A Glorious Freedom

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Today is a special day for me. A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives by Lisa Congdon, was released today and I’m thrilled my essay, “True Roots” is included! The book is about women over the age of 40 who are thriving.

I’m over the moon to be included in this book because I feel a huge positive shift in my life as I age, AND because my essay mingles with so many of my heroes from the literary world and beyond. Cheryl Strayed, Vera Wang, Christy Turlington Burns, Debbie Millman, Dara Torres, and many others contributed to the book. And check out who wrote the opening in the introduction…

“Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life—it has given me me. It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. I have an organic life, finally, not necessarily the one people imagined for me, or tried to get me to have. I have the life I longed for. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I would be.” – Anne Lamott

Here’s an excerpt from my essay, “True Roots.”

“As I took a seat beside my colleagues at a business meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss toxic chemical reform, I could already feel my scalp tighten. The environmental scientist we were listening to began discussing low-level chemical buildup left in our bodies by personal care products. As she rattled off a list of chemicals, I was struck by a profound contradiction in my own life.  

I work for a large environmental organization. In three years, I would turn sixty. Like many women who care about their appearance, for more than twenty-five years, I had joined the ranks of the 75 percent of US women who color their hair. My personal aim for coloring was “natural-looking” hair to complement my natural lifestyle. To achieve this, I spent hours upon hours, and thousands of dollars, attempting to embody the hair color company’s slogan, “hair color unique to you.” But who was I kidding? Whatever was unique to me was buried under layers and layers of hair dye…”

I shared on Instagram a cute video that author/illustrator, Lisa Congdon created for the book. She says about A Glorious Freedom, “No matter what your age or gender, may each of you find inspiration in this book to live bravely and fully, and to use your experience as your most powerful tool in living your best life.”

Needle. Thread. Hair.

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Sheena Liam’s embroidery art is my current Instagram obsession.

Women’s Day? Bring it On.

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What’s that you say, it’s Women’s Day? The Women’s March was a mere 6+ weeks ago. How can that be?

If you follow the political news cycle like I do, the Women’s March happened in the Middle Ages. I won’t bore you with all the political nonsense that’s been eating at me in the interim, but I will share that I was invited to be part of a photo documentary book for Planned Parenthood, shot by the immensely talented, Nadine Robbins.

Nadine is a painter, designer, photographer. Her portrait paintings are beyond the beyond. So when Nadine mentioned she was shooting a Diane Arbus-y black and white photo book with a few local women who marched – and I could keep my clothes on (she paints contemporary nudes) – I jumped at the opportunity.

The book is slated to be mostly photos. So I’m not sure if any of this interview will appear in the book. Nevertheless, I persisted to answer Nadine’s questions, and here they are…

Where and why did you march?

Right after the election, my outraged colleagues and I discussed plans to march together at the Women’s March on Washington. I help run a women-led national organization that pulls me deep into the world of politics. I travel to DC often, so Washington would have been the obvious march for me to attend. But as I knitted pussy hats on the train to and from my Hudson Valley home and Washington, my parental heartstrings tugged me towards my children.

My daughter and I had been having almost daily discussions about women’s issues. We worried Planned Parenthood would take a direct hit from this new extreme right-wing administration.

I remembered a time when women fought for reproductive rights, before woman had control of their bodies, before legalized abortion. It was during the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970’s when I discovered that the personal is political.

Defunding Planned Parenthood, an organization my daughter and I had both used and supported, was personal. So I decided to march in Boston in solidarity with her, near her home, against a sexist, anti-women administration that aimed to take basic human rights away from my most cherished loves, my children.

How did the March make you feel?

At the end of the march, I felt high, like I was floating above a dark cloud. I had accomplished something that was bigger than me. I had joined millions of people sending a strong message that women are listening, we’re watching…and if our reproductive rights are taken away, we will regroup and fight.

With the constant barrage of harmful, regressive policies spewing out of this administration and those who condone it, it’s been hard to sustain the enthusiasm. While a part of me would like to crawl under the covers and wait out the nightmare, the radiance of the march still shines hopeful.

What was the best sign?

There was a young guy holding a sign that said, “Mom would have been very proud of you. Love, DAD” He was smiling, but there was a story there that I’m sure would have broken my heart.

What do you plan to do now?

Acting on conviction is our best defense. I’m writing to ensure we don’t normalize this dangerous administration. And I’m working locally and nationally to vote Trump and his cronies out of office.

My hope is that we can harness the energy of the March into launching a movement that goes beyond the current administration. Change happens when people speak out and demand it. Respecting and protecting the notion that equal rights are human rights is always worth fighting for.

Poster: Library of Congress, Women’s Graphics Collective

I’m So Tired

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Is your spirit spinning in a dusty whirlpool of disgusting news? I keep thinking I can walk my way out of it, like after the election.

But this requires marching.

Attempting to write my way out, like after the Newtown shootings, I wrote an uplifting piece that tapped into a story connecting 1967 with 2017 – about my mother, my daughter and me – united in a mission to protect women’s rights. I planned to publish that today.

But the sweetness of the moment got tossed aside by recent events.

Trying hard not to let outrage rule my life, I will organize, resist and march. Because I love this country.

But today, I am dispirited and whirling. It’s going to be a long four years, and I’m already so tired of…

Image via nataliehsc, Etsy

Knit for Women

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I never knit in pink. It’s not my “normal” color to knit with. I knit in neutrals.

I never use the word “pussy.” It’s not a word the men in my life use either.

As I move from sadness to fear to anger to action, when I’m reminded of our president-elect’s vile “locker room” language about how he treats women, it stops any kind of redemptive healing dead in its tracks.

How to overcome the demeaning foulness Trump has brought into women’s lives?

March.

But first knit.

Knit for you. Knit to connect with women. Knit for those who cannot. Knit to transform unkindness.

According to the Pussyhat Project, pink is powerful because it represents caring, compassion and love. According to me, it’s not a  “normal” color to knit with. But then again, welcoming the Trump show’s “new normal” is not what the vast majority signed up for.

The Women’s March on Washington is January 21, 2017. Knit a hat for the movement. Here’s the pattern:
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Photo: Malabrigo Yarn

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