Mother’s Day: A Day Open for Interpretation

Attention all women: Happy Mother’s Day! (belated as it was technically yesterday-wrote this just before midnight)

Several years ago I sat alone in a greek Orthodox church in Falls Church, Virginia listening to the priest deliver his homily message on a spring Mother’s Day.   Although I can’t recall his specific words, I do recall that he said they would be giving out a single stem flower afterwards to every girl and woman in the room after the church service–this interested me greatly as at the time I wasn’t a mother yet.  He explained that the purpose doing this wasn’t just to avoid any awkward questions as to who was a mother but to also honor the nurturing role that females play in our human society.

This morning I was crawling on my knees between pews and following a darting flash of golden hair and giggles as my youngest demonstrated his toddler skills in another greek Orthodox church here in south Florida.  The priest was delivering his Mother’s Day message by making fun statements that “without mothers nothing would get done” and also alluding that whether any woman was a mother via birth/adoption of children, this day was meant to honor us regardless of being a mother or not.  It was a pleasant deja-vu moment to have the priest announce that a single rose would be given to each female exiting the church in celebration of Mother’s Day.

It was my pleasure to reach out today and wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” greeting to my family and friends whom I know are called “mother” by their roles in their families and rank.  At the same time, it was equally natural to me to recognize and express gratitude to the other women in my life whom I know or have met in passing who have also fulfilled the role as a mother through their selfless giving of themselves to me or my own children.

Happy Mother’s Day!

R.V.S.Bean

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Beware of the Budget and Binder Smokescreens: Bewitching Women or Befuddled Men or Neither?

“The best way to help the world is to start loving each other, not blandly, blindly, but realistically, with understanding and forbearance and forgiveness.” –Madeleine L’Engle

The Elections are Over: Verbal Sigh and Rant

It’s only been eight days since our nation held Presidential elections and yet we’ve been overwhelmed with the rapid-fire news of now resigned CIA Director Petraeus’ indiscretions.  Never mind that there are less than 45 days of work in 2012 for Congress to actually work out a deal with newly re-elected President Obama for our nation.  Also, let’s not even think about getting to the bottom of the story of how the Benghazi situation got out of our control and left us with four Americans dead in the worst manner you can think about on foreign soil.  Finally, please take this as a reminder that women really are to blame for society’s ills and men’s downfall…sense my sarcasm already?

Women Can Work With Each Other: Even When From Different Sisterhoods

Our local The Palm Beach Post reprinted two columns on Monday, November 12 that I recommend reading if you haven’t already:  Maureen Dowd’s “Romney is President” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/opinion/sunday/dowd-romney-is-president.html?_r=0

and Kathleen Parker’s “What Doomed Romney” http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-republicans-undermined-their-own-candidate/2012/11/09/e858bb64-2a9f-11e2-96b6-8e6a7524553f_story.html.

These two women, who come from different “sides” of the political lines, actually did an amazing job of together for some of the issues that women in America felt most affected by in the rhetorical debates of this Presidential race past.  Dowd wrote, “…in the real country, many wives were urging husbands not to vote for a Brycleemed boss out of a ‘50s boardroom whose party was helping to revive a 50-year-old debate over contraception” while Parker noted “Women’s reproductive rights need to come off the table…as Haley Barbour suggested long ago, agree to disagree.”  When it came to rape, Dowd cited President George W. Bush’s former aide Karen Hughes quote from this past Friday on Politico, “If another Republican man says anything about rape other than it is a horrific, violent crime, I want to personally cut out his tongue” and Parker remarked, “No abortion for rape or incest? Sit down. Legitimate rape? Put on your clown suit and go play in the street.”

Besides going over the help and rebuilding phase that the GOP is in, it was also hinted that President Obama isn’t thought of as winning this election in flying colors.  It’s just that given the conditions of our nation’s issues and the Republican’s indecisiveness, most Americans and single women especially felt safer sticking with the status quo.

These are great discussions to have for both sides to figure out how to better go forward especially in regards to women’s issues for our nation.  The fact remains that it was less than 100 years that women were given the right to vote and although we gained at least three more women in the House of Representatives, we still have a long way to go in having more of a say in the legislation making process.

Enter Scene: Bring CIA Director Out of Infidelity’s Hidden Closet

So, no sooner does our President return from his victorious night to Washington and he barely has 24 hours to gather his wits and get back in the swing of being Commander in Chief and his CIA Director David Petraeus walks in to offer his resignation over the investigation into emails that reveal he had an inappropriate relationship with Paula Broadwell, recent biographer for him.

This morning I read in my groggy stupor an impressive column entitled “The Siren and the Spook” by Frank Bruni http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/opinion/bruni-the-siren-and-the-spook.html

I was impressed by Mr. Bruni’s assessment of the press coverage of Paula Broadwell and David Petraeus—especially that of Broadwell and how quickly it was reduced to her physical attributes and “her long-ago coronation as homecoming queen, her six-minute mile—it was presented not merely as a matter of accomplishment, but as something a bit titillating, perhaps a part of the trap she laid.” 

As social media buzz and even the lady helping a friend and I shared with us in a women’s fitting room yesterday, the salacious topic of Piraeus, Broad well, Tampa Socialite and others is on everyone’s mind.  The subject matter triggers so many strong responses from folks that it is both entertaining and alarming. 

What is upsetting about a scandal like this is the possibility to uncover so much on both sides of the aisle.  As for the audacity of people arguing that this is a national security breach, I would like to remind all our amnesia-ridden Americans that it wasn’t that long ago (back in the pre-9/11 days) that we had a Commander in Chief that hooked up with a White House intern while being married and his daughter lived in the big house.

However, most incredulous about scandals such as these is the tendency to focus on the women in a manner that sets us up to be the perfect blame for the demise of these men in power.  Does this mean that women shouldn’t dress attractively, not show admiration, no nurturing—are we to revert back to trying to be like men who has failed us miserably since we tried burning bras in the 1960s?

Great closing, Bruni writes: “Such adamant women, such pregnable men. We’ve been stuck on this since Eve, Adam and the Garden of Eden. And it’s true: Eve shouldn’t have been so pushy with the apple. But Adam could have had a V8.”

Not the End: Re-elected and Renewed Energy for Women

Maybe I didn’t vote for President Obama, however, I honor and respect that he is our nation’s President and look forward to watching him and the other factions in our government try to overcome the negativity that seems to infect and re-infect inside the D.C. Beltway.  I have lived and worked within that system and had to finally walk away as I risked becoming jaded about our ability to work together for a common good in our nation despite our differences.  I pray and hope that in this 2nd term for President Obama and the Congress that they can together get the job done and not have to wait for the “Mr. Perfect—that doesn’t exist, it’s what we do with what we’ve got that matters most and makes the difference in the annals of history.

R. Saridakis Bean

How Obama and Romney May Have Insulted or Inspired Women Tonight

WOMEN NEED TO SPEAK UP OVER THE CANDIDATES

Kitchen Shop Talk

In the hour following the second debate between President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney, I donned a pair of my favorite high heel shoes while wearing my sleep pants and robe to go forth in our family’s kitchen and get it in order for the new day ahead tomorrow (technically as I write this we are speaking for this morning).  Why the high heel shoes?  A demonstration that things are not always as they seem—and yet, perception often translates what we understand to be reality.

Women Wake Up!

I often disclose that I’m a mother of two small sons, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter and many other roles that I care to share and others that are no one’s business…either way, if I were to enter the paying workforce today I would still put down that what I do on a daily basis is part of my “experience” portion of the resume.  It is a severe problem that people don’t even consider that when a woman “stays at home” that they are still contributing to society, with or without raising children.

Both Men Were Men

In tonight’s debate we were exposed to strong doses of testosterone—in one moment it looked as if fists were about to fly.  These men were dancing with words and trying at every exchange to gain the upper hand without looking too condescending.  As they went through the various “town hall” style questioning, it got awkwardly quiet when a young women introduced herself and asked what would be done about the fact that women still make just over 70% of every dollar that a man makes in the same job titles.

Romney Catered Hiring Practices But Lacks in Perception

Right away Gov. Romney garnered favor and extra time from the moderator Ms. Crowley as he waxed on about how he and his staff actively sought out to consider and hire women for his Massachusetts’ governor cabinet staff.  He cited how he had a Chief of Staff that was a woman and needed to be home for her family and so he agreed to let her go home at 5pm so as to be there to cook dinner for her children and spend time with the rest of the household.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, there was a noise made in the airwaves and internet when Democrat operative Hillary Rosen said that Mrs. Romney “has never worked a day” in her life.  Mrs. Romney had some comebacks in the press and there was some great conversations generated but we are still in the same perception paradigm.   Somehow, it isn’t considered “real work” if you’re not receiving a monetary paycheck as a woman and when you are recognized in the “real workplace” your time away is considered your own fault and counted against you.

Gov. Romney how will you ensure equal pay wages for women versus men?

President Obama’s Attempt to Appease Domestic Goddesses and the Paid Women Working

Frankly, I can’t recall all of what President Obama said in response to the women’s fair wages question except I heard him claim ownership of the contraception debate on whether or not healthcare providers should give women this accessibility. What followed in the moments thereafter infuriated me as both the POTUS and Gov. Romney had a verbal tussle with each other as to who was supportive of women having access to contraception coverage.

Let me be clear as to how that argument translated in my female brain: “I’m sorry ladies, let’s make sure that you have accessibility to contraception coverage in your health care binder so that you can help avoid pregnancies overall so you can actually have a fair chance at being consider a good worker in the paying workplaces that are so eager to hire overworking women at just over 70% of every dollar that other men—even less qualified—get to enjoy in their wages.  See how much I care for your equality?”

Nonsense.

Mr. President how will you ensure equal pay wages for women versus men?

What We Can Do

In general, women need to get more involved in politics and public policy on whatever level they are able.  Some can go work in an office and hash it out continuously in the working-for-wages world.  Some like myself can make time to contribute to a local or federal campaign, run for local office or at the very least educate ourselves to know what is going on around us and look for ways to help especially if there is some policy or other situation that we disagree with and may have ideas on how to change them.

Please remember, ladies, that it was less than a hundred years ago when we as women were actually given the right to vote for those going into public office.  Can you imagine not having that right today?  It was just as much injustice back then as it would be today if that were the case.

Research, educate yourself and help your girlfriends too for even if we disagree as to who we should vote for this November, let us be heard as the strong women we are beside our strong men counterparts who are our friends, our family, our lovers, our acquaintances and overall our American citizen brothers.

R.V. Saridakis Bean

Why Vote? A Humble Answer

This morning began before the sun had risen. My oldest son woke up the younger son resulting in a symphony of “Mama” in both verbal and nonverbal terms.  As I navigated the early hours between fixing coffee, breakfast for the family and dressing the children as well as myself, the silent question drifted through my mind: “How will I make it through the day?”

It was late morning by the time I was in the car with my children to start on the errands and adventures ahead of us for this otherwise ordinary Tuesday.  As I was watching the traffic for the safe moment to crossover I saw them.  The people waving on the side of the road with flags and political signs.  My mind again rattling off: “Crapp. It’s voting day. I don’t even know who and what for except for a couple of signs I’ve seen on the road in the past several weeks.”

As it turned out, our first item on our schedule would take me right past my voting precinct.  Internally I react: “I have to stop, of course I don’t want to deal with it since I’ve the boys with me and have no help, no distraction for them. I have to explain this play-by-play to my four-year-old and God knows I am exhausted already of doing so all morning as it is! But I have the right to vote.  I don’t have a paycheck-paying job but I work my mind, body and heart out everyday 24/7 and I can participate in having a say who is to sit on that circuit judge seat(s) and who will be our tax collector and eventually by this fall who I think has my confidence in leading our nation as the President of the United States. I have to turn in to this gated community to go and vote.”

As I pulled up to the security gate and gave my name and purpose, the guard lady gave me a warm smile and assurance that no one had really passed through recently and so I should be in and out quickly.  Perhaps it was the dinosaur Raptor-like screech she heard from my 17 month old or the constant “Mama, mama…” from my other son while I was stopped there that prompted her to give me the kind encouragement.  I did appreciate her candor.

Once at the voting place situated at the Ibis Country Club community clubhouse area, I saw the campaign people and signs again and took care to avoid them.  It was nothing against them personally, it’s just I already had my hands full as I was unloading the boys and picking up the food particles, books, toys and other random projectiles that catapulted out of our vehicle with each door that I was opening. I decided immediately that placing the baby in my back carrier was the best idea while holding my other son’s hand and making a game of running up to the clubhouse through the carefully manicured grass: oops, sorry Ibis.

Thankfully, the guard lady was right. No one was in the voting area except for the presiding volunteers.  After working out where my ballot was I found myself at the privacy booth with my boys by the window where they would look out and watch the activity at the golf course. I looked at the ballot and was slightly baffled, there were literally only two names I recognized on this ballot and that’s only because one I’ve known in my Greek-American local community and the other because I’m used to seeing them as the incumbent.

Enter inner debate with embellishment as I write this: “I’m so embarrassed with myself, I haven’t been paying attention and I made no effort to even try to look up some of these folks before I came here.  Yet, I’m here damn it.  I don’t have the luxury of time and although it may seem irresponsible to vote blindly for the most part, at the very least I am exercising my right to vote and if everyone did so it would be amazing to see the results.  Sometimes people making it in by sheer chance may be better than the ones everyone thinks will win.”

I understand that there are people reading this that will feel much differently and perhaps even group me into being part of the problem when it comes to the voting turnouts.  But try to hear me out one more time on this argument that it’s better to vote than not at all.

Everyone who is eligible to vote should because we can and if we all would in this country then truly the blame and disdain for whatever goes “wrong” in the government would be a shared responsibility by the nation’s citizens for placing these men and women in power and we could enact swift change when and as needed.  Our political campaign history has shown that when the voting population is galvanized to vote even just 5-10% more than what the average turnout is, political machines and pre-determined incumbent victors fall to the wayside in a delirious dusting like the shift I weathered as a Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill in a Republican office in the mid-term elections of 2006.

As for today, it turned out to be a local primary election.  Small potatoes but still a part of the construction of what are local offices are to look like by November this year.  I was given a voting ballot with my party affiliation and the simple instructions to connect the arrow pointing to my respective selections.  It was easy to vote for the two persons I knew, my next step was to vote for all women since my political passion is to help bring more women into the mix as we are still under-represented.

The boys were squirming by the end but I was grateful that they weathered this adventure well and that if anything they are witnessing continuously that mommy feels this is important to do no matter what the mood or weather of the particular voting day may be.  I do admit the following mental note: try to plan ahead for absentee ballots for voting days when possible.

My random voting day ended with a laugh as I drove out of the parking lot I recognized one of the names I had voted for and decided to roll down my window and speak to the lady there: “Are you Jaimie?” She answered that she wasn’t.  “Is Jaimie a woman?”  The lady had stood at this point and replied with a big smile, “No, but he’s a good man!”  I chuckled at this fly luck for this candidate as judging by her tone she had encountered this question as to his gender many times before.  “Well, good for him because I voted for him because I thought he was a woman!”  We both laughed and wished each other a nice day.

R.V.S.Bean

Post-note:

A colleague of mine made a very good suggestion via a comment to this blog posting: as long as your vote ballot is still counted, you can just vote for whatever/whoever you know. Case in point being the state amendments that end up on ballo…

ts–better to skip voting on that amendment if you don’t know its consequences. That being said, I still feel it’s important to come out and vote even if you end up only picking one thing/person on the ballot than not vote at all.
Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"