Posts Tagged ‘viewpoints’

As Summer Fades

I’m ready for fall. Summers are wonderful, but autumn in Ohio is hard to beat. The cicadas hum amidst their leafy homes. The air gently gathers that perfectly cool crispness. The sun starts to set a little earlier in the evening. Slowly, the trees begin to shift from their lush yellow-greens to deep autumn oranges and reds. Change sets in all around as children make their way back to school, and the lawn chairs and water toys find their place back in the attic.

This summer has brought about many changes in my life. I was laid off from my job after several years. A close family member passed away. I had the incredible opportunity to travel to the West Coast to meet one of my favorite authors and an amazing group of dear friends. My boyfriend and I moved in with his parents a few hours away to try to get our commingled butts on the right track. He began a new job. I began seeking out new opportunities with my craft hobbies. I found a new library to scour (while this wasn’t the best part of my summer, it was right up there!)

While many of these changes have already made positive impacts on my life, I still find myself longing for the comfortable changes- the familiar and simpler and natural ones that take place each year as summer fades. I’m ready for the warm colors- the burnt oranges and cranberry reds. I’m ready to go to the park and watch the leaves fall. I’m ready to pack away the tank tops and mosquito-inviting shorts. I’m ready to curl up on the couch with a bowl full of chili and a football game on the TV. I’m even ready to eat a bag full of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups all by myself on Halloween if the trick-or-treaters don’t show up.

The season of fall is, without a doubt, a season of transformation and change. As I look forward into the next few months, I am reminded that I will surely undergo the same in my own life. Though the word change causes a panicked reaction in my head, I believe I can find peace in the reliability of the natural world around me. My life is undergoing many twists and turns, but I am ready. I’m ready for fall!

-Sara

My Truth

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?  The world would split open.

-Muriel Rukeseyer

I am a feminist.

This is not something my grandmother would have said, not something my mother would ever say, and I doubt they would be pleased to hear the words from me.

And yet, it is their gift to me.

My grandmother was a young woman in West Texas during World War II.  She and her sisters put their willing hands and strong backs to the work that needed to be done, and kept the family farm afloat while their brothers were away.    She fell in love with a young soldier who was shipping out soon to Guam, and they decided, together, not to marry until the war was over and he was safely returned.  They both knew far too many young widows struggling to feed their fatherless children.

The world of my grandmother’s youth was opening a door for women.  They went to work in droves, filling positions men had left empty, in factory and field, doing what they had known they could do all along.  My grandmother stood on the threshold and took one joyous step.

It was all the world allowed her.  The war ended, the men came home, the women were sent back to the kitchens and nurseries.

The frustration of having that hope stripped away, of seeing that new world split apart like the firewood she had chopped in her brothers’ absence, thrown back into the embers of the hearth, shaped my grandmother in ways on which I can only speculate.  She never told me any of this.  I wish she had, but the Fates cut her thread before I was ready to hear and understand.

She had great hopes for her daughter.  She launched her into the world, pushed her out of the nest.  But my mother had grown up a mouse of a middle child, bookended by two boisterous brothers with overwhelming personalities.  She never seems to have found her way.  After one semester in college, she married, and though she tried to continue with school it took only the disapproval of one backwards professor, who sneered at her that women could have an education or a family, but certainly not both, to discourage her.

A delicate flower, my mother today wilts in the shadow of the prevailing opinion of the strong-willed men around her, and it is only when we are alone with my sisters that I can coax her into blooming, a tame little root-bound rose.

Our freedom is new.  It is easy to forget that, since the overt oppression seems sometimes like such ancient history.  We are the first generation to really get to spread our wings; the first grand migration following the path of a sisterhood of trailblazers.  We are the first generation of women in millennia who have grown up believing on a grand scale that we could be who we want to be, that we are not less than, that we can walk our own path.

I am a feminist.  This is the gift my mother and grandmother gave me, and it is the gift I hope to give to my nieces, my young friends, my daughters from another womb.  I am not ashamed to say it, as if it were a dirty word.  I am not going to pretend that society didn’t force my mother, my grandmother, and countless mothers before them whom I never knew, into roles that were little better than the yoke on a team of oxen.

And it is my dearest hope that one day, among that next generation, there might be even one who will have the opportunity to look at my situation from a higher plateau of freedom than I now enjoy, learn from those things I am unable or afraid to do, and spread her wings wider still.

-Janet

Kaleidoscope

            I was a sophomore in college when Kate and I had an apartment together; it was one of those classic college friendships of opposites.  Newly moved from Dallas, I laughed at Kate’s fear of crossing the street in the “big city”.  She was a stranger in a strange land.  Austin, Texas was a world away from her childhood home in rural Pennsylvania, and we had many long conversations about culture as she tried to take in the big sky, the obsession with pick-up trucks, and the giant glasses of sweet iced tea that seemed to appear at every meal.

            She swore you could read latitude just by the size of the tea glasses in the restaurants.

            We had more fundamental differences, as well.  She was struggling with identity as a child of a parent who had just ended a marriage and come out of the closet, her defenses of this newly discovered sore spot scanning every comment that I, raised by strictly religious protestants not known for their tolerance, made.  In spite of all this, we were great friends.

            One autumn day we were walking across the campus when she asked me, “Why do you always look at the ground when you walk?”

            The question startled me.  To be honest, I’d never noticed that I did this, but I instantly knew the answer.  “Because you never know what you might find on the ground.”

            Unsatisfied, she persisted.  “But you’re missing so much!”  She pointed out the birds in the trees, the group of young men playing frisbee, the world in general that she was obviously afraid was passing me by as I kept my eyes scanning the ground ahead of me.  “What do you think you’re going to find, anyway?”

            I probably would not remember this conversation with such clarity, but the universe has a sense of humor, and it chose that moment to deposit a dollar bill at my feet.  I pounced, held it up triumphantly in lieu of an answer, and we argued over it through the rest of the walk to the bus stop.

            The wonderful thing is that both of us were right.  I probably did miss many things by constantly staring at the ground, and from that day forward I made a point to look up more often.  Kate missed things as well, and not just of a monetary nature… fallen leaves, the scurry of a lizard sliding into a crack in the sidewalk, even the rainbow sheen on a puddle of oil had beauty if you looked closely enough.  

            I tell you this story as an introduction to our blog.  Among many things I learned in college was this life lesson:  We’re all different, we come from different places, we’re headed to different places, and we see the world in different ways.  I won’t pretend this was a new lesson, that no one else has stumbled upon it before or since, or that it was the last time I had to learn it. 

             But it remains important, because sharing our stories and viewpoints is one of the foundations of the human experience.  Read, remember, speak and tell, and see how we are all different and all the same.  I hope you enjoy this peek at the world through our kaleidoscope.

– Janet