Women – what a wonderful mix

There are no limits on the number of fabulous women in the world.  In doing the research on my book, I am coming across so many women I wish I could focus more completely on but who don’t fit the parameters in my subject area . . . women who have gone through, traumatic, tragic experiences have become great and are doing great things as a result.

It has three parts. A tragic event occurs.  The person overcomes it or moves through it.  And because of the event (s), achieves greatness and helps others in the process. The thing I am experiencing is there are so many fabulous women in this world, doing remarkable things to help others.  Many are enabled by their status in the world to help whether they be celebrities who can attach their name to bring focus on a situation, or are from privileged or “normal” families and have not experienced the trauma of the magnitude I am looking for. To those, I have much admiration and gratitude for their services.

But I am finding these women who have been subjected to tragedies that would flatten most of us and went ahead to achieve brilliance.  Normal people faced with extraordinary experiences.  Women who have started out with hard lives faced more trauma, and gave their lives to making a better world for women or humankind.  I am humbled.

I look at these women and think of my own life, wishing I could have that extra something to do the things I always wanted to accomplish and never had the where with all or courage to reach out and work toward attainment.  But I am one of the millions who strive to do their best through their days, having ups and downs but walking onward.  Having little accomplishments that build upon each other.

Reading and writing about these women energizes me, fuels me.  Each time I find a new one I am like a parched and weary traveler who has found an oasis.  I drink of their accomplishments, of the terrors they have faced, of their energy and ability to sustain where others can only marvel.

Not to take away from men, but women desperately need leaders of their own sex to spur them onward, give them hope.  There are still too few true female leaders out there for us to latch on. They have to be world-renowned.  They can be becoming.  They can be carving out that nitch that needs exposing.  We can have History books devoted to what Women have achieved – about how History has been changed or impacted by the actions of Women.  Or, dare I say it, History books that equally represent the actions of women and men.

Take, for instance, Shirley Johnson in Tallahassee, Florida.  She began being raped when she was eight years old. At ten she became pregnant. At seventeen, she was the mother of six, married in name only.  By the time she was 27, she had 9 children with two husbands.  The first husband was the church deacon who was one of those raping her, whom she was forced to marry at age eleven.  She had to drop out of school when baby number six came along.  She was shamed and ridiculed within her church, the pastor of which was one of her rapists.  Her mother publicly accused her of lying about her attackers.

At age 56, she has found her voice.  She is fighting hard to make Florida become the first state in the Union to pass a law outlawing marriage, for any reason, before the age of eighteen. She is a caregiver, something she knows well how to do.  Nothing of privilege, she is only now receiving support in her endeavors from organizations for bringing the bill forward through the legislature.  To me, she is great.

It doesn’t take much to make a stand in this world.  You need only have a voice and be willing to use it.  You can be a ripple in the pond, sending other ripples outward.  Or be the butterfly’s wings in the Sahara that creates a hurricane in the Americas.  You can be like Mairead Maguire, who stepped out of her house to join a protest passing by and became a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for her work bringing peace first to Ireland and then to other countries.

It only takes a step . . . .

Facepalm Moment

I have to share a facepalm debacle with you.  If you look through my archives you will come across “Esmeralda’s Hair”, a children’s book I wrote.

Well, I edited it into the ground, over and over again.  Granted it was much better as a result but I was getting neurotic.  It had to be perfect because I was sending it out to publishers.

I wrote a query letter, not really knowing how important it was.  I’ve since bought a book on it so I don’t have any cause for the book to be turned down.  Then I made copies of the story and sent it out.

A problem, big gulp.  I didn’t read about proper format.  The copies were all single line formatted and although the font was acceptable, I’m not sure it was one of the top three.  And I didn’t have a printer so all copies were made at the library.  Expensive to say the least.

So now I have a printer (With the price of ink, still expensive but I don’t have to leave home and it’s not $.05 or .10 a copy). I’ve waited the number of requisite months to give the publishers time to forget all about me (if they ever took me out of the slush pile, which is highly unlikely).  I’ve read more about query letters and writing in general.  I’ve researched to increase the number of additional publishers to send it to.

Now it’s time to research the publishers so each query letter is unique.  Time to make each manuscript copy look properly formatted.  Make sure the publishers are still in business and still accepting children’s books.  What am I missing?

So, in a brief period of time, I will start over again, remembering how many times Dr. Seuss was rejected before he broke through and became a superstar.  I don’t want to be a superstar.  I just want to get published, a humble enough desire, or madness, whatever.

This Old Church

My hand wraps around the banister
feeling warm wood glowing beneath the skin
climbing stairs to ancient classrooms
long stilled, the cacophony of youthful voices
echoing through rafters and down the balcony
children no longer haunt its rooms
the church’s youngest members,
from middle age and up
recall times of lessons and play
now hushed, rooms empty
since parish members were children.

The sanctuary’s seats are many
with a dividing wall 25 feet tall
to allow for overflow when needed
the organ’s pipes, overwhelmingly silent,
once rang with a sound so powerful
vibrations thumped within our chests
the organist fails to know
the music of the soul anymore

The Church was built for a time
when families faithfully attended
each Sunday, bringing children
to learn Bible rules and stories,
its storied stones and gloried stained glass
holding the congregation safe
within its all encompassing bosom

The remnant congregation,
wearing their coats against the draft
are committed, generous, active people
welcoming all who come to visit
saying prayers they will return
but times have changed
music and services need adjusting
to meet the desires of these generations
growing up outside the stone walls
without ever placing a foot within.

The Church is a wonderful place
where life can rejoice yet again
but it needs to host children,
young parents, the middle-aged
finding our way to that is the challenge
for although going to services and serving
on committees, more is still needed
so much more

My heart yearns to
sway in the arms of the Father,
raise my arms  and dance
to hear the Bible read and interpreted
giving meaning and translation
expanding the small parts within
to resonate with a defiant ring
so I can stare boldly at my Savior’s
glory and rejoice.

 

The Acts of a Christian

So what is a true Christian?
Someone who shows up at church
glad-handing those worthy to meet
standing upright in the pews
with head bowed at the proper angle?

The doer who takes on the work
of running a church
filling committees, cleaning,
lending her voice to the choir
taking children to the playroom
so mothers can enjoy service?
a practical Christian.

It’s all about the
what to do next, how to say
what needs saying without
distancing others in the process

Mortar, drywall, paint, pointing,
building a new roof and raising
the funds to do it
staffing the Thrift Shop
dedicating others to ministry

But my longing for God
transcends functionality
and I fear the more I function
the further away God feels

What became of raising my arms
to the Father
of finding a way to meet The Son
on my own terms
or on His
Believing in the Path
and how to walk its way

What became of joyful rendering,
of praising God even if
I feel uncomfortable
because it isn’t a natural process
to me yet but . . .
is something I desperately want?

In all the functionality
of being a modern, practical Christian
I miss God more than ever
and doubt Jesus even less.

So am I a true Christian any more,
a servant of God?
Or am I just a working hand
paying homage to the Building
and not the One for whom it stands?

 

Calling all readers

I am writing this as a request for all those who read my writings.  I’m writing a book on women who have gone through terrible traumas and horrific experiences yet through those experiences, and because of them, they are doing work which is, and have become, great.  There are so many women who are great but not so many who are great because of what they experienced and their work reflects those experiences.

I’m not writing about women like Hillary Clinton or Queen Elizabeth or even women like Angelina Jolie who does great work through the UN but her previous life does not reflect the causes of her work now.  I am writing about women like Malala Yousafez who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out about the need for education for girls in Pakistan and went on to win the Noble Peace Prize and extend her mission to girls throughout the world.

Or the Radium Girls, dial-painters from 1917 through the 1930’s who were exposed to radium through their work and, though many of them died as a result, fought for worker’s compensation and led to the development of OSHA.  Their stories are tragic yet they are heroines for the struggles they went through and the victories finally achieved, although many still went without compensation for their injuries and diseases.

I am gearing this book for young adults.  So many young people are very aware of the travesties of life but women are often written out of the equation.  Some women go through tremendous struggles to achieve and this is inspiring. I think young women need hope and inspiration in this world, particularly as the emphasis is so often on devastation and ruin, evil and horror.

Therefore, I am asking for input.  Should you know of women who fit these parameters, please let me know about them.  There are many.  I would like to cover as many aspects of life as I can – para-athletes, explorers, scientists, doctors, refugee activists, politicians, social activists, etc.  Some of the women will be older or from different eras but I would like to add as many current achievers as well. If you could add a note with these names as to why they fit these parameters, that would be great.  I would appreciate your help.  Thank you.