Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Feeling Awesome I Can Still Inspire as a Role Model at 58~

This evening I was somewhat shocked to discover that I was a role model for a couple of women more than 20 years younger than I at aerial yoga. The women using the trapeze next to me told everybody she was watching me for guidance.  I responded that I struggle with some of the moves - such as a back flip  - because I have problems focusing on using my back muscles instead of biceps. Never-the-less, she insisted that I gave her the impetus to try new potentially scary things.

To consider that as a women of 58 I am embracing new experiences and challenges and can give some hope to younger women that they can aspire to and achieve amazing thing thrills me. It is all about facing fears, celebrating the opportunity to try new things, working with patient  & passionate instructors that focus on positivity and encouragement, and making the decision that age does no define me. 

I love hanging upside down in the silk! I love swinging, building muscle tone and strength in a new way, climbing into aerial yoga positions and developing confidence in my 58 year old self in a new way. I have abandoned fear of falling despite the arthritis developing my hands. I have learned that I have strong bones that will withstand an occasional tumble because I’ve kept my muscle tone that protects my skeletal structure. I can fall and rebound without problems. My only physical limitation - the 45 year deterioration of my right ankle resulting from that ill-fated attempt to retrieve a cooling wine bottle from a third floor balcony at Harlaxton Manor in Grantham, England in 1978. The ligaments never healed. But  I haven’t let that stop me.

Perhaps the purpose of this entry is to encourage all women of a certain age to acknowledge her strengths and to celebrate them because it can give encouragement, guidance, impetus and hope to those who will follow in our footsteps. 

We women of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s changed the world. We cut through barriers, created opportunities for women to make choices, fought the good fight, entered the professional workforce into the hallowed halls previously occupied only by men, repelled discrimination based upon sex, developed off-kilter senses of humor, did not get easily offended, worked harder, learned that work / life balance really mattered, made smart decisions, accepted that it it not possible to “have it all”, decided what we did want, spread our wings to fly in ways we never could have imagined, and continually tried new things - like aerial yoga. 

If what I do can inspire even one other women to reach for her potential, I have been a success.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

A New Reality at 58 - Embracing My First Birthday Without Mom

This is what 58 looks like!

Last Friday I celebrated my first birthday without my mother. Since it was my 58th birthday  I realize that I’ve been far more blessed than many in that I had my mother for 57 1/2 years. In the early morning hours I lay awake recalling past birthdays with Mom & Dad calling and singing slightly off key, the beautifully thoughtful cards Mom made that incorporated photos or thoughts that resonated, the cake she make for my 10th birthday decorated with astronauts and the lunar module to commemorate the 1969 landing on the moon the night before, and the last birthday gift purchased in a boutique on the walking mall in Winchester, Virginia - a metal rendering of The Tree of Life created by a Haitian artist from an old oil drum.

Fathers Day 2017
Although I experienced a few moments of melancholy bittersweet memories where I fought back tears, I’ve reconciled with my new reality and made the decision to celebrate life, embrace my  good fortune and be kind to myself. 

Celebrating our 11th Wedding Anniversary in Charleston
Earlier in the week I’d attended a management training program outside of Philadelphia and had originally planned to spend Thursday night and drive home Friday morning. But instead I opted to drive home so I could wake up in my own bed with my husband by my side and then sip morning coffee on the deck enjoying the beauty of our back yard and the peace and serenity that fills me when I watch the humming birds at the feeder, the cats chase insects, the butterflies and bees pollinating, and listening to the song of the grasshopper, katydids and cicadas. 

While I’d originally planned to take the afternoon off work my plans were thwarted by the untimely death of my company laptop as it was necessary to ensure that the replacement, which had been inconveniently delayed by a suspiciously non-specific UPS “traffic incident”, had the requisite software and security authorizations before my next trip on Monday.

Loving the wind in my hair - still driving a convertible!
Fortunately, the technology angels were with me and ensured that my week long laptop frustrations had come to a favorable resolution at just the right time - 2:30pm - so that I could enjoy my birthday indulgences: a hot stone massage with lavender aromatherapy and a peppermint scalp massage followed by a pedicure. As the therapist massaged the knots of muscles from my neck, shoulders and upper back with the sounds of soft classical music in the background and the scents of lavender and peppermint in the air, the stresses of life oozed from my pores and I felt at peace with life and the world. 

I still enjoyed the delight of my dad calling and singing Happy Birthday from his new cell phone and listening to him tell me about his trip to the amateur circus in Peru, Indiana with a neighbor - the first time he’d been to the circus since we were kids. My heart smiles when I think how he continues to embrace all that life has to offer despite his losses. 

Civil War Era Machinists Hat by Dirty Billy!
To conclude my celebration of life and indulgence, my inimitable husband decanted an over-the-top bottle of wine from RdV, prepared the broiled-not-fried crab cakes that enticed me to marry him, presented me with cheesecake from Fresh Market, and watched a couple episodes of “The Fall” on Netflix. 

Throughout the day I knew that Mom would have been proud to know she had raised me to be resilient, to appreciate experiences and the people that share our lives instead of things, and to keep on living a joyful life. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Still Struggling to Locate My Lost Muse

It has been a little more than 6 months since Mom died and I’m still struggling to locate my literary muse who has taken an extended sabbatical. While I am endeavoring to focus on my blessings, the flexibility my job offers, my good fortune of sharing my life with my inimitably understanding spousal unit, and our focus on creating an Eden from the hardscrabble rocky terrain on our ridge at the edge of the Shenandoah Valley, my interest and ability to write has been impaired. It has been so much simpler to play Candy Crush, watch Jeopardy, drink an extra two glasses of wine, or sit on the deck staring up at the night sky with lightning bugs flashing through the trees than to try to recapture my voice.

But I feel compelled to try to recapture my ability to write my blog which has provided me with a creative outlet and an opportunity to share my thoughts and opinions whether anybody ever reads what I write or not. This type of writing I find therapeutic. But I’m still trying to adapt to my new reality and continue to experience writers’ block.

The writers’ block does not extend to my professional world. My job involves a great deal of technical or legal writing that must send clear messages to internal and external customers about contract analysis or evaluation of risk that an insurer must consider when determining how to value a tort claim. This type of written communication must be clear, concise, fact based, analytical, politically sensitive and an awareness that any note, letter, email, text or missive could be scrutinized by a judge sometime in the future. 

Alternatively, my blog posts are personal reflections / opinions of where I am in my personal life, what I am thinking at a particular moment in time, how I feel about various disparate issues, what shoes styles intrigue me, which flowers make me happy, how I am dealing with aging or grief or what is on sale or whether Civil War re-enactors make an effort at authenticity or whether I envision drones delivering my wine when I retire so I don’t have to engage with the general public at Walmart or how yoga benefits me physically, mentally and spiritually. 

Then again, perhaps my excitement over the impending 7/16 return of Game of Thrones is enough to bring me out of my self imposed hibernation, reinvigorate my psyche, and give me the impetus to get back to my blog.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Failure of the US Political Class

Republicans and Democrats are decrying the inhumanity of the budget proposed by the current administration as Draconian because pet projects, redistribution of wealth from those who work to those who don’t work would be curtailed, and the increase of so called “entitlements” would be slowed. 

The definition of “entitlement” is the “belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges”. Please understand that the ONLY things that American CITIZENS are entitled to are the rights specified by the Constitution. Nobody is entitled to health care, a university education, food stamps, a job, a “safe space”, a world free of controversy, free lunch, a car, a cell phone, a house, designer clothes, soda, Cheetos, alcohol, cigarettes, welfare, the Internet, a good grade, a raise, insurance of any kind, television, a computer, payments by the government for not working, disability payments, a living wage, Medicaid, subsidized housing, a drivers’ license, cable, free passage across national borders, heat, credit, respect, or a job.

It is unconscionable to expect taxpayers to continue to subsidize unprofitable enterprises or subsidies to operations that cannot survive independently. Businesses divest themselves of divisions that are not profitable. If farmers cannot make a go of operations without subsidies, so be it. It Medicaid cannot support free healthcare for persons of a certain state that the state cannot fund, it is not to the wealthier state or citizen to fund that.

Everyday I see people with physical challenges working at companies such as Costco or Walmart, contributing to their own welfare and society. Those are the people I am willing to help. God and most Americans would gladly help those who help themselves. But we are a people of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” citizens that, for the most part, believe that people should fend for themselves. Too many people use the excuse of disability to avoid work because they don’t want to work for minimum wage. People of my generation and those that came before were taught that no work is dishonorable. Sacrifice was lauded. Making do the norm. People worked extra jobs to make ends meet. Society did not OWE anybody anything they did not earn.

Progressives preach that every human is “entitled” to basic human needs.In an idealistic society, that would be true. But we do not exist in Utopia. If society is meant to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, then society will fill the void that government does not fill.

Our republican government was not established with the expectation that the employed, motivated, educated, world focused citizenry would pay taxes to subsidize lazy, undereducated, uneducated, unmotivated, undocumented, unintelligent, disabled,  unemployed, underemployed, narrow minded, underemployed, entitlement minded people. The fact that politicians of both major political parties care far more about retaining their seats in Congress than governing with an eye towards fiscal responsibility, national security, common sense, and pragmatism means the system is broken and likely cannot be rehabilitated.

It is my greatest hope that the United States of America does not go the way of the Roman or British empires and trickle into obscurity as an abject lesson in failed governance. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Needs vs Luxuries in the 21st Century

There are reasons that affluent societies eventually fall. The people become accustomed to ease, forget the lessons of the past, lose the stomach for controversy, and believe they are entitled to luxuries. Hopefully, the America that we know and love will hit the reset button and revert to some extent to the values that created the greatest nation on earth.

There seems to be a belief among Progressives, Liberals, and apologists that every American, US legal resident or even illegal residents should be entitled to what those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s  considered  luxuries.

Those of us who fall within the Baby Boomer Generation grew up at a time that was considered an affluent post WWII America. However, the affluence that everyday American’s enjoyed during those times would be considered abject poverty by today’s standards.

My husband, my friends and I came of age during a time where the average home had one telephone ( a black Bakelite rotary dial phone that was connected by a cord to the wall and then to the telephone lines outside). Long distance calls cost extra. We didn’t make long distance calls except on special occasions such as a birthday, Christmas, or a death in the family.

My family owned two cars. My parents paid cash. They saved their money to buy a new car every few years. If they couldn’t pay cash, they didn’t buy a new car. 

My family did not have junk food. We did not drink soda except on special occasions such as my Aunt’s wedding or when we visited Grandpa Copeland, or when we split one 7 Up on Saturday afternoons when Dad popped popcorn for lunch. We drank milk, water, or Kool-aid.

We did not have potato chips, candy, steak, fresh fish, Cheetos, Fritos, pizza, fast food, or desserts regularly. Mom cooked daily and stretched the meat by using rice, macaroni, or spaghetti with hamburger. After school my siblings and I were allowed 3 cookies each. 

Our house had one television with the basic channels — far less than 13. We played cards or board games or read books or visited with friends. There were no computers or video games. We played outside until it was dark. Our exposure to TV was limited. We couldn’t afford to go to the movies very often and snuck our own home made popcorn into  the cinema.

My siblings and I wore hand-me-downs and were grateful to have them when somebody with a “cool wardrobe” shared. A new outfit was a treat. We only bought shoes on sale. Yet we never felt deprived. And the fact that our parents were thrifty allowed us to go to college and travel.

Too many people living in the USA today believe they are entitled to luxuries paid for by the taxes of those of us who have worked hard, paid our dues, studied, worked crap jobs for less than minimum wage, fought to break barriers for women and people of color, endured hardship, overcame abuse or bad marriages and survived the vagaries of life. We deserve to keep what we have EARNED! If we have achieved a certain level of income through sheer determination, it is unjust to take our earnings to redistribute to those who are able bodied but unwilling to put in the same effort. Our parents were children of the Depression and knew deprivation. They were thrifty in adulthood and passed their experiences on to us. They washed and recycled plastic bags and tin foil. 

Most of those on public assistance today live far better than many of us who came of age during the age of Camelot. That is why I have no tolerance for 21st Century “Entitlements”. It just isn’t just!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rituals of Death, Burying Mom’s Ashes & Remembering the Past

Before Mom died I never really focused on the rituals surrounding death in Western society beyond how to accurately portray mourning in the mid-19th Century as a Civil War Living Historian. While I experienced the loss of innumerable friends and family members over the years, I often grieved at a distance because of geographical distance, money, time, the passage of years separating us, thoughtlessness, not knowing what to say, or psychological inertia.

Funerals provide us with a ritual that allows us to publicly acknowledge a loved one has died, bring together the community of those who want to give love and support, to remember a life, to process the death, and give an opportunity to openly grieve. People come together to console one another and share remembrances.

Because Mom chose to be cremated and my dad didn’t want Mom to be buried in the cold, we waited until Mother’s Day to bury her ashes — approximately 4 1/2 months after the funeral. We had learned many years ago never to forget Mother’s Day; so it was appropriate to celebrate her life on this day. I was fearful the burial would serve to rip the scabs off the gaping wound in my heart and return my heartache to ground zero. But that isn’t what happened. Instead, my Dad, my brother, my sister, my husband, my parents’ neighbors of 58 years and a close family friend gathered at Mount Hope Cemetery in Logansport, Indiana to bury the urn that contained her ashes. We scattered rose petals on her grave and the beloved relatives nearby, including my baby brother Bruce, Grandpa & Grandma Conroy, Aunt Lerna and Aunt Esther. There were no tears. Dad placed the urn in the ground. I tossed a bit of earth into the hole. But we ultimately concluded that Mom wasn’t there. She wasn’t in the urn. She wasn’t in the hole. Instead she was living in our hearts and at one with the Universe. 

Over Mother’s Day weekend she gave us signs that she was in a good place. Pennies on the sidewalk or a chair; a Black Hills gold bracelet appearing on the dresser; the owner of the house next door that Mom had wanted to buy and tear down for decades coming by to offer the property for sale; and even a sign that she was looking out for the little girls who had been murdered 20 miles away in February.

The next day my husband, my sister and I went back to the cemetery to look for the graves of family members who had passed many years before — my maternal great grandparents, Aunt Kate, Uncle Mart, Uncle Al and Aunt Marguerite. That is when it struck me that the rituals of death, burial, headstones and  memorials provide us not only with solace, but also a window into the past, a reminder of those who came before. There is something peaceful and fascinating about looking at tombstones of those who walked this earth in another time, reminding us of the continuum of time, the power of the Universe, the vagaries of life, the knowledge that life is finite and to celebrate each moment we have. I am reminded to be grateful for each day. Perhaps that is the gift of the ritual. 

I love you Mom and miss you every moment of every day. But we are better for having had you in our lives and know you will be with us in our hearts as long as we live. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Landscaping Therapy~

When we purchased our home on a rocky ridge at the edge of the Shenandoah Valley in 2006 it never occurred to us that 11 years later we would still be wondering if it were possible to tame this wild land. After much trial and error we ultimately learned that to give a perennial, shrub or tree a fighting chance at survival it would be necessary for use to rent a bobcat with an auger, create holes that look as if a herd of gargantuan moles have invaded, supplement the microscopic particles of soil that have hidden amongst the shale with peat moss, organic matter, and various chemicals, invest in native plants that flip evil deer the finger, spray fungicide and deer repellant copiously, and pray.

This spring it was decided that if we want our outdoor environment to provide the lushness we envision while we can still ambulate to the back yard / deck, it was time to accelerate the plan. Over the last month we removed the rudimentary stone walkway that had become overgrown and replaced it with a professional quality flagstone path and retaining wall that caused me to think I may have been a stone mason in a prior life.

This weekend - trees and shrubs that are appropriate for the landscape, planting zone, sun exposure and infertile soil. Plaintiff is therapy for me. Creating an outdoor space that is filled with beauty as a result of our collective vision and physical labor brings a feeling of accomplishment like no other. Whenever a plant successful roots and thrives I feel such an abundance of hope and positivity and wonder at the miracles of our Universe.

Landscaping, plaintiff, gardening, digging in the soil, smelling mulch or harvesting rocks rests my brain and soul. I completely forget about the stresses of my regular job, heal, and recharge. There truly is no better therapy. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Remembrances of Easters Past

This is my first Easter since Mom passed away; and it was interesting to reflect on my memories of Easter from my childhood. In the 1960s Easter was a time of renewal, which also included new clothes — an Easter dress, an Easter hat, and a new spring coat. Mom would sew nearly identical coats and dresses for my sister and me. New clothes were not whimsical purchases. We were treated to new dresses at Easter, a birthday, the start of school and Christmas. There was no such thing as casual shopping. A new dress and coat at Easter was a treat that just happened to coincide with the need for a spring coat.

Looking at old images it is mind boggling to recall that one had to wear a hat to church! Head covering was not optional. I also remember shopping at Grants [a local 5 & Dime}  for spring hats. We laughed hysterically at some of the outrageous offerings. I remember in particular a white knit hat shaped with cardboard that had multitudes of black beads hanging l like icicles in rows surrounding the pillbox. 

Mom continued to tradition of hunt for Easter eggs and filling our baskets with chocolate eggs,Peeps, jelly beans and plastic eggs filled with dimes until we were in our 20’s — because it was fun. Then we would gather for the traditional Easter meal of baked ham, blueberry muffins, green bean casserole, and (bleh) candied sweet potatoes (which I was not forced to eat for reasons best left unsaid). 

When I awakened Easter morn this year knowing Mom was no longer available to call to reminisce about those fond memories of childhood, I asked her to send me a sign that there was a heaven, that she was okay, that she could still hear me, that I wasn’t alone. The rest of the day the same thought kept repeating in my mind “ This is the day the lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad”. 

I can state with absolute certainty that outside the confines of a Catholic church that phrase never entered my mind. And yet, all day yesterday the thought cycles through my brain. I knew it was Mom telling me that she was okay, that there was a heaven, and that I needed to celebrate life every day and embrace whatever the Universe offers. I have today. I must celebrate each day with joy and gratitude for having the good fortune to wake up, hop out of bed, get dressed and greet with open arms and an open mind what opportunity is available. 

While the phrase did not resonate with me previously, I now understand what this means: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. 

Thank you, Mom.  I miss you!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wishing for Harmony & Collaboration in the Political Process

The political environment in the USA is so challenging that it is difficult to consider any concept of collaboration or focus on what is truly appropriate for the majority of the American people. The polarization of the political ideology is frustrating. If Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil could find a meeting of the minds, why have those elected to office after this generation been so obstinate?

We are a people of individualism, oriented towards freedom, filled with compassion, focused on the underdog, but intent on exploiting out “can do” attitudes to elevate ourselves to success. We as a people do not promote or condone passivity, seeking handouts or a government nanny state. Only those who seek to profit from the hard work, endeavors or toils of others truly look to the government to give hand-outs. 

The founders of our republic believed did not foresee our abrogating independence to ensure domestic safety. Those who sought “liberty or death” did not believe that giving up rights in exchange for the perception of safety or a safety net was of value. Liberty, freedom, independence, free thought, the right to exist without undue taxation, the belief that people should have certain rights that should not be curtailed by an oppressive institution, are the foundations of our Constitution.

The federal government was envisioned as a system of checks and balances that did not favor one viewpoint exclusively. The Senate provided equal representation for each state; the House of Representatives provided representation based upon population. The Supreme Court is meant to keep Congress or the executive branch from abusing powers. But modern political process fueled by lobbyists, special interests, political polarization, pandering to voters, and the attempt to grab a few media soundbites has compromised the process. I am disgusted.

Essentially, the political parties have devolved into liberals who advocate for socialism that has failed in every environment in which the experiment has been tried vs. conservatives that want to foist their own skewed view of morality on the populace while funding pet projects and talking out both sides of their mouths regarding “entitlements”. 

The country is essentially 50% liberal and 50% conservative. Most folks believe in a strong military, continuing social security and Medicare since those who have actually worked pay into the system. Religion and morality cannot be legislated and should remain outside the purview of Congress. Those cities or counties that flout the federal government by offering sanctuary to illegal residents should lose funding. If I ignore the law, there will be repercussions. Municipalities do not have a right to my tax dollars funding their programs. Frankly, the federal government should not subsidize any municipalities. States, counties, cities, towns, townships, boroughs, etc. should pay their own way.

The entire process if fatiguing. The arguing is mind-numbing. I’ve lost respect for the entire political process. Neither political party represents my interests. I am disgusted.

Monday, March 27, 2017

My Ideal Guest List for a Gathering of Women in History

In my efforts to become reacquainted with my literary muse I began to consider who I would love to invite if I could be granted a wish to host a gathering of fascinating women in history. My invitation list would, of course, be eclectic and not necessarily follow typical methodology. Instead, my retreat would include women I would love to chat up or invite for a cocktail if the Universe would allow. No weapons, poison, excessively lengthy scarves, vitriol, plotting or political intrigue allowed for the event.

Eleanor of Aquitaine                                            
Empress Matilda / Maude                                  
Matilda of Flanders
Isabella of France                                         
Elizabeth I of England                             
Lucretia Borgia
Catherine the Great                                     
Queen Victoria                                     
Martha Washington
Alice Roosevelt Longworth                                  
Princess Grace of Monaco                                    
Queen Isabella of Castile 

Catherine of Aragon         
Kitty Wilson Evans                 
Catherine de Medici  
Catherine of Valois          
Joan of Navarre                
Elizabeth Woodville                 
Harriet Tubman  
Harriet Beecher Stowe          
Abigail Adams
Marian Anderson  
Sally Ride  
Amelia Earhart
Rosa Parks  
Florence Nightingale  
Coco Chanel
Gertrude Ederle  
Pearl Buck  
Margaret Thatcher
Tz’u Hsi          
Matilda of Canossa  
Katherine Swynford
Marie Curie   
Caroline Herschel
Christine de Pizan
Jane Austen
Livia Drusilla  
Cecily Neville  
Maria Teresa of Austria 
Sojourner Truth  
Maria Tallchief
Isadora Duncan  
Indira Ghandi  
Golda Meir
Julia Child  
Mary Chestnut  
Rose Greenhow
Mata Hari  
Margaret Fuller  
Helen Thomas
Louisa May Alcott  
Erma Bombeck  
Isak Dinesen
Antonia Fraser  
P.D. James  
Anne Rice
Edith Wharton  
Mary Pickford
Varina Davis
Shirley Chisholm  
Ayn Rand  
Nancy Hart

Admittedly, this is a disparate collection of personages that makes up my dream gathering of female icons that include authors, rulers, traitors, diarists, trail blazers, scientists, artists, activists, and women who were fascinating by virtue of birth / place / time / marriage / political pawn / or other inadvertent relationship. 
Who would you include for the conclave? Please offer suggestions. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Trying to Let Go of What I Can’t Control

A month after Mom’s funeral I emerged from the fog and gently began to live in my new world without her. It has now been 2 1/2 months. Some days are good. I laugh and days go by without my shedding tears. Then there are days that I want to crawl in a hole, cover my head, and cry.

Plunging back into my regular routine of yoga, wine tasting, and trips for work in which I spend time with other people who have experienced loss and survived has helped. But last week I had several days where I allowed my enhanced sensitivity to overwhelm me, which resulted in the long dormant recurrence of TMJ on my right side, which made it nearly impossible to open my mouth or chew. Of course it could not have come at a more inopportune time at work. 

My dad had been fragile for a couple of days but was preparing to take the cruise that he’d planned to take with my mother to celebrate his 85th birthday. At the last possible moment his traveling companion failed to show without any advance notice. Daddy decided to board the ship and enjoy the cruise anyway. I was livid that somebody would exhibit just disrespect, lack of commitment and unfathomable rudeness and allowed my resentment to ferment, boil, and infect me. 

I tried meditation and my usual process of releasing resentments. However, it was not until I looked at my Louise Hay calendar yesterday and saw the positive thought for the day that I felt a release. I was reminded of the tools I’ve learned through my years in Al Anon, my yoga practice, and journaling.

“I am not responsible for other people. We are all under the law of our own consciousness.”

Wow! That completely changed my mood and my attitude and helped me to let go.  I have no control over the actions of other people. But I do have control over my own reactions to other people and situations. If my dad had the bravery, sense of adventure, wherewithal and commitment to living his life to the fullest to embark on the cruise alone, perhaps that is what was meant to be. It may be the right path to healing for him. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Clothes Do Matter ~ Dressing for the Job You Want

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. ~ Mark Twain

During and following the 2016 US Presidential Election people have expressed anger, frustration, surprise, shock and disdain that much of the electorate in part judged Hillary Clinton’s suitability for office based upon her much maligned wardrobe. Her ardent supporters argued that clothes don’t matter; she should be judged instead upon her views, her passion, the fact that she is a woman and her years of experienced in government.

For me Ms. Clinton’s wardrobe misfires contributed only a scintilla of the basis for my inability to support her candidacy. However, for many people her lack of sartorial elegance, focus on tailoring, or her just plain flawed sense of fashion stated boldly, “I do not care how I look; I do not really want to be president; fashion is inconsequential; respect me for my mind and excuse my wardrobe.”

But that is not how we as humans react or respond. An individual only has a few seconds to send an initial impression; and if it is negative, it takes enormous effort to change that first impression. It is for this reason that image consultants thrive in modern society. It is also why John T. Molloy became a best selling author with his Dress for Success books in 1975 and 1977. Molloy offered men and women scientific research to support the theory that clothes matter. He positioned that one should dress like he/she already had the job.

A potential employer will judge an applicant’s likelihood of fitting into a company’s culture based upon the job-seeker’s clothing choices, hairstyle, grooming, shoes, visible piercings or tattoos, facial hair, or appropriateness for the occasion.

Rightly or wrongly, people judge us on how we present ourselves to the world. Some argue that men are not judged as harshly as are women. That is to some degree true; however, Ronald Reagan was judged negatively for wearing brown suits when it is believed that only dark blue or gray exude power and gravitas. Barak Obama created an uproar when he wore dad jeans. 

Because men in the business and political worlds rely upon classic suits to look professional it is simpler to project the image one expects of a leader. However, there are landmines to avoid such as a European cut or a double-breasted jacket. Women have more leeway in presenting a professional image; however, it remains the fact that it is safest to wear a well tailored traditionally styled navy, gray, or black suit. This look represents power, intelligence, confidence, and success.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Theodore Roosevelt on Becoming American

“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language here and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house; and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people; Theodore Roosevelt  1907

Theodore Roosevelt, arguably one of our greatest if not the greatest president, made the following statement which is as critical to the continued health and vitality of our republic today as it was in 1907. 

The USA functions best as a melting pot in which all who come here to live, seek sanctuary and become members of our society assimilate. That means adopting our culture, learning our language, heeding our laws, contributing to the support of our government, paying taxes rather than accepting subsidies or seeking special exemptions or treatment, finding a job, and accepting our views of freedom, capitalism, education, polytheism, political system, and that we as Americans have no duty to change or adapt to the immigrant just because the views of the newcomers are different.

Our schools should not be required to offer classes in any language but English. With total immersion a child will learn our language. Providing bilingual studies inhibits assimilation. 

My parents became the adopted grandparents of Vietnamese child who came to their small town in Indiana at the age of 6 or 7 and  had nobody for “grandparents day” at school. They tutored him. He learned English through immersion, graduated from school with excellent grades, joined the US Military, assimilated and found an excellent job.  I am proud to consider Henry as a nephew and family member. Henry is part of our glorious melting pot. This is what is should mean to become American.

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