Grief Transformed

 

Last November, I had to euthanize my childhood cat of 17 years. Even though I was blessed with having so much quality, loving time with her, I was obviously heartbroken.

In January, I began to take notice of a stray that sometimes lived in our backyard since we moved in about 5 years ago. She was clearly old with matted yellow fur and perpetual purple eye snot that looked like tired eye sacks. Her celery green eyes held untold stories about a life of devastating hardship and survival. We already have 5 cats, so I began to approach her with extra food, which she gladly accepted after warily eyeing my retreat many yards away.

A month or so in, I named her “Helen.” Though I didn’t realize it at the time, this was the moment I began to give her a real identity and care much more deeply for her. It was astonishing how quickly she became a part of our household. She spent all of her time sunning herself in our backyard laying near our other cats, her ribs disappearing, her confidence rising and her eyes, for the first time, filled with hope.

She made me a better person.

It could easily be said that she is merely a cat, but by forcing myself to be patient, to consider a creature I hadn’t previously thought of except in passing, I had pulled myself out of myself and my grief. Being the youngest in my family with a serious health condition, I am used to being nurtured and waited on, and had rarely done so for another being. Learning to nurture has been one of the most important lessons I’ve had to date.

Everyone needs a Helen. Everyone deserves a Helen. The symbiosis of caring for something, in return, widens and deepens one as a human being. One cannot obviously fix all of the world’s problems or even many other creatures, but experiencing the joy of seeing a being flourish by helping in even the smallest way possible is a wonderful feeling.

In March, I found out I was going to be an aunt again. My sister, one of my best friends and all-around favorite people, is having her first baby next month. Her name is Roxana (“Roxie”) and we already love her. As crazy as it sounds, I believe that my wheezy, sleepy old cat friend has helped prepare me for taking care of my niece by igniting patience and kindness within me.

Helen still has an arthritic walk. Her shoulder bones are still sunken from age, and she is still frightened of strangers. Yet every morning, before I have a chance to pour myself a mug of coffee, she is standing outside the door, expecting an enormous breakfast like the diva she has become.

Because she is worth it.

Micaela Gardner

Stop Threatening Your Daughters Boyfriends

Stop Threatening Your Daughter’s Boyfriends

 

It’s a very common occurrence, when a girl starts dating a guy, brother or uncle will threaten the man with, “If you ever hurt her…” and then describe some sort of very specific and oftentimes creative punishment to scare him off from ever harming her, psychologically or physically.

I have no doubt in my mind this is an entirely well-intentioned act. After all, who wants a loved one hurt; especially, someone you have nurtured and taken care of?

Unfortunately, this philosophy only reinforces patriarchal notions that are harmful to men and women. Although it is perfectly natural to feel protective over someone you love, this feeling also makes it a man’s responsibility to take care of and protect the girl, merely because she is female. Women are more vulnerable. However, if anything, a woman should be raised to believe she can protect herself, and set her own boundaries without a male authority figure dictating for her.

If anyone (male or female) hurts someone you love (male or female) then it is your problem too, merely because you love them and because you are compassionate. It’s true, people should be able to ask for help, always, from people they love, although this doesn’t necessarily mean they always get it. On the other hand, threatening violence from the offset with someone who wants to court your daughter is patronizing, rather silly, an old-fashioned way of thinking. Such thinking also doesn’t make it okay to go hunt someone down vigilante-style, because frankly, how will going to prison help anyone?

Want to protect your daughters? Raise them to be kick-ass, confident women who demand respect and aren’t shy about stating their personal boundaries.

Micaela Gardner

Devastating Losses For Women's Reproductive Freedom

Devastating Losses For Women’s Reproductive Freedom

The last couple of weeks has been rough for women’s rights.

On Thursday June 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Massachusetts law stating that protestors outside of abortion clinics had to respect a 35 feet buffer zone between them and the facility.
The decision was unanimous, which was a surprise, and it was assumed that votes were swapped for the upcoming Hobby Lobby ruling.

Following this decision, Dr. Dell-Bovi, owner of a clinic in Brookline said, “It doesn’t seem to me that the first Amendment rights include being able to force someone into a conversation with you that they don’t want to have.”

On Monday, June 30th, the Hobby Lobby ruling came through with a 5-4 decision allowing private companies that provide health insurance to deny contraception coverage on religious grounds.
Essentially, preventative measures for contraception will be restricted under workplace health insurance. Women will also feel more intimidated and shamed when having to get abortions that could have been prevented in the first place. Corporations are gaining more choices than women.

As if the rulings needed more verification the decisions are intended to control women, the Wisconsin Gazette pointed out on Saturday, June 28th, “Hobby Lobby does not object to covering male employees’ costs for vasectomies.” What have we gleaned from the decisions of these past few weeks? Women are supposed to repress their sexuality or else they will face consequences; men, on the other hand, do not.

Companies are allowed to inflict bigotry upon their employees in a shroud of religious freedom. Women are not safe from heckling, public shaming, or fear while seeking medical attention regarding their reproductive systems.

God bless America.

 

Bufferzone story:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/06/26/supreme-court-throws-out-massachusetts-abortion-clinic-buffer-zone-law/VTTYHYD8oiVJJNreAPyKAN/story.html

Hobby lobby

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/30/us-usa-court-contraceptives-idUSKBN0F51IZ20140630

Wisconsin Gazette

http://www.wisconsingazette.com/trending-news/supreme-court-rules-monday-on-hobby-lobby-suit-claiming-a-religious-right-to-deny-contraceptive-coverage-for-women-workers.html

 

Micaela Gardner

Why Are Family Issues Womens Issues

Why Are Family Issues Women’s Issues?

 

Recently, you may have read a Today Show interview that describes Matt Lauer asking the new CEO of GM, Mary Barra, if she can not only run GM, but also be a good mom. Further, he stated “…as a woman and a mom [she] could present a softer image and softer face for this company.”

Fortunately, the widely circulated report of these comments shows that the general public is astounded by such flagrant sexism. No one would ever ask a male CEO how his job may affect his role as a father. Although we as a society continue to claim women have the same opportunities as men, such comments show that even if true, women and men are not treated the same when seizing aforementioned opportunities. This incident demonstrates that even when a woman tries to “Have it all,” and succeeds, she is questioned for choosing to do so.

Matt Lauer has three children, his youngest is 7 years old. Why isn’t anyone asking him if he can be a journalist on a popular television show, and a good dad?

Quotes found at http://time.com/2927598/matt-lauer-mary-barra-today-show/.

 

Micaela Gardner

Sluts and Curves

Sluts and Curves

 

 

A key issue that has become increasingly covered by the media in recent months is school dress codes for girls. Although there have been issues regarding social control over what girls wear since always, it is important to note that this is a problem, which has become reported on much more, and thus talked about. Such attention has highlighted some very troubling implications about societal beliefs on females and sexuality.

One of the most telling stories as of late was about a girl getting kicked out of prom for her dress making the father chaperones think “impure thoughts.” On May 14th, a story published at the local Washington D.C. CBS blog told of how a 17-year-old girl was immediately stopped at prom to measure her dress. Understandably, at 5’9 finding a dress that would hit longer on her than, say, a 5’4 girl would be more difficult. However, after doing the “fingertip length” test, the female teacher who initially spotted her cleared the teenage girl and told her to be “careful” and to “make sure [the dress] stays pulled down.”

The girl, who blogged under the name Clare on the site HannahEttinger.com, went on to tell about how the fathers on the balcony above were ogling her while she was dancing, and talking among themselves. She was called off the dance floor by the same female teacher and was told that even though her dress passed the test, the fathers were complaining her dancing was “too provocative” and they were concerned the young men at prom were going to have “impure thoughts.” Even side-stepping the issues of slut-shaming, making it the female’s responsibility to control males’ thoughts and the underaged objectification, there is another issue that this incredibly inappropriate incident brings up–body shaming.

In high school, students are mandated to take a health class, which includes, among general nutrition, drug prevention attempts and sex ed, a unit on eating disorders and body dysmorphia. This girl was punished for having a developed body and being tall. If she were, say, 5’2 with a petite, boyish frame, then this would not have happened to her. Instead, because she has a healthy, womanly body, she is being punished for men being attracted to her body.

How is someone, especially a young person, supposed to feel about her body when authority figures and her school is telling her that even though she is breaking no rules, her body is the subject of thorough discussion, and, worse, punishment? We complain all the time about how the media is influencing girls to have insecurities about their bodies and eating disorders, but when the opportunity arises to combat this shame, we fail miserably.

Not only does this send a message to girls that their bodies are commodities on display for others to talk about and critique, it is telling the boys that it is perfectly natural and okay behavior to monitor and control the female form.

Micaela Gardner

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