coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Friday, July 21, 2017

Owl be fine.

My husband was attending a meeting that was held in a building on a nature preserve the other day.  It was about 6:30 when he left and as he walked to the parking lot he glanced over and this is what he saw staring at him.  It never got scared or flew away.  It was clearly scrutinizing him. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Turtle Musings

The blogger am recently commented on my turtle masthead. She is an artist and a women of power. When she speaks of images, I pay attention. 

This photo represents a creature with fears and anxieties, but who pokes her head out of her shell from time to time with great hope and with as much energy as she can muster. She is small and seemingly insignificant. She is slow, but she is steady. Despite being restrained by a giant, she is curious and takes a chance by coming out of her shell to see what is going on. Who knows where that small act of courage might take her? 

I came late to blogland. I started writing in 2012, when I went to help my daughter for a few weeks after the birth of her son. I blogged to share the experience with my large extended family. They probably didn't read it.

Many of the original posts have long since been deleted because they revealed too much about me. I retreated back into my shell. I let my writing slide when I went back home and returned to work.

As I prepared to retire in 2013, I started blogging again. This blog became my lifeline as I adjusted to a new and considerably less productive life. This is where I think out loud.

I hope you have noticed the other turtle on my page. She lives on the bottom. She is swimming in full glory. If the little, tentative turtle on the top of my page is where I started, then the big one at the bottom is the one I hope someday to become. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

NOW Conference: Part II

The conference consisted of 3 break-out sessions each day (with multiple possibilities each time) and then various all-conference sessions with speakers.  On Saturday, there was a PAC lunch featuring a number of terrific speakers, including some from Florida, which hosted the conference this year. The speakers included Democratic Florida Senator Bill Nelson, and two Florida congresswomen, Lois Frankel, and Val Demings.  There was also a union activist named Kim Shultz, and a spitfire older feminist named Dr. Janet Canterbury.  It was so fun to hear these political warriors speak in person.

Representative Demings (the new congresswoman from my district, and former police chief of Orlando) set the place on fire towards the end of her speech letting us know why "she won't go back."  When she was done, I felt like I had been to church.  Then the last person to speak was Eleanor Smeal, someone us older feminists will remember.

According to Wikipedia, Eleanor Smeal "is one of the major leaders of the modern-day American feminist movement. Smeal is the president and a cofounder of the Feminist Majority Foundation (founded in 1987) and has served as president of the National Organization for Women for three terms, in addition to her work as an activist, grassroots organizer, lobbyist, and political analyst."

Her most entertaining quote came when she was speaking about the amazing Women's March on Washington, the one that happened they day after the most current presidential inauguration.  She noted that there were 661 additional marches that day in the U.S. alone, and hundreds more around the world.  She said:

"We will never forget how mad we were.  But we didn't sit back, we organized."  A little later  she said something like: "...and as every knows, when we (women) get screwed, we multiply!"

But you can watch it yourself.  The incomparable Eleanor Smeal starts speaking at about the 1:30:00 mark.  Do yourself a favor and watch Val Demings, too.  She starts about 53 minutes into the video, but doesn't really get going until about half way through her speech.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

NOW or never: Part 1

As promised, I spent two days as an eager newbie participant at the 2017 NOW conference in Orlando. It did not disappoint. In fact, it raised so many issues and inspired so many revelations for me, that I will be writing about aspects of it for at least a couple posts.

I arrived 20 minutes early and sat in my car feeling foolish. Nothing strange about THAT!

At exactly 8:00 a.m., I meandered into the hotel, and found the registration desk on the mezzanine. I also found a table laden with pastry and fruit.  More importantly, I found the coffee service. Fully loaded I searched out an empty seat on the mezzanine to wait, and perhaps to schmooze. My friend, CAP, who was to meet me there, was not the uncool early bird I am. It was early and I was feeling alone and dazed brave, so I sat down with a few strangers to see what would happen.

I sat down next to someone about my age. She was a talker, which took the pressure off me. When I managed to blurt out who I was, where I was from, and why I was there, she gave me a long look and then, with squinty eyes, said "I'm not sure how I feel about those new social media groups." For a few long moments, I felt like a fraud.

Thankfully, I have a strong ego. I also know secret groups serve a purpose for women who would not otherwise be politically active. AND we meet young people where they congregate, a real problem for traditional feminist organizations where the inter-generational tension is palpable. I thought to myself "Okay, now I know certain members of the old guard are uncomfortable with the proliferation of secret Facebook groups." Forewarned is forearmed. Next time I'll have an answer!

Fully caffeinated, I moved on to the breakout session on voter registration, which started at 8:30 a.m. I didn't want to miss a minute of it.

I had such a great time.

Much more to come.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A case for volunteering

Tomorrow I go to the NOW (National Organization of Women) conference. I am going with one of the other administrators from the political Facebook group I moderate for. Hopefully, we will learn practical skills we can take back and use for our Florida group. I am looking forward to it, even though I dread going. Does that make sense?

When I first joined the group, I was heartened to discover many like-minded women (and men) who wanted to create political community in a swing state. I had felt so alone in this crazy state. I needed to feel part of something bigger, even if it was virtual. Okay, maybe especially because it was virtual.  I am quite happy to stay at home.

I became a moderator for the group's discussion page in late December, and I was overwhelmed.  Uh, I had a LOT to learn. Some of us didn't spring full grown from the head of Zeus.

I had not done political work before, and I had been retired for 3 years. I was "rusty." I was afraid of conflict and confrontation. I was afraid I would be asked to do things I was not comfortable with. I doubted myself. Most of all, I was reluctant to give up a portion of my retirement time.

Because I am a notorious hot-head, I actually quit once, but went back a few weeks later. I have learned a lot about myself while growing into this role. I am thankful for this opportunity to learn and change. I was afraid those days were over. 

If you are content living a quiet life in retirement, I am happy for you (and a bit jealous). Nothing wrong with that! But if you are floundering and/or depressed you might consider seeking a volunteer gig that interests you. Volunteering can give purpose to your life if you are feeling the lack.

It can be as simple as making one phone call a day, or doing spreadsheet work from home for an organization you believe in. Or you could volunteer to go to an animal shelter one afternoon a week to play with the cats and dogs. Whatever floats your boat. The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


I understand cynicism. Really, I do. I just don't happen to like it.  It seems...cowardly.

You know, like when there is a spirited election coming up and the two candidates have radically different approaches to solving public problems.  There is always someone who will smirk and say "All politicians stink, that's why I don't bother to vote."  When someone says that to me, what I actually hear in my head is "I don't know right from wrong, I don't want to think about the issues, so I am just going to act like nothing matters. I hope you think I'm cool"  I don't.

It is easy to be distrustful and negative. Life is simpler if you tune out the noise of the modern world. The hard part is listening to all that noise and trying to make sense of it.
The truth is, life is complicated and requires a certain amount of intellectual rigor to figure out right from wrong. Mainstream American culture encourages citizens not to think. The more passive we are, the more compliant we will be.  Don't fall for it.

This is why we are thrilled by heroes. They seem to have thought long and hard about right and wrong. They are incorruptible and keep going when the going gets tough. They take a stand. They DO things. They give us hope, and inspire us to be our best selves. Doesn't everyone want to be a hero? If not, why?

Here's a sweet little piece from an Emily Dickinson poem to help us all recharge our batteries:

We never know how high we are 

Till we are called to rise; 
And then, if we are true to plan, 
Our statures touch the skies—

Okay, I needed that. Now I am going to go plant some seeds. 

Friday, June 16, 2017


I am feeling a little overwhelmed these days, aware of all the people in my life who need to be loved. Their need is palpable. I give what I can. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Pulse of Orlando

Today is the one year anniversary of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting.  Since I live nearby, there is a lot in the media to memorialize all the people who were killed or hurt in that terrible event.  This is my favorite memorial, a photo of Angel Colon, who was shot but survived that day.  I love it when people refuse to hate. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

My sister-in-law, Jane

I just got back from a trip to Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan to see family. The reason for the trip was to attend a memorial event for T's sister, Jane. She died over the winter; however, her husband and sons wanted to wait until the warm weather to have a large barbecue/party in her honor. They live on one of the many small fishing lakes in Michigan. It was the perfect setting. The party was like having a wake without bothering with the funeral or any of the tortured nonsense that death culture usually requires. It was the perfect memorial for her, she would have loved it. Her presence was everywhere. It was lovely, as these things so often are.

Jane and T's maternal grandfather was, among other things, a funeral home director. Their house was the funeral home, and they lived on the top floor. There were usually dead bodies on the main floor in one form of death and preparation for burial. Jane and T's mother, BJ grew up like that. Sounds weird, doesn't it?  In fact, BJ had little fear of death. She passed that on to her children. 

Jane had suffered most of her adult life with Scleroderma, "or systemic sclerosis, ... a chronic connective tissue disease generally classified as one of the autoimmune rheumatic diseases."

However, she died from lung cancer.  She never smoked. Go figure.   

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Looking for change

When I was young I fancied myself an artist. After I became a mother, I lost my passion for art. Still, I always thought I would sketch and, perhaps, paint in retirement. So far, I have not.

Then I started working outside the home. I discovered I could be creative in other, non-visual ways. That was an eye opener! I made the most of those years, and I was fulfilled and satisfied in return. I loved working outside the home, and I learned so much about myself in the process.

Quilt design and hand work were my passion for a time. Unfortunately, my last job was a snake pit. I was there for the final 8 years of my work life. It was a problem solver's dream, but it was all consuming and left little energy for personal projects. When I was home I only wanted to rest and recover. I lost interest in quilting. I figured I would get back to it when I retired. Nope, not yet!

In NYS I was an absolute fiend for perennial gardening. Florida is not a perennial gardener's dream. I lowered my gardening expectations. I dabble now for color and ambiance. I am not "really" passionate about gardening in Florida. 

During the 40 years I worked outside the home I was passionate about my job. Work defined me. I am grateful for the jobs, and the people I worked with during those middle years. The role I played became who I was. I eventually lost my passion for the job, too. Then I retired. 

It was harder to retire than I anticipated. I kept thinking I was on vacation and would eventually go back to work. I came to realize this was no vacation; this was my life. Doing nothing became tedious. However, I did NOT want to go out and find a job. I needed to reinvent myself.

Now I write here. I also started contributing to a new feminist blog collective (more on that another time). I continue to moderate for
a large, political Facebook group which is part of the great political awakening of women in the U.S. since that unfortunate election. Becoming politically involved has been a game changer for me in retirement.

We moved to Florida to become a meaningful part of our grandchildren's lives. We gave up home, jobs, gardens, and friends to move to a wild swing state filled with alligators and bugs.
I find grand parenting immensely satisfying. I also find myself loving Florida. It has all been worth the sacrifices.

Reinventing myself is fun. As long as I am lucky enough to wake up each morning, I have time and plenty of it. I still imagine one day I will thread the damn sewing machine, or sketch a still life. 

Let's go out in full glory, okay?