Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

May 20, 2014

The Honor of Being Considered an Empowered Woman

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Life's Toolbox @ 9:03 pm
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A few months ago, I was approached by Emunah Women of America, asking if I would be willing to be part of their Empowered Women Spring Luncheon.  Proud of the work Emunah does, to help young women find their voice, their talents, and their way, I gladly agreed.  The luncheon was today, and was lovely.  A very good friend and some neighbors were able to attend (it is ironic that many of my totally empowered friends could not come, because they cannot be free in the middle of the day for a luncheon!).  My mother-in-law, one of my daughters-in-law, and husband were there as well.  My sons, and other daughter in law were tied up with work obligations and finals!  Missed most of all, was the presence of my parents, enjoying their Florida sunshine.  So I am including my brief thoughts below.  

Before my words, however, I have to say how humbled I was to share the honors with other amazing women, and especially the 102 year old dynamo, Dr. Ruth Gruber.  Her work, as journalist, advocate, photographer, and woman of courage and conviction is beyond inspiring.  Her and others like her not only set shining examples for today’s women, they are the trailblazers that make what we do possible. 

My remarks:

Thank you to Emunah for this lovely honor and congratulations to my fellow honorees.

When I think about empowered women, actually, when I think about women in general, I think of an act that was regularly on the Ed Sullivan show. On stage there is a row of about 15 rods standing straight up at about eye level. The performer enters and places a plate on the first rod,and spins it so that it balances. He moves to the second rod and does the same, and the third and the fourth, speeding down the row.  Of course, by the time he has the tenth plate spinning, the first is loosing steam and starting to wobble, so he hurries back there. And so his act goes, running to and fro, frenetically trying to keep his plates spinning. It may be an act on Ed Sullivan, but for women, it’s the story of our lives!

If I am an empowered woman, if I am able to keep a reasonable number of plates spinning, it is thanks to a number of important people in my life. My mom’s favorite saying, plastered on our fridge door, along with our artwork and photos has always been “There are two things we can give our children, one is roots, and the other is wings.” She gave me a home base where I felt loved and where I knew there where people who believed in me, and she also let me spread my wings . . . as long as I called and checked in with her regularly! My dad, with his shop filled with cool tools and being a perennial tinker made it clear that gender was irrelevant – curiosity mattered. If you were willing to learn, he would teach you . . . how to use a band saw, how to find studs in the wall to hang your pictures. And when I was driving a car off to college, he insisted I learn how to change the oil and a flat tire. He not only taught me how to do things, he taught me the amazing pleasure and satisfaction at being able to make things and fix things with one’s own hands.

Fast forward, to my dating years. I already had a PhD in Psychology, and for some men, a professional woman was intimidating, so there could be those uncomfortable moments when a date asked – “so what do you do?”   Since I met my husband, Mickey, when he was one of several people interviewing me for a job, there was no hiding my resume from him. . . but he married me anyway! And not only has he been okay with marrying a professional woman with a doctorate, he is my biggest supporter. I have to thank my mother-in-law Pearl Novick, and my late father-in-law, Sy, oleo hashalom (may he rest in peace), for raising sons who truly understand how to support and empower women. At every step in our lives, and at every stage in my professional career, Mickey has been an amazing cheerleader, encouraging me, advocating for me to “go for it”.  And setting a wonderful example for our sons, and now our daughters in law, who are also, great supporters.

I feel incredibly thankful and blessed to do work of meaning, to get to feel regularly, that I can and do make a difference. I am also very blessed to spend my life working with children and those who work with them. They keep forefront in my mind the potential for growth and change that we all possess.

Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav said – “If you won’t be better tomorrow than you were today, then what need do you have for tomorrow”?

Working with children helps me remember the importance of tomorrows and the endless possibilities they bring.

 

If I am an empowered woman, if I’ve been able to lean in, if I can keep many of the plates spinning, its because of the people in my life who continue to believe in me, who give me purpose, who recharge me with fun and laughter.  

So, thank you Emunah, for the work you do on behalf of children, for this amazing honor, and thanks too, for this lovely lunch, – I think it’s the first time in years that I’m not grabbing something at my desk!

 

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