I was asked to speak to a women’s group recently, and the theme of the day was “A Women’s Day of Enlightenment”. I looked up the word enlightenment and come to find out it was a movement that started in Europe back in the 17th century. This movement promoted individualism vs. tradition. It started me thinking about the traditions in my family. My mom used to can food year round out of our two gardens, she sewed clothes for me to wear (I still remember my senior prom dress that was handmade), wrote handwritten letters, and took care of my elderly relatives until they passed. She even rented a room to a gay male couple back in the 1970’s when nobody was coming out of the closet and it wasn’t by any means socially acceptable. Man – I had a cool mom! She also hosted a group of deer hunters and bird hunters to stay in our basement, and cooked all sorts of good food for them while they were out hunting. This is where I learned to cook.
I was born in 1965 during the time of the Women’s Lib movement. That meant that women had to do all of the things they were already doing plus go to work full time. During that era too, families were moving to different towns, different states and even clear across the country for new jobs and new opportunities. The close knit family unit like we used to see on the television show “Little House on the Prarie” was no longer, and women taking care of their parents, their children, or both as well as the cooking, cleaning and laundry no longer had the support structure their mother’s or grandmother’s had.
Women became superwomen, and were trying to keep the values and traditions of how they were raised intact, yet trying to manage on their own with very little or no help. This is where I see a lot of women get stuck. Not only in everyday life, but especially in transition periods is where life gets really tough. With the ever-rising costs of daycare for new parents, the costs of legal defense during divorce, funeral costs, assisted living or nursing home care, the burden of life transitions are sometimes too stressful to bear especially with no major support system. Women get overwhelmed, stress effects their health, and houses get cluttered beyond belief because women simply shut down.
What’s the good news in all of this? There actually is quite a lot of good that comes out of our current culture if you think about it. Friends, neighbors, women’s support groups, and extended non-biological families now make up our support structure. There are professionals such as nutritionists, massage therapists, reflexologists, mental health counselors, housecleaners, and yes, even professional organizers that can help women get unstuck. By relying on new sources of support and learning to ask for help when it is needed, we can get through the tough transition times together. I really like the Beatles, and the song that applies here is “You can’t always get what you want”. Well I don’t believe that’s true. I believe we can get what we want. We can start our own movement and create the lives we want today! We first need to ask for help and be intentional about what we want to create. The movement we can create is our own. Onward and upward. We are women – hear us roar!