Collections and Reflections

Collections and Reflections
Collection: the action or process of collecting someone or something
Reflection:  serious thought or consideration
On Friday night I attended Celeste Walker’s one-woman show at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.  Celeste is an actor, college educator and a subject of one of my interviews in the Beyond Sixty Project. Of course, she is much more than my brief description and she revealed herself in great detail during her one hour performance.  Colette Reloaded tells the story of a woman in her early 60’s who is examining her life experiences, the choices she has made and why she made them. It was brutally honest and left a road map clearly showing her route to the play.  Aside from being a talented writer and actor, Celeste is a complicated and deeply analytical woman who has a collection of life experiences that she is willing to share with the world.  How brave, cathartic and healing. I related very closely to some of Celeste’s experiences, many women probably would.
My “collections” seem to be on a re-run reel and are in much sharper focus these days.  I suppose it is a matter of my age combined with the fact that I have more time for reflection. Some years ago when I would re-live an experience or a choice I made, I may have become angry or sad or regretful.  I am now at the the point where those emotions have been replaced with acceptance and I can embrace each experience with minimal angst. Reflection is a good thing, a necessity for continued self-improvement.
In interviewing women over the age of sixty, I find they are all in the process of reflection and understanding of the choices they have made. I probably should have and if I had done this instead of this comes up regularly but not in a negative way. They are common phrases used to clarify the path while discussing their continuing journeys.  Each of the accomplished women I have interviewed has a couple things in common.  They have collected a wide variety of life experiences and they are able to reflect on each experience to clearly understand themselves and their place in the universe.  To top it off, they are not done!  They continue to create new experiences and are open to change with the ultimate goal of being the best version of themselves they can possibly be.  I admire them all.
Most people will think of a collection as something you can see and touch, such as art, books or beautiful objects.  While I have some of those things, and I love them, it is my vast collection of experiences that I cherish the most because they make me who I am and help me to see who I want to be.  If I had not taken all the risks I did. If I had not made each decision, positive or negative. If I had not traveled and immersed myself in other cultures. If I had not stepped outside of the prescribed boundaries given to me who would I be? What would I have to offer?
Our collection of experiences shapes us.  Our ability to reflect on those collections and change our course of action or improve in any way is very important.  Ah, such is the cycle of life.
Bravo, Celeste Walker.

Labor Day 2016

Labor Day 2016

It’s that time of year again.  The unofficial end of summer.  Yellow school bus sightings, a nip in the air at night and that one leaf you find in your tree with a hint of color. Oh, and the official kick-off of football season.  At our house it is also a time of celebration to toast to another year of marriage on September 5th and my daughter’s birthday on September 6th.  A nice time of year, heading into my favorite season.

But let’s not dismiss the history of Labor Day and why many of us in America get a day off from work.  The first Labor Day celebration was held in 1882, organized to celebrate the many labor unions and their contributions to the US economy.  It was named a federal holiday in 1884 and falls on the first Monday of every September. Except for those in service related positions, most American workers can count on this day off as a thank you for their various work contributions.

Since my project is related to women I thought it would be interesting to highlight women in the workforce. Today, women make up about 50% of the workforce, a big difference from the number of women in 1882!  Women have broken barriers and glass ceilings placing them in almost every job category once reserved for men.  Women owned businesses have increased at a rate of 2 1/2 times the national average. These remarkable accomplishments deserve to be celebrated and younger women may want to thank those women who have paved the way for them in the workplace today.  Happy Labor Day!

Some of the women breaking barriers that stand out for me are;

Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice, appointed in 1981

Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox and the first African-American woman named CEO of a Fortune 500 company, in 2014

Muriel Seibert, the first woman to hold an seat on the New York Stock Exchange, in 1967

Ann Dunwoody, the first female in the US Military to achieve a four-star officer ranking, in 2008

I recently saw a picture of my high school Board Members taken in the mid-1960’s.  All men.  I don’t think I would have been surprised then but it made me pause today.  Was there not one woman in Rutland, VT interested in sitting on the School  Board, or was it not allowed?  Makes me wonder.  Curious, I looked up the list of board members today. Nine men and four women. Not an even split but at least there is female representation.

Whether you are male or female I hope that when you read this posting you are enjoying a day off from work and that you feel recognized and appreciated for the jobs you perform each day.  If you are in a job that doesn’t allow for a day off on the first Monday of September, I hope your boss provides an alternative to recognize your hard work.