Tag Archives: sisterhood

The Next Step: Grateful for Hillary

Hillary Poster, 2016

Hillary Poster, 2016


Is it possible to mourn the outcome of this election and feel gratitude?

“It’s like losing a loved one,” a friend remarked as we spoke of our upset that a man who denigrated and objectified women, directed hate talk to minorities, mocked the disabled, lead the charge to jail Hillary, is now the president elect.

In the aftermath, we experience sadness. Are not the tears in this sadness embedded in gratitude? Had I not admired, respected, and trusted Hillary, would I feel this bereft? Had I not felt enormous gratitude for what she gave and endured in those long, difficult days of confronting the challenges of being the first female presidential candidate in history, would I feel so beleaguered?

I am grateful: Hillary ran for president, not once, but twice.

The first time, in 2008, I stood in a long line with my friend, Rosemary, to attend Hillary’s primary rally at Boston’s Symphony Hall. When she took the stage in her soft yellow pantsuit, I stood and cheered, my heart pounding with anticipation and pride in a woman candidate. I was 76 years old.

I recalled how, growing into womanhood, I admired two outspoken women: Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Chase Smith. Eleanor was her husband’s eyes and ears, his advisor. Smith was among the first to criticize the tactics of McCarthyism the year I graduated high school. McCarthy frightened me; Smith called him out, stood her ground and spoke out against despotism. In 1964, Smith ran as a candidate for the Republican nomination but lost.

That rally night at Symphony Hall, the golden-walled space rang with excited applause and sisterhood. Hillary was passionate; we were passionate with her. Like Smith, she lost that first effort and to my surprise, she picked herself up and accepted the job of Secretary of State. The job was brutal, requiring resiliency, flexibility, grit and yes, stamina.

My gratitude grew as I read of her missions and watched her interviews on television. I appreciated both her grace and grit as she traveled the world, tried to negotiate fairness and safety.

Election, 2016, her run for president seemed inevitable. Who could challenge her competence and knowledge, her dedication to civility and service? Of course, dedicated Bernie. I was grateful for two champions. I was grateful for the choice.

Hillary won the nomination, paved the path, forged the way forward as far and wide as she could. I am grateful, yet mourn for what was lost— the promise of a steady, firm reasonable leader with heart for families and children of all races and creeds.

How to honor the sadness and move forward? I am vigilant. I tune to trusted journalists, writers and commentators. I read to stay current, to assess whose point of view resonates, makes sense. Today, November 12th, Timothy Eagen, in his New York Times Opinion essay, Resist Much, wrote, “Grief is an emotion that has little power in politics.”

Time for me to take the next step. Onward.


Sisterhood: My Women’s Group & Our Stories

25 th anniversary - Version 2

I begin with gratitude to Andrea Davies, a new and younger friend, for her Facebook post of Robert Waldinger’s Ted talk on “Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness.” The study of octogenarian men over their lifetime concludes that relationships— those we can rely upon for support and connection over time—can help buffer life’s inevitable personal and physical challenges.

As a female octogenarian, I can attest to the wisdom of friendship and its effects on well-being. When I turned fifty, after twenty-five years of maintaining a psychotherapy practice and my children near grown, I asked myself, “What can I do now that I’ve done it all?” The question was both naïve and sincere and pointed to my state of mind. I felt lost, that something was missing. In truth, I had dedicated time to my husband, my children, my parents and clients but took little time to develop intimate relationships with friends.

Six years later, a neighbor and walking friend, Bev Bader, invited me to join a women’s group. Nine of us spanning thirteen years in age, all married with children and careers, convened. I was the oldest by six years. The commonality of approaching middle age with present or impending transitions bonded us.

Over the course of twenty-seven years, eight of us have continued to meet monthly with two months off during summer. We meet for two and a half hours, in a circle, and divide the time equally for each attendee to tell her story. I recall my nervousness those start-up years when my turn came to state aloud what I wanted and needed in my personal life. As a therapist, I was a listener with responsibility to guide, to help. As a group member, I was vulnerable, sharing aspirations and struggles for which I often had no answers and needed feedback.

I learned, over time, that others could help with perspective and offer support. Bev, Rosemary, Janet, Claudine, Carol, Joan and Eva have walked beside me through the launch of my adolescent children, their choice of spouses, the birth of five grandchildren, my husband’s heart episode, the decision to retire and close my therapy practice, my longing and quest to become a writer, my return to school for an MFA in creative writing.

At age seventy-five, I graduated from Pine Manor’s Solstice MFA program in creative writing. As I looked out at the familiar faces of family and friends, I was aware that the fulfillment of my long journey to become a writer was, in great part, due to the unswerving support and encouragement of my husband and friends.

I am grateful for the nurturance and sustaining friendship of my woman’s group. What we give and what we take are found in the telling of our stories, the trust that comes from the circle. We are, in truth, lifelong sisters.