, done for the March for Science, April 22, 2017. Word Art. (c)2017

3-52 – Called

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We Are Called. David Haas.

January’s spiritual was hard to come together. I planned on posting yesterday, partly because it worked with the loose fifty-two week schedule in my mind, and partly because it was my mother-in-law’s birthday, her first since her passing in June.

As part of my own religious awakening, I had mass said for her, as I’ve been doing for another friend’s birthday and death anniversary since 2011. I thought it would be a nice way to get the entire family together and send their thoughts to her, assisted by the rest of the congregation. Yes, I do believe that. My family typically doesn’t come to church with me, and that’s alright. I invite them, and I will continue to invite them. It’s my faith. I can only share it.

The woman I usually sit with was behind us – we were too many to share the pew this week, and she was thrilled to see my family. She was grinning ear to ear, and pat my husband on the back. She is lovely, and for her and me and many others being here regularly is more than obligation; it is joy and peace and centering to get ready for the rest of the week.

There is always something that comes out of nowhere and shows us the interconnectedness of our worlds, our spirits, and our being.

Yesterday was also the Women’s March on Washington. Many women couldn’t go for economic reasons, travel reasons, personal reasons, and marches began to be organized across the country, and then across the world until there were marches and protests on all seven continents. In Chicago and Washington, DC, there were so many marchers that they couldn’t march, so they stood. Together.

With signs.

With pink hats.

Rainbow scarves.

Pro this, pro that, and anti too.

In Washington, there were zero arrests. ZERO. How do you have over 700,000 people on the Mall in DC, and have no one arrested for anything? It’s remarkable. I think it’s unprecedented, but I don’t have the hard figures so I’m only guessing from hearing about these types of things.

I was kind of taken with the idea that the women’s march was being held on my mother-in-law’s birthday. It seemed fitting. I don’t know that I’d label her a feminist, but she was really beyond labeling. She was eighty-two when she died. She didn’t drive, didn’t even have a driver’s license. She had no internet in her house, no computer. No cell phone. Didn’t know how any of that worked. No cable until a few years ago. Her camera was a disposable Kodak that you buy at the counter in CVS or Walmart when something momental came up, like grandchildren.

It makes it sound as though she was an elderly woman.

She wasn’t.

Far from it.

Up until getting hit by a car in 2013, she was more active than I was, not that that’s saying a lot, but she was hella active. She traveled several times a year, by herself, by long distance bus. She walked everywhere or took public transportation, usually the county bus. When our kids were born, she was on the first bus north the two hundred fifty miles to help. And man, she helped. She cooked, she cleaned, she took the other kids on walks and to playgrounds. 

She spoke her mind. No filters.

She was an amazing cook and seriously could take whatever was in your cupboard and make a gourmet meal out of it. No lie. I use her Christmas dinners as a model for my own (at my husband’s request). This was the first year mine was perfect. I think she must have been there adjusting the temperature, adding the right amount of pepper or garlic or steadying my hand to avoid over seasoning. The onions were to die for. The meat itself was perfectly cooked, rare enough for my husband, well enough for me. Perfect.

When she was a girl growing up in Belfast during World War II, there was rationing, where she learned how to do without, and how to do with whatever was available. As a teenager, she left home and went across the world to Australia – the Outback – Alice Springs, much more desolate than it is today. She worked and she lived with others who she’d never met before. She went to India and Afghanistan, and worked her way to the United States where she met a man, married, and had three children.

She was still adventurous, and I see her light every day in my daughter’s eyes, her clothes, her attitude. Why can’t I wear a party dress to the comic store? The question hanging in the air with her nose wrinkled and brow furrowed. The day my mother-in-law died we were visiting her, and she loved my daughter’s new shirt. Seventy percent off, and fuschia and orange from Eddie Bauer. I made a mental note to pick one up for her, so they could match on our next visit.

For her cremation, we looked for the most outlandish, brightest, orange-colored outfit that we could find. For the memorial, I wore fuschia, and my daughter wore orange. We were all brightly attired in honor or her brightness, and still, she outshone us all.

At yesterday’s Mass, the processional hymn was We Are Called. You can see the words in the picture above, but I’ll reiterate them again below because they perfectly encapsulated the March on Women, the independence of women honored and celebrated, sung and danced by and to.

We are called to act with justice
we are called to love tenderly
we are called to serve one another

If we remember these words, whether sung in church or said in our minds, we can persevere and move forward. Always forward. We can get through whatever we need to so long as we act with justice, love tenderly, and serve one another. Remember mercy and compassion. And remember those women who’ve gone before us to pave the way. We are all marching in some way to make things better for ourselves and our children. Equal rights are not given.
We all go across the world to a strange land, and we do whatever it takes.

We march.

We march.

We rise.

We stand up and we speak out.

And we don’t stop.

I wanted to take my daughter to the gathering in our state’s capital, but it conflicted with my mother-in-law’s mass. I was able to send my spirit to Washington along with my name on a sign, from a Gishwhes colleague who wanted to bring us all with her. How appropriate to the March and to Gishwhes. I had one friend in Seneca Falls, home of Susan B. Anthony. I had one friend in Chicago. My Instagram was filled with the L.A. march. Gen and the boys in Texas.

We’re not coming. We’re here.

All of our spirits have come together to say we’re here, you will listen, we’re not going back, the resistance is now.

Resist Peacefully – Compilation

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The day before the Inauguration I posted a series with different ways to peacefully resist the incoming Administration. We may feel powerless, but we aren’t. We are the people.

Here is a compilation of those links in one place:

We The People Resource Page (this website)

One – Graphic from Unitewomen.org

Two – Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda

Three – Call out hypocrisy – Contact Congress

Four – Call it out – Contact the Executive Branch

Five – Defend the Press

Six – Graphic from Mary Engelbreit

Seven – The Women’s March on Washington

Eight – We Won’t Go Back

Nine – My Personal Oath from the ACLU

Ten – Inauguration 2017: Know Your Rights from the ACLU

The Women’s March on Washington – Posters