Friday, June 29, 2012

Miss Representation

Please please please see this movie if you have the chance.  I believe it is important for ALL men, women, employers, female and male young adults, and parents to see. I saw this movie last night and was very impacted by its message.  It wasn't new information for me, but it was presented in a very upfront manner.  The movie has renewed my commitment to be vigilant about the message that media is sending my daughter and also to be more supportive and encouraging of other women in my industry.  I think this is particularly important in the industry I work in, which is still heavily skewed toward males.

And after taking the pledge, I'd like to pass along some actions I plan to take and you can take immediately to make a difference:
  • Parents- watch TV and films with your children.  Raise questions like “What if that character had been a girl instead?”
  • Remember your actions influence others. Mothers, aunts and loved ones- don’t downgrade or judge yourself by your looks. Fathers, uncles and loved ones—treat women around you with respect.  Remember children in your life are watching and learning from you.
  • Use your consumer power. Stop buying tabloid magazines and watching shows that degrade women. Go see movies that are written and directed by women (especially on opening weekend to boost the box office ratings). Avoid products that resort to sexism in their advertising.
  • Mentor others! It’s as easy as taking a young woman to lunch. Start by having open and honest conversations with a young person in your life.

A Peaceful Place

Within a year of moving into our current home, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a true gem in my community, the Sanctuary Center.  I was out driving the back roads in our area, as I like to do when getting to know a new place, and saw a small stucco building that piqued my interest.  Imagine my sheer joy when I realized what this building was all about. 

The Sanctuary Center is a place dedicated to quiet reflection and self discovery.  It encompasses several acres with gardens, benches, and statues.  There's a nice gazebo with table and chairs, and the building itself is so lovely.  There's a lending library, artwork, a guest book, and a basket of gratitude stones.  The inner room is octagonal in shape, painted beautifully, and is a perfect place to sit quietly and reflect or listen or pray.  There aren't any staff members or caretakers at the facility; it's open to the public from dawn till dusk and operates on pure trust. 

A feature of the Santuary House that we've never visited is the labyrinth.  A few weeks ago, the three of us took the short drive and visited the labyrinth for the first time.  Sadie loved looking at all the treasures that were scattered around the rocks, buried in the sand, and hanging from the trees.  She somewhat got into the idea of walking quietly and thinking or singing as we walked the path toward the center.  We'll keep working on that....

I just feel so thankful that this wonderful place is right in my community and available for us to use and enjoy and I look forward to continuing to use it as a resource for my family in the years to come.  


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pondering on the solstice....

When I lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, the land of the midnight sun, and also the land of the long, cold winters, both the summer and winter solstices were days to reflect and celebrate.  More than anywhere else I've spent time, these two days marked VERY important turning points in our lives.  The winter solstice meant we'd survived the shortest day of the year.  Those few, short hours of sun shining low in the sky were so precious to us, and we felt hopeful knowing that although the coldest days of winter were yet to come, the daylight hours would be increasing...and that felt like something to hold on to on the shortest day of the year in Fairbanks. We'd buckle down; seek solace, comfort, and support in each other; and dream of the long, neverending days of summer.

And then summer solstice...oh how we'd celebrate!  We wouldn't have seen stars in weeks, for the sun was barely leaving the sky.  We had endless, boundless energy for life and each other and nature and everything northern Alaska had to offer us.  The long days of winter were far from our minds.

I loved mostly everything about living in Alaska, even (and especially) those long, cold, dark winters.  No, really.  But one of the things I loved most about my time in Alaska was how my life was lived so closely to nature.  Not only because of the drastic seasonal changes that you're subject to when living less than 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle, but seemingly every element of my daily life was more in tune with my natural surroundings.

I ate food (year-round) that was harvested from the wilds of Alaska. I hauled my own water from a natural spring outside of town.  In the summer I ate my meals on the porch.  I started and ended my days breathing fresh air.  In the winter I relished venturing out into the -30 degree and colder temperatures to use the outhouse because it might mean that I would catch the northern lights, or maybe see a mama moose walking through the woods near my cabin.  I walked and hiked and ventured and skied and sledded in order to keep my dogs happy and myself sane.  I took my clothes off and joined friends in natural hot springs or homemade saunas.  I drank and snacked around campfires and picnic tables. 

So here I am 11 years after celebrating my last summer solstice in Alaska.  I'm hardwired at this point to note the solstice as a holiday.  I've been in a reflective mood lately about where I am in my life and today, especially, I find myself evaluating how differently I live my life than I did a decade or more ago.

And obviously, much of it is inevitable.  I'm a mother and a wife now.  I have a mortgage and bills and a career.  Inherent in all of that is more responsibility than I certainly had when I was in my early 20s when I only had to take care of myself and my new puppy and I could spend summer solstice frolicking in the tundra.  And clearly the joy that my family brings to my life is worth all the changes that I have been through personally.

And yet, on this summer solstice, I'm spending the day cooped up indoors at work feeling relatively gloomy (due to several other factors).  And wondering how I ended up so far away from that lifestyle.  Maybe it's that I've spent the last three weekends sleeping in the mountains and the desert.  I spend MANY of my precious weekends with friends and family gathering for meals, listening to live music, hiking, camping, and connecting.  I manage to squeeze a whole lot of "authentic" living into my weekend days before slogging back to the reality that makes up my week/work days.   But today especially I'm feeling sad that the "authentic" life I lived back then in Alaska, and the connected, passionate life I live on the weekends now, can't extend into all my days. 

I think that may sound idealistic to many. A lot of people believe that you have to work to make money and support your family and uphold your responsibilities, and you suck it up and get over it if you don't love it all the time. the way...I do like my job most days.  I have an exciting, interesting, intellectually challenging job and I am thankful for its stability and the financial security it offers me and my family.

But I also am lucky to know a lot of people who are spending their days and lives pursuing their passions.  I know it's not just idealistic.  It's possible.  But is it worth it?  Is the fact that my career allows me to live a passionate life outside of work enough?  Do I need to just suck it up, get over it, put my head down, work hard, and count down the minutes until Friday night?  And can I do that for the next 30 years?