Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Poetry abounds in WNC, thanks to Nancy Simpson

I came to live in western NC in 1995 because my husband and I had always wanted to live in the mountains and near a body of water. Clay County was perfect for us. We found a house about a half mile from Lake Chatuge on the side of a mountain. Our view included the blue waters of the lake and the Georgia mountains on the far side. In fact we could look at Brasstown Bald the highest point in Georgia while we ate our breakfast each morning.

I did not expect my life to take such a turn when we moved here, but thanks to Nancy Simpson, a special education teacher at the local school, who was program coordinator of the North Carolina Writers' Network West, I found what I had always wanted; a writing organization, friends who were writers, and a kind soul who taught writing to people like me.

Nancy taught a night class at the local community college and it was always full. I took her class over and over. She has a masters degree from Warren Wilson College. I took a poetry class she taught at the John C. Campbell Folk School, trembling at the thought of having to read my work out loud. But, she was gentle while helping us learn to write better poetry.

I had been writing since I was old enough to read and hold a pencil, but I had no confidence in myself. Thanks to Nancy I was soon submitting my poetry for publication. That was over two decades ago. Nancy was never too busy to help me polish a poem. She named my chapbook, Now Might as Well be Then, and I am delighted she chose that line from one of my poems as the title.

Nancy is having some health issues, and she can't read at Coffee with the Poets and Writers for our April meeting. April is Poetry Month and she usually is one of our featured poets. We look forward to her being back with us before long.

Another Clay County poet, Brenda Kay Ledford, was a student of Nancy Simpson in 1995 and she has published five books since then. She will read her poetry that speaks of her mountain heritage April 19th at Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC.

You can hear Brenda read in her unique voice in this interview on You Tube.

Our meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. We invite the public to attend and to bring original writing whether poetry or prose to share around our table.

NC Writers' Network-West sponsors this event. It is a program of the statewide NC Writer's Network. 
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Poetry Month springs forth in April

April is Poetry Month

I posted a poem I really like by one of my favorite poets, Jane Kenyon. This poem is read by Garrison Keillor. 

I like Jane Kenyon's poems because the evoke memories of growing up on the farm in southwest Georgia. She is not writing about the south, but the land of Frost, the other poet who is a big favorite of mine.

Tell me your favorite and poem and author.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Writing classes, Writing Conferences, and Spring

Life is good in spite of all the BAD news we hear constantly on TV and the radio as well as on social media.

We are beginning the beautiful month of April. Spring is here. My azaleas are blooming and some of the blossoms on the trees survived the last freeze and snow. I have loved spring my whole life and I seem to love it more now. When things begin to pop up green and strong, when birds sing in my yard, the bluebirds come to scout out their house, I want to shop for flowers and shrubs. Geraniums thrive on my deck and I enjoy them all summer long.

I am an indoor gardener now, filling my deck with colorful flowers I can see from my chair in my living room. I also choose flowers that attract humming birds. With my feeders and my flowers they hover all day outside my windows.

Spring is a time for new beginnings and making plans for the future. Today I talked with someone at EAGLE one of the first places I taught writing. This is a church organization over in north Georgia. I have two good friends who attend classes and, one of them, Linda teaches dulcimer there. I began teaching writing to those folks back in 2006.

I agreed to teach a one day workshop this fall between September 21 and November 9. I won't be paid for these classes, but I will do this for my friends and for the good people who run this program.

I also accepted an invitation to teach this summer at ICL, the Institute for Continuing Learning, another program for adults, at Young Harris College. Those classes will be two hour sessions once a week for four weeks. I hope my former students will come and will tell their friends. 

In the fall, I am on the schedule at TCCC, our local community college to teach two hour sessions each Monday for four weeks. You can tell I enjoy teaching. I have met the finest and dearest people in the classes I've taught. I have heard the most touching, heart-felt stories about the lives of my students. The joy of it all for me is that the families of my students will have the interesting and well-written life stories to pass on to generations of the future. I know they will appreciate their ancestors telling about what life was like in the twentieth century, before cell phones, before computers and before the world became so very small.

I can hear some of my loved ones saying, "You take on too much. You don't have to do this."
But I enjoy every minute in class with my adult students. I feel euphoric when I hear former students telling new students some of the things they learned in my classes.

For now, I look forward to attending a writing conference in Blue Ridge Georgia April 8. I have not missed one of these since my friend, Carol Crawford, began the event almost twenty years ago. Gosh, how could it have been that long?

On May 6, I look forward to A Day for Writers, our conference in Sylva, NC at the beautiful Jackson County Public Library. The historic old courthouse of Jackson County, NC is now being used as part of the library. Most of our workshops and sessions will be held in the part that was once a courthouse.

Jackson County Public Library in Sylva, NC

This will be a busy spring for me, but I think it will also be interesting and fun. What will you be doing as spring comes to your area?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Protecting the Parks and Protecting our Happiness

On this Sunday afternoon here in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina it is quiet with sun peeping in and out; just enough to make me think it might stay for a while. The temperature is cool, great for a walk, but I don’t do those much anymore. With back and hip problems, I could be courting pain that lasts for hours.

I watched the Sunday morning TV news shows and I feel I am listening to people who live in a faraway galaxy, not here in my country where the woods are still and silent around my house; where the blue mountains in the distance are home to bears, squirrels, coyotes, and deer, none of whom threaten my way of life. In fact, I am quite sure I will live out my days on this earth just as I am now. I will probably never see a Syrian refugee, a terrorist who comes to blow up our town, an outpouring of angry people marching on the square of Hayesville. I don’t live in fear for myself.

But I am concerned about the future of our world, our country and especially our beautiful national parks and our state parks. The last vestiges of wild and unspoiled land in the United States were set aside by past leaders who recognized the future needs of our people to have a place that was not concrete and asphalt, to have a quiet peaceful place to get away from our hurried and stressful lives.
For many years now, here in North Carolina, I have had the luxury of visiting the Smoky Mountains National Park. Millions of Americans and people from all over the world come to soak up the vastness, the spiritual feeling one absorbs here.

Far too many take our federal lands for granted with no thought of the cost of maintaining these special places. I remember my trip to Yellowstone some years ago. I will never forget the scenes I saw, the hot springs, the bison, the mating elk and the moose. What a vision it was to look out over the wide plains with the amber grasses tall enough to reach the bellies of the buffalo herds that stretched for miles it seemed.

Elk - We saw them everywhere in Yellowstone

Barry and I, while in Las Vegas on business, were able to take an extra week to visit Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon. I wish all the people who spend their lives in dingy little apartments in dirty cities could travel to these glorious sites. When I was there I was so proud I was bustin’ my buttons thinking that these thousands of acres will be protected from the abuse of man and his greed.
Only recently have I worried that our culture might change so much that we forsake these national monuments and development might creep in and soon it will all be gone. I won’t be here to see it, but I have nieces and nephews who have children and they will have families who I hope will visit the parks and find them as fascinating as I do.

We must find a middle ground between those who will destroy our land for money and those who challenge everything for love of nature. We must find a way to make a living without polluting our water, our rivers and our oceans. No matter what you make as a salary, it is not worth spoiling our water resources.

I have lived a few weeks without water in my house. What a horror. I have a well for water for my home and since we drilled a new one, I have to use a filter on the line coming into the house, and also another on the water faucet in my kitchen. Imagine having a situation like Flint Michigan where all water is polluted and dangerous to drink.

When the protections set for our water and environment were put in place by past U.S. Presidents, I was relieved and had hope that we would be safe for the future. Now I am not feeling so safe. When regulations are removed, then our protections are gone.

We are a capitalist country where money has more value than almost anything else. When I was younger, I wanted more money and felt I would be happier if I had a better house, nicer clothes, and could travel. People who make 75,000 dollars a year are just as happy as those who make 300,000 dollars a year according to some studies. Our country is low in the happy countries list.

No matter how rich we become, we need more than money to make us happy. Our “stuff” will eventually be given away or thrown away. What really makes us happy? Freedom from fear, love from our family, and lasting friends who will always be there.
These are the non-material things we need.

To help support Yellowstone National Park, check out this link.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Diana Smith Poems for Kids

I met Diana Smith  many years ago when I joined and became part of the NC Writer's Network West (Netwest). I liked her poems and stories that were so full of humor. She is in process of writing a book about her grandfather, a professional golfer, a man who influenced her young life. 

I am happy that Diana has created a website with her stories and poems for kids. If you are an adult who loves dogs, you will laugh at the cute and whimsical stories about the many, many dogs she and her husband Joel have rescued over the years. 
She posted photos of some of her rescues and tells their stories in poems.

Diana's stories and poems for children have been published in numerous magazines for kids. 
Click on this link:

Let me know what you think and pass this website on to your grandchildren or to teachers who will find the writing here to be quite useful in class. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Dana Wildsmith's new novel


Dana Wildsmith returns to City Lights Bookstore on Saturday, March 25th at 3 p.m. to present her novel, Jumping. Her novel portrays with great skill and finesse the collision of the two worlds of a Georgia school teacher and a small charming Mexican boy. 

I look forward to reading this book that sounds so interesting. 

Click on the link below to learn more.

Poet and novelist, Dana Wildsmith

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Writing Again

Thursday, March 9.
Tonight I read three pages from a memoir I began some years ago. I read them at our critique group, and I am so glad I took them for feedback. I had read only a  few lines before I realized how lacking my story was and how much more I can do to make it good.

I feel motivated to write again after my experience tonight. I have not written anything but blog posts in a  long, long time. Somewhere in the past year, I let everything come ahead of my creative nature. I am ready to come back, to follow my passion again.

The  process of publishing is a long one. Nothing good comes easily. This week I sent a manuscript to an editor. It is a compilation of short prose pieces, non-fiction and one short story. Included in this manuscript is a  collection of stories by my friend Estelle Rice. We decided a few years ago to publish a book about our beloved pets and other animals in our  lives. I think it will be a good read.

In the coming weeks, I will go down to my studio on certain days just to write. Most writers try to write every day, and I usually do some kind  of writing almost every day. But I have not done any serious writing lately. That is what I miss. 

One of my past students told me he is writing several pages on his novel every day. He described the joy he feels when he becomes lost in the story, in his writing and hates to put it aside to go on with the rest of his life. I have felt those moments. I want to feel them again.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Male or Female doctors? Is one gender better than the other?

I have written here before that I  prefer a woman physician to a male doctor. I feel that women  usually take more time and will let me talk and ask questions. Now, I find I am on the right track. Women physicians have a better record of keeping their patients alive. Not only that, their patients aren't readmitted to the  hospital as often. This article on
includes research on this subject:

The researchers estimated that if male physicians could achieve the same outcomes as their female colleagues, there would be 32,000 fewer deaths each year among Medicare patients alone — a number comparable to the annual number of motor vehicle accident deaths nationally. The study was published online December 19, 2016 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study included one million Medicare recipients 65 and over. They found that patients treated by a woman physician had a  four percent lower risk of dying prematurely. They had a five percent lower risk of being readmitted to a hospital within 30 days. 

Sadly, female physicians are often not paid as well as men and are often passed over for promotions. Only 1/3 of doctors are female, but women make up half of all US medical school graduates. I wonder what that says about the medical profession and medical schools. 

I would guess that women doctors pay more attention to guidelines and are more particular about details. I assume this because most of the  men I have known leave the details to their wives or secretaries. Could it  be that male doctors, like male CEOs, delegate to their lessor ranking people the important follow up on patients and don't  listen as well as women? 

Recently I met a male doctor who had read an MRI of my lower back. He was in the room with me about five minutes. He never sat down. He told me my MRI looked pretty good. But he thought he could alleviate  my pain with  an epidural, the same kind of injection given to pregnant women when they are in labor. He left the room after telling me I would be called to set up an appointment.  

I left there and drove home with questions piling up in my mind. Later I checked my messages on Patient Portal and found my diagnosis which included words like stenosis and steroid. Neither of those words were used by the doctor when he talked with me. 

Did he think I was ignorant of such medical terms? Did he think I would refuse the injection if he told me more details? Just the opposite is true. I have postponed having such an injection into my spine. Research has shown that this injection is not recognized by the FDA as safe, but it has become the latest trend among spine specialists who make mucho money on these procedures. They are said to be about 50 percent successful and are often repeated over and over with minimum results. The risks of becoming paralyzed or even dying are worth consideration and should be told to the patient. 

Why did this man not tell me there are risks? Why did he not tell me anything except "this is the injection given to pregnant women?" I hardly believe the ingredients in this cocktail are the same as given to a  pregnant woman in labor. 

Once again, I am not that happy with a male physician. One day, hopefully, women will be a bigger part of the medical world and I think the care we receive will be far better than what we have today. 
This is my opinion based on my personal experiences. 
What do you think? Do you prefer male or female, or does it  make any difference to you?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Should I have been a teacher? I reflect on my younger days.

This is  President's Day weekend.When I was in school we celebrated each president's day, George Washington on February 22 and Abraham Lincoln on February 12, but we did not stay home from school. We studied the history of these great men's lives. I wonder if teachers still have their students learn about these presidents who were born in February.

I taught elementary school, fourth grade, but I don't think  I made my history classes very interesting. Looking  back on the young 23 year-old I was then, I wish I could tell her what she could do to make those classes interesting.

My nephew, a history buff, teaches history and he knows how to interest all of his students. I have not attended his classes, but I  hear that he doesn't teach from a text book. He uses other methods to get the high school children so involved they love it. They love him.

Someone once said to me, "I'll bet you were a wonderful teacher."

Perhaps I was a good teacher because I took a personal interest in each child that sat in my classroom. I might  have become too close to  my kids because many of them had family problems they wanted to share with me. One little perfectionist, a  good student, had emotional problems because her father and mother separated. The little girl felt a need to take care of her mother who evidently shared her troubles and fears with her children. The child became almost hysterical when she made a mistake on a test. I let  her come into class early for days so she could talk to me about her concerns. She sat in my lap and cried as she told me how she and  her mom knelt by her bed every night and prayed for her father to come back. 

Another troubled student, a boy who was eleven years old, but big for his age, came into school after the school year began. He sat in back of the class with anger shooting from his eyes. His body language told me  he was trouble. He  never opened a book or picked up a pencil. His arms crossed over his  chest, he glared at me.

It was not difficult to see this boy needed counseling. Not knowing anything about his history   it was clear that he was on the verge of exploding, and I hoped it would not happen in my classroom. I wrote a letter to his parents and asked them to come in to see me. I also suggested he might benefit from therapy. 

Soon after his arrival, we were told we would have Parent's Day. Mothers and fathers could come and sit in the back of the classroom, observe the children, and  me. The idea  of having such a critical audience unnerved me, a green, inexperienced young teacher. 

I was never anxious when I stood before my 32 students each day, but having parents there to observe was a different thing. My timing of the  letter home for the troubled boy could  not have been worse. He arrived the morning of Parent's Day with a thunder cloud face and immediately told me he was not going to see a shrink. 

"You can't make me, either," he said in a voice that said  he was itching for a fight. I had hoped his  parents would not tell him I  suggested he have therapy, but  they must have told him I thought he needed a psychiatrist. 

My day with the  parents had begun on a very bad note. I went to my principal, Mrs. Gotko, a slight little woman who had suffered a  bad car accident the year before and had missed several months of school. 

"I'm afraid he will cause a  bad incident while the parents are here. If he rebels and won't mind me, I don't know what I will do, " I said.

"I'll come down and talk to him," Mrs Gotko said.

I went back to my classroom and soon the principal arrived and motioned for my angry student to come out in the hallway. He slammed a book down on his desk and ambled out the door. I felt such relief just knowing my competent principal was going to  handle my problem. I called the roll and had no sooner reached the Ds than one of my students cried out. "Miss Council, Mrs. Gotko is on the floor!" 

I rushed to  the door and found the older woman struggling to her feet. My student was no where to be seen.

"What happened?"

"He knocked me down. He didn't  hit me, but he pushed me." Breathless and upset, Mrs. Gotko said she was going to call his parents. "You can go back to your classroom now."

Several adults came into the room and took their seats in the back. I managed to get through my classes as though nothing had happened, but when lunch time came and the parents had gone I went straight to the office. 

"He won't be back here. You won't have to deal with him anymore." The principal said  she had called the police who were out looking for him. 

"What will they do with him," I asked. I felt guilty that I had not been able to handle the boy and I never wanted him to  leave school under such horrible circumstances. He was so young and already in trouble with the  police. 

I later learned that he was found by the police that afternoon, and that he was going to be sent to his grandmother's to live. 

I wondered why this boy hated the world. Had he been abused at home? Maybe he had a stepfather or father who was mean to him or a mother who mistreated him. A child would not normally have so much anger inside if he had not faced major problems. I wondered if there had been more time, would I have been able to reach him. 

I never heard anything else about this child, but he is just one of the many I still feel concern for, feel I  somehow failed. Looking back, I think I  have too  much empathy to  be a good school teacher. I should have studied psychology. I wanted to help these kids more than I wanted to teach them to read and write. 

What I should  have done

Looking back, I see what I could have done with my early years that might have been more helpful, places where I  could have made more of a difference, work that would have been more suitable to me. Like my sister, Gay, I think I would have liked counseling. Or maybe I could have taught psychology, a subject I most enjoy. Maybe I should have worked for a non-profit that helps children in distress. I might have been a good counselor or children. 

All throughout our lives we learn, gain wisdom in many ways, and when we are too old to start over, we finally discover what we should have done or been.

Have you ever felt you failed at something or failed someone? 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Personal View on the Women’s March on Washington, D.C.

Ellis Hughes's Profile Photo, Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, text
This blog is about writing your life stories. This is a story my friend Ellis Hughes will not forget. See her in the middle of the photo at the right.

The first protest was planned in Washington, D.C., and is known as the Women's March on Washington. It was organized as a grassroots movement to "send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office and to the world that women's rights are human rights". 

My friend, Ellis Hughes, lives in Asheville, NC now, but grew up in Albany, Georgia as I did. When I heard that she had been to Washington, DC for the Women’s March last week, I asked her to tell me about it.

Ellis said her primary issue was healthcare. “My niece had no health insurance, so no regular healthcare until she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. Regular health care would have found that disease much earlier and she might still be alive.”
She said, “The present administration’s proposals and actions are diminishing options for millions.”

Ellis' niece was the daughter of one of my best friends in high school and college

Ellis has been a feminist since she learned that there was such a thing. The opportunity to march nationally was a no-brainer for her.

“I have an Equal Rights Amendment bracelet I wore for years in the 70s … and wore to the Jan. 21 March. I’ve been a member of many women’s groups … from Women in Film to the Women’s Sports Foundation.  Now, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense (although that is not specifically limited to women).  I worked in corporate America for 40 years; the struggle was intense, and is still ongoing in the workplace.”

“I have not heard who actually organized the march in Washington DC. Do you know who it was?” I asked.
“The March started with one Facebook post by a woman in Hawaii, right after the Nov. 8 election.  The actual organizers “on the ground” were several women of varied professional and personal backgrounds,” Ellis said.

She gave me links to articles about who did the work. This one, she said, gives many of the salient facts.
The article on Wikipedia says there were marches even in Antarctica.

Who were the speakers at the march and what were their topics?
The Wikipedia page has that list.  Also, the Women’s March website.  (It is a good source of additional information, too.)

“The crowd was so large that we walked for hours … got close to the stage but were never able to see it.  We did see the Jumbotrons that lined Independence Avenue. I have yet to see all the speeches (they are online).”

Did you meet others who came to protest and what did they say to you about why they were there?
“We talked to several people – many were there to protest the incoming administration’s proposals: anti-woman/individual freedoms, healthcare choices, LGBT, environmental issues such as the Dakota pipeline, education, privatization of public resources, gun safety, and so on.”

How do you think these marches will affect women in the future?
“Judging from the actions of several women I know, they are energized like I’ve never seen before. This past weekend’s marches to protect immigrants are a clear example that this participation is not going away soon.”

Would you attend another march and do you expect there to be more in the near future?  
“Yes and yes. I’m keeping my pussyhat at the ready.”

Thanks to Ellis Hughes for taking time for this interview.

Have you had a big moment in your life that stays with you? Write about how you felt that day, what the weather was like, describe the people around you, the tone of the crowd.What did  you wear? Who was there, men, women and children?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

More Bad News This Week When Mary Tyler Moore Died

With so much bad news this past week, we felt a double whammy when our beloved Mary Tyler  Moore died.

“She only wanted to play a great character, and she did so. That character also happened to be single, female, over 30, professional, independent, and not particularly obsessed with getting married. Mary had America facing such issues as equal pay, birth control, and sexual independence way back in the ’70s.”

I often feel sad when celebrities I have enjoyed and admired over the years pass away, but I actually cried when I saw some of the tributes to Mary. Many of us lived our own lives through the lovely character on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. My generation of women had little to no encouragement for doing anything other than being a housewife or, if we furthered our education and worked until we married, we could become teachers, nurses, or secretaries.

I chose teaching but I was not really cut out to teach children. I took their problems home with me, worried and upset my husband with my worries. Barry begged me to quit my job. I wanted to fix the sad home lives of some of my students, miraculously find a way to bring home their fathers or heal that hurt they had buried deeply inside. I left public school to co-teach and direct a private kindergarten. The  part I liked best was the business end of that job.

On Mary’s show, she became executive producer. She seemed to be a little surprised as well as quite proud of herself. I was proud of her and admired her clever way of dealing with the men who could not quite get their heads around her goals and decisions. Young women like I was at the time saw her as a role model. Successful women like Oprah and Katie Kuric and others give Mary Tyler Moore credit for the lives they lead today.

Tonight I watched several of the tributes to her and noticed that women, men and young people participated in singing that well-known theme song and by tossing their hats in the air. I miss the clean shows with messages for viewers, the comedic talent of actresses and actors who could make us laugh but also put a lump in our throat or a tear in our eye.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Strong Women, Resilient Women speak up

I am happy to see Rosemary Royston writing on her blog and on Facebook about women in our culture who have made a difference, many of them with little recognition for their efforts and accomplishments.

Maya Angelou said, "You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn't do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.

This quote by Maya Angelou speaks to me, because history proves that if you feel you are not being treated equally to others and that you should be, then you must speak out. Being angry and bitter and calling names on Facebook does no one any good. But making those who represent you in office know how you feel will register with someone, especially when you vote.

I am a huge advocate for women because young women my age were expected to go to college simply to find a man who would take care of them. I know from growing up in a family dominated by males, where the females had no voice. I know from working in what was considered a "man's job" for awhile, and I know from seeing fabulous women struggle to get the respect and honor they deserve.  

Vote it! I like that
So many women didn't vote in the last national election. Many who voted followed the lead of the men they knew. One told me she had never paid any attention to politics. She voted, but now, after the election, she is wondering why some people are so upset. Too many women vote according to what someone tells them instead of reading and learning all they can about those who are up for election.  

I also hear women say they voted for someone because of one single issue. Many times that one single issue is not even addressed once the man is in office. We must know the candidate as well as we possibly can, no matter the party, no matter what he says during the campaign. We have learned that candidates will say anything, it seems, to get elected. And they are forgiven for lying to the people who support them and believe them.

I am reading a most interesting book by Gail Collins, When Everything Changed, the Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to  the present. I  bought this book at City Lights Books in Sylva, NC. It was published in 2009.

During the sixties, seventies, and on, bright women, who became scientists and went into research, discovered important facts and truths that hardly made a ripple in the vast ocean of scientific public knowledge. In the article below, you  can see their stories.

Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote. 

My mother was fifteen years old when women were granted the right to vote.That was not too long ago. 

It might be difficult for young women today to believe that until 1920 women were denied the right to vote on who would make the laws and rules under which they lived. Women were denied many things and it didn't end with the 19th amendment.

1960 was the  fortieth anniversary of women having the constitutional right to vote.
I was a college student at that time and I had no idea what women could do in this country or what women had accomplished. I thought my only choices were teaching school, becoming a nurse or a secretary. Or, I could meet a man who would be successful and provide me with a nice home where I could cook him fine meals, raise well-behaved children, look as lovely as I could when he came home each evening and try to please him in every way possible. Some of the young women I knew did that and some were happy. Those women are the ones who are celebrating 60 year marriages today. I applaud them, mostly for having husbands who lived a long time. I didn't.

Some of the women who left college to get married ended up in divorce when it was too late to find that doctor who would take care of them forever. Often they had to work at menial jobs because they didn't get an education that would prepare them to earn a living. Many women stayed in unhappy marriages because they knew they could not afford to take care of their children without the husband's salary.

Leaders of the movements for women recognized in 1960, after forty years, there were only two women who had ever been appointed to cabinet-level positions in our government and one woman who was on a lower court as a judge.

Two-thirds of women in 1960 did not approve of a woman as  president.
I am afraid we still have that mentality today. When newspapers in 1960 wrote about the active women who met to discuss the political issues and work for the campaigns, they led with paragraphs about the table décor and what dishes were served. Headlines were "GOP Women Facing a Calorie Packed Week." Patronizing women kept them "in their place" and sadly a number of females did not recognize it. If you pay attention you will see that manipulation taking place at dinner parties and cocktail parties today, and probably even more in business offices. Most older men might not even realize they do it because it was such a part of our culture.

Today when we have  women on the Supreme Court, mainly due to a few presidents like Jimmy Carter, we realize the difference made by the women's movement of the seventies.

Until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974, women were not able to apply for credit cards. I remember my sister telling me she had been turned down when she tried to use her husband's credit card. I had my own credit card, and I insisted she go out and get a credit card in her own name. Young women today could not imagine not having their own credit cards.

I was disappointed when the one woman running for our local board of  County Commissioners was defeated. This woman has done more and worked harder for our county than the men who were running. She had two strikes against her. She was running as a Democrat, and she was a woman. In our very conservative county no woman has ever served on the Commision. 

I  hope there are studies in high school or college where young students can learn about the determined women who helped us get where we are today. I firmly believe that more women in our government, local, state and federal, would make for a better country for all of us. But those women have to be strong, relentless, and courageous to fight the harassment and determined efforts of the men in power. I heard Megan Kelley speak about what her life at FOX Broadcasting was like and how she had to fight off the advances of her boss while trying to keep her job. She knew if she made public what happened when she was in his office, she would not only lose her  job, but would be blackballed and never again work for anyone in broadcast journalism. 

But, sadly, with the present administration, I am afraid women's rights will be set back decades. Some of today's young women seem to accept the status quo and believe that women are doing well, but they don't understand that they have to be staunch supporters of the rights of women. I have noticed that those rights won through years of struggle are being eroded in subtle ways. Pharmacists refusing to sell birth control pills, for example. We must pay attention.

The Women's March today was unbelieveable. I look forward to learning and hearing more about the speeches and the messages brought forth throughout the nation. From the size of the crowds there is far more fear and concern for our future than I thought.