Many of you have read about mom. Here she is at here finest!
Thanks, as always, for reading, Elizabeth
Martha E. Walsh
Presence at Ninety Four
I walked into her room. The sun was shining through the blue and white sheer curtains. Mom was sitting at her white rod iron breakfast table surrounded by the last of her belongings, a curio cabinet filled with ornate treasures, family photos on every surface, and a red Christmas bow over her bed. She was dressed in her white jacket with carefully selected broaches, black and white leopard blouse, and signature tam, exuding elegance.
She had an expectant look on her face like something was about to happen. It was a Thursday, last Thursday, her 94th birthday. We tied a “Happy Birthday” balloon to her walker and took a ceremonial tour around her assisted living residence. There were mostly congratulatory greetings, a few short conversations, and recognition from the aid who had dressed her that morning admiring her handiwork.
We settled in the living room and read cards from her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends. There were many. It took a while. We got back into the elevator and retired to her room to indulge ourselves in hot tea and whoopie pies.
Happy Birthday Mom
It’s November 3, 2020. I’m trying to distract myself from thinking about the election today, so I’m sharing my affection for Helen Reddy, who died in September. I missed her passing because I was in San Francisco helping my brother and not paying attention.
It was hard for Helen to break into the music world in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Remember when radio disc jockeys decided what songs to play? Many said to her that I AM WOMAN wasn’t their favorite song, but their wives loved it! Some said, “We’re already playing a female record. Folks are more into boy bands right now.” So she went on 19 TV shows and achieved momentum for I AM WOMAN. In 1973 and 1974, Helen was the top female vocalist and sold 25 million records! I still have the one pictured above. The middle photo is the crowd while she’s singing I AM WOMAN in DC at the NOW Abortion Rights Rally in 1989.
In 2002, Helen returned to her native Australia and studied hypnotherapy. When asked if she had been able to help people, she gave a resounding “yes!” Maybe I should try hypnosis for my election night anxiety!
In 2014 I saw Helen perform in Provincetown during Women’s Week. She was 72, as pictured in red. Fabulous concert. She performed a mix of jazz, blues, and of course, her classics. She likes singing new songs because they inspire a different passion in her. Before she belted out I AM WOMAN, she spoke every word she wrote back in the ‘70s for the Women’s Movement. Helen embodied the movement and was anointed a feminist Icon.
When I sing along with Helen I feel strong and, yes, invincible! “If I have to, I can do anything” brings out the best in me.
When asked if Provincetown was her last tour. Helen Reddy said, “There is no last tour!”
To that end, a new movie about Helen is on NETFLIX titled, I AM WOMAN. What else? Hope I have distracted you a little on this election day. Ask Alexa to play I AM WOMAN and cross your fingers!
Leave your favorite memory of Helen by clicking on "comments" below.
I wrote this letter because we can’t allow these acts of indecency and vulgarity go without speaking up!
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them.”
Ida B. Wells, Suffragist
Who decides the rights and wrongs? Me? You? The Bible? The laws? Common sense?
It feels like people are having trouble making that decision. At least three incidents rocked my world in Newburyport last week.
Is this enough light, Ida?
This Letter to the Editor appeared in the Newburyport Daily News August 27th.
Thanks for reading. Leave me message by clicking on Comments below, Elizabeth
Who Inspires Your Life?
I have a complicated relationship with my mother. Many of us do. As an adult, I was confused about how I could love her. She is an incredibly strong woman with a "can do" spirit, which she shared with me, and I’m very grateful. But she was distracted most of the time I was growing up. I don’t remember lacking attention from mom, it was the day-to-day stuff, like remembering to pick me up after dance class every week and giving me the money for the lessons. Mom’s involvement seemed to end with praise, high praise. She fought to get me into a catholic high school and then purchased only one uniform for me. The shine on my navy blue jumper by senior year could blind a person, and the elbows on my two blouses wore out long before graduation. My sweater was my savior.
This conflict led me to research my mother's story. Learning about her success was easy because Mom kept every newspaper clipping and piece of paper about herself. I found an organizational leader in the church, a pursuer of higher learning and a spirit that relished challenges.
During a sabbatical in Maine, I spent time writing mom’s story and admiring her more with each sentence. When I finished, the complicated relationship, the confusion, the conflict were gone. I love my mother for who she is, not for who she isn't!
This revelation started me wondering about multiple types of inspiration.
I invited my blog readers to share women who inspired their lives. The stories of sixty-six women were submitted for this essay. National leaders like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Pelosi, Harriet Tubman, and Angela Merkel appeared multiple times. Some referred to these women as rock stars! We admire them for who they are and what they've accomplished, others are role models we aspire to.
One of my favorites is the “never giver uppers.” A beautiful young nun, a drama teacher, told a student after she forgot her lines and quit the drama club, "You never give up because things don’t go your way.” The 6th-grade teacher, a single mom, whose goal was to run a marathon in every state, which she did. And Diana Nyad, who successfully swam from Cuba to Key West after 5 attempts spanning thirty-six years. She made it at age 64. When Diana arrived at Key West beach, she said two things, "We should never give up," and "You're never too old to chase your dreams."
Categories of inspirational women naturally emerged.
Nurturers and caregivers; moms, grandmothers, and daycare providers creating safe, caring, supportive environments “from which young humans can launch into their own lives.” My daycare provider, “Weezie,” inspired me to give my full attention to my children. This was challenging for me and rewarding for all of us.
Leaders, both local and national, moving this world forward. A reader is inspired by a long-time local activist who draws people to her with gentleness and kindness of spirit. When Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, locked down the country, she said, "Act as if you have COVID-19. This will save lives." She chose elimination over containment. The chair of a YWCA fights tirelessly for affordable housing for women. Teachers change our lives.
Creative women teach us to use our imaginations to present our ideas. Virginia Woolf inspired many to look beyond what they saw to create art. Margaret Pine, a Peace Corps volunteer, taught colleagues English and technology needed by women in developing countries. Ann Patchett pushes beyond her celebrity and creates an independent bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee for free thinkers.
Courageous women follow their dreams and sometimes pay a high price. A foreign service officer died delivering books in Afghanistan. A bisexual woman’s strength allows her to survive rejection. Eve Ensler shocked both genders with “The Vagina Monologues.” Florence Nightingale inspired the development of Swords to Plowshares as it struggled to heal the wounds of war that last beyond the battlefield. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team sues for equal pay, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford speaks truth to power before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Then there are the personal role models who fit into many categories but inspire us “to do or feel something." A reader's aunt, Florence Keller, M.D., inspired her to become a doctor. A biology teacher inspires a student to follow in her footsteps. The trailblazers continue to be role models as we fight for equal rights! And yes, my mom inspired me to be strong, self-confident, and a survivor.
“Just because somebody doesn’t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.”
Thank you to my readers for sharing these fabulous women. Leave me a comment below so I know you're out there.
If you’re curious about mom’s story, here’s the link.
Martha Walsh, A Model Professional of Her Time, Essay Finalist in 2019 Adelaide Literary Award, Anthology (print only) Reprinted in Medium.com
MARCHING TOWARD COVERAGE, How Women can lead the fight for Universal Healthcare, by Rosemarie Day
Have you ever felt invisible, discriminated against because you couldn’t pay, or worse, suffering without hope? This is how people with no health insurance feel. In America twenty-eight million women, men and children experience this many days. And most are working! We can FIX this!
Rosemarie Day's first book thoroughly examines the political, operational, and financial costs of universal healthcare, along with the benefits. She explores the relationship between national values and healthcare as a human right in the same way as education, housing, and food. Day advises the US to find a consensus that healthcare is a human right before beginning to discuss the specific details of a universal healthcare program. She asks, "Do we want to make healthcare a right like education? Or keep it as a commodity, like a car?"
The history of health insurance in the US and other developed countries is reviewed and dispels the myth that other developed countries have only government-owned health systems. Most have a combination of employer-sponsored and public programs. Day proposes that since 49% of US residents are already covered by employer-sponsored health insurance, the combination of private and public coverage would make the most sense for the US. Medicare and Medicaid and other public programs cover 36%. Individual plans cover 6%, which leaves 9%, or twenty-eight million Americans who need health insurance.
The US currently spends $3.65 trillion on healthcare. Day identifies three possible ways to fund universal healthcare: renegotiate pharmaceutical rates, increase tax rates on top earners and reevaluate defense and prison spending. These and other examples are priority spending discussions worth having.
In a chapter called "Coverage Alone Isn't Enough," Day challenges the reader to consider the components of American lifestyle needed to support quality health. She calls these components social determinants: education, social supports, racism, pollution, and affordable housing. If your life has all of these components, take a minute and think about what life would be without one or two or all of them.
According to the Department of Labor, women make 80% of the healthcare decisions in the family. They know first-hand the need for healthcare. When the Affordable Care Act was in danger of repeal in 2017, it was women who made 86% of the calls to Congress defending it, specifically they were concerned about losing family coverage for preexisting conditions. Day suggests that women can stand up again to support universal healthcare.
Day is well-positioned to write a book on universal healthcare coverage. She is CEO of Day Health Care Strategies, former Chief Operating Officer for the MA Medicaid program and founding leader of the MA Health Connector.
Day drives this book with facts (many facts), passion, and humor. She includes a comprehensive view of health and systems that keep someone healthy. She reminds us that our future depends on women who are "delivering 100% of the population," then goes on to discuss the underinsurance of maternity healthcare. Concerns for families without adequate maternity coverage are consistent with my daughter's experience. She had a $3,000 prenatal and maternity care deductible, which she kept up with paying during her pregnancy. The day her son was born, she was astounded to learn that his $3,000 deductible kicked in.
Day is a pragmatist. She believes that even in this environment of political division in our country, there is hope that we will do the right thing. After all, the right for women to vote only passed by one "aye" in Tennessee 100 years ago.
Day wrote this book to activate women to stand up for universal healthcare. "Women are an untapped resource of leadership, voices, donations, and very importantly, votes," she said. In the 2016 presidential election over one-third (42 million) of eligible women did not vote. The book includes a Personal Activism Assessment to determine where the reader falls on the activism wave. It starts with being informed, then to showing up, and finally running for office. Not everyone will take the last step, but supporting other women who run is activism!
The bottom line says Day is, "No one's health is truly a right until everyone has access to good, affordable healthcare." When we prioritize the health of our citizens equal to the economy, twenty-eight million uninsured people become more productive contributors.
I highly recommend this book for women and men. The pandemic is magnifying the need for universal healthcare. Together, we can make it a reality. This is still America, dammit!
By Elizabeth Kilcoyne, April 19, 2020
I hope you are finding home appealing and purposeful. I’m actually enjoying this time of my own. Check in with me in a few weeks!
The Boston Sunday Globe got my attention this weekend with Jeff Jacoby’s opinion piece “The Equal Rights Amendment is Dead!” I love it when men pontificate on equal rights, women’s reproductive rights and other issues for which they have little or no personal experience.
Here’s my Letter to the Editor:
Regarding the Boston Sunday Globe opinion piece by Jeff Jacoby, "The Equal Rights Amendment is dead," we have one man with the help of two women deciding for all of us that the equal rights amendment has “died."
Some additional info for you:
Women's inequality is partially an economic issue. According to a MetLife poll in 2019, of the 43% of Americans who live paycheck-to-paycheck, 85% are women. There are many reasons for this disparity. One of the significant issues is the pay rate for a woman's first job.
June 17, 2016, PRNewswire-USNewswire conducted a poll finding near-universal support for amending the United States Constitution with a proposed amendment that would expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. The amendment was supported by:
90% of men and 96% of women
97% of Democrats, 90% of Republicans, and 92% of Independents.
Women Who Inspired Our Lives
If you haven’t had a chance to email me about the women who inspired your life, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to all who have sent your inspirational women already.
Stay connected. Please leave a comment so I know you're out there,
I am giving a presentation at the “Riveting Broads Summit” on Friday, March 13th.
Why we need the Equal Rights Amendment and What we can do to Help Pass it.
The ERA has been moving forward and back. Sounds familiar… The latest version of my ERA essay is at www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6641032380972888064/
“The Riveting Broads Summit creates space for women to share their stories in their own words. Crucial conversations in media, politics, and everyday life are too often about women instead of with them. We plan to change that.”
Tickets are available here:
Hope you can make it.
Now for some fun!
Denis and I flew to South Beach on Frontier Airline (don’t try this yourself) in January and got more than we expected.
Thanks for reading. Leave a comment so I know you’re out there, Elizabeth
Today the Virginia General Assembly voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment!!!!
We now have the required 38 states. This is too exciting!!
Last week I sent my ERA essay to all 140 legislators in Virginia: http://medium.com/@ekilcoyne10/thank-you-virginia-23e7c7cf078c
I received many positive responses:
And, this one:
The Virginia vote is a major step and there are many more that will prove as difficult.
Just last month, three attorneys general filed a lawsuit to prevent the ERA from becoming the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. They are all men:
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, and
South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
Interestingly, Alabama and Louisiana did not ratify the amendment and South Dakota rescinded its ratification in 1979. I guess this is their way of saying they don’t like the process outlined in the US Constitution, so they’re filing suit.
The next step is to work on eliminating the timeframe for ratification in Congress. Our divided congress must eliminate the ratification timeline that ran out in 1982. Stick with me. This could work. S.J.Res.6—A senate joint resolution removing the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment was filed in January, 2019 by Sen. Benjamin Cardin, Dem, of Maryland. It was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. There it sits.
In this divided congress, it requires a democratic majority in the Senate to get the dealine eliminated. The next step is to jump into the election process by volunteering, contributing funds and whatever it takes to elect democratic candidates.
Please let me know your ideas. You can comment by clicking the comments button below.
Happy New Year! This is pretty exciting news. My heroine's journey, "A Stone in My Pocket," was selected favorite nonfiction essay of 2019 published by L'Éphémère Review. Carrying a stranger's burdens and having a stranger carry yours for a few hundred miles gets you thinking that life is not a dress rehearsal. This has also been on my mind since I turned 70 last month.
How am I spending my time every day? Is it moving me forward? Is it moving my family and relationships forward? Is it moving the world forward? Am I learning? Am I growing?
These are the questions I asked myself on the Camino de Santiago and continue to ask. Sometimes the answer is a resounding YES, but sometimes it's NO.
When I have the courage to think about it, my thoughts inevitably come back to PURPOSE. What's my purpose now?
Over the years my adult purpose has evolved:
Be the best mom I can be.
Be the best friend I can be.
Be the best hiker I can be.
Be the best professional I can be.
Be the best partner I can be.
Now I'm looking toward my legacy. What am I leaving to my family and friends? The community? The earth?
Have I got you thinking??
A STONE IN MY POCKET, L'Éphémère Review
www.ephemerereview.com/dulcet. August 17, 2019
The next essay on The Equal Rights Amendment is coming along. I'm looking for more interviews with women and men who feel they have been discriminated against. Please email me at email@example.com.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, Elizabeth
Please leave a comment, so I know you're out there.
I received this email from a reader of A STONE IN MY POCKET, L'Éphémère Review
www.ephemerereview.com/dulcet. August 17, 2019
I just wanted to say thank you for your essay. It was a joy to stumble upon your piece and relive some of those memories this morning.
I walked the camino this past summer and have been struggling finding words. Or maybe not finding the words, as I've written so much at this point. But it's all missing the nuance. I miss the woman I was on the walk and I don't know how to incorporate her into my everyday here.
But reading that you also fell into old routines when you got home and find that it's taken time to reflect gives me solace.
Hope that you're still well and walking.
ps — the day you dated this essay was my 24th birthday. there are so many coincidences upon reading this and sitting with it has given me so much comfort. so thank you, thank you, thank you."
This is the reason I write—to share ideas and experiences with other people.
Equal Rights Amendment(ERA)
We are so close to approving the ERA. Now that Virginia has a democratic legislative majority, they can ratify the amendment as soon as January, 2020. I am going to expand my essay to include interviews with women and men who have been discriminated against and are willing to share their story. No names.
If you are willing, please email me here firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know someone who might share, please contact them and give them my email address.
Eighty percent of Americans think the ERA has already passed, or that it’s no longer necessary. My essay "Thank You, Virginia" tells why we still need the ERA. Just click Published Works above to read it.
For new people to this blog, all essays are available by clicking Published Works above.
Please share your comments about this blog or any stories.
Have a relaxing season, Elizabeth