Clara Barton image and bio via | repins via | via |
The only guest-pinner I could think of befitting the Independence month of July was Clara Barton. I think everyone has a foggy memory of learning about her as the founder of the American chapter of the Red Cross somewhere among the forgotten years of elementary school, but what you might not remember is that woman had some serious balls! (sorry, but seriously, that’s the only way to put it).
Interestingly enough, Clara started off her life as a terrified little soul, too timid even to continue in the school her parents sent her to and she even stopped eating, so overwhelmed was she by the interactions she was forced to make at school. But beneath her timidity, Clara was something of a brilliant tomboy. She loved to play with her male siblings and cousins and she was so good with managing children, she opened a school at the age of 17 and taught there for over a decade. When the school board hired a man over Clara to head the school she had been growing to upwards of 600 students following the completion of her own education, she up and quit, and became the first woman to hold a substantial paid job for the federal government in the U.S. Patent Office. Of course, she’s most famous for founding and leading the American chapter of the Red Cross, the first meeting of the organization actually met in her own personal apartment. What I love most about her though is that despite her ambition, insistence on fairness, and the powerful positions she held, Clara never lost sight of the fact that she was a woman and developed her teaching and nurturing strengths to influence an entire nation with her feminine abilities. If Clara Barton pinned, I think her boards would have a beautiful strength because, after all, for some things, only a woman knows best.
I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Fourth of July! I’ve got recipes and pics to share as soon as I get a moment to get them off my camera and onto this place, oh yes, and happy weekend!
Besides sending Valentines, candy-grams, and adorable yet grossly-cute messages to their BFF’s and short-lived “relationships” of elementary school, the kids packing schools across the country also celebrate some presidential lovin’ in February. With President’s day, Lincoln’s birthday and Washington’s birthday this month, we’re all about remembering some fine role models that have led our nation. With all that Presidential pride though, no one seems to give much attention to the second half that occupies the Presidential pad: The First Lady.
If the President’s role as Chief of State involves being an “inspiring example” to the American people, “upholding the highest values and ideals of the country” then I suppose we could infer that the First Lady has similar duties for leading and inspiring the women of the great U.S. of A…yes? Though not a salaried employee of the nation, and has no “official” duties, we expect our First Ladies to be the stalwart, second-half to their husband’s career. We check in to see what they’re wearing, what their workout routine is, how they interact with their family, and what kind of a hostess they are. We don’t want them to take a front seat, in fact, when Laura Bush entered the press room to lead a conference during her husband’s presidency, it rocked the news world, spawning questions about whether it was “appropriate” for President’s wives to take a more “official” role in the more serious tasks of leading the country, and, overwhelming, the answer was “no.” We want our First Ladies to maintain a very traditional “female” role it seems, out of the front seat, and safely holding together the First family behind the scenes. Even before the First Lady becomes the First Lady, we expect her to accompany the campaign stops, representing the strength of “family and marriage” to potential voters who critically eye the potential, or incumbent, leading man, often judging him on his marriage and interaction with his wife. So, what are our First Ladies telling us?
Along with President’s birthdays abounding, this month also marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, credited for beginning the second wave of feminism in the 1960’s that focused on women’s rights in the workplace, family-life, and even reproductive rights. Since its debut, the debates the book has inspired definitely have not eased. You could probably say it’s still the nation’s number one hot topic, because, for some reason, we just can’t decide what women want. Career and family? No family, I want a career…wait, no, I’m lonely…I just want a family. Wait, no, I’m feeling ambitiously starved and have sudden clouds of low self-worth…Ah! I can’t do both! I’m stressed…why can’t we be more like men? Why can’t men be more like women? Why does there have to be “men” and “women”? And on, and on, and on we go. Yet, if we take the nation’s “first couple” as our muse, since, that’s part of their “duties:” to be an example of morality, uphold the nation’s ideals, and symbolize our values, then it seems as if marriage, family, and “traditional” female roles are our ideal…doesn’t it? That’s what it appears to be, and if it is, then the militant feminists who attempt to relate that traditional family, marriage, and maintaining different male and female roles are antiquated and nothing more than patriarchal attempts of suppression have a serious First Lady problem because, the First Ladies are still up-holding traditional values. Most First Ladies spearhead their own campaigns during their husband’s presidency to be sure: focusing mostly on education, humanitarian, or women’s health issues, yet, we see them firstly as wives and mothers, the help-mate to the President and the symbol of our nations oldest and most treasured values: motherhood, marriage, strength of a traditional family, and womanhood. The debates, battles, throw-downs, and disagreements about “a woman’s place,” the relevancy of marriage, and equality between genders will continue to be waged, but, whatever side you’re on, just remember the First Ladies, they’re leading the nation’s women in age-old traditions.
Daisy Miller is a fifty-seven page novella chock full of more dating dilemmas than any Cosmopolitan magazine. Written in 1878 by Henry James, the story follows the tantalizing young American, Daisy Miller, as she captures and puzzles the heart of a foreign-bred American, Mr. Winterbourne, on her first trip abroad. Winterbourne is simultaneously shocked, intrigued, and horrified by a girl he cannot seem to fit into typical labels. The novel is meant to explore the effects of the world abroad on Americans, investigating what the consequences are of foreign elements on an otherwise centuries old mating ritual of dating and courtship. Though Winterbourne was born in America, he has spent the better part of his life in Geneva and so only knows American girls from stories about them, his interaction with tourists, and comparing them to European girls. Daisy, however, doesn’t fit into any of these categories. Abroad for the first time with a less than attentive mother, she resembles the American flirt that Winterbourne is familiar with, yet has “an inscrutable combination of audacity and innocence” that continues to confuse and irritate Winterbourne.
She was very charming…was she simply a pretty girl from New York State–were they all like that, the pretty girls who had a good deal of Gentleman’s society? Or was she also a designing, an audacious, an unscrupulous young person?
You may not see the connection between Winterbourne and Daisy’s problems to modern dating dilemmas, but if Cosmopolitan’s December 2012 “What His Text Really Means” article celebrating the 20th birthday of the text message is any indication, it appears as if the current culture, like Winterbourne, is still trying to label, pin down, and decipher a new dating journey we all embarked on over 20 years ago. If meeting, and dating, new people isn’t hard enough, add to this climate of confusion the most ambiguous form of conversation ever invented (text messaging) and you suddenly may begin to see why the current culture is full of young singles screaming for some relationship definition. Henry James was very aware of the confusion that foreign elements can bring to the dating world. When Daisy gets mixed up with the playboy Italian man, Mr. Giovanelli, Winterbourne is continually exasperated with Daisy for not being able to see through Giovanelli’s falsity: “Mr. Giovanelli had certainly a very pretty face; but Winterbourne felt a superior indignation at this own lovely fellow countrywoman’s not knowing the difference between a spurious gentleman and a real one.” James, the author, is of course making the point that Daisy struggles to see what Winterbourne sees so clearly because she is in a foreign land, with foreign men, and does not understand foreign ways. The first SMS messages may have been sent across cyber space 20 years ago, but we’re still finding this instant communication to be a very foreign, very troublesome element in our relationships. From personal experience, texts intended one way can very often be interpreted in a myriad of very different, and very wrong, ways. Just check out what dating coach Adam LaDolce interprets from these five little words in the cosmo article: “Want to meet up later? “
If a guy sends you this message before 8 p.m., it shows he’s being proactive in his attempt to see you, LoDolce says. But, if all he does is text you, and you want to see some more effort, tell him you prefer to talk on the phone. “This will separate the guys who want a relationship from the ones who don’t,” he says. “If he calls, it’s a fair assumption that he’s interested in something more than just a booty call.
That’s a lot of definition. It might be true, sure, but, it might not…but, then again, who would know? You can’t hear his voice, see his face, or read his body language…You just got five little words to base a rather significant decision on. In Daisy Miller, the conclusion for the confused lovers doesn’t end in a “happily ever after.” Daisy finds herself becoming pulled deeper into a foreign world she falsely believes she understands, until, in a late night rendevous with Mr. Giovanelli in the Roman Coliseum, she catches the “Roman fever” and dies. Winterbourne, blaming his own years in a foreign land, determines that if he had not spent so many years in a land that wasn’t his birthright, he perhaps could have better interpreted, and thus saved, his fellow American from being overcome by a society she didn’t understand. Of course, misreading a text probably won’t have deathly consequences like Daisy’s misreading of the dashing Mr. Giovanelli, but then again, maybe it would…at least for your relationship. My advice for your dating dilemmas? Take a clue from Daisy and Winterbourne and avoid bringing foreign elements into your relationship. Text what you mean, or maybe don’t text at all…perhaps kicking the text habit is just what the doctor ordered for some healthy, normal, personal, old-fashioned conversation.