Full disclosure: on Saturday, I did not march in the biggest women’s march of my lifetime (so far). I was at home recovering from a very long bout of the flu. Still, I sent my energy out to the marchers as I excitedly watched CNN covering the speakers at the Women’s March in Washington. They sent energy back and it moved me. Gotta say, I got high from all the signs! I rocked to the beat of Ashley Judd’s recitation of the poem “Nasty Woman”, cheered out loud for Madonna when she dropped the “F-bomb” twice, and listened actively and intensely for the wisdom in the words of my hero, feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
This moment in herstory, when hundreds of thousands showed up out of concern for the future and were joined by others at home like me, is the beginning of something. To take it forward, Michael Moore’s encouragement to everyone is to run for office and to phone their senator. That idea dovetails with the email I received from Why I March entitled “10 Actions for the first 100 days” which suggests that we each write a postcard to our senator (or in Canada our MP), make them our own, and share them with the world by posting them to social media. Certainly, crafting a unique postcard to send to government expressing my position appeals to me as a midlife woman and a creative person.
And, my midlife wisdom tells me that my first step is to Pause to find clarity about what I want next. Although composed well before the women’s march, this passage, written by Leigh in our upcoming book Just Push Play on Midlife , describes this moment so beautifully:
The Pause is what Crystal and I call those moments in our lives that push us to
really examine what’s next. Markers that by Midlife, ask us to be honest about
what we need, and what we want moving forward. Divorce, deaths, dramatic big
shifts at any time in your life, can bring on a Pause, but sometimes, it just
happens almost out of the blue. Some of you may be feeling it now,
as you choose this book to read, knowing
some wish is stirring inside you, causing uneasiness, as that deep desire, that
big idea, that craving, is forced to sit quietly, waiting and watching. A
Pause that happens in Midlife, has a profound chord structure. It’s a sound that
almost always includes notes of change.
Important questions, often from seeds as younger women we were
uncomfortable with, now need exploring. Questions we left unanswered perhaps
because we had difficulties vocalizing them. Midlife is as good a time as any, to
find your voice. This moment in our life forces us, no really demands us, to ask “What’s next?”
and at our age and time , “Is that all?”, and my favorite, “Why not me?”
When I see my generation and others joining in right action for women’s rights as human rights, my heart sings the very chord that Leigh describes, and poses the question, “What’s next?”. Today and each day I will Pause to playfully invite in the many wishes, cravings and big ideas that are awaiting this playdate. I will create and send that postcard and post it here. From its content, I expect that other actions will grow. Watch for it.
Perhaps you will try your own PAUSE and see where it leads you. I believe that when we are honest with ourselves, go inside and take our guidance from a deep knowing within the truth of our bodies, our power differs and is marked by compassion and connection, promise and process. Having begun the process with the Pause, we then may proceed with connection and love, rather than from command or demand. Let’s keep sharing that energy and keep moving in the right direction to that profound tune of change.
It started with five words Teresa typed on her Facebook Page.
“I think we should March”, posted the midlife woman from Hawaii, before going to bed. Spawned by dismay and shock on the night of the US election, that rise to protest, today became a full -blown world movement.
Hundreds of thousands, of very ordinary women, of all ages and colors, and from all walks of life, congregated today for the Women’s March on Washington, protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump. Some men joined in with their daughters in strollers or baby carriers, but the mood was definitely feminist and female.
“We March for our daughters, granddaughters, our sisters and all people who want a fair, just and inclusive world”,
said a woman who had woke in the early morning darkness to ride a bus for six hours to get to Washington.
With 657 sister marches in the States, and hundreds more around the world, in places like Vancouver, where I live, to Mexico City and Yangon Myanmar, over a million people around the globe, showed their concern to the this new US President and his policies. Today, indeed, was a day for the history books.
This is the upside, to a downside situation, said Hollywood actress Diane Keaton, addressing the Washington throng, that was so big at the start of the March, organizers had trouble physically funneling that many bodies down the city streets.
As the day wore on the crowd, in a sea of pink hatted protestors ,chanted and waved creative signs like a picture of the Statue of Liberty with a ripped crotch, or “A woman’s place is in the house, The White House”, or “Big Ovaries trump small hands”
What began as an anti Trump protest, really broadened to include protecting reproductive rights, freedom of race and religion, and inclusion of minority groups, LGBT, and protecting immigrants who face new persecution in America. In whirling snow in Wisconsin or under waving palms in Mexico City, women spoke in solidarity for inclusion, saying this is what democracy looks like.
United, they stand for a world that respects all people,
Staying home wasn’t an option, and in Canada where I live, thousands of women could be silent no longer.
The greatest feeling, personally, was knowing there are so many other women who have been feeling as concerned as I have, as I listen, quite terrified, to the new tone of white male power that Trump is tweeting.
From foreign policies to environmental concerns, the list grows long, with women’s rights, tugging the hardest at my heart.
I know full well the struggle my mother had, never paid an equal wage for equal work, or having to quit her job, when her belly betrayed her, with my growing size.
My generation reaped the benefits of the feminist movement that were burning bras when I was playing with my anatomically incorrect Barbie doll.
Yet I also know first hand, how fragile these hard fought rights, are. How ceilings are still made of glass and how ageism, now in my 60’s, is the next frontier for women to truly be considered equal.
What we won, can easily can be trampled, even erased.
My daughter, who is just becoming a young women herself, woke me this morning, from her college, far from home, and three hours ahead, to excitedly send me a video of the early crowds of women congregating in Washington.
This evening, she texted ” I feel energized”
” Millennials, she explains, are thrilled to finally have a chance to act like our older sisters of past generations. In our world of non tangible acts ( that she explains is social media) it made a huge impact seeing thousands of women in the street, marching”.
The physical act of marching in solidarity, is unifying, in this world of disassociation with each other. I get that.
She also was raised to believe in all earnest that her body is her body and only her body. “The thought that someone else ( let alone a white man in a position of power) could do otherwise is very frightening”, she wrote.
Millennials also like what they term as the “intersectionality” of this growing movement.
White women holding signs for Black Lives.
Gay Rainbows in one corner of a sign, No human being is illegal underneath.
They are taking up each other’s cause, and becoming much more than a suffragette redo in the process.
We will need a unity, of epic proportions, if we are to put this Genie back into his bottle.
The election of Donald Trump was achieved by a huge number of voters who kept their support a dirty dark secret.
They told pollsters, Black and Muslim colleagues, Mexican neighbours, their gay and bisexual customers, their wives, sisters, and children they did not agree with the divisive hatred rhetoric of Trump.
But they do. Like the perverts who troll the internet under the cloak of anonymity, they voted for Trump once alone in the darkened ballot box.
They voted for their sick desire to turn the clock back to when white red neck polluting and plundering ignorant bigoted men with their dotting scared wives who dared not speak their mind- ruled and ran America.
If this wasn’t selfish enough, they have put the entire planet at risk.
The world is waking to a much different America, but also a much more vulnerable world.
The history books will note this pendulum swing.
I’m deeply saddened and highly troubled.
Moving forward will take immense courage
from us all. Goodness doesn’t always prevail as we see today. Yet we must remember if we are to keep our faith in humanity, that it does, ultimately, win.
I am repurposing for myself, and you can do it too, yet another festivity originating in Mexico. Day of the Dead, also known as All Souls Day, is celebrated on November 2 (unless it is a Sunday). It’s a day to celebrate the dead in light-hearted, good-spirited ways, including by lighting candles and incense, and placing special items on a Day of the Dead alter, such as fresh flowers, favourite foods and fruit, sugar skulls, photos and other mementos of the dead. Another sort of offering is to tell a touching or humorous story about the dead. Leigh and I have done lots of that in Just Push Play On Midlife. By including stories about parents and grandparents, we are keeping our family histories alive. Today, I will tell my son a funny story about his great grandpa, who lives on in both of us. Problem is, there are so many of those stories, it’s difficult to choose one. I hope you also have the good fortune to have many stories from which to choose. Feliz Dia de Los Muertos!
In Mexico on November 1, sweets and toys adorn alters in many homes to honour the souls of lost children. In our book, we write about the importance of revitalizing or creating rituals to mark the passages of our long and varied lives.
Today, I will create an alter to my child lost to ectopic pregnancy over 22 years ago. I spent the last 21 years raising my child’s younger brother. Recently, with parenting the latter almost done, I began to feel pangs of loneliness for my first baby. Gone and not forgotten, that child and I can have our special time today.
I know Leigh and I are not alone in having lost our long-planned for, very wanted and much loved first children. Although the statistics vary, it looks like at least 15 % of pregnancies are lost. We needn’t be silent about them or ignore their ongoing role in our lives. Our midlife rituals and conversations may even celebrate them and our experience of them, just as we celebrate others we have lost.
- an unfilled space or interval; a gap.
“the journal has filled a lacuna in Middle Eastern studies”
- a missing portion in a book or manuscript.
Pause is also a synonym for Lacuna, a cool noun which means an empty space or a hole, where something should be. It’s used a lot when we talk about missing parts of books or manuscripts that have been lost, or had parts removed by censors.
What now, in Midlife, is your lacuna or unfilled space? What empty gaps are there that need words to tell the story, or laughter to fill the hole? What is missing, and yet, used to be part of your life story? These empty spaces, will become your portal for discovery.