It’s 2020 and there’s a lot of buzz about stand-out stories of the last decade. One of my favorites is the proposed replacement of the statue of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest with one of Country Music’s Dolly Parton. The suggestion is a piece of genius! Let’s go from the sombre debate over Forrest’s dark background as a KKK founding member to Dolly, Tennessee’s music icon who makes you want to break out into a chorus of “Rocky Top”. Who better to represent our state capital than the creator of Dollywood, beloved by the entire country?
Despite her fame, I wonder if Dolly’s name would have come up if it weren’t for the #MeToo movement. Not everyone was charmed by the movement, but it was definitely a cultural shift that changed our culture as well quite a few prominent lives. As it ripped through the internet like wild fire, women came forward with “Enough is Enough” stories of sexual harassment, assault, and misbehavior. Yes, there’s been push back and countersuits, but there are also major strides in women’s roles that go far beyond removing powerful men like Harvey Weinstein from their positions.
I recently enrolled in MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction) course at Chattanooga’s Mindfulness Center, along with several other mature women. One of the items on my mindful To Do list was to attend a wellness panel co-hosted by Chattanooga’s Jewish Federation and Hadassah, a women’s organization with decades of involvement in healthcare of Israelis and Palestinians and who’s hospital in Israel saved my own life years ago.
The panel’s focus was on self-care for a longer, healthier, and more active life for mature women. The panelists included Cady and Ed Jones, the dynamic daughter-father co-owners of Nutrition World, a wellness center providing supplements, yoga, reflexology, acupuncture, and other holistic services. Also on the panel was Nicole Berger, a physical therapist with decades of experience from pediatrics to geriatrics, and Lisa Schubert, an occupational therapist and teacher who specializes in ergonomics.
Sometime between a Sunday afternoon nap, raking leaves from my yard and watching NFL games in my “man cave” yesterday, I received the following message from my friend Troy from Houston, an emerging author. I read it several times and immediately determined that it must be shared broadly:
Yesterday my wife and I stopped at a local 7-Eleven to gas up her car. The card reader on the pump didn’t work, so I headed inside to pay for the gas. While I was inside, a white male in his mid-50’s drove up in front of the car and got my wife’s attention. She rolled her window down and this man told her that she had a dent in the back of her car. She opened the car door and was about to get out as I walked up. She told me what the guy had said about the dent. I looked at the car and said, “What dent?” He got out of his truck, came and looked at the back and said, “My eyes must have been playing tricks on me.” Got back in his truck and drove off.
Reprinted honor of Madeleine Albright turning 82-years old
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is a petite woman who can fill large university auditorium with her presence. These days, Dr. Albright teaches, lectures and writes. She frequently speaks to university audiences land enjoys telling young people that they can be anything they want to be with hard work. Her audiences listen enthusiastically and a recent crowd at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was no exception. A packed house and 2 overflow rooms with video feeds were arranged for the presentation by our 64th Secretary of State. She was the highest ranking woman in government from 1997-2001 and the first female Secretary of State.
In April, I joined the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association (CRMA) Alliance in Manufacturing Excellence (AIME) as Editor-in-Chief of the American Diversity Report. I was invited to be the official communications person by Lulu Copeland, the facilitator and committee chair of CRMA AIME. Copeland is also the founding member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) for whom I facilitated an inaugural panel years ago. My assignment at this event marking National Welding Month was to interview women in the welding profession.
Years ago, I sat on a bench with a group of women in a neighborhood park watching my toddler play in the sandbox. A young woman sitting next to me and commented on how adorable my sweetie was. No better way to get a young mother talking than that. So after trading a few more comments on my two-year old, I asked her if she lived near the park like me. Her answer startled me, “I’m officially homeless as of 8 am this morning.”
I turned and stared at her. “I called the police to tell them that my boyfriend was threatening me with a gun. They came immediately, but instead of arresting him, they told me to leave the apartment because I was agitating him.” Smiling at my confusion, she showed me a black-and-blue mark on her arm and said, “How do you think I got this?” Then she said that the police advised her she to never go back because they couldn’t guarantee her safety. “It’s my apartment, under my name, I furnished it and pay the rent! I should at least be able to get my clothes. ” I couldn’t think of anything to say as she wandered off muttering, “I need to find a shelter somewhere.”
Sadie Hawkins Day! I didn’t know anything about it. The vibrations though with which the name permeates our culture and whatever the holiday celebrates have always seemed a wee bit strange and but also lighthearted. It is celebrated on November 13th and since today is November 13th I feel oddly compelled to inform myself of the wisdom or lack of wisdom passed on by this “Holiday.” It would appear to be a very American holiday, but the Scots and my Irish ancestors might argue with that since they celebrate something comparable on February 29th called of course “Leap Year.” But that is another story!
The Sadie Hawkins Story
The American story is that Al Capp, a famous and brilliant cartoon artist of the last century,3 depicted in his daily cartoon, Lil Abner, the trials and tribulations of a hillbilly town called Dogpatch. The most powerful and the richest man in Dogpatch was named Hezekiah Hawkins who had a daughter named Sadie and at the advanced age of 35 she had not married. Sadie was also “the homeliest gal in all them hills” and her father was scared that she would spend her life at home as a spinster, a terrible and humiliating fate for any woman in Dogpatch.
Originally a professional educator from Ukraine, Fiona Citkin is among the successful women immigrants to the US. She came to America as a Fulbright Scholar studying languages and cultures. She holds 2 doctorates, speaks 3 languages, and has published several books, including the award-winning Transformational Diversity. Fiona is Managing Director of Expert MS Inc. For her latest book, How They Made It in America , she interviewed 100 immigrant women and profiled 18 of them in this book.
Editor’s note: I’m honored to be included among the 18 profiles in the book.
After over 21 years of working in an office, I finally had the opportunity to take a leap of faith to work from home. Many people have questioned me about the move, and how I am fairing. My response is simple: “It is a game changer.”
Like many Americans, I’ve spent a majority of my working life in a brick and mortar office. On a typical morning, I would take a quick shower, eat a hurried breakfast, and dash to my car in a futile attempt to beat the traffic. I have been in the law practice for 21 years, most of which were spent living and working in Washington, D.C.- a city notorious for its congestion. After a move to Baltimore, I continued to commute to D.C. for seven excruciating years.
There’s a spotlight today on the women attempting to transform longtime invisibility into success, money, and power. How’s that working for us? There’s been a disappointing 25% decrease in the number of women CEOs in the Fortune 500 in the past year. Several corporate women CEOs earn as much, and sometimes more, than their male counterparts including Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, Debra Cafaro, CEO of real estate investment trust Ventas, and Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. Unfortunately, women make up only 5% of CEOs in the Fortune 500. Astonishingly, only one Fortune 500 company has both a woman CEO and a woman chair of its Board of Directors. Just one.