Simone de Beauvoir

Friday, July 15, 2016

Calling all crime fighters!

So many causes, so little time to paraphrase an often used, often re-worded catch phrase. Whether it's a political candidate you endorse or despise, an environmental crisis, a group of people or lifestyle, there is a cause for which just about everyone can take up. How wonderful that we live in a country where we are free to do just that! Yes, there are places in the world where such liberty is denied; thousands have lost their lives for their beliefs. Shedding light on social plights is not a 21st century idea. In fact, it's what started this country, isn't it?

What is impressive is doing something about a particular cause on a small scale and recognize it as a global issue. Simone de Beauvior, a French social activist, has been credited with having laid the foundation for modern feminism. The fact that she found a cause in which she deeply believed and shared her knowledge with others so they, too, might share her passion was admirable, if not heroic. In an age where sharing thoughts was limited to word of mouth, the written word and a very limited telecommunication her impact was phenomenal. Even more so because it continues today!

Often times, shedding light on a social injustice is not welcomed warmly--if at all--by those who disagree with it. Still too there are those who disagree that the problem even exists! And so it is that today, it is hoped that light will be shed on an invisible population: children who have a parent that is incarcerated.

When a parent is incarcerated, often a family loses income. This loss can lead to others: housing, transportation, food. While the community offers resources--if the family is, in fact, aware that such opportunities exist--what about those things that aren't readily available? This country is a plethora of resources: Homeless Bus helps folks in New York, Family Promise is a national effort and Rainbow Village is a model example of a multi-faceted approach to eradicating homelessness. Communities offer food banks at churches, for example. The Place of Forsyth County offers food, work force coaching and emergency assistance.

Isabelle's Book Club, Inc. is dedicated to saving lives: the lives of children whose parent is incarcerated. These 'life savers' use books to save lives! No, they don't don red lifeguard bathing suits. They wear smiles and encourage kids to read.

Reading saves lives?


A child who isn't reading proficiently by third grade is at risk of not graduating from high school. You see, children learn to read in grades  Pre-K to 3rd. After that, the read to learn. Reluctant readers become frustrated and quit school. As a result their job choices are limited at best. How can you provide for your basic needs without gainful employment? Well, it's tough, so criminal behavior starts looking like the best choice. When there's a cycle of dysfunction in a family (crime, domestic behavior, addition), sadly it can become the norm.

The folks at Isabelle's Book Club consider themselves crime fighters. We do, too! Giving children the resources (lots and lots of free books), they can strengthen their reading skills and improve their academics. Better grades equates to better jobs. Better jobs, well, less time for crime.

Channel your inner Batman, Wonder Woman, Marvel Agent and fight crime in your neighborhood. Support Isabelle's Book Club. Donate, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Satisfying Life

The object of this blog is to connect two women who, at first glance, have very little in common. One is deceased, the other very much alive; they are of different nationalities and lifestyles. To find similarities is a challenge; other than both being females, they seem to have little in common. This struggle is real. It also involves research into the life of Simone and self-reflection.

What were her thoughts on a particular issue and what are mine is then the basic premise of this blog.

So in order to write the next post, I need to do figure out a topic Simone's written about and then figure out my thoughts on it.

To be honest, this is the explanation for infrequent blogs. There's a lot going on in my life and frankly, time to read another of her books works is virtually non-existent. Sadly, I can't email her for an explanations or clarifications if I did read another one. Nor can I call her.  As much as I would have loved to, I don't have the option to spend the afternoon in her apartment talking nor can we head to the local Starbucks and discuss life over lattes. I can't call her loved ones, companions and writing muses for a variety of reasons including their deaths and a lack of ability to speak/understand their native French.

I often turn to articles written by others about her as they're informative, often contain quotes form her and are easier to read. Simone often wrote at length about political issues of her time, most, if not all, of which I am unable to connect. When one has an existentialist view of the world like de Beauvoir, it's tough for me to relate to it.

Random thought: Can you imagine a blog written by Simone? From what I've read, she's a 'pen and paper' kinda gal and would detest the internet. 

I did however, find that illusive common thread that I seem only capable of finding when I'm about to toss in the preverbial towel and terminate this blog. Permanently. Again.

Madeleine Gobeil interviewed de Beauvoir which was published in the Spring/Summer 1965 issue of The Paris Review  during which de Beauvoir says that she doesn't envy anyone.

The statement struck me as odd. Doesn't everyone envy someone at some point? How could she say she didn't envy anyone? Envy has been around since biblical times, so it wasn't a matter of not existing. Envy exists today, no doubt. In fact, I believe it's the cause of cyber-bullying, tax fraud, and other criminal behavior. I'd even go so far as to connect it with bankruptcies and prison terms as people attempt to keep up with the Joneses at any cost.

So how was Simone not envious of anyone you might ask? Further reading provided insight.

"I'm perfectly satisfied with what my life has been, that I've kept all my promises and that consequently if I had my life to live over again I wouldn't live it any differently," de Beauvoir said.

So I paused to reflect on my life. When I did, I realized that I, too, am satisfied with how my life has been. I want to continue that satisfaction for all my remaining years. What could I do to accomplish that? Plenty! Travel (hike the AT,Europe, Alaska for starters) and learn to paint with water colors for starters.

Meanwhile, I'm grateful for everything I have: loved ones, a God of my understanding who loves me, the ability to see sunrises and sunsets and kept promises.

Mostly, though, I'm satisfied.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine's Day: it takes guts, people

This may be the first year I don't get on my soap box about how declaring feelings for another person should only be professed annually. Besides the face that 'annually' is usually associated with things like a colonoscopy, mammogram, and prostate screenings, I believe in telling people that you love them daily, like brushing your teeth, drinking 80 ounces of water, and taking a vitamin.

Go tell them.  Now.

This isn't about saying something to them because we all know how quickly life can change and how we aren't promised tomorrow. No, it's about sharing you feelings daily with those who mean so very much to you. Remind yourself how much they mean to you by telling them.

Instead, I am committed to tie this blog to Simone. And then her to me, which is a challenge that I love. Really.

I found out that Simone, like me, was raised Catholic. She went to a convent school and I went to a parochial school (for Kindergarten). We must have had vastly different experiences because she wanted to become a nun. Me, well, I just wanted the pretzel rods and chocolate chip cookies for snack. At fourteen, however, Simone apparently had a crisis of faith and became atheist. At that age, I discovered boys and any hopes of life in a convent were dashed. 

The story goes that Beauvoir's family finances were strained and jeopardizing her chances of marriage. She decided to do what she'd always wanted in addition to providing for herself. And therein lies a huge difference between the French young woman and myself:  she did what she'd always wanted to do. 

When I first learned of this decision, I thought she was gusty. That Simone was tough, determined and decidedly insistent on doing what she wanted. I, on the other hand, lacked guts. Instead, I did as I was told, did whatever was 'right' in the eyes of my community and most of all, did what would make my parents proud.....and unknowingly make me miserable.

Side note: Although my life has been and continues to be full and I am quite content (with only one regret--a tattoo--which is a story for another day), I did have to grieve the loss of what I wanted most as a career. I'm fairly certain I'm too old to start it, but I am determined to get into the field, just in a different capacity.

Today I see Simone's decision as one of self-love. She loved herself so much that she did what she know was in her best interest. Research suggests that she was only the ninth female to graduate from the Sorbonne. That's some pretty serious self-love right there. Imagine all those male-dominated classes. Did they even have a ladies' room in the building? She probably used the men's room if she needed a bathroom.

The Sorbonne, Paris, France

Side Note 2: I wasn't miserable as such. Disappointed is more like it. Disappointed in myself for not having the guts to stand up for myself. Sad that I didn't think I was important enough to do what I wanted--which was a career in law enforcement--because the required schooling wasn't 'prestigious' enough in the eyes of my parents. 

It's now clear to me that I lacked that self-love then. I simply didn't love myself enough to want what's best for me. Or at least attempt to get it. However, I do know that today, I have that secret ingredient in the recipe of life that makes it a bit more flavorful. That love for myself that makes me want to celebrate ME on Valentine's Day. 

So I encourage you to celebrate this Valentine's Day, the day set aside for love, and declare that YOU are loved. YOU are enough. YOU are worthy. YOU are lovable. Celebrate YOU! 

Relax, February only has 29 days this year!

Continue it through March. You'll be amazed as what changes will occur in  you and those around you.

As for me, well, I haven't decided how I'll profess my love to the most amazing woman I know: ME! Maybe it will be with chocolate (dark) or flowers (gardenias or peonies or violets). Maybe it will be with a copy of one of Simone's books so she can "share the love" on Valentine's Day.

With love!

Monday, March 18, 2013

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” ― Helen Keller

Relationships. We all have them. Friends.  Family. Family of origin. Family of choice. Those that we share our deepest, darkest secrets. The same people who we tell our goofiest, most embarrassing moments, confident that if we ever want to re-live those moments, our friends will be right there with us.

There are hundreds of thousands of books about how to create them, save them, and even end those that are no longer important to us. The important thing is to have them and treasure them.

Muhammad Ali once said that “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not somethingyou learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.” 
I am happy to say that I know the meaning of friendship.

My friend Susan has been diagnosed with cancer. The nasty tumor--she's shared photos courtesy of her surgeon, who, in my humble opinion, needs to stick with surgery and not consider a career in photography--is growing in  a region near her lungs and heart.  It is, according to Dr. Photographer, the same width and length of his hand. 

Susan had her procedure Friday morning. She had faith and confident in the skills of Dr. P. She also had friends at the hospital waiting for her as she was wheeled into her room from recovery. It was those loving women who broke the news. 

The tumor was too big to remove.

When I heard the news, I was reminded of Helen Keller's quote "“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”  

To many, Susan may seem alone. Her beloved husband passed away years ago, her daughter lives across country, and her other daughter may not even recognize her own mother at this point due to mental illness. But being alone is hardly a way to describe Susan. 

The next day, Susan's "Army of Women Friends" as her daughter lovingly refers to us, was ready to accomplish their mission. One drove Susan home and stayed the night. Another ran to the store and picked up prescriptions. A third delivered a homemade meal. OK, so I cheated and purchased dessert, but it's the thought that counts.

A changing of the 'guard' happened the following day and more meals were delivered.  

Later this week, Susan will meet with her oncologist and together, they will work up a plan. A battle plan. 

Susan will undergo treatments (chemo and radiation) to reduce the tumor and when appropriate, Dr. P. will do his thing again. In the meantime, a friend is looking into a permanent adoption for Susan's cat.  Others will visit, bring food, drive her where she needs to go, and support her.

Most importantly, they will be a source of love and comfort. They will give of their strength so that Susan's  fight against cancer is stronger than were she fighting alone.

Some of these friends are the same that rallied around Susan when her husband passed away suddenly. Others have been in her life only a short time. Regardless of length of time, it is the love they feel for her that's important. 

In his book The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey, Henri Nouwen wrote “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” 

Susan's army consists of those kinds of friends. By supporting Susan, we support each other. We laugh together, we enjoy naughty humor, and we love each other. 

And so, as we walk with our friend Susan in the dark world of battling cancer together, she is reminded that she is never alone. She has many, many dear friends who love her. Together, we will fight her disease.

We  will do a lot for Susan because we know she'd do the same for each of us if need be. 

As this post draws to a close, I'd like to share one more quote that seems befitting of my friend Susan who swore that she'd dine on steak and chocolate should her prognosis not be a lengthy one. It's from Linda Grayson, who wrote “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Her Life Was Not Without Controversy

From The New York Times September 29, 2005

Whose life is? Really?

And so what if it is? Controversy builds character. Don't let it tear yours down.

What matters is how you respond. A wise friend once shared "what others think about you isn't your business and what you think of them, isn't theirs". Seems I have an intellectual friend after all. Just one more thing I share with Simone.

What Would You Ask Jodi Arias?

Jodi Arias is on trial for killing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander years ago (2008, I believe).

I watch the trial live thanks to HLN (Head Line News) and InSession. Truly it can be a day of television between morning reviews of the previous day's testimony, actual court coverage, and then a re-cap. Panels consists of attorneys and Nancy Grace, Ryan Smith, Vinnie Politan, and Mike Brooks. Jane Velez-Mitchell also comments.

Sometimes I feel like a voyeur. Sitting comfortably at home (eating lunch, doing laundry, chatting with other Arias trial watchers) and I learn things about our judicial system (who knew lawyers have strategies?). An interesting side note is that jurors serving on a trial in Arizona (where Arias is on trial) have the chance to ask questions of witnesses). The jurors have 100 questions for her and lawyers will review them and state their objections prior to Arias responding.

I've learned, too, that the family of Travis Alexander is sitting in the courtroom. His siblings sit and listen to testimony that describes--in graphic detail--his sex life. Days upon days of various kinds of sex. They also see crime scene photos including his decomposing body. The body that was stabbed almost thirty times, shot, and had its throat slashed from ear to ear, almost to the spine.

Arias has admitted to killing Alexander claiming self-defense. She claims she was defending herself.

Like many others, I have concerns, questions, and doubts.

My concern is for the Alexander and Arias families. They don't want to hear detailed descriptions of sexual acts performed by two consenting adults, one in her twenties and one in his thirties. Frankly, I grew bored after the first thirty minutes. I, for one, cannot imagine my parents listening to stories of my sex life. I don't want to hear stories about what my siblings are doing between the sheets, on the kitchen table, or wherever they find themselves engaged in sex.

I feel a lot of sympathy for the relatives and friends of Travis Alexander who listen to Jodi Arias trash the reputation of their loved one as she attempts to portray him as a sexual deviant. Travis seems to have been an intelligent, fun-loving man who loved women and appreciated his healthy sexual habits.

The questions I have are these: if the defense wanted to make a case that Travis Alexander was a sexual deviant, was it necessary to take weeks to do so? Even if his sexual practices were considered by some to be outside the norm, how does that justify taking his life?

My doubts are simple: I think she committed pre-meditated murder. She planned it. She had motive and opportunity. It couldn't be self-defense. There is no evidence (except the word of a person who has changed her story three--maybe four--times) to support her claim of domestic violence.

I fully doubt that she lived in fear of this man. Instead, she chose to participate in an on-again-off-again relationship with Travis Alexander. It could be described as 'friends with benefits'; that is if you think friends can murder one another. Afraid? Hardly. When she was arrested, she smirked for her mug shot, explaining 'that's what Travis would have done'.

What I truly take issue with is the portrayal of domestic violence that the Arias defense team is arguing. I find it offensive. There are thousands of true victims of intimate partner violence--both male and female--that suffer physical and emotional abuse at the hands of controlling, manipulative individuals. Jodi Arias is making a mockery of those individuals. People have died at the hands of their abusers. Children are living without parents because of domestic violence related incarceration and death of the other parent.

Victims often struggle with coming forth about their abuse. They are frightened of the judicial system as well as facing their abusers in court. These people are to be encouraged to come forward so that abusers can bear the consequences for their actions: arrest, hearings, incarceration, perhaps therapy. When they do press charges, they slowly regain their self-esteem and power over their own lives. Their abuser slowly loses control and the power to dominate. 

So my questions for Arias are these:

how do you justify tearing down the courage of genuine victims by professing to be one of them?
do you realize that if convicted, you could face the same fate as abusers of these victims?
what is it like knowing that come October, when the nation recognizes the victims of Domestic Violence you will not be thought of?

May justice prevail.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Long, long ago, the whole WWJD? craze began. It was a reference to 'what would Jesus do' and it was intended to make people think about their behavior. Was it appropriate? Kind? Christian? Argumentative? Dishonorable? You get the idea.

Since my last post was last year, I thought I'd better get blogging. But what would I write about? Where have I put my research on Simone--you know, the French feminist with whom I have so much in common--and what moment of her life can I connect to in mine? What Would Simone Do? OK, it's not that catchy. Nor will there be a bunch of bracelets and t-shirts emblazoned with the cheeky slogan.

Maybe I need to hang out in my local cafe with intellectuals like she did. The problem with that is my dislike for intellectual conversation. My brain needs stimulation, but not the kind where I have to think. It needs for me to make reactionary comments. Just keep firing them off. Whatever pops into my head and out of my mouth. BAM!

I'd rather trash Jodi Arias and her pathetic attempt to portray herself as a meek, innocent woman.She's the reason why victims of domestic violence, intimate partner violence and family violence don't want to press charges against perpetrators. She is making a mockery of this crime and for that alone she should serve life in prison...with a mean @$$ cellmate.

I'm open to discussing possible reasons why Nancy Grace wears that confounded bobby pin in her hair. Or why she interrupts people. Does she interrupt people in the line at the grocery store? I bet she doesn't even go shopping because she'd be mobbed by fans.

If those categories aren't of interest to you, how about Mike Brooks. He's the former law enforcement hottie on InSession. The guy's got sass and a cute face, to go with his 'tude.

Yeah, Simone is probably trying to hack into my blog and remove her name from the title right about now.

I get enough brain exercise with the work I'm doing. But I need balance, so I go to People magazine for a diversion. You see, when a friend and former co-worker is diagnosed with Stage IIIB colon cancer at 37 years old, intellectual conversation can wait. What becomes a priority is silly conversations, laughter and friendship. Discussions about setting up single friends with doctors or what color stripe to get in her wig when the time comes are better for my brain. Do ostomy bags come is different colors so it can be coordinated with an outfit?

Since she's battling colon cancer, the potty jokes are endless.

Colon cancer is a pain in the @$$.  Wipe away colon cancer. Bottoms Up (the new motto for a colonoscopy).

These silly, mindless thoughts create endorphins. If laughter is the best medicine, then my friend Claire has kicked cancer in the colon.

Like she says, 'you can laugh or you can cry'. I say laugh because crying leaves you with red puffy eyes that sting when you close them and a nose that would make Rudolph jealous. Laughter leaves you exhausted and sated...and if you do it right, you'll start laughing all over again at the craziness of your behavior.

It's loco. Claire's loco. That's why a 5K benefit was created in her honor. Simone has a bridge, but Claire has a road race. People came from Kentucky and Tennessee to run for her in Georgia. In January when colder than a mother-in-law's kiss as they say. Nobody ran for Simone. There were 130 people who ran in Cocoa Loco and many more will run in the next one on January 4, 2014.

Want to know more about Claire? Check out her blog! Just don't blame me if you laugh until you cry. She's like that, you know!!