Suffragette’s, book club and wine

Last night as I prepared for my book club (putting on my boots and walking to my neighbour’s house) my daughter ChatterBox asked me the following question, “What do you do at Book Club?” I gave her my best sinister laugh and replied, “What happens at book club, stays at book club.”

English: British suffragette with a poster, gi...
English: British suffragette with a poster, giving out newspapers Русский: Британская суфражетка с плакатом, раздает газеты или листовки на улице. Позади остановился двухъярусный автобус. Снято до 1919 г. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I then received a history lesson from my 14 year old ChatterBox, “Did you know the Suffragette’s movement started with women gathering for a book club?” That’s my girl! Knowing important history that made her a Person under the Law here in Canada! I always drill into her the importance of Canada’s famous five, the women who stood their ground to change the face of history by getting women the vote. Of course this paved the path for many changes, I don’t want ChatterBox to get too comfortable in thinking this is the end. Human rights shouldn’t have to be fought for, they are a right for a reason.

I asked ChatterBox where she had learned this information. She replied, “I learned it in school.” Then she looked at me as if I was nuts. “Didn’t YOU learn about it in school?” I can honestly say, if I did, I have no recollection of it. I DO remember learning about it the knee of my great grandmother. She raised her 5 kids, her sister-in-law and looked after her mother single handedly while working full time as a teacher on the prairies of Saskatchewan. This was long before the days of equal pay – who are we kidding, there still isn’t equal pay in most positions. My Gram talk to me about the importance of education and how it can change the way people see the world.

I never got the message that educating women would change the world, Gram didn’t specify that. It was implied that boy AND girls should be equally educated. It was important for her to see her granddaughters go to university, her grandsons too…but a larger emphasis on the girls. What if… was likely poking around her mind What if the girls have to make it on their own as I had to.

It is implied that educated men will have great careers and do great things, while educated women become great role models for their children.

Why can women just be great? Men get to be great. I think we are nearing that precipice, but we still have to vigilant. I want both my children to experience the joy of higher education. It has literally transformed me into person who knows less and questions more. Before University I knew more but questioned less. I want this gift for my children.

So ChatterBox, that is what we talk about in Book club. We ask questions we give opinions and we come away knowing more or less than we did before. Either way it becomes food for thought and starts conversations. We do this to honor the traditions of the smart women who came before us and the smart women who come after….and there is wine. I forgot that part.

Reaching for the Worthwhile

I belong to a fledgling book club – all women and lots of wine. We read books that challenge our comfort zone. We take turns choosing the book of the month and host the meeting in perspective homes. Last night was meeting number 2. I know 2 of the ladies quite well, one moderately well and the other two gals are new to my life. We come from different backgrounds, our children are at different ages and stages, our careers are massively different. Yet we all have 2 things in common:

  1. We love to read
  2. We strive for inner growth and change.

I have been reading 419 by Wil Ferguson. There was a single passage near the beginning of the book that made me catch my breath, the character had the task of compiling information for an obituary:

There were never entries for “memory,” or “regrets,” or even “love,” in the lowercase.
It was always “Education (post-secondary)” or “Awards (see also:Best Debut R&B Country CD by a Female Artist, Solo).” Indexes never seemed to get to the heart of the matter. There was never
a heading for hope or fear. Or dreams, recalled. Smiles, remembered. Anger. Beauty. Or even images that lingered, glimpses of something that had made an impression. A doorway. A window. A reflection on glass. The smell of rain. Never any of that. Just a tally of proper nouns and famous names. And why only one life? Why not the web of other lives that define us? What of their indexes”

This made me think. An obituary is typically a list of accomplishments. I remember reading the Toronto paper and remember thinking this people are success driven, there was very little about love and life and endless lists of job related activities and education. Compared to the obituaries I have read in the Edmonton Paper, it was incredibly different. Edmonton Obituaries are typically a laundry list of who died first and who has survived. It seems to be more of a disaster survival list rather than a compilation of words that describe the person. Rarely do you get a glimpse of the deceased’s passions, hobbies or loves. Ferguson makes the same observation. What are our beliefs and how do we define ourselves?

This topic came up in a round about way at Book Club. A few of us are attending a Belief Re-patterning workshop. From what I understand, we have a set of beliefs that we live by. Good/Bad/Indifferent. It is these beliefs that push us forward or hold us back. The point of all this is to discover what it is we truly belive and then taking steps to re-pattern our habits and thoughts to achieve goals.

The conversation then turned to what is it that we would like to change about ourselves. Good question, where do I start? Standing in the middle of me – I find it hard to see what I am, the real deep me. My friends see it. So then what is my belief and what I am striving for?

Then it hit me…after my friend hit me with it. I want to be accepted as I am and I want EVERYBODY to accept me. I want to be perceived as smart and have it all going on. I like being the star of the Robyn Show! Is it happening for me? No, not really. I see my self taking on tons in an effort to show – I have no idea who, perhaps the world, perhaps my mother – and get the recognition I crave. DING DING – Oprah calls this an “A HA” moment, I call it the lightbulb moment.

I see myself discounting rejection, in both my personal and professional life. If I change then maybe you won’t reject me. Sad isn’t it? In some ways it is very liberating. The point isn’t to dig up all the issues of my past, the point is to recognize the pattern and restructure it. One friend hopes this will be a miracle cure, when I see it as more hard work.

If my life is summed up by an obituary or a funeral what do I hope for? My friend wants a balance between family and work. I have a pretty good idea what I would like, the trick is achieving it. I don’t want to look back over my life and say “I should have taken that path”.

I want to look back and think my life was worthwhile.