Gloria Steinem’s Life on the Road

I decided that I should read some of Gloria Steinem‘s work after seeing her speak at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in December. I virtually knew nothing about her except for the fact that she is a feminist and an amazing human being, so I really enjoyed reading My Life on the Road. The book title called to me because sometimes I wish that more of my life was spent “on the road.”

Reading this soon after my dad died, I was startled to find that the first chapter is about her father and her odd childhood. Her father was such a nomad that Gloria did not attend school as a child. On page 17, she explains that he was in a car accident and she didn’t make it to the hospital before he died. It brought me comfort to know that I was not the only person on the Earth who was not with my father as he drew his last breath. I ached for her and myself as I read, “I will never stop wishing I had been with him.”

It was fascinating to read about her experiences as a freelance journalist and organizer. She talks about how her life changed because of her participation in the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston—an event I had never heard of. She talks about speaking on campuses and in churches and at conferences. One experience she has is more eye-opening than the other.

She ends the book by talking about how she finally found a balance in life after decades of being on the road. She writes, “I can go on the road—because I can come home. I come home—because I’m free to leave.” A beautiful way to live.

 

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Pursuing Justice from a Place of Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

A friend and I saw Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest child, Bernice, speak at the Boston Public Library as part of the Lowell Institute Lecture Series. Like her father, she is a minister, as well as being CEO of the King Center.

She inherited her father’s mesmerizing speaking skills. She started out by encouraging the audience to visit the new Legacy Museum and Memorial that just opened in Montgomery, Alabama. I had heard a little about the lynching memorial, but I made a promise to myself to really read about it and the museum. She then launched into her (and her father’s) philosophy of nonviolence to create social change.

A theme she repeated a few times was that justice must come from a place of love, not anger and retaliation. She quoted her father’s work and explained that when he had the idea for the bus boycott, his goal was not to shut down the bus company, but to infuse justice INTO the bus company.

I asked myself multiple times during her talk, “Is MLK Jr. rolling in his grave, knowing that 50 years later, we are still failing at combating racism?” His hope that his four children would one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin is still a hope and nowhere near a reality.

I haven’t read any of MLK Jr.’s books, but hearing her quote from them, I am eager to read them. I’ll start at the beginning, with Stride Toward Freedom.

Even though King barely knew her father (she was five years old when he was assassinated), she seems to share his passion for this crucial social justice work.

 

 

Gloria and Dan

I saw two 20th-century icons speak recently: Gloria Steinem and Dan Rather.

Gloria was a keynote speaker at the opening night of the Massachusetts Conference for Women. I hadn’t  attended the conference before, so the opening night was a good overview of the event. The exhibit hall was impressive: areas for career resources, nonprofits, female business owners selling their products, and multiple authors available for book signings. There were other keynote speakers that evening as well, but my friend and I only tuned in for Gloria.

I wish I could pass on some nuggets of her wisdom, but since my dad’s sudden death, most of my day-to-day thoughts and memories are crowded out by my thoughts and memories of him. I do recall that she was fierce, real, and optimistic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan is touring with his recently published book with Elliot Kirschner, What Unites Us. Again, I don’t remember a word he said, but he was also fierce, real, and optimistic. I saw him speak on the one-month anniversary of my dad’s passing, and I fell asleep that night wishing that I could tell my dad all about it, since he was a fan of 60 Minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m trying to get back in the saddle regarding the birthday list, but I’m taking it slow and will give myself an extra month or two to complete it. Bear with me, dear readers.

 

Travel as a Political Act

Rick Steves is my spirit guide when it comes to traveling. He encourages people to travel off the beaten path, mingle with locals, and travel thoughtfully. If you haven’t heard of him, he has his own travel company and guidebook series and also has a PBS TV show and radio show. He is out there, spreading his important message of travel as a political act.

I’m the kind of traveler who rarely takes time to relax when I’m traveling. I love the idea of it, but I always end up hitting as many museums and cultural sites as possible, taking public transportation vs. taxis, and walking around as much as I can. So I can relate to Rick’s travel philosophy.

He sometimes does speaking tours, and my friends are I were lucky enough to attend his talk in Boston this spring. I think the talk was slated to run an hour or an hour and a half, and he spoke for almost three hours! Talk about getting our money’s worth.

He spoke about his travel background and gave tips on traveling in Europe and how to pack for trips. At the end of the talk, he announced how he would be handling the book signing afterward. I was impressed by how innovative it was. Instead of him sitting at a table while a long single-file line grows, he stood in the middle of the venue’s lobby and attendees formed a circle around him. Then he just moved around in a circle, signing as he turned. This method didn’t leave much time for chat, which might disappoint people. But it sure was efficient.

If you ever find yourself planning a trip to Europe, visit the Rick Steves website and/or pick up one of his guidebooks. You’ll thank me for it.

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

I’m reporting on the birthday list out of order because of a sense of urgency.

One week ago, I participated in the Boston Women’s March for America. Although I participated in a small march for water justice for the birthday list years ago, this march is going on this year’s list. It was a rally AND a march…and I have never been to a rally and a march with 175,000+ other people!

I attended with a group of friends. We arrived about an hour before the start of the rally. We were pretty far back, so once more people arrived and filled in, we couldn’t see the stage. But we were able to hear all of the motivational speeches by our mayor, senators, and local human rights advocates and community members.

Boston Women's March for America

An hour before the start of the rally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t put into words what the experience felt like. If I were forced to, I would say it was peaceful, positive, and purposeful. There were people of all ages, gender identities, and nationalities. Many of the signs that people were carrying made us laugh out loud in solidarity. The event organizers were not prepared for the number of people in attendance, so we waited in a logjam for two hours before approaching the start of the march route.

Boston Women's March for America

Waiting in the logjam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The march was great because people were yelling chants into bullhorns to encourage us to use our voices. One of my favorites was “This is what democracy looks like!” By the time we reached the halfway mark of the 1.5 mile route, my friends and I had been on our feet for six hours. Hungry and tired, we peeled off and headed home.

Boston Women's March for America

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing that there were 700+ marches taking place around the world made me feel even more empowered and hopeful. There are millions of people who care about equality for all. As one of the speakers said, “There are more of us than there are of them.”

Boston Women's March for America

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I completed the first of 10 actions for the first 100 days. I sent postcards to my senators, writing about which causes I care most about and why. Join me!

 

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