Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month

To all the women out there, this is your month.  The 2018 theme, Nevertheless She Persisted, could not be more appropriate.

I am sure you’ve heard the phrase, especially if you are connected to social media.   It came to life during Mr. Sessions’ confirmation hearing for Attorney General in early 2017. If you watched it on TV or saw a replay you will remember that Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, was protesting Sessions’ confirmation and reading a letter that Coretta Scott King had written in 1986.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, used the phrase nevertheless she persisted  after attempting to silence Warren during her reading.  Within moments feminists latched onto the phrase, flooding social media with the hashtag. I get it.  No one wants to be silenced when they have something important to say. No matter how you feel about the chain of events leading to this phrase, it sure became a loud battle cry.

The 2018 Women’s History theme of persistence celebrates all women who are fighting all forms of discrimination against women. Whether fighting for equal pay or against sexism in all its forms we need women and men who persist.  Persistence is what helps to create change.

It is always good to be reminded that women did not get the right to vote in the United States until 1920. It took more than 70 years of persistence for that to finally happen.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone were persistent women.  Thank God for them and all the persistent women who came after them.  Whenever I stop to think that it is possible I could have lived in a country where I was not allowed to vote because it was assumed that I as a woman was not concerned with politics or because my husband would represent me, I shudder.   I thank each and every persistent woman who spoke up, went to jail and filed lawsuits that would benefit me and all my sisters.

Today, we continue to be persistent about things like equal pay and sex or gender discrimination in the workplace. It is hard to believe that in 2018 these still exist. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it a requirement that pay scales be the same for identical work. Fast forward to 2015.  Women only earned 83% of what men earned in the same job.  Some more persistence is needed here wouldn’t you say?

Then along came the #MeToo movement in 2017. The magnitude of widespread sexual assault and harrassment, especially in the workplace, was brought to the forefront where it has always belonged.  Women from all walks of life are now feeling empowered to recount their stories.  I have my own #MeToo stories and almost every woman I know has one or more. I believe the intent of this movement was to shed some light on the magnitude of the problem.  While that worked thanks to social media I am conflicted with the end result.  Is it that we have to show one million examples before it is acknowleged as a problem?  Our culture has allowed this to go on since the beginning of time.  I am not sure that the sharing of these stories of Facebook and Twitter will change that culture.

Let’s be persistent in our conversations with men in power, our brothers, our husbands, our sons, our grandsons and our male friends.  They have to be included in our discussions about equal pay, equal rights and how we want to be respected personally.  I feel very fortunate that I have men around me who value women as their equal and support their need for persistence in having these important discussions.

Women have come such a long way from 1920 when first allowed to vote. We are doctors, lawyers, scientists, astronauts, and CEO’s. Think about what it has taken women to reach these milestones. It is a remarkable showing of strength, determination, resilience and persistence.

My life is easier thanks to all of the women who came before me. I hope that I have been able to do my part in ensuring the generations behind me have it even easier.  I hope in the remainder of my lifetime I see a shift that finally brings wage equity. I pray the sexual harassment culture that has been accepted for so long is toppled.

Happy Women’s History month to all of you strong, beautiful women. I am grateful to be a part of the tribe.

Peace and Love,

Melissa

 

 

 

 

And Just Like That, 2017 Turned Into 2018

And Just Like That, 2017 Turned Into 2018

Have you noticed that each year seems to go by faster?  Apparently there are scientific explanations as to why it feels that way.  One explanation is based on our experiences and how often we repeat them.  Think back to when you were a kid and list all the “firsts” you experienced.  First time you rode a bike.  First time you drove a car.  First time you flew on a plane.  Like many experiences in life, they are repeated.  Again and again.   The psychologists say all our firsts are so exciting that we make incredibly vivid and lasting memories of each.  As the years go on, and we repeat each experience over and over, they don’t make the same impression they did when we were younger.  Everything becomes a fleeting and fast series of every day motions.  Maybe some of this relates to how 2018 showed up so abruptly.

Here it is and I am reflecting a little on 2017, as most people do.  My second year retired from Genex.  My second year as a filmmaker.

I don’t miss my old job anymore but  I do miss some of the people and have done my best to stay in touch with them. So far it’s working and I like to imagine they will always be a part of my life.

I love my new “job.”  I am getting better at it.  I have made a few mistakes along the way and have enjoyed learning to correct them.  My film is now in the rough cut stages, very rough cut!  I screened it with people in or related to the film world recently and received very positive and crucial feedback.  It was nerve-racking watching them watch what we had cobbled together.  I wanted them to like it but I also wanted someone to talk honestly with me about the rough spots, and they did.  What a great group of individuals.

Now we are working on those rough spots for the second rough cut. Hopefully soon we will be ready to find some comfort in a final cut and begin to plan for final processes including color correction, sound correction and music scoring.  I try not to think too far ahead regarding distribution but those discussions are looming.  I am staying focused right now on completion and shushing the little voices in my head screaming, “who is going to buy this??”  I am not sure where it will end up but it has been a true labor of love and a learning experience I never thought I would experience.

I think about next film opportunities often.  I have a couple of ideas and I think they are good ones.  I have met and talked with a number of experienced film directors from around the country and have learned so much from them.  I wouldn’t mind tagging along with a couple of them as they make their films,  Each person has a different approach and seeing that in action is how I learn best.  I will let you know how all that pans out.

So here I am in January of 2018 reflecting.  2017 was a good year.  Aside from a pesky case of chronic Lyme Disease I am ok.  My family is healthy.  My grandsons, almost 13, 9 and 7 are active and funny and I am so lucky to live near them.  John and I went to Venice and the Austrian Alps this summer which was amazing.  Then I topped off my birthday week seeing the total eclipse of the sun in Ravenna, Nebraska.  Whoever thinks that is a non-event, not worth traveling for, hasn’t done it.  It was John’s dream and I tagged along and was blown away by the experience.  I will do that again if I can!

My partnership with Expressway Productions in Philadelphia is strong.  We had a good year together.  We are both feeling positive about the film and excited to make it to the finish line.  We ended the year at Expressway’s 7th annual holiday party.  The theme was The Magnificent Seven (Western).  John and I are now proud owners of some pretty cool western gear.  If we go to Shyamaween later this year you will be able to pick us out in  the crowd pretty easily.

The Philadelphia Inquirer did an interview and gave the film some press.  Thank you PI!

Outside of my personal sphere it has been a pretty troublesome year.  Disturbing politics, fake news, #MeToo, fires, earthquakes and hurricanes have taken their toll.

At this writing, over 100 days since the hurricane, about a third of the population in Puerto Rico is still without power.  Try to imagine that.  I know of people who lost property in the CA fires.  I know of people who lost their homes and cars in Houston.   When I hear people complaining about the weather being too cold or the inconvenience of a snowy day or week all I can think about is how lucky we are to be where we are and to recognize that inconvenience is nothing compared to what so many people are going through.

So long 2017.  You were hard on a lot of people.  I hope that 2018 will be a kinder and more gentle year for everyone.  I wish you good health and lots of laughter as we make our way through 2018.

Thank you for sticking with me and The Beyond Sixty Project.  It means a whole lot to me.

Peace and Love,

Melissa

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International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

On March 8th the world celebrated women, commemorating the movement for women’s rights.  The United Nations celebrates women with a theme.  This year the UN theme is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.” A message from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that women’s rights today are being “reduced, restricted and reversed.”  As the economic gender gap continues to widen, Guterres calls for change by “empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.”  The sixty-first meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women began today and will run through March 24th at the United Nations.

Outside of the UN, the theme heard for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Be Bold for Change.”

I am sure you read about or maybe even participated in “A Day Without A Woman” last week.  Many of the women who participated were part of the Women’s March on January 21st, the day after President Trump’s inauguration.

Not just here in the U.S. but throughout the world women took to the streets to stand in unison on International Women’s Day.  They all have one thing in common and that is a sense of urgency surrounding women’s issues and rights.  Each country surely has its unique set of circumstances but there is commonality among all the women when it comes to equity and the human rights of women.

The day is also designed to encourage reflection on the progress women have made throughout the years .  It is important to have knowledge about the history of the women’s movement.  If you have a clear understanding of the history of women’s struggles for equality then you can better understand the uncertainty and fear that many women have today.

I have actually heard women say that a protest for equality is ridiculous. I heard that exact remark while sitting in a restaurant recently.  Two women were sitting at the next table next to me. They were about my age. They looked fairly well to do.  I made the assumption they were educated.  So what was it that was making them react negatively to the recent organized protests?  I did not lean over, introduce myself and ask. Instead I remained in my seat with my salad and I am not totally ashamed to say I continued to listen to them.

The dominant one did most of the talking and in a voice that made it easy for me and other patrons to hear.  The thrust of her conversation was around abortion and the need to abolish it. I think her friend may have disagreed a little but was overshadowed and only made a few protest noises while trying to change the subject.   The subject eventually changed to equal pay and the less dominate woman became more animated and offered her opinion as to why women should not necessarily get paid the same as men for the same job.  Her reasoning did not make sense to me but I tried to see it from her perspective and just appreciate our difference of opinions.

There is so much more to it than just the discussions surrounding abortion rights or equal pay.  I sometimes think people tend to compartmentalize one issue that resonates with them without fully vetting the wholeness of the situation.  Maybe it is human nature to do it that way, I don’t know.  That said, to all the women of the world, my wish for you is that you live in peace and be valued every day for all that you offer.

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”- Audre Lorde

 

Off the bookshelf:

The Women’s Liberation Movement in America, by Kathleen Berkeley

Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof

When She Woke, by Hillary Jordan

We Should All be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A Call to Action, by Jimmy Carter

A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to be a Woman, by Lisa Shannon

 

Peace and Love,

Melissa

 

 

 

 

 

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.