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!