Thursday, April 07, 2011


I wrapped up a long day of work and spent tonight with a sisterhood.

JB and I and 49 other women were invited to a local restaurant called the Apollo Grill for an specially planned evening of meeting and relaxing with one another. Our friend Lori invited us and it was wonderful: talented, interesting, women ready to enjoy a good meal, clink drinks, and sing-a-long together. I sat beside a woman named Evelyn Harris who was the guest performer and a singer in Sweet Honey and the Rock for 18 years. I don't know how or why she ended up here in the Pioneer Valley but her music was sweet and when she sang she rocked the house.

JB and I sat with a woman who paints wall size canvasses of amazingly realistic apples and pears; a professor of photography at a local college, a naturalist who raises standard poodles, a private practice psychiatric nurse, the owner and CEO of a disability consulting firm (our friend Lori), and Evelyn Harris, who shook her bones and sang so deeply from so deep within that she had all fifty of us on our feet rocking and clapping and belting out "This Little Light of Mine" and another that assured that Everything's Gonna Be Okay.

I want to tell you that it was just awesome to be in the company of women like this sharing the theme of the evening, which was about Friendship and Balance. And it was.

But I have to say I looked around and saw a collective weariness too; an uncertainty and an inability to just relax, coast, let go...a desire to hold on to the slippery slope of balance.

Why is balance so elusive? Hell, I only work part-time and almost every day I am juggling and wondering how I will carve out my time, how I will get the chores and demands done so I can play and gallivant and prioritize and practice.

I wonder if my own Mother felt this kind of low grade uncertainty and exhaustion? I don't think so, I really don't. Her world was less complicated, with fewer choices and stronger roots. Perhaps the state of her world was no less secure, but she was and her family was. She did not worry about violence, bankruptcies, natural disasters in the same way. They may have happened but she didn't expect them to.

The women I sat with tonight, and I include myself, worry more and play less. I could see it on too many faces.

Now why is that?

And beyond the why, WHAT allows the change from worry to contentment? I have a suspicion the "what" may be smaller than we dare imagine.




  1. The audience kept talking while this lady sings... how impolite whahahaha... But you have to be really very good to let 51 women keep their mouth shut for three minutes.
    I think that our mothers had other problems than the ladies you observed. The media (television, internet, newspapers) bring the world in a much different way in our houses. We know too much!

  2. I'm thinking of you Kj...

    So glad that women get a night out like you had : )

  3. Sorry kiddo but the security we knew in our prime is gone..buh bye...ain't no more and then they tell us to give up everything we worked for to save our children and our grandchildren while them driving the train wreck still collect wealth from you which you only want to have enough for you now a and a bit to pass on.

    The what will change it back is only answered in the answer to the question of...How much fight do you have left in you? Because a storm of hellish proportions is brewing in the ever expanding slums and it is going to be all out class/civil war.

    Even though Posse Comitatus is still the constitutional law of the land W bush stationed regiments of the third army in Alabama for use on American soil and as part of their mission statement "for use in case of civil unrest" and Obama just last November made them permanent deployment to NorCom (American soil command).

    There is an us and them and them knew what they were doing and planned it all, the upward transfer of wealth to secure a lower paid workforce and a nation of near poverty level living for the uneducated in order to increase the global wealth of the Kleptocracy.

    so the question is not how did we lose X but rather how are WE going to regain it?

  4. My mom (and dad) brought us kids up in an apartment building filled with aunts and cousins. It truly was a village. There was always another mother to take us on if mom had something to do there was always backup. What we gave up was privacy and space. How many people today would bring up their two middle class children sharing the same bedroom until their teens. But you could do it on one salary! I don't know any children today who share a bedroom - let alone a sister and brother. But doing that gave my mom the ability to be home for us when we got home from school - at least in our early years.

    I think that our generation was the first to really break the glass ceiling and we've felt am obligation to keep working as hard as we did to have to get here. There's no letting go - it would be letting people down. I see the younger generation being a bit more realistic about looking at all of their choices and choosing balance over excessive work.

    Glad you had a wonderful time - it does sound like a wonderful evening.

  5. I love Sweet HOney in the Rock. What a cool shot of her in the window with the paper cranes! Sounds like an inspiring group of powerful women for sure.

    I dont know the answer to yr question but I do think that in Mom's time they were not so hyper aware of all the disasters. Some, but now with our 24/7 communication with the world abilities we can know of everything glich that happens everywhere and it is overwhelming.

    Also, I think it is hard for powerful busy in the world folks to suddenly put on relaxation. It takes some practice in a way. I know when I read the book Ordinary People as Monks and mystics it shifted my perception of how I wanted to be in the world. Not that monks cant be super busy, but more that the focus is on peace, contemplation, the slow life way of being.

    i admire you so for all you do in the world. you accomplish more in a week than i do in six months. part of all this is choices, focus and sometimes fate or what life hands us that we didnt ask for.

    Glad you has such a glorious night and I so love the way you find questions to contemplate.

  6. Well, our parents had their own sets of worries and hardships. Of course, they did not have 24/7 *news* (and I use the term VERY LOOSELY) blasting gloom and doom in their faces. The toll the media takes on individuals is phenomenal and would make an excellent doctoral study.
    I have chosen to shut that out. I do what I can about the things I can, but refuse to be bombarded with hyperbole and the rhetoric of stations that are only looking for ratings and sponsors. I'm aware of what is going on.
    I accept that I am different and function differently, but I function as I have to.
    People need to be willing to cut out the small, daily things that cause excessive worry and pain in their lives and focus on what they DO, what they need, and what they enjoy. (and yes, the care of others through various missions is part of the *do* and *enjoy* for me)
    It sounds like a wonderful evening.....but trust me---shut out what you don't need, and let go and be happy.
    While we can still STAND and enjoy it! LOL!!! ;-D
    (speaking for myself, before I am a totally decrepit old fart...)


  7. from allegra:

    So why are we not relaxing and find some form of balance that will bring more peace of mind and perhaps some healthy and all around sense of happiness?

    Media and fear. In the old days we knew what happened after it happened and it was always in the past, not a very far away past but far enough that it didn't seem real.

    I was thinking precisely about that and how in spite of my illness the sadness and impotence I felt came not from feeling betrayed by my body but for what was happening - and is still happening in Japan.

    The immediacy made it real and painful and I think that the state of the country and all the broken links to jobs and home and financial security somehow has become a part of the collective consciousness whether we realize that or not.

    I was wondering why in the old days Saturday was a day of running around doing nice things and Sunday was very relaxing and I never felt I "had to do" anything. Now Sunday is always my catch up day. Saturday when not working taking care of some order, I am going Zen in the garden, but it is not the same. Much as I love to garden, I wish I could be more relaxed about instead of worrying about people using pesticides next door when I am completely organic.

    This too shall pass. I hope. We need to find that balance you speak of. Laugh more and sing more, read and listening to things that bring blue skies to mind, be more often with children, and above all I believe we need to give ourselves permission to play. Yeah, I think that is the secret. Treat ourselves with kindness, forgive our mistakes and extend the courtesy of a good time, be our own guest, take ourselves by the hand and truly give ourselves permission to be what we want to be.

  8. This is very interesting. I feel overwhelmed most of the time, working full time and trying to also be an artist. Not to mention not having a partner, so having to do ALL the errands that one has to do, but I do know that everyday brings choices. What to drop, what to pick up. And the biggest choice of all, to drop worry, you can do it, I do it everyday. Choosing more fun and less work. Letting the house be dirty because art is more important. Seeing frineds instead of painting because friends are more important. Choice. We all have it. xoxo

  9. P.S. Not watching the news or reading the paper help a lot! And yes, beleive me you still find out about plenty of awful stuff just by talking with people! Media is a fear monger and half of what it spews out is a lie. xoxo

  10. hmm, ironic that I sent you an email about how worried I am.

    I love every comment here.

    I'm better today. And I'm going to take Allegra's advice ;)

    Your evening sounded wonderful! I love how you and JB always seem to have something fun to do.


  11. my goodness kj, what beautiful conversation you've inspired. your night sounds amazing, i'm glad for you.

    i agree with everyone in that we do have too much information (bad and not) it's just too much.

    i believe that our parents had their own sets of worries and hardships, as anne put it. there has always been something. sometimes it's good not to think so much. and just get outside in nature, and enjoy. (i know, i have been critized for oversimplifing things).
    have a great, peaceful day.

  12. I'm not sure I'd enjoy singing to a crowd that is otherwise engaged, but she probably did it for herself too...and it does make for nice ambiance to have music in the background, I suppose...

    I'm so different now than what I once was - driven and preoccupied and always chasing the dollar and I do what I want and don't do what I don't want - I have the luxury to let the dishes and laundry wait, but life's a trade off...there's always a price to pay.

    Where you talking about me being the facebook friend who never comments on your blog, because I don't think I've been here before ;-)

  13. wieneke, i got this video on utube. it is not from last night. our audience was reverent and entranced. :) and yes, i agree: we know too much :(

    pattee, i hope you are having the time of your life in amsterdam!!!

    mark, you know, i work with very poor misalligned people in a very poor community. i do not see that fight coming. i see resources shrinking and i see people who should work not working, some because the opportunity is not there and others because they lack personal responsibility. what i do see missing by governments and nations is civil caring. that depresses me.... xo

    mim, i think many of our generation ARE ready to let that 'american dream' go, but it doesn't seem to be so easy to make happen. i really like suki's comment about shifting the perception of how we want to be in the world. i want to slow down, not every day, but for a string of days :)

  14. What an interesting conversation, kj (per usual! :) I am wondering if we aren't hyper-aware of needing to smell the roses? What I mean is, my mom worked, and raised us, and worked at the house, and well, worked. But she didn't obsess over it like I do. Maybe she was just too tired to obsess over it! It seems like every single thing I do, I am thinking "Is this how I should be spending my time?" Maybe all the doom and gloom (some of which is very real) keeps us in this suspended state of "I should be enjoying the moment, dammit, it could be my last!" lol! I don't know, but it seems like everyone I know is a little stressed out, and not just from working. I'm thinking Lori is on to something. I need to go outside and stare at a tree. Wander around a park. Make friends with a bug. Chill the heck out. :) xo! Pam

  15. I don't know why balance is so hard but it is. I even have a friend who wrote "Work/Life Balance for Dummies" and she's hopeless at it so if she can't master it, how can we. Seriously? It's taken me three days to just 'chillax' and go with the flow. Glad you had a good night it sounds like an awesome idea frankly, I'd love it.

  16. That's so great - I'd love a women's night out. But the balance - you're right - it's so elusive.