Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A New Perspective on Motherhood

I've been terrible about contributing to our tribute to women this month, and I will tell you why: I've been mothering a sick hedgehog.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I brought this little darlin'  home.  She was very sweet and quite tame (not too prickly) and we were just in love.

Then, one night our little gal sneezed all night long. Her breathing sounded wet and snuffly, and everything I saw in the literature about hedgehog care (I know, right?) said that it was probably an upper respiratory infection from the pine bedding the pet shop sold us (and swore was all right for her)  - an infection that could quickly turn to pneumonia and be fatal for our hedgehog. And the worst of it was that we just didn't know what to do for her because she was so new to us. Who knows what a hedgehog's eating and breathing and playing should look like?

I spent the next few days constantly checking to make sure she was breathing, tensing up whenever she started to sneeze, counting her kibble to see if she was eating (she wasn't) and worrying, worrying, worrying. After a few days, I couldn't stand it anymore and took her to the vet, where they gave her some medicine and told me I was on the right track and she would be fine, that it hadn't gone to her lungs and antibiotics would clear up the rest. After thinking she might die because she was so lethargic and sniffly, it was a huge relief. It was an even bigger relief when, after a couple of days of working a medicine dropper into her mouth (while she threw her head back and forth and clenched her teeth like a little kid), she finally started to eat regularly, drink normally, and (I'm sorry) poop non-green poop.
I've always had a great respect for mothers - for the work they do to keep their babies happy and healthy as often as possible, for the worrying they go through when their babies are sick or sad or in trouble. However, I'd never understood things like the relief that comes when a baby starts eating right, the concern over weird-looking stuff in the diaper, the need to just watch the baby breathe. It may sound silly, but my concern for a spiny little rodent gave me a glimpse into the lives of new mothers - women who want so badly for their child to be healthy and normal and okay. I finally understood why someone would obsess over the color or frequency of baby poop - because any sign of normalcy is a huge comfort, another sigh of relief, another night when you don't lie awake listening for any sound that might be a bad sign.

To the mothers out there: I'm certainly not saying I understand everything you've gone through now that I've mothered a hedgehog. Cute as she is, the fear that little Stickybun wouldn't recover has nothing on the feelings a mother has for her child's wellbeing. But I do understand a little better the feelings of investment that come with trying to keep something tiny and helpless alive. I both dread and look forward to the day when I will be crazy with worry for my own child.

Until then, if you want to tell me about the color of your baby's poop, I will listen.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Too many women in too many countries
speak the same language of silence.
My grandmother was always silent, always aggrieved
Only her husband had the cosmic right (or so it was said)
to speak and be heard.
They say it is different now.
(After all, I am always vocal and my grandmother
thinks I talk too much)
But sometimes I wonder.
When a woman shares her thoughts, as some women do,
graciously, it is allowed.
When a woman fights for power, as all women would like
to, quietly or loudly, it is questioned.
And yet, there must be freedom — if we are to speak
And yes, there must be power — if we are to be heard.
And when we have both (freedom and power) let us now be
We seek only to give words to those who cannot speak
(too many women in too many countries)
I seek to forget the sorrows of my grandmother's silence.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Geraldine Ferraro (1935-2011)

In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket. 
"I can look back and say that really was an important thing to have happen because, you know, people did see a woman running for national office. But I also have to say something to you: It's not only—it wasn't only the campaign. It wasn't only the election. Since then, I have to tell you the number of women who have come up to me and said to me, thank you for doing that. And I say, well, I appreciate it. And they say, well, no, no. You don't understand. Because if you hadn't done it, I would not have... And I cannot tell you the number of things they attach to the end of that word—have."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)

I feel very adventurous.

There are so many doors to be opened, and I'm not afraid to look behind them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


"My children are now all grown. Some are in their 60s. But when they call and I answer the phone, they say, “How are you?” And before I can answer, they ask, “Is Mother there?”

She has been their strength all of their lives. Since they were babies they have looked to her, and she has always responded with affection, guidance, teaching, blessing their lives in every way.

Now we have granddaughters who are mothers. They visit us, and I marvel at their patience, at their capacity to calm their children, to stop them from crying, and it seems to me to do a thousand other things.
They drive cars, they run computers, they attend the activities of their children, they cook and sew, they teach classes, and they speak in church.
I see their husbands, and I feel like saying to them: “Wake up. Carry your share of the load. Do you really appreciate your wife? Do you know how much she does? Do you ever compliment her? Do you ever say thanks to her?”
Well, you dear women, I say thanks to you. Thank you for being the kind of people you are and doing the things you do. May the blessings of heaven rest upon you. May your prayers be answered and your hopes and dreams become realities."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sakena Yacoobi

Sakena Yacoobi is the executive director of the Afghan Institute of Learning, an NGO that she founded in 1995 to help improve the lives of Afghan women. AIL operates Educational Learning Centers and health centers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and most of its employees are women. 

Just over a week ago, Dr. Yacoobi was inducted into the Enterprising Women's Hall of Fame at the ninth annual Enterprising Women of the Year Awards Celebration in Boca Raton, Florida. Dr. Terry Neese, founder of The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women and the woman who nominated Dr. Yacoobi, explained her choice: "Her organization was the first to offer human rights and leadership training to Afghan women in the 1990s. She is an inspiration to Afghan and American women. Her visionary work is an example to everyone that women can persevere through the most challenging times to help build their country and educate their people."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Anna Sewell

"There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham."

Anna Sewell is the author of the lovely Black Beauty, which so many of us adored as children. Her compassion and love of all living creatures is evident in her writing.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Gram

I've been thinking a lot lately about my family, specifically the women in my family. We are all very close, something I wouldn't change for anything in the world. I could write forever about how awesome they are and how much I love them and I could get sappy and lame, but I'm going to try to keep it together and talk about my grandmother.

Matilda, my mom's mom, has always insisted on being called Grandmother. When we all got older and started calling her "Gram," she would ignore us until we finally gave up and called her Grandmother. She's gotten better about this over the years, but I'm pretty sure it's only because she can't hear us as well.

My grandmother and grandad met when they were teenagers attending school in a one-room schoolhouse in Pennsylvania... they've been together ever since. I find that incredibly romantic. Even more romantic is how she still talks about how great my grandad is - how he used to ride his bike up a giant hill to visit her; how they used to go out for ice cream sundaes; how he got along with all of her siblings and how they spent hours playing cards. She's 87 years old and she's still smitten with her high school sweetheart.

My grandparents (on the left) on their wedding day with my grandmother's twin sister and her husband.

My grandmother taught us all how to behave properly. We learned how to set a proper place setting, which utensils to use and when, how to twirl our spaghetti on a spoon so the bites were manageable and non-slurpy. She helped teach us manners and how to treat people with respect. She taught us how to cook and how to shop (seriously, she could shop). She always took so much pride in her appearance, which hasn't necessarily rubbed off on me but I blame society for that one.

We all have amazing women in our lives, we had to learn it from somewhere. Mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, neighbors - someone out there influenced you to such an extent that you carry them with you where ever you go. All of these things that I learned from my own Grandmother are things I will be able to teach my daughters someday and that is amazing to me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Anne Frank

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

Few people inspire me more than Anne Frank. She was so young, and yet she set such a beautiful example of the best there is in human nature. In circumstances that would have tried the most enlightened adults, she was thoughtful and hopeful and utterly lovely. "It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals," she said, "because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."

*I have looked everywhere trying to find the actual origin of that first quote and I couldn't, so if anyone can tell me the source, I will gladly name my first-born child after you. It's driving me crazy. I assumed it was from her diary, but I searched the text of the diary on Google Books and it didn't come up... I'm at a loss.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Television's Greatest Women?

Today I came across a list of TV's 25 Greatest Women, and I thought it would be a fun contribution to our celebration of women this month. 

To be honest, I am not a big TV-watcher, and I have never seen most of the shows on this list. I don't really know how to approach it, since I don't know most of the characters--are these the women who contributed the most to television? Who had the biggest audiences? Whose characters exemplify all the best qualities of women? What do you think?

If you don't see some of your favorites, check out the links to the rest of the list--this top 25 is just the final installment of a top 100. Like I said, I don't know most of the characters in this list, but these I do know (and love):

Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls57. Lorelai Gilmore
'Gilmore Girls' (2000-07) | Played By: Lauren Graham
She didn't focus on the challenges of being a single teen mom, and instead made sure daughter Rory's life was filled with love, laughter, a deep appreciation and knowledge of pop culture, and the assurance that Lorelai would always be there as her mom and her fast-talkin' BFF.

Liz Lemon 30 Rock14. Liz Lemon
'30 Rock' (2006-present) | Played By: Tina Fey
She's the heroine of every bespectacled, sweats-wearing, junk-food-noshing, boy-chasing, pop-culture-loving, smart-girl nerd everywhere.

Lucy Ricardo, I Love Lucy3. Lucy Ricardo
'I Love Lucy' (1951-60) | Played By: Lucille Ball
The meddling redhead couldn't stay out of trouble, but it was only because she wouldn't let anyone, even beloved hubby Ricky or BFF Ethel, keep her in the kitchen and out of the spotlight she craved to be in.

Who would be on your list?

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Call For Posts

Hey ladies (and also gentlemen, because we know you're out there too, and some of you even know how to write),

Because we love the idea of Women's History month, we'd love it if we could get a special batch of guest posts for March. It's a time when we can honor the women who have inspired us: the teacher who helped us love a subject, the writer or artist who opened our eyes to something beautiful and true, the scientist who gave us a sense of our own potential, the suffragette who gave us a voice, the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts or friends who made us who we are today.

We want posts celebrating the women who are important to you, whether you know them personally or not, and we want to know how they've affected the person you've become or the way you see yourself. We want to hear about them even if your post is just a paragraph. If you have quotes that you feel match the spirit of the month, we'd love to be able to share those with everyone who reads the blog. (And we promise we'll be participating as well.)

Don't forget to email all guest posts to beinglovelyblog at gmail dot com.
What say you, lovelies? Are you with us?


"Our daughters' daughters will adore us and they'll sing in grateful chorus..."

(Just to get you in the spirit.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Women's History Month 2011

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Proclamation--Women's History Month, 2011

During Women's History Month, we reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women and honor their role in shaping the course of our Nation's history.  Today, women have reached heights their mothers and grandmothers might only have imagined.  Women now comprise nearly half of our workforce and the majority of students in our colleges and universities.  They scale the skies as astronauts, expand our economy as entrepreneurs and business leaders, and serve our country at the highest levels of government and our Armed Forces.  In honor of the pioneering women who came before us, and in recognition of those who will come after us, this month, we recommit to erasing the remaining inequities facing women in our day.
This year, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future.  International Women's Day is a chance to pay tribute to ordinary women throughout the world and is rooted in women's centuries-old struggle to participate in society on an equal footing with men.  This day reminds us that, while enormous progress has been made, there is still work to be done before women achieve true parity.
My Administration has elevated the rights of women and girls abroad as a critical aspect of our foreign and national security policy.  Empowering women across the globe is not simply the right thing to do, it is also smart foreign policy.  This knowledge is reflected in the National Security Strategy of the United States, which recognizes that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when their female citizens enjoy equal rights, equal voices, and equal opportunities.  Today, we are integrating a focus on women and girls in all our diplomatic efforts, and incorporating gender considerations in every aspect of our development assistance.  We are working to build the participation of women into all aspects of conflict prevention and resolution, and we are continuing to lead in combating the scourge of conflict related sexual violence, both bilaterally and at the United Nations.
In America, we must lead by example in protecting women's rights and supporting their empowerment.  Despite our progress, too many women continue to be paid less than male workers, and women are significantly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  By tapping into the potential and talents of all our citizens, we can utilize an enormous source of economic growth and prosperity.  The White House Council on Women and Girls has continued to remove obstacles to achievement by addressing the rate of violence against women, supporting female entrepreneurs, and prioritizing the economic security of women.  American families depend largely on the financial stability of women, and my Administration continues to prioritize policies that promote workplace flexibility, access to affordable, quality health care and child care, support for family caregivers, and the enforcement of equal pay laws.  I have also called on every agency in the Federal Government to be part of the solution to ending violence against women, and they have responded with unprecedented cooperation to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence and enable survivors to break the cycle of abuse.
As we reflect on the triumphs of the past, we must also look to the limitless potential that lies ahead.  To win the future, we must equip the young women of today with the knowledge, skills, and equal access to reach for the promise of tomorrow.  My Administration is making unprecedented investments in education and is working to expand opportunities for women and girls in the STEM fields critical for growth in the 21st century economy.
As we prepare to write the next chapter of women's history, let us resolve to build on the progress won by the trailblazers of the past.  We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements, and no remaining ceilings to shatter.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2011 as Women's History Month.  I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, 2011 with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women.  I also invite all Americans to visit to learn more about the generations of women who have shaped our history.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our History is Our Strength

If we were more on top of things, I think we would have liked to do something to celebrate Black History Month in February, and I wish we had. But for once I happened to think of something the night before it happens, so in March we are going to celebrate the women who have brought us to where we are today. Happy Women's History Month!