Fierce Women Dish

an artist, a journalist, an activist, a psychologist, a student, and a diva place a cup of nourishment on the table.

Surviving the downturn (When does it become a recession exactly?) May 29, 2008

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Hi gang! I know you’ve been wondering what’s up with the FWDs? Where’s this week’s post? Well, here it is…better late than never.

Here’s what we’re doing to weather this economic storm:

Amy: I have dealt with the economic downturn by letting my gym membership go for the time being with the goal of exercising outside and at home for the next few months.  I am carpooling whenever possible and am also choosing to pack my lunch and eat at home more often.  This is tough as I socialize with girlfriends over dinners out.  I’ve also become pretty good at sneaking snacks into the movies!!

Donna: Coupons are becoming more important to me again.  I was an avid clipper for several years with a whole system of organization for both grocery, big box and warehouse stores. I pulled it all back a out a couple of weeks ago, blew the dust off and started clipping up a storm again. Product websites are also a great for coupons on your favorite brands. Eating out less is also happening in our house – and especially less in the more expensive places. And we have put off a big trip that just doesn’t make sense right now with a weak dollar and everything else…

Rosie: As a freelancer, my salary is no guarantee and so I try to live fairly simply. The economic situation has certainly compounded that effort. I’ve been trying this year to go on buying freezes where I buy nothing during that week but essentials (food, gas) and those freezes are a really effective way to cut back on spending (and a reminder to me how easy it is to mindlessly buy something). Because I work from home, I don’t notice the gas hike daily but I have really noticed a significant difference in our grocery bill so now I go to the pantry when planning my meals for the week and am trying to use staples there first.  And as hard as it is for me as a writer because I hoard books, I have been using the library a lot more in the last 6 months. But that might just be part of a 12 step regimen for addicted book buyers!

Me: I broke up with my TV. Why? A $190 cable bill (yes, i had the bundle along with a million HBO/Showtime channels). That’s just ridiculous…especially when a lot of the TV I like is free on the web. I read more, watch a few more DVDs and, frankly, I enjoy how less bombarded my life seems with unrealistic images of people. I do miss CNN and The Comedy Channel. I am eating out a lot less. I actually that just started this week…after I looked how much I’ve really been spending. And like Amy, my meals out tend to include socializing so that’s a bit of an adjustment. I’ve made a mid-year’s resolution (like New Year’s…it’s on June 1) not to buy any new clothes, shoes and bags. And jewelry. Finally, when I do spend $$$ these days, I try to be mindful and ask: “Do I really need this?”

Enough about us…what are you doing to survive the recess…I mean, downturn?

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Who are the She-roes of the world? May 19, 2008

Janine:

The female hero of my world is a 5’4″, 135 lb., mild-mannered, but firm lady–that’s my MOM.  My mom is so many things–the glue that makes my family stick; the conqueror who takes on the best of fights and with such vigor; the patient one who despite my fits of frustration can see beyond the ‘now’ and willing to wait on a ‘better day’; the wise one who ‘always knows best’ but doesn’t rub it in your face when you finally see how ‘wrong’ you were; the strong one who despite being a single mom of two kids only after her 3rd year of marriage carried on with a full-time job, a nice home and plenty of faith!! She is the hero I attribute many of my traits to–being a perfectionist (wanting everything in order); determined (will make IT happen when others doubt you) and courageous (sometimes doing those things that make you feel uncomfortable, but doing it anyway).

 

She IS who I’ve BECOME!! While growing up, I never saw what she was developing me into–but it’s turned out to be a pretty good replica of herself (smile). (Even though I am a lot louder and more direct than she ever was.) Nonetheless, with the nurturing and direction my mom has given  me, I hope one day I can hear my son or daughter say to me “My mom is my female hero!” In the meantime, I’ll keep working to make sure I give them reason to say it!:)

 

Rosie:

One of my heroes is Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues and the creator of the V Day Movement (www.vday.org).  I admire the way Ensler has taken her art and her passion and melded them into activism, creating a global movement to end violence against women and girls.  Her courage, vision, creativity are united in a powerful purpose—one that allows each of us to engage and that encourages the realization of our global best.

 

Donna:

My favorite current she-ro is Tina Fey. She was the first female head writer on SNL, wrote ‘Mean Girls’ is also the creator/producer of and lead actor on 30 Rock and has just debuted “Baba Mama” a girl- buddy film that  she wrote and stars in with Amy Poehler; it was number one for it’s first week in theatres. She is one of the few female show runners (a triple or quad threat: writer/actor/director/producer) in the entertainment industry today.  She came from 2nd City-the famous improv comedy group in Chicago –and many of the people she was with there and on SNL are still seen in her current projects today. I think her writing is sharp, clever, relevant and current and she consistently she creates projects and throws work to her very talented group of friends! Gee, wonder why I just A-DORE that?! In addition to all of that, she’s only 38, and is married and has a child. She is a SUPER SHERO and I just LOVE HER.

 

Crystal:

As far as journalism goes, I would have to say the late Katharine Graham (owner of the Washington Post), the late Mary McGrory (Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post and the Washington Star) and the late Molly Ivins (columnist for several publications). All three were Grande dames in the field. Each had distinctive voices, wit and style. 

 

Graham and the Post’s coverage of Watergate is one of the reasons I became a journalist. Woodward and Bernstein and Bradlee often get the props. Kate Graham deserves her share of that glory.

 

McGrory could just plain ol’ write. And she seemed unafraid of anyone. We need more journalists who aren’t afraid…especially now.

 

And Molly Ivins for her down-home storytelling. She’s  the one who gave President Bush the nickname “Shrub.” 

 

Also, I know a lot of people don’t care for New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd’s snark but I’m pretty sure that if she had a penis, that she would be lauded for her biting commentary and ruthless insights.

 

I second Rosie on Eve Ensler. She’s a goddess. Ensler talks the talk and walks the walk.

 

I have to add Dolly Parton. Amazingly talented, funny and strong. I think people confuse her looks with her talents. Shame on them.

 

Amy:

I agree with Crystal on Dolly Parton.  She has always been one of my favorites. 

 

My she-roes are close to home.  When I look at my fellow bloggers, I see she-roes!!!!!  I see 4 amazing women who quickly identify and celebrate the greatness in other women!  And all you women out there reading Fierce Women Dish, I have no doubt that you are She-roes too!!!!!  I feel certain that everyone connected with this blog lifts up and celebrates other women in your daily lives!  So tell us . .. . . WHO ARE YOUR SHE-ROES??????

 

 

 

 

Round 2: Intrusive vs. Nosy May 15, 2008

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As promised, here’s part two of the question of the week: Why do we intrude on people’s right to have their life unfold as they wish, by asking (in an intruding way) when they are getting engaged, married, having children, having the next child, etc?
Why do we push these standards on people and what about the way they exclude other possibilities: infertility, an inability to “get married” because one has a same sex partner, a decision not to have children, etc.?

Donna: This always slays me…the way people are seemingly unafraid to ask such personal questions. I guess it really depends on the situation, though…and how good of friends you are with the person in question and the way the question is asked.

Crystal: I’m one of the nosy people. It’s one of the reasons I became a journalist – I get paid to be nosy. I generally ask those types of conversation to gather information about someone. I have learned that how you ask is the big difference. Like Janine, I’m single, in my 40s, no kids and driven. And I thoroughly enjoy my life. People stopped asking about babies, a hubby and such when I hit 41.

Donna: On the flip side, some people don’t mind telling all either, to total strangers, and that is something I really don’t get. I do think a lot of people are just curious (or nosy, depending) and I think some of it may be fueled by competitiveness.

Amy: If people are asking these questions in an agressive, intruding manner I always wonder whether that person is trying to gather evidence that they’re living their lives the “best way”. I think people who have made certain choices such as getting married, or having children, or giving up their youth to develop a career would like to think that others are just trying to get there (e.g., where they are) and may ask these questions to validate this for themselves.

 

Intrusive or just plain nosy? May 12, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 8:06 pm
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This week’s question: Why do we intrude on people’s right to have their life unfold as they wish, by asking (in an intruding way) when they are getting engaged, married, having children, having the next child, etc?
Why do we push these standards on people and what about the way they exclude other possibilities: infertility, an inability to “get married” because one has a same sex partner, a decision not to have children, etc.?

(And heads up: check back on Wednesday for part 2 of our dish on this topic…

Janine: I’m a 41 year old-never been married-no kids woman so you can just imagine how many times a week I get those questions of ‘intrusion’. There was a time when it did bother me slightly to have to say ‘no, not yet’ to all the above but I have since gotten over it.
I look at it like this: 1) do you REALLY care in the first place if I have or haven’t or why or why I haven’t OR are you just seeking an answer to place judgment? 2) where is it written that I HAVE to be married with 2.5 kids? 3) maybe it’s just not me, maybe I love my life like it is- husbandless and childless at 40 – something. Is there anything so wrong with a nice condo uptown, ability to travel, shop and eat out when I want. 4) I’m where I am because of my choice. Sure, I could have been married and divorced by now with a couple of kids, but I opted for career first instead.

Rosie: This might be the surest way to undo my normally laid-back demeanor-imposing one’s views and thoughts on someone else.

A few years ago, I was holding my nephew at an event when someone asked if they could hold him. “Sure,” I
said, and held him out towards the person when another woman said, “Oh no. I don’t think you should take him from her. Maybe it’ll finally rub off on her to want to have a baby.”

I had been married about four years when this happened, was in my early thirties, and I wanted so badly to look at this woman and say something horrifying to make her think twice before she said something like that again. After all, she had no idea (this was a woman who I had probably spoken to for 5 minutes total in our lives) what my reality was. But it was my sister’s family’s special day, and I felt like it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to go tough love.
In fact, I think issues around marriage, pregnancy, and parenting do bring out people’s worst behavior – their bossiest, how-I-would-do-it-is-the-best- possible way smugness.

Janine: My response to the inevitable ‘Are you married?’ And ‘do you have kids?’questions is now with a very cheery smile ‘No, I’m not married–should I be?” And still smiling I add, “No kids – and I’m good right now. However, YOU seem to have the kid thing down very well!”
Now not everyone who asks me those questions gets the same answer necessarily. Only the ones who come off condescending or belittling in some way. Its as if because I’ve never been married and am without kids I’m somehow abnormal. When in fact, its become very normal for women to wait longer to ‘settle down.’ Look at Halle Berry – not married right now but just had her first baby at 41; Marcia Cross of “Desperate Housewives” giving birth to twins at 45+; actress Salma Hayek 40 with first baby! I could go on, but you get the point!

I just think if you’re happy with your life as it is (married, not married, kids, no kids), then just be happy and not spend a lot of energy trying to condemn those who aren’t where you think they should be.

Rosie: The truth is, in the context of someone else’s life, it doesn’t matter how WE would do something. It only matters that he or she is doing it in a way that is true and right for them. If you have a legitimate concern that the person is putting themselves or someone else in harm’s way, that’s one thing
and you have to figure out a delicate way to handle that. But if the deal is simply that you prefer roses to tulips for the reception or that you think babies should never be given a pacifier – then the most appropriate thing to do is to swallow your preference and celebrate the free choice we each have. After all, the
name Emma Jane might be your favorite but it would not be nearly so quaint if every little girl had it.

Check back on Wednesday for Round 2…will all of the Fierce Women agree? Do you?

 

How can we lose the excess while finding our essence? May 4, 2008

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Crystal: For some reason, I need a certain amount of physical clutter. Not sure what it’s all about but if things are neat and orderly, I just want to mess them up. Is it because I’m right-brained? Or the desire to always have a task? Or is it a reflection of the environment I grew up in (which would seem silly since I’m nearly 44)?

The brain clutter is another matter. More and more, I find I just need pockets of peace and quiet in the day.

One of the best things that I’ve done recently is disconnect my cable. I immediately noticed how more relaxing it was. I wasn’t being pounded by mindless blather.

 

Donna: I am soooooo with Crystal on the loosing the mindless blather that seems to be all around us, all the time. I find that these days, more and more, I just love peace and quiet!  At other times I really like loud music, so this is really odd to me. I am working in attempt to get the monkey chatter out of my brain and have been doing some experimentation with meditation recently, something I have been interested in for a long time but something to which I have not made a real commitment —well, unless you count yoga class. It’s very hard for me to make the time to do it– which is EXACTLY why I should do it– and then when I have decided I will do it, it is never easy for me.  But it sounds so great–clearing all those thoughts out of the clutter so the really good ideas and creativity can come through and make themselves known. Running also helps me with brain-clutter clearing.

 

Rosie: When I was in high school, a teacher had this quote on her door, “We too often love things, and use people, when we should love people and use things.”  It stopped me in my tracks the first time I saw it.  That quote has been on the forefront of my mind every since, and I try to apply it equally to both my acquisition of stuff and how I relate to people.  All clothing and accessories that come into the house have to be met with something that is out going.  Sometimes, I am especially good and get rid of two for the price of one, but always something has to go if something is coming in.  This year, I am trying something new with buying freezes.  For 12 separates weeks, I can’t consume, buy anything other than food, medicine, and absolutely necessary toiletries (think toilet paper).  The freezes have made me so much more intentional about what I do buy when I am not on a freeze. 

 

Amy: I am finding that finding my essence requires that I say “no” sometimes. 

 

Donna: This is such a great point. Why is saying ‘no’ to things sometimes so hard? I think I have the innate fear that I might be missing out on something somehow…

 

Janine: I’m with you, Donna! I think it becomes a ‘sickness.’ However, I’m suffering from both ends of the clutter madness. As a Libra, I am all about keeping balance, but I get incredibly distraught if anything and I mean ANYTHING is out of sort. For example, there is absolutely NO CLUTTER in my home. Everything has to have a purpose. No extra newspapers, unpaid bills or unread magazines can lay out openly. That can’t be normal, can it?  On the other hand, my closet is stuffed to capacity!! I find myself giving away clothes that I’ve never even worn—they even still have the tags on them!! Then I feel guilty!!

 

Amy: I always want to explore new things and believe that some great opportunity or experience is out there on the horizon waiting for me to find it. . . . I’m having a Dorothy moment in that my realization is that “there’s no place like home”.  I find my essence by saying yes to things that keep me centered and focused on my career (aka, activities that bring women together in positive, non-competitive ways), my family and friends, and my health.  If I make sure everything I say yes to falls in one of these categories I’m good.  When I don’t, I’m out stressed, over-committed and doing nothing well. . . in fact, I lose my essence and fall short of my potential.

 

Rosie: I finally got honest with myself about where my world of excess is—beauty and hair products!  The new rule is that I can’t buy any of those things until I am absolutely out of what I have collected over the years.  No new hair product until all of the old hair product is gone.  When you have curls as big as mine, you are convinced that there is some product out there that can change your whole reality.  After 15 years of looking, I just need to give it up and admit to myself my hair is my hair and quit buying everything that says Curl-Defining, Frizz-Fighting, Smoothing on it because I inevitably replace it with a brand new option after one use.  It’s the same thing with make-up.  For years, I wore no make up.  Now, I could give a Bobbi Brown counter a run for their money on product.  And the truth is that no matter how strongly someone suggests that I wear olive green on my lid, it’s not my essence.  We all have our thing—that product we gravitate towards and hoard.  For my sister, it is shoes (flip flops especially) and handbags.  For someone else, it might be lip glosses or earrings, cookbooks or coasters.  Whatever it might be, be honest with yourself about whether or not you need an intervention. 

And, if you do, bring in reinforcements—those people you love– as you stare all the stuff—those things that you use—down and make room for your essence.   

 

Janine: I definitely need some sort of intervention! And it’ll very likely start with me! I think like Amy that the things I allow in should be those things that represent my essence and that keep me centered and focused. I plan to continue focusing on all the really important things in life and maybe just maybe they aren’t clothes, shoes, a nice handbag, jewelry…Oh, darn!! I’m doing it again, huh?

 

Donna: Okay, I think I can safely admit that I think I am in need of an intervention on all fronts mentioned so far also. Although, I have been cleaning out my own closets lately and do try to take two big bags to Goodwill a week…

 

Amy: Oh, and I seriously need to clean my house of clutter.  It’s my 2008 resolution that I’ve got a few more months to achieve.  I’m excited and committed to it! 

Donna: Here’s another thing I am realizing I have an excess of these days…newfound GUILT over all of this stuff!  I’ve got a lot to work on here on the way to my essence.

 

What are the excesses in your life and what techniques do you find useful in managing them?

 

 

Aging Gracefully May 1, 2008

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So, I was eating my breakfast this morning while watching a little television when the often played Sally Field Boniva commercial came on.  Sally was on screen, doing her thing, when it occured to me how refreshing it was to see a woman in her sixties who was comfortable with going gray and having some wrinkle lines.  She’s absolutely lovely.  Now, I have been trying to think of other famous women who seem comfortable with their aging– because what is mirrored back to us in our media is often what we then try to emulate.  So who else is out there spreading the message to be comfortable with the changes in our body?  Jamie Lee Curtis comes to mind.  But surely the list is longer than that.  HELP! 

Rosie