Editorials for 2011

Editorials provided by contributing members of WRC.

 


Editorial November/December 2011

Last November when I volunteered to write the editorial for this final issue of The Weaver for 2011‚ I imagined I would write about the changes happening in our organization and say my goodbyes. I had planned to step down at the end of this year but‚ life tends to go its own way and I find that I still need and want to be involved so I’m not going anywhere‚ at least for another year. Now‚ what I really want to write about is friendship.

The FRWRC was conceived fifteen years ago on October 17‚ 1996 and was brought into being because of my friendship with Judi Booe‚ without whom the FRWRC never would have been birthed. I had been transplanted to Front Royal from my home in the Pacific Northwest and had been knocking around the area for seven years without really finding my niche. Along the way though‚ I kept meeting amazing women so I knew there was a community of kindred souls here‚ I just didn’t know how to connect with them since I didn’t belong to any community organizations or to a church community. It was out of my longing to find some deep friendships with other women that the idea of the FRWRC was born. Of course there were altruistic reasons as well but at the heart of the idea was this longing to find good friends. I sincerely believe that this is still at the heart of the FRWRC and is the reason why we have come this far so effortlessly and have attracted so many wonderful women — we have found friends.

Recently a number of studies about women’s friendships have been making news again. While driving home one afternoon‚ I heard a doctor say that women’s friendships are just as important to our health as diet and exercise. I decided then and there to stop feeling guilty about all the times I skipped going to the gym and went out to lunch with a friend instead. I was making a healthy choice after all!

In fact‚ our female friendships seem to be rising to the top of the mental and physical health needs lists. Back in 2002‚ a UCLA landmark study found that friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we can become. They soothe our emotions‚ fill the emotional gaps in our marriage‚ and help us remember who we really are. But that’s not all – scientists have now proven that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the irritating stress most of us experience on a daily basis. It’s all due to a lovely little hormone called oxytocin that is released when we experience stress. Instead of a “fight of flight” response‚ oxytocin makes women want to take care of children and bond with each other. I’m wondering if there could be some way to air drop oxytocin over Washington D.C. Unfortunately I don’t think it has any affect on men.

Friends help us live better and longer. The famed Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women have‚ the less likely we are to develop physical problems as we grow older. In fact the researchers concluded that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to our health as smoking or carrying extra weight. When we do get sick‚ our friendships help us heal quicker‚ spend less time in hospitals and recover from the death of a spouse.

In October I traveled to the Pacific Northwest to help a long–time treasured friend who had just undergone a serious neck surgery. I mostly just lay along–side her in bed while she was resting and we talked. We talked about everything – our marriages‚ our crazy youth‚ incontinence‚ dry vaginas‚ old boyfriends‚ cute clothes – you know‚ women’s talk. And we laughed‚ lots and lots. We still find each other terribly amusing after all these years. After I returned home‚ I received the most wonderful phone message from her. She told me that she felt so much calmer and more grounded and knew that she would fully recover. I felt the same way‚ as if our time together had resurrected some part of me that I had lost touch with – the calmer‚ happier me that feels comfortable just being in my own bones.

We have all had experiences like this and aren’t we lucky! I know that my greatest gift in this life has been my friendships and I have been deeply blessed with an abundance of wonderful friends. I end this piece with my deepest gratitude to all of you. Whether you have been with the FRWRC for some time or are just new to our organization‚ I thank you for being in my life. You help keep me young. You help me remember who I am. Thank you for being my friends.

 

JoEllen McNeal

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Editorial September/October 2011

Fall 2011

Happy Fall! We have had a couple of coolish nights so fall must be close. Back to school‚ pumpkins and flannel‚ I love fall. Since I became a mom‚ my days are different. My girls are 16 months old now and I swear it is like living with monkeys! Somebody asked me the other day if they are walking‚ and it is more like running‚ in opposite directions‚ naked with a diaper on their heads.

They are into everything and nothing is safe. My mom says they go from zero to disaster is 5.2 seconds. In past falls‚ I would be planning football tailgates and bonfires. This year I am cleaning house with a shovel and trying to climb to the top of Mount Laundry. How things change. Still it has been the hardest‚ best thing I have ever done. I am not too proud to say that nap time is my favorite part of the day.

It has helped that we have established a loose schedule. After lunch‚ the girls play in their playroom while I clean up lunch. Sometimes this requires a putty knife and sandpaper but usually a hose and bucket suffice.

Last week‚ I put them in the playroom of the kitchen and got busy with lunch dishes. A few minutes later‚ I recognized the tell tale smell of a messy diaper. So I asked Lucy if she had poopy pants. She put both hands on her booty and when she pulled them back they were covered. I glanced at Janey and sure enough she had some in her hair. What happened next could only be described as a Poo–Nami (like a tsunami but so much smellier!) Somehow we can put a man on the moon but we can’t make a diaper that keeps the surprise on the inside. I have dreams of using duct tape‚ staples and or even restricting fiber‚ but that seems wrong even in my sleep deprived state.

So there I was‚ more poop on the outside than the inside‚ and the only thing filthier than the room was the girls themselves. I stripped them down‚ hosed them off in the kitchen sink. Yeah‚ I said it the kitchen sink‚ and then onto the tub. Baths‚ laundry started‚ walls scrubbed‚ shoes scoured‚ pillows soaking and enough carpet cleaner to give the folks at Lowes a run for their money. The worst part and moms you know what I am talking about‚ the smell stuck with me all day! I showered twice and could still smell it!

Why am I sharing all of this with you? Hopefully it got a chuckle or two‚ but that isn’t the real reason. No‚ it is to remind us all that there is always someone that has it worse off than you do. I know some days are rough‚ the washing machine is leaking‚ the dinner burned or the boss was a jerk. But you can feel good because there wasn’t poonami at your house now was there? We all have our blessings too but sometimes when you are in the midst of your own poonami it is hard to keep your eye on the good. The smell of the bad stuff just sticks with you. As women we sometimes put our own needs on the back burner while caring for children‚ partners and parents. Throw working‚ volunteering and housework into the mix and it is no wonder we get sucked into the darkside. I don’t have the answers‚ shoot most days I don’t even shower‚ but I do know this. Our lives have good and bad‚ if we can focus on the good and try to laugh our way through the bad‚ we might get through this with our sanity intact. Remember I said might.

 

(Note: Molly is the mother of 16 month–old twin girls‚ Lucy and Jane.)

 

Molly Steadman

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Editorial May/June 2010

Spring 2011

It is mid–April as I write this. What a joy to walk out into warmth and sunshine again! I can feel my chest expand and my bones loosen. The bluebells along the Shenandoah River are glorious‚ as always. My daffodils bob their cheery heads. Dark memories of carrying groceries up the icy walk from the bottom of our driveway only increase my pleasure when I look out at the red tulips now lining this same walkway. (Where do those bulbs get that intense color?) Driving into town‚ my spirits are lifted by the sight of deep magenta beginning to line the redbud branches‚ hinting of more to come. If I were in charge‚ I’d give redbuds a less blowsy hue — more like that of the flowering quince. Nevertheless‚ I am grateful for the cheer they bring to every roadside I travel this time of year. We are on the up side of nature’s cycle. Yet even as we celebrate spring‚ an earthquake of a magnitude beyond understanding brings unimaginable suffering to the Japanese people; megalomaniac leaders in the Middle East shoot their own citizens; Somali pirates terrorize innocents in the waters off the African coast; a dear friend begins her battle with breast cancer.

I recently read a novel in which a character went on about how the world never really changes… It doesn’t progress in a positive way; the details and the names change‚ but evil‚ natural disasters and greed persist. He urged the reader to forget trying to change the world. “Let go of that grand ambition‚” was his advice. I don’t remember the title of the book or its author‚ but I was stopped in my tracks by this idea. It was a notion I resisted‚ but clearly it struck a chord with me. In some way‚ I found it a freeing thought. Wishing to change the world in a profound and lasting way can simply lead to inaction; the task is too great. I am not so naive as to expect the world to be free of natural disasters‚ why would I expect the world to ever be free of despots‚ greedy money lenders‚ or pirates? This realization need not lead to despair‚ for it helps us focus on what we can do‚ and we can do much to bring peace and beauty into the world. I honor the women among us who do so very much for our community. The need will never go away; our will and hard work will always be vital. I celebrate our group of accomplished and giving women who take time to listen to their inner voices… wise women who take time to delve into the rivers of meaning that flow beneath the surface of our daily lives.

… But in the dark weeping helpless moments of peace
Arrive; ceaseless the water ripples‚ love
Speaks through the river in its human voices.
Through every power to affirm and heal
The unknown world suggests the air and golden
Familiar flowers‚ and the brief glitter of waves‚
And dreams‚ and leads me always to the real…

— Muriel Rukeyser

Although there is reason to weep‚ the sun is shining now; the flowers are blooming now. It is impossible to miss the beauty that surrounds us. It is spring!

… Go to the song that’s in a bird
When he has seen the glistening tree‚
That glorious tree the bird has heard
Give praise for its felicity.

Then go to the earth and touch it keen‚
Be tree and bird‚ be wide aware
Be wild aware of light unseen‚
And unheard song along the air.

— Richard Eberhart

Janet Brome

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Editorial March/April 2011

Are you yearning for a hint of spring?

Are you yearning for a hint of spring? Spring means hope‚ joy‚ nature‚ smiles and warmth. Aren’t these the same adjectives that describe a woman?

After interacting with all the women at our recent gathering at Samuels Public Library‚ I would say our community has many women of substance. A woman of substance is a phrase used to discover what defines a woman. Dictionary.com lists substance as solid character or quality; another definition includes “… consistency‚ body‚ and something that has separate or independent existence”. I saw many women with strong character and consistency that evening. There was more to each of us than meets the eye – especially as I watched us all express ourselves through movement. Our women have a variety of interests outside and within their homes and families. We are all interesting to get to know‚ and all possess a depth of personality and character.

Back to spring – my favorite flowers are those that bloom in the spring – yellow daffodils‚ purple iris‚ crocus of many colors‚ tulips‚ lily of the valley‚ lilacs and the beautiful Virginia bluebell. Each one has a distinct style and personality much like each of us. I visualize each of you and see you become one of these spring beauties in order to make a perfect bouquet. Our organization‚ WRC‚ is a perfect bouquet of blossoms.

“Women opened windows of my eyes and the doors of my spirit‚” wrote Kahlil Gibran. “Had it not been for the woman-mother‚ the woman-sister‚ and the woman-friend‚ I would have been sleeping among those who disturb the serenity of the world with their snores.” We can be so proud that we are women‚ mothers‚ sisters and friends who have provided a unique perspective to our community. And with our spring breakfast which honors our Dare to Dream winners coming soon‚ we will continue to attract women of substance into our organization.

Mary Ellen South

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Editorial January/February 2011

When I Grow Up I Want to Be

You should never give up on things you want to do. When I was a young girl my mantra was “when I grow up, I’m going to-“. I had dreams of going to college, becoming a physical education teacher, or a great athlete, or an engineer. So in high school, I transferred to a technical school where I majored in Engineering- Drafting. This was a three year course of study which prepared you for an entry level job upon graduation. One would think this was good preparation for someone who was planning to pay for college. My dream changed as abruptly as graduation from high school because of my family situation. So I went to work instead of starting college.

But this was not the end of my dream. When opportunity comes knocking you listen. It was not what I started out to do but it was better than I ever expected my life to be. The profession of nursing was introduced to me along with an opportunity to go to nursing school so when I settled in to it I knew I had found my dream. Now in my senior years I still have dreams and “when I grow up” I am going to do other things that I haven’t had time to do yet.

One of our Dare to Dream winners from last year made a plan for herself and is on the way to accomplishing her goal. Felicia was 18 when she applied for the Dare to Dream Grant Her application letter was inspiring. She seemed to have her life plan in place. She was a senior in high school taking cosmetology. She needed money to finish high school and the cosmetology course so that she can put herself through College to become a veterinarian. Her family helped her as much as they could financially but she needed a little help that the Dare to Dream Grant could provide. She came with her mother to the March breakfast and accepted the grant. She was as eager and enthusiastic as anyone could be. I called her recently to see where she is in her journey. She says she will finish the cosmetology course this month [December 2010] and begin studying at Lord Fairfax Community College in January.

When the selection committee read Felicia’s application it was apparent that this person knows where she’s going and how she’s going to get there. If you have a dream and need some help to make it happen, consider applying for the grant. Grants are available up to $1000. You need to specify the amount needed and know that you may not get the full amount. Your application needs to be as comprehensive as possible to allow us to evaluate each candidate. You may pick up an application for the Dare to Dream Grant by calling the Women’s Resource Center at (540)636-7007, email wrc@frwrc.org or look at the library, book stores, and many businesses around town.

You must be female, live in Front Royal and be 18 years old or older. Applications must be postmarked by 5 PM, Feb. 1, 2011.

Go ahead, have a dream and become what you always wanted to be.

Betty Tice, co-chair of Dare to Dream Grant

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Editorials 2011