Sunday, March 8, 2009

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY BLOG PARTY

In honor of women everywhere ...
Welcome to the
International Women's Day Blog Party

(Turn up the sound: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuB3_HLcFfk)

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. To this end, this party is a way to honor those special ladies who have inspired us and made us better than we ever thought we could be. It is with gratitude and pride I welcome you to my blog. I'm anxious to hear your stories and celebrate your choices.

All you have to do is go down to the bottom of this post and click on the comment section. That will take you to another page where you can write your tribute in the space provided. You can use your Google/Blogger user name or remain anonymous. There is nothing to join. If you choose to post anonymously please leave your name in the comment section so we'll all know who you are. When you're through hit publish and voila your lady is on the list.

After that if you know your choice has an email address come back to this post and click here . You will be sent to the bonesighart website where you'll find an E-card that Terri St. Cloud and her boys made just for this occasion. Send the card to your special lady and she'll be able to come right back to this site to read what you had to say about her. It sounds kind of circuitous, but remember, it's the thought that counts and your honoree should know you're thinking of her.

If you were coming to my house I'd have baked some cookies and made a big pot of tea. We would sit around a table dressed with a lace cloth and a vase of pink tulips in the center. I'd have my mom's silver tea set all polished up and looking pretty on the buffet. Alas, this is a cyberspace celebration, which would leave all the cookie eating to me. So instead I bought myself some tulips and this Willow Tree "angel of courage." Look at the way she holds her hands in the air as if she just made a 10 point landing off a balance beam, or became head of her own company, or graduated from college, or picked herself up and dusted herself off and headed off again down the road of life. I'm sure she's saying "I did that!" or "Yes, I can!" I bought her for me, but she belongs to all of us.

---
Margaret Winn, Lisa Smith, Christine Osterloh, Ginny Boney
this post is for you.

My struggle with clinical depression began when I was a teenager. At least that was the first time the darkness that seemed to be a part of me was given a name. Since that time I have been on a lifelong journey to squash those demons. As Oprah might say, this one thing I know for sure: depression is not just an emotional disease. It affects the body and the spirit as well. Like the commercials say, depression hurts. And, like a tornado, it can turn everything in its path upside down not just the person who has it.

Here's the good news. Depression, like diabetes, can be managed and kept at bay. I found that the fight needs to be a three-pronged attack - physically, spiritually and emotionally. My saving grace was that along the way I found therapists to walk with me on my journey. Sometimes they led the way, sometimes they followed. I think there were even a few times when they encouraged me to STOP so we could both catch our breath and determine which road we were going to take. I wouldn't be here today if not for their wisdom and understanding.

I cannot narrow down my IWD choice to one person. Instead I pick the ladies who have been with me when I was curled up in a fetal position or standing on the top of a mountain top saying "Hurrah for me!"

I know it seems a little weird that there are so many. I've come to believe that each of these women was put in my life at just the right time by Divine providence. Each lady appeared exactly when I needed the special gift she had to offer. I have been blessed.

When I was 15 I had my first emotional breakdown. That episode brought with it a lot of firsts. First time in a hospital psychiatric ward. First (and only, thank God) time I was tied to my bed to keep me from throwing a temper tantrum. First time on anti-depressant medications. First time I felt safe enough to give my feelings a voice. First time I learned what it was like to have some one listen to me.

The psychaitrist I began seeing, Dr. Margaret Winn, was a bit of a character. She was quite tall, always wore high heeled shoes which accented her height. Her bleached blond hair was teased and sprayed into a bouffant do that wouldn't have moved in a cyclone. She wore bright red lipstick and chain smoked filtered cigarettes. She took copious notes as I rambled on about whatever. She might have been a little cold, she wasn't a hugging type of therapist. But I grew to trust her and I grew to understand how important it was to have a voice.

I got married, had children, suffered some emotional setbacks but kept myself together - sort of - until my second break down in 1981. I had a complete separation of who I was inside and who I was trying to be on the outside. Basically I was lost. I began the long way back to myself when my husband went on a 6 month deployment. I liken this part of my life to a re-birth experience. I was so fragile, it was like the therapist I was seeing (a man) had to care for me like I was an infant. Even looking back on it now I wonder how I did it. It's like I was 2 different people. One who was put together and functioning like an adult for all the world to see and another who barely felt alive in the privacy of her own room.

Enter Lisa Smith. Lisa was tall and thin with long blond hair. Her office was tiny but dressed artfully. I felt safe with her. If Dr. Greff got the reborn infant, Lisa had to deal with the toddling youngster trying to learn how to walk through a minefield of unaddressed emotions. Then Lisa, like the man before her, told me she was moving out of state and we had to end our relationship. I was in a safe place, but I don't know for sure if I was in a growing place. I wouldn't have ever said it was time to move on. She cut the strings for me.

Remember that stubborn streak I mentioned in another post? I decided I was going to lick depression on my own, no meds, no shrinks, no rules. I started acting out - kind of like the rebellious teenager I never got to be. This option didn't really work for me. I called Christine and began growing up in earnest. Two steps forward and several backward, but Chris never left me. She listened. She encouraged. She pointed me in the direction of 12-step meetings. She called a spade a spade. It was Chris who said to me with a precise mixture of firmness and gentleness that the situation called for, "Mary don't ever tell me again you don't do anger."

Huh? Me angry? Never. Yeh, well maybe she was right. And every time I feel my blood start to boil, I have to say to myself, she was right. I still don't like it. But hopefully I've learned how to tame it.

When I made the decision to move back to Florida to help take care of my mom, Christine sent me on my way promising that I'd be okay. It's been 13 years. I still have dreams where I'm trying to call her and can't remember the phone number. When I wake up, I check the number to make sure I still have it if I need it. Every once in a while I dial it just to hear her voice on the answering machine.

Before I left I asked Chris about a poster she had on her wall that I saw every time I walked into her office. The picture is of an Amish quilt. In small print near the bottom there is a quote by Sue Bender, "Miracles happen after a lot of hard work." That pretty much summed up my experience with Christine. Hard work and miracles.

Since I've been home depression, my nemesis, has returned a few times. I knew I needed to be on medication. For me clinical depression is very clearly a chemical imbalance that needs to be controlled by pharmaceuticals. I've stopped fighting it. I've learned to read my body and my moods and know when things are getting a little out of whack. I am followed by a psychiatrist which, in my opinion, is the best way to handle these types of meds.

Through Dr. Joseph I worked with not one but two ladies. I've learned talk therapy is as necessary as Prozac to keep my moods in check. With Ginny Boney I've done some pretty intensive inner child work. In the end, after all the crying, all the talking, all the journaling a lot of my problems boil down to a need to re-parent the little girl inside of me who gets so easily scared and upset. When I'm sitting in Ginny's office, clutching a couch pillow like a teddy bear, Ginny's soft, gentle voice speaks to that child. She helps me to listen to that little one who cries out, "Hey, what about me!!!" By hugging me like a mother and a friend, Ginny has taught me how to hug myself.


Mmmmmmmmm. I'm sitting here all alone but feeling kind of embraced in a circle of love. Again I have to say I am blessed. Thanks for reading this really long post. I hope I've conveyed how special these ladies have been to me. I know the onus is now on me. To give back some of what I've received. To reach out, to listen, to be gentle, and to hug the people I come in contact with. For it is in the giving that we all receive.

I close with this prayer: Let us go forth then, O Living and Loving God. Let us go forth in the power of Your Presence deep in our hearts, and the power of your presence overflowing in our communities. Let us go forth confirmed and strengthened in our vision. Let us go forth named in Hope and Love, and sustained in these challenging times. Let us go forth as valiant women of justice and peace.*

God bless you all, Merry ME

*http://www.sistersofmercy.org/index/php?option=com_content&task=view&id=340&Itemid=224

16 comments:

Merry ME said...

Ginny left this comment a few weeks ago and it is so GOOD I wanted to make sure it got posted again for everyone to read. Ginny, thanks for this great message. And you are so right on. ~ME

What a great idea! Thank you. After much thought and 12 years of really hard self-reflection, learning control is an illusion and some other really valuable words of wisdom.....I honestly believe the most important woman and influential woman and the one who has taught me the most has been ME:) I even have a hard time typing this because of the 'old stuff' my own mother placed in my head---for better or worse----BUT truly, were it not for my own efforts, desire to get out of the negatives and leave 'victimhood' behind me as a woman........I would not have been able or continue to be able to grow and learn from other women.....so as a program I am involved with says "Let it Begin with Me"....I celebrate Myself today and thank you for allowing me to do so with other great women all around the cyberspace world. We ALL have such goodness within us:) for some, it is quite the archeological dig, but worth the dust and tears to find the treasures:)

February 21, 2009 9:52 AM

Merry ME said...

And Kim said this:

There are many who have impacted my life:grandmothers, mother, friends, but most recently I am going to say my friend SORROW!

She has had an enormous affect on me and how I view life and giving from the heart.

February 20, 2009 7:48 PM

Anonymous said...

I've grown into (and continue growing into) a whole person who is independent and happy and healthy and full of gratitude because of this crew of amazing women:

Mom (Merry Me!)
Linda
Molly Jo
Akiko
Zohreh
Kathy
Shannon
Michele
Rachel
Jenni
Erika and Kate
Michelle
Deb
Jenner

They're givers of many hugs and pep talks. They make me laugh. And they taught me that strength comes from within through words and example.

For all you do, girls, this bud's for you. Love you all.
~w

Fire Byrd said...

I would like to honour;
My mum, Maureen, who was the most generous and compassionate person I have ever met, and if I end up half as good as her I will be doing alright.
My sister Nicky, who is two years younger than me. We have always been there for each other, supporting each other through everything.
My neice Ellie, a beautiful 24yr old woman, who is taking her world by storm.
I love you three and miss one of you so much,it's just as well Nicky and Ellie are around to make that lose bearable

My beloved friends,some known for ever and some new, but all important
Ushi
Jenny
Liz
Wendy
Maxine
Sorrow
Julia
Allison
Janet
Angela
I love you all so much. You make my world a safe place when the times are good and even more when they are bad.
They are without doubt the best gang of friends anyone could have.

I also need to include to heros from the past, who inspired me as a young woman, and without their influence I wouldn't be where I am today. They were both nurses, as I started my professional life being.
Florence Nighingale
Edith Clavell

And cause it's a celebration I've brought along a bottle of Champagne to share to raise a glass to all wonderful women everywhere.
mandy x

Merry ME said...

Here's what Sherri had to say:
Sherri has left a new comment on your post "International Women's Day":

Terri St. Cloud is not only my cousin, but my best friend. If anyone in this world deserves a tribute, it is Terri. As an artist, and as a beautiful soul, she touches people in a way that is truly amazing. She radiates joy, love, compassion and generosity to everyone she meets, and through her artwork and “bonesigh” poems, she reaches into other people’s souls and heals their hearts. In addition to helping others in this way, she is one of the most courageous, intelligent and beautiful women I know. She tells her story so she can help others find their way from the dark depths of despair into the light. She has a heart as big as the universe and is filled with wisdom and compassion, even for those who have stomped on her own heart, and left it to bleed. She has also raised three amazing boys and is the best mom I’ve ever seen. Terri is the epitome of a life lived large, and I’m so very proud of her, and blessed to have her in my life, as are so many others who are fortunate enough to be touched by her beautiful spirit. She is my inspiration to be a better person, she is a supreme example of love in action. Terri, I salute you on International Women’s Day! You deserve it more than any woman I know. Love you!



Posted by Sherri to Random Thoughts at March 8, 2009 7:12 AM

Anonymous said...

We can learn to know ourselves and our own capabilities by seeing that other woman are strong. My mom has always and continues to stand tall to all the challenges in life. She definitely is the one woman who has made an impact on my life. Thank You for you. Your an amazing woman. -Trish

terri said...

there's no way to pick just one woman. we all know that. there's
so many incredible women who touched my life and changed me.
i went for the one who saved me.

she was a working mom with two little girls and a husband to juggle.
there's no way she had any extra time. and yet, every time i needed her,
she was there. she was the person who listened to every crazy story
in the middle of the most insane, difficult time of my life. she's the one
who reminded me i wasn't crazy. she's the one who reminded me that
i deserved goodness. she's the one who reminded me who i was when
i couldn't remember on my own. i feel like she saved me when i was
drowning. i have not once been able to say that out loud without choking
up. and i have never felt that i have found a way to truly thank her for
what she did for me.

you can't just do that for someone without being a remarkable person.
gentle, loving, giving, kind....all those words make up lynn. but there's
more than i'll ever have words for. her essence is love, her essence is
beauty....her essence is woman. it is to both lynn and the essence of
woman that she embodies that i bow today.

JoyZAChoice said...

There are quite a few women who've had such a great influence on me. Of course, my mom was one of them. But today, I'd like to shout out HUGE love to my sister, Cricket. She is, without doubt, one of the true Angels among us. She has a heart the size of the Grand Canyon...and she gives her love without bounds. As a 'big girl', Cricket has gently guided me toward the kinder part of my Self. She loves me, no matter how I act. She loves me, even when I don't love myself. In my world, she is my inspiration to kindness. I am both grateful and honored to know her. Buon La Dia de Dona, Sorella Mia!
My heart always~
Livee~~~

Catherine said...

Flora Agnes Remick, born in November 1889, was my grandmother on my mother’s side. She was a woman of quiet dignity.
She grew up in Boston, always a lady.
I never visited my grandmother that she didn’t have a smile and warm words to welcome you along with wonderful baked goods. She welcomed everyone, never judging.
She always made doughnuts on the day the water man delivered water because she knew he enjoyed them. When I was first learning to sew in my early 20’s she would look at what I did and gently suggest better ways to do it. She never criticized.
As she aged she couldn’t get around well but she managed to get her walker or wheel chair into the kitchen to make those raisin filled cookies I loved. She never complained. While money was always in short supply, she would share her last dollar with you.
I stopped by to visit one day after my grandfather had died and found her crying. She quickly put the tears away but shared that she was lonely. Even though I lived very close and my mother lived next door, she missed the husband she had been married to for over 60 years. She died one year after he did.
My grandmother didn’t go to college, didn’t work outside the home, didn’t write a book or paint pictures. What she did was give of herself to her family, friends, neighbors and strangers but always took care of herself as well.
Her warmth, her smile, her ability to listen, despite her hardships make her a model for me as I grow older.

terri said...

this is from my buddy kevin....
he asked me to help him post it up here....

To my biggest fans and most influential women in my life... Mom and Grandma Mary. I got my bubbly personality and over the top side from my Mother. That's For Sure! Also the stubborn side, but still love ya Ma!!! and Granny and I got to be great friends and support later in my life. But sure am glad we got to spend the time together, as your friendship has been a blessing in my life. To all women out there... Happy International Women's Day! Peace, Harmony, KC

squarepegperson said...

this is a lovely idea - it occurs to me that DAILY adding PEOPLE I feel grateful for to my list gratitudes would really keep me smiling...

usually for this kind of thing I'd be flummoxed about WHO to pick..there are so many..but I got ideas from earlier commenters (what a cheater - grin) - the idea of naming someone from the PAST would not have occurred to me..but seeing it here - it totally fit for me

The woman I bring to the party is Diane, my partner in lab work when we were graduate school students together - and who became a dear friend. Diane was the first person to be a container for me - someone who held some of my feelings (and she did it gracefully and with much love!).

Diane was also the first person I felt safe enough to cry in front of - I'd learned that being vulnerable was not safe.

As I look back, I can see that Diane was the first person to teach me about real relationship.

Thanks for this opportunity to remember - and to honor someone who totally opened a door in my life!!

Sorrow said...

Sorry to show up late to the party..
isn't that the way to make an entrance?
I had trouble figuring out where to leave my comment?
or where to leave my wonderful women...
Her name was Lois, and she was my friend, mentor and dearest neighbor when i was at that awkward teen age,
She gave me so many gifts, but she is one of the many reasons why I don't give up, keep trying, and striving.
to Lois...

Josh said...

I've had such great female influences in my life. My mother, for starters. While she did the obvious nine months of hard labor, she went above and beyond, and made mothering an ART. I'm grateful to her every day.

I've had an amazing principal who not only taught me about school and live, but sadness and death and how to die a full life.

But the woman I'd like to honor today does not consider herself a shining star in the sky of life. Her name is Danelle.

My brothers and I met Danelle on what I sincerely hope was the worst day of her life - because it should never be that bad again. We were all in my brother's pickup truck, going to race go karts at the parking lot. We passed this couple standing on the side - "Help, help! Call the police!" We thought she was laughing - she was sobbing. Her boyfriend had beaten her face bloody.

The guys and I had never witnessed domestic violence before. It affected us profoundly. We sat with her while we waited for the cops, her coward long since fled. Standing with her at times, and backing far enough away so she could cry without inhibition, we finally brought her home to mom so she could get herself cleaned up. While it was only a small gash above her right eye, the resulting hole in her soul is one I'll never forget.

I'd like to take this opportunity to honor Danelle, as I have a feeling she's never been honored before. I haven't seen her since, and will probably never see her again. While she'll never know, she has affected me greatly in my journey of life, and to understand. For this, I honor her, cry with her, and lift her up. I really hope she's found some peace.

Bless you, Danelle.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting concept to me- to honor women who made a difference in my life. I believe my Mom has betrayed my heart more than any other person. I grew up in a very hurtful home. One where I was abused both physically and sexually by two older brothers. When I told of the abuse my Mom chose them. Later after I had my first baby and set boundaries with my brothers; she chose them. As I have struggled to be a mother and heal from the abuse she has been with them. The one who commits to nurture, protect, and love has abandoned and betrayed. So throughout my life I’ve found trust difficult to offer to anyone but have been fairly successful with my dear husband. Yet, I found it particularly difficult with women.

But it depends on where I focus because three women in particular have had a great influence on my life. By doing seemingly small things they have had a great tremendous influence. Let me tell you their stories.

The first is Susan. She was my P.E. and health teacher in junior high. She has a zest for life and a love for her students. In her I found a sense of safety, a sense of security, and a sense of confidence in me. She saved my life. As a fourteen year old girl I told my Mom and a church leader of the abuse I endured. They did nothing. They did not report to the authorities, they did not get us into counseling, and they did not keep my brothers away from me. Two weeks elapsed and all that had happened was a death threat from my brothers. I was scared. I had already turned to my Mom who else should I turn to? So I went to Susan. She believed me. She acted. Those two simple things saved me. If she would have turned me away or if she would have insinuated it was my fault the chances of me acknowledging and dealing with abuse in my life were slim. Years later she told me that she cried for me that night she found out. That made a world a difference to my heart because very few people acted sad that me as a little girl had been hurt. Her courage to help me saved me. She gave me the protection I needed and answered my call for help. She taught me the way I would like to interact with others especially teenage girls. She taught me I was important enough to cry over. I love her and I thank her.

The second is Sally. She was my first foster mother. After I told Susan about the abuse I was interviewed by the police and immediately put in foster care. As a very scared little girl I was placed in Sally’s home. For a couple of short months of my life, I saw a family that had two parents that loved their children and loved each other. They were kind enough to allow a stranger into their home. Sally took the time in many ways to be there for me. After school as she made dinner I would sit and she would talk to me about my day. The first time in my life someone was interested to know what happened to me in my day. Her influence gave me hope. The type of hope that says yes one day you can create a peaceful home and a loving family. Her influence dared me to try to create my deepest dream. I love her and I thank her.

The third is Susan. She came into my life about a year and half ago. It was a very difficult time in my life. I was pregnant with my second child and I felt hopeless to be a good mother. I was scared of bringing another child into my life where I could possibly hurt them. I was in the middle of the strenuous journey of dealing with my abuse in counseling. I was emotional and strange. Susan has willingly been there. She has been there as I awkwardly try to develop a friendship with a female. She has not judged, has not pushed. She has respected boundaries. She has talked and walked many miles with me and never made me feel inadequate. She has loved me. She has cared about me. She has given me a sense that she believes in my ability to heal and ability to be a mother. She has shown me friendship is possible and is safe. She is even willing to be my back up babysitter in an emergency. She is real. I love her and I thank her.

I Love and appreciate these three women.

P.S.- I guess I owe my mother a thank you also. Two reasons- the first, she has shown me all the ways I do not want to be as a mother. I want to love, protect, and cherish my precious babies. The second, she gave me the strong willed nature to make the first happen. She gave me the stubbornness to stay alive and to fight for what I believe in, to not stop until I am healed and I become the mother I dream about. So thank you and in spite of everything I love you too.

Kimberly

Melissa said...

I know that I am a few days late, but it took me this long to choose someone!
There are so many women who have helped to shape me into the woman that I am today. Names and faces have been flooding through my memory. Family, friends, teachers, pastors, co-workers. And as I was trying to narrow it down it occured to me how lucky and blessed I am to have been touched by so many of these amazing women.

My first thought was my younger sister, Emily. Through her death, she has launched me on an 11 month journey into myself, and has forced me to dig deep within to discover who I am. Her life helped to shape me, and her death has changed me. But I write about her in my blog all the time. I don't want to dwell on the sad today.

So I've chosen to honor the woman who first taught me to honor myself. Who believed in me more than I ever believed in myself. My 11th grade AP English teacher, Mrs. Jill Pike.

You always have that one teacher who goes the extra mile. Who goes beyond caring about what's in your mind and cares about what also is in your heart. Mrs. Pike was that teacher for me. I actually had gotten to know her my 10th grade year. I was part of a Bible group that met in her classroom after school. She wasn't "allowed" to participate, per se, but she opened up her room for us. She was always smiling, she was always laughing. Then the next year I was put into her English class. I was 16 and struggling with alot of issues. My self-confidence and self-esteem were at an all-time low. She always had a kind word for me, and if she saw that I was especially quiet, she was quick with a hug. I often stopped by after school to talk to her and she always made the time to listen.

She was the first person who encouraged me to write. She was the first person to tell me that I had a gift with words. My senior year I did an independent study of creative writing, and she was my advisor. I'll never forget her reaction to the first part of my short story I turned in. She met me in the hall, gave me a huge high -five, and shouted "YESS!!" right there in the middle of the hallway. She told me it was one of the best pieces she'd read that was written by a student.

When I was applying for college, I asked her to write a reccomendation letter for me. What she wrote and the things she said about me mean more than I could ever say. I knew how much she meant to me, and how much I admired her, but I'd had no idea just how much she thought of me until I read that letter. I still carry it with me in the front of my Bible, and even all these years later her words still remind me that I matter. That I have talent. And that someone believed in me.

Mrs. Pike taught me so much more than just English class. She encouraged me to speak up and to let my voice be heard. And more importantly, she started me on the journey to realizing that what I had to say was worth being heard.

swallowtail said...

Hi Merry ME! I made it!!! Thank you for this opportunity to speak... and my Mary is coming over Sat. night, so we may be posting again...

Thank you for this post...it is wonderful to read all of these comments/contributions.

My mother, Mary. My Grandma Annie. My Aunt Dorothy. My sister Rosalie. My cousin MaryLiz. My daughters Devorah, Sarah and Elisabeth. My husband's daughters Ixchel and Vanessa. My granddaughters Rebekah, Mary, Kaitlyn and Annie. And two step-granddaughters, Alexandria and one whom I do not know her name.

These women, family women, making their way in this world, gifted with the way of the women before them. The road is not always easy, but it is lined with the love and light of women.

xoxoLC