Dignity is an Illusion

2019-11-07T15:59:16-08:00Categories: education, faith and doubt, family, memoir, midlife|Tags: , , , , |

            “Dignity is an illusion,” I took to saying during a particularly rough year of my life. I don’t know where it came from, or when exactly I first said it, but it made me laugh. Which helped. Dignity was in short supply that year. Rejection was the theme of the hour. Publishers were rejecting my first book (a novel, which remains unpublished.) My husband was rejecting our marriage (a miserable phase for both of us, which thankfully ended and now seems so long ago now I sometimes can’t believe it ever happened.) I was applying for full-time jobs for the first time in quite a while, and getting a lot of “sorrys,” which I took to mean I was too old (40) and professionally out-of-shape (true). Meanwhile, I watched helplessly as my mother experienced the worst rejection of all: she was diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s. Her dignity was in the shredder. Dignity is an illusion. These four words became my gallows-humor motto that year, and they have stayed with me ever since. If a phrase can be a teacher, this one has been mine. And here’s what it’s taught me: Cling to dignity and you’ll be left with nothing, including your dignity. Acknowledge that dignity is nothing but a pleasant illusion and you will be empowered. Those kids in the office where you finally land a job who think you’re old? Who cares! Show them how little you value dignity and they will judge you differently: perhaps even on the [...]

Hiatus

2013-05-29T11:22:33-07:00Categories: midlife, parenting, quiet|Tags: , |

We were going to camp, but the weather was terrible. Instead, we rented a tiny cottage on the Washington coast. It has a wood stove and a big window, so we can watch the storm pound the beach in comfort. There is room, in this cabin, for exactly two people: my husband and me. About fifteen years ago, we rented a pair of houses up the beach a ways. There were eight of us—my sister and her family and me and mine. Four adults, four kids. Beach fires, forts, expeditions, charades, a new puppy—it was a hectic, joyful blast of a trip. It was a different time of life. A wonderful time. I feel lucky to have had such a wonderful time. We still feel lucky. We have two young adult children who actually want to hang out with us reasonably often, and we treasure our time together. But we also have this: the flexibility to sneak off to the beach and rent a place the size of a dollhouse, where we can read, write, walk, eat and sleep when we want. The Washington coast is a good place to ponder the passage of time. Little changes here, and yet everything does. The wind and waves push the sand without ceasing: every day, the beach is brand new. Two years ago, when I began writing these commentaries for KBCS radio, I thought I would reflect frequently on the passage of time and this big life transition from a full nest to a “restless” one. More often, [...]

FLOTUS

2012-09-05T14:32:29-07:00Categories: politics, women's rights|Tags: , , , , , |

My daughter just tweeted this: “FLOTUS is my favorite OTUS.” After watching Michelle Obama light up the screen at the Democratic National Convention, I couldn't agree more.  Maybe I’ll change my mind Thursday night, when POTUS takes the stage. But for now, I’m grateful for FLOTUS—aka the First Lady of the United States—who sure washed away my GOP-red-stained blues. What a difference a week makes. This is a non-broadcast Restless Nest: typically I write on deadline for KBCS radio, but the conventions have given me a two-week break. I’m going to do some housekeeping—watch for some new pages on the blog  and a new URL. (don’t worry: you’ll be redirected). Meanwhile, I offer you a very few of my own favorite blogs: A Little Elbow Room: I love this week’s piece, “Pass me my blog.” Love the idea that we bloggers are creating a new literary tradition. A Geography of Reading: if you want to go beyond the bestseller lists and discover the most provocative, beautifully written books in the world, Isla McKetta will take you there. You’ll get lost, happily, on this site. Matrifocal Point: after watching Lilly Ledbetter’s speech last night, I love Liza’s blog even more. There is still so much work to do towards equality for women and she is a font of inspiration. Peace Corps Gray: Ready for a challenge? How about joining the Peace Corps at 60? Marsha’s in Senegal for two years. Drop in on her now and then, via her warm, funny, honest, wise blog. Shoes on the Wrong [...]