The Woman in Your Life

Stone Woman

Photo by Mev Miller © 2013 – Inlay at Rock of Cashel, Ireland

I’ve been binge watching “The Crown” on Netflix. THE Queen experiences a complex dilemma for any woman – to prioritize decisions and situations connected to her self, or spouse, or family, or duty as a monarch. And not to mention head of Church of England as well! In her story, monarchy wins. Always. Seemingly untenable in many situations. Watching Elizabeth (as portrayed in this drama) navigate this terrain is excruciating. It’s like watching a piece of her self atrophy at every turn – her humanity compromised time after time.

Are her decisions made with integrity or simply from duty? She’s thoughtful, and conflicted. And sometimes appears heartless. What would any of us do – what would I do if faced with similar situations? Gratefully, I’m not. Or am I?

This is not news. All women struggle with these situations, daily. We judge or weigh or unwittingly act on our priorities and choices, large and small. And usually the lowest priority comes to caring for our own self. We sacrifice our desires, our heart, our instincts, and sometimes our own best interests for the good of others. We turn ourselves over – to spouse or significant other, to family, to work, to community, to moral standards, to duty. And often, it is the right thing to do. And sometimes, it’s not.

I work everyday with women students in a job-training program who declare this opportunity as “Me time” or “My time.” They have raised families and/or worked in jobs such as hotel housekeeping, CNA, manufacturing, fast food restaurants, or other similar work. Some have had their dreams slowed down or held back by disability, or addiction, or mental health issues. But they come to this job training opportunity with hope – and a desire to make an important change in their lives. Some will say “for my kids” or “my family” – but some (not enough) will say – “for ME.” They come to school knowing that for seven hours they can focus on themselves and their goals and leave other responsibilities at bay for later. They have time to explore and enjoy who and what they want for their own benefit – for their selves.

And what about me? Are my days filled with decisions and choices made primarily in service to others? Spouse? Family? Work? Community? When and how do I make room to nourish my self? When and how do I take the time to create or write or plan on making the spaces or discussions or playtime that feed my soul/spirit, my intellect, my heart, my self? How do I hold at bay the fear and anger I have for the everyday barrage of offences by THOTUS 45? How do I stay physically well to do anything (for the past 3-5 years, it seems like one health calamity after another)? How do I manage the daily demands of everyday life (that can become distractions)? On a side note, I keep re-reading an essay called “Of Power and Time” by Mary Oliver in her collection of essays, Upstream. She writes: “Creative work needs solitude…But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self…” (p. 23)

As I look down the pathway towards the waning years of my life, how do I prioritize (again) my self and the things I want to do or enjoy or try? How do I cherish each moment while still plotting for and living in what gives me pleasure or expresses my creativity — my self, my center core spirit, my womanhood, my lesbian-being, my community with others, my humanity? And so it seems like an omen that as #52Essays Next Wave got underway, I picked a CD from my way back closet and put it on, completely forgetting what the first song is on the album. It may now become my anthem for the immediate future. I share it here and encourage us all to consider who we are and what gives us a life worth living.

 

The Woman in Your Life is You – by Alix Dobkin
Album: Living with Lavender Janehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9iW0E7RKac

The woman in your life
Will do what she must do
To comfort you and calm you down
And let you rest now
The woman in your life
She can rest so easily
She knows everything you do
Because the woman in your life is you

The woman in your life, knows simply what is true
She knows the simple ways to touch, to make you whole now
The woman in your life, she can touch so easily
She knows everything you do, because the woman in your life is you

And who knows more about your story
About your struggles in the word
Who cares more to bless your weary shoulders
Than the woman in your life
She’s trying to come through
A woman’s voice, with messages and a woman’s feelings
Oh, the woman in your life, she can feel so easily
She knows everything you do, because the woman in your life is you

And who is sure to give you courage
And who will surely make a strong
And who will bear all the joy that is coming to you
If not

The woman in your life
She’s someone to pursue
She’s patient and she’s waiting and she’ll take you home now
The woman in your life, she can wait so easily
And she knows everything you do, because the woman in your life is you

Because the woman in your life
The woman in your life
The woman in your life, is you

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