Category Archives: Raising Awareness

Top Women’s Newspaper Journalists of Past and Present

helenthomas

In honor of Women’s History Month, last week I took on the daunting task of listing some top women television journalists that deserve our support. I would like to continue to honor this month by attempting to list top political newspaper journalists, columnists and editors who deserve the same kind of respect, support and place in history. And for a final tribute next week, I will tackle my list of top twenty liberal women political bloggers.

Women are now expected voices during political dialogue – speaking their minds and taking names, so to speak. But how did we get here? After all, we have only had the right to vote since 1920 (a mere 90 years ago) and finally had our first shot at a woman President only in the past year. Wouldn’t you know it, women have been affecting the political scene long before we were voting and have been fighting for their spot on the soapbox in the male dominated field of journalism ever since. Did you know that the International Federation of Journalists reported that only of 38% of working journalists are women?

So as a woman blogger, political junkie and proud feminist, I would like to tip my laptop to the following women of note:

  • Marguerite Higgins was the first woman to win a Pulitzer prize for international reporting in 1951.
  • Ethel Payne covered the civil rights movement and became the first African American commentator employed by a major news network (CBS) in 1972.
  • Ida M. Tarbell was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her historical investigative reporting about the Standard Oil company at the turn of the century.
  • Margaret Fuller was the first writer for the New York Tribune in the mid 1800s and was also the first female foreign and war correspondent.
  • Nellie Bly is famous for her undercover work as a journalist who faked her insanity so that she could report on the inner workings of a mental institution in the late 1800’s.
  • Katherine Graham was a Pulitzer prize winning author and managing editor of the Washington Post during the explosive early 70s when the Post unearthed the truth about Nixon.
  • Nancy Hicks Maynard was the first African American female reporter for the New York Times and former owner of the Oakland Tribune.
  • Ellen Goodman is a Pulitzer prize winning columnist who has focused her career on bringing attention to the women’s movement while writing a nationally recognized syndicated column.
  • Anna Quindlen is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist who, in 1990, became the third woman in history to write a regular column for the New York Times Op-Ed page.
  • Helen Thomas was the first female member and president of the While House Correspondents Association and has been in the white house press corps since JFK, sitting front and center of every white house press conference. (See image above.)
  • Arianna Huffington was named as one of Time’s worlds 100 most influential people and  is the co founder of the Huffington Post.
  • Margaret Carlson was the first female columnist at Time magazine and is now a columnist at Bloomberg News.

IN 1937, the National Federation of Press Women was founded. For a list of accomplished women journalists found in their Hall of Fame, please visit their site.

With such amazing journalists and inspiring women preparing the ground for future female writers, it is no surprise that such a fabulous crop of political bloggers have sprung forth today, enlightening, demanding and questioning the political arena at large. So who are my favorites? You’ll have to wait until next week when I will finally reveal my top twenty favorite political bloggers. Until then, happy Women’s History Month!

Cross Posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Bloggers, Communication, Educating myself, Feminist tendancies, Giving respect, Inspiring people, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Women

Toms Shoes: A Review and a Give-away

shoes3

By now you should know that I won’t do a review on Morningside Mom unless there is something about that product that truly impresses me. Well, I have another one for you. Toms Shoes approached me and asked that I review a pair of shoes for them. But these aren’t just a pair of shoes. In case you don’t know about Toms Shoes, I am going to tell you what makes this specific shoe company so very special.

shoe4The Toms Shoes company was started by Blake Mycoskie after he visited Argentina and noticed how many children did not have any shoes. His dream for this company was to create a shoe that he could sell and give away. Let me explain further. He wanted his company to make it possible to donate one pair of shoes to a child in need with every one purchased. That’s right. And he did. After one year, he and his family and friends were ready to donate over 10,000 shoes to children in Argentina. Next stop was South Africa where he and his crew dropped off 50,000 shoes. And in 2008 it was planned that they donate over 200,000 shoes worldwide.

Ok, now watch this.

Pretty amazing, right?

Ok, so lets get down to the shoes themselves. What did I think?

shoes1

Well, in terms of style, I was a liiiittle nervous. I’ll admit, I was worried they’d be kind of like grandma shoes. I am just being honest here. I wasn’t sure they’d really be my style. So I looked through all the various patterns available online and went for a fun “Element” shoe style. At least I knew these shoes wouldn’t look anything like what Grandma would wear.

shoes2But here’s the thing. When I got them, they actually looked a lot cooler than I expected. I was pleasantly surprised. And my favorite part about the shoes? When I slipped them on, I didn’t want to take them off. Because, my friend, they’re like butta. So dang comfy. Granted, they don’t have a ton of support – these are flat shoes made of canvas. But they are well made and I really, truly never want to take them off. (Maybe I should get Grandma a pair, I think she wouldn’t take them off either.)

Now down to the fun part.

It’s giveaway time!

I have the DVD of their award winning documentary about their first shoe drop in Argentina and a coupon code worth $50 in Tom’s Shoes to give away to a Morningside Mom reader.

How do you enter? Leave a comment below about a time you’ve given back to your community or something you would like to do for your community. Real answers please, don’t just respond with some general Ms. America “I want to save the world” comment. Think about it for the sake of making change happen – like Toms Shoes has.

I will pick a winner at random on Monday March 16th.

Thanks and good luck!

**UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER!!**

Ilinap from Dirt and Noise was picked at random and has won the Toms Shoes giveaway! Congrats Ilinap!

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Filed under Africa, Causes, Children, Contests, Gifts, Philanthropy, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Reviews

My Thoughts on the Presidential Address to Congress

The other night after putting my children to bed, I settled onto my couch with my laptop and switched on MSNBC. I was ready to hear from our President. I was looking for hope, for answers, for any sign that there will be a light at the end of this very long and difficult tunnel. Homes in my neighborhood stand empty, friends are losing their jobs, funding for my son’s education is being cut drastically and I’m getting nervous about affording even groceries right now. This speech needed to assure me that eventually everything is going to be alright. And did it? Here is my reaction to the President’s address to congress.

After thunderous opening applause and a quick introduction by Pelosi, President Obama launched enthusiastically into his speech. Right away he recognized just how bad it’s gotten. He explained that he didn’t need to rattle off any more statistics about this recession since we are all experiencing it first hand.

With my arms folded and my heart sadly resigned, I certainly agreed. As much as I support our President whole-heartedly, I know the reality and can’t help but worry the obstacles in front of us are impossible to overcome.

He then reminded us that we are all responsible for our economy, for our environment, for our children’s futures. After years of excessive spending and with no regard for the consequences of bad loans or oil dependence, we’ve wound up where we are. His words were strong, he spoke plainly and he spoke right to me.

All this time, I’ve been smugly blaming the previous administration and everyone else for this mess. But it was at this moment when I realized that this problem is all of ours. We have all played a part in this mess and we all need to make an effort to fix it.

“Now is the time” he demanded. Ok. You’re right. I’m listening.

He then went on to explain this recovery plan will do the following:

  • Create 3.5 million jobs
  • Give 95% of Americans a tax cut by April 1
  • Give families paying for college tuition a $2,500 tax credit
  • Allow unemployed Americans extended unemployment benefits

Honestly? These promises practically make me giddy with hope. I was ready to leap to my feet during this part of his speech faster than Pelosi herself. But I didn’t. I was still holding myself back. These are promises and certainly look great on paper – but I am still waiting and seeing.

Obviously, this recovery plan means that a lot of money (read: trillions) will be floating around. Considering our reckless past, I appreciated the President explaining that careful tabs will be kept on every dollar spent. Americans can go to recovery.gov to see where our money is going. This is good. Actions and process have to be kept transparent if we want if regain any economic confidence.

The next points he brought up were about banking, credit and loans. The message came across loud and clear that our money in our banks is safe and that we cannot stop loaning to individuals and businesses. This will stop economic growth in its tracks. Clearly, trust needs to be rebuilt again.

He also pointed out that “responsible” families struggling to hold on to their homes will be assisted. He said that:

“…the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage.”

For a family like ours who followed the rules, bought a home within our means but are still scraping to pay our mortgage – this was very encouraging to hear.

Further into his speech, I was thrilled to hear the three priorities of the recovery plan:

 “…the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.”

He explained that ignoring these areas will change the future of our country if we do not give them immediate support and attention.

This was where my cautious “we’ll see” grumblings gave way to affirmative exclamations. I was emotionally on board then. All I could think about was my child’s school staying open, my $150 co-pays to treat my son’s flu that never responded to his $25 flu shot, and the empty homes scattered all over my neighborhood. Maybe? Could it be? Well, it seems there actually is hope.

As our president concluded his speech, he mentioned the stories of individuals who have made differences in their communities. He then introduced us to the young high school girl who reminded our congress that “We are not quitters!”

You see, that is exactly it for me. I am scared right now. I am nervous that from the bottom of this economic hole, these promises are just too good to be true. I want to hide my head in the sand and wish it all away. Or maybe just wait for someone else to fix it. But we are not quitters. No matter what side of the tracks you fall on: get up, get out and do something. This is everyone’s problem. Not just Wall Street’s or Congress’s or our President’s.

No doubt about it, our President is a fantastic speaker. But he is also an extremely smart and capable leader. The impossible is ahead of us but instead of moaning about what can’t be done, I will follow his lead and consider all that can be done. He is inspiring me to take responsibility, move forward and do my part. It was an excellent speech and I’m excited and ready to see what our future has in store.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Communication, Economy, Getting green, Government, Inspiring people, Obama, parental fear, Parenting, Partisanship, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reality check

Morningside Dad: Thoughts from a Liberal Father

I am guessing that by now you are fairly familiar with my perspective as a liberal mom. Well, how about a father’s perspective? What is it like to be a liberal father raising children today? Wouldn’t you know it, my husband just happens to be a liberal father. So I sat him down tonight and asked him what his thoughts were on freedom of speech, equality, stereotypes about white men and the future of the Supreme Court. Come see what he has to say, his answers may surprise you.
brad
Now to give you some background about my husband, he is a 6 ft, 4” white college athletics coach. He grew up in a privileged town in Connecticut; he just completed his MBA and might be one of the smartest people I know. We’ll call him B. for the sake of this interview.

Caroline: As a liberal father, what issues are most important to you?

B: I am pretty straightforward about my values. I believe in civil rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and every citizen having an equal opportunity to succeed.

C: And what about how your values relate to raising our children?

B: Well, our sons are part of a privileged class as two white males. I just hope I can raise them to have the same values I do.

C: So what about being a white male? What are your thoughts on affirmative action and our son’s future’s as white males?

B: It’s a topic I struggle with. I mean, why am I the bad guy? I know my race and gender give me a certain privilege but I wrestle with legislated equality sometimes. I realize sometimes we have to manufacture equal opportunity – and I get it – but I’ll admit that I struggle with this issue.

C: What have been some challenges for you as a liberal father?

B: I think I am most frustrated with the assumptions people make about me. I am a white, male coach – stereotypes are immediately drawn up. I mean, come on, even on the most progressive college campus, the Athletic department is assumed to be the last conservative bastion. As a result, comments are made around me since folks may presume I may have a certain value system which I don’t.

C: So how do you deal with that?

B: If I am at work and someone says something that I disagree with, I usually walk away or say nothing. I’ve got work to do and I am not going to start something then, but my silence usually clues them in. If I am outside of a work environment though, I do usually say something or try to start a constructive conversation about the topic. I make no apologies for my politics, take them or leave them.

C: With the new administration, what is the most important issue for you as a liberal father?

B: Apart from the obvious issues of establishing economic and global security for this country (and in turn, for our family), the appointment of the next Supreme Court justices is an extremely important issue for me. The current liberal appointments are not getting any younger. Whoever Obama chooses will leave a lasting impression on this country – probably longer than his own administration will. Do you know what kind of Supreme Court justices I want in there next?

C (smiling because I already know – and love – this answer): Tell me.

B: I want a purple haired, pierced nosed, extremely bright, straight talking lesbian from Northampton, Massachusetts appointed next. In fact, I want three of them in there!

I paused here to give him a big ol’ kiss. I love this guy.

C: Ok well gay adoption is illegal here in Florida. And you’ve heard all the threats about how legalizing gay marriage would ruin our marriage. What are your thoughts as a liberal father?

B: What in the world does my marriage have to do with two gay individuals who decide to be married? The success or failure of our marriage is strictly our responsibility. I have yet to hear one good cognizant argument against gay marriage. It is an equal rights issue that needs to be granted finally. If my sons grow up and decide that they want to love and marry another man, that is their right and I think it should be recognized, supported and protected.

C: Any final thoughts about being a liberal dad?

B: Florida is an interesting place. As far as I can tell in our area, I would say that being a liberal father is not particularly common. One morning a few days after the election, I was sitting at a red light. I mean, here I am, a white guy, with my kid in his car seat, on the way to kindergarten drop off with an HRC and Obama sticker on my bumper. I just don’t see that too often around here. All of the sudden, a guy in the car next to me (with his own collection of Obama stickers) started waving and honking at me, giving me the thumbs up. I saw that he too had kids in car seats in his backseat. I think it was a unique moment to see another guy like me so fired about this election. It was an interesting moment for me.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Boys, Equal Rights, Fathers, Florida, Marriage, parental fear, Parenting, Politics, Presidency, Racism, Raising Awareness, sons, Teaching kids

Will the Lilly Ledbetter Act Affect Equality in the Workplace?

obama_ledbetter

So I’m a woman. And many years ago, I was a working woman. I earned a nice-ish little income, I had a title, an office with a view, I wore suits and shared smart ideas about important stuff with other smart, important people around lacquered cherry wood conference tables. There were women and men in our office. And I assumed our pay was equitable. Or was it?

According to Women on Business, women nationally make 77c to every dollar men earn. That is not equitable. And let’s say a woman has proof that she does not make as much as a male counterpart, does she have the resources, the support – heck – even the laws in place so that she can file a lawsuit arguing inequity in her office place? Well sort of – and not until very recently.

So who is Lilly Ledbetter and what does she have to do with this issue? Last week, a new Fair Pay Act was named after her. Why? After working almost two decades for Alabama Goodyear Tire, Ms. Ledbetter filed a suit against the company with proof that she was being paid inequitably compared to her male counterparts. However, she could not win compensation due to some fine print found in the Civil Rights Act. That fine print stated that if 180 days had passed since an employee received a paycheck, a complaint regarding inequitable salaries could not be filed.

What? After working with Goodyear for almost two decades, how was she supposed to know if her pay was considered inequitable and thus know when her 180 days had expired? Why was this situation her fault?

Last week, President Obama signed a bill to change this, allowing workers to more time to file such types of law suits. It seems an obvious change and one that should never have been over-looked – and yet this bill was only signed days ago.

The reality remains, however. Inequity in the work place will not just go away now that companies have to watch their own backs more carefully.

So how do other bloggers feel about the new Fair Pay Act? Do they feel this Act enough? Martha Burk at the Huffington Post feels more is needed and that we should look to New Mexico as an example:

“Not only will the state as an employer have to study and report its own pay practices when it comes to gender and race, so will private sector companies that want state contracts. Richardson [Governor of New Mexico] has declared overcoming pay inequity and job segregation a priority, and established a high-powered task force to implement the needed changes.”

Emily Douglas at The American Prospect argues that this Fair Pay Act isn’t enough. In fact, it isn’t getting us that much further ahead. Rather,

“…the truth is that the Ledbetter Act simply restores employment-discrimination law to its pre-Ledbetter v. Goodyear standard. It doesn’t actually create new protections for workers, protections Ledbetter herself could have used — like a prohibition on employer retaliation if workers compare salaries.”

Punditmom agrees that this Fair Pay Act is a step in the right direction but questions whether the President is overlooking many other important issues in need of immediate attention for women such as increased health services. This apparent “tip of the iceberg” step towards fair pay seems to smack a bit of a quick fix, something to tide women’s rights activists over for the time being.

Sua Sponte is optimistic, however. She writes:

“This is not only an Act that will protect women like Lilly Ledbetter, but also countless other people paid less because of their race, national origin or religion. This Act clearly won’t be the remedy for all discriminatory pay decisions, but it’s a good start and sends a great symbolic message as Obama’s first law.”

Clearly, passing the Ledbetter Act alone will not solve discrimination issues in the work place. It seems simply the clarification of a detail. There is still so much more work to be done to truly establish equity amongst employees. But I suppose we all need to consider this a “glass is half full” moment. Thanks to this new Act, women can file a discrimination complaint and actually have a chance at compensation. Even if the Ledbetter Act is only considered one symbolic deckchair tossed impressively off the Titanic – it is still one step closer to a little something we all consider more American than apple pie: equal rights.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Equal Rights, Feminist tendancies, Government, Obama, Politics, Raising Awareness, Women, Working moms

Honoring Dr. King’s Dream

We can never take for granted how far we have come to ensure equality for every citizen in our country. Thousands of people have suffered so that the rights of our people are upheld and preserved. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech has lived in our minds for decades. It has remained alive in our hearts, reminding us to work for a dream, to accomplish the impossible. And tomorrow, with the election of Barack Obama, we are so close to realizing Dr. King’s dream.

But we can’t assume we have accomplished his dream entirely. We can’t assume equality comes simply with the election of an African American president, because it hasn’t. But we’re getting so close. And as we watch President-Elect Obama be sworn in tomorrow, there can be no doubt in our minds that the impossible can happen. Now, we have every reason to believe that Dr. King’s dream may soon be entirely realized.

I think it is all of our responsibilities to watch this speech, read this speech, and experience this speech before tomorrow’s inauguration. Amoungst everything that it represents, every one of us should understand the significance of this new presidency and the effect it will have on our hopes for equality in our country.

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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Filed under Equal Rights, Giving respect, Inauguration, Inspiring people, Martin Luther King Jr., Obama, Patriotism, Peace, Presidency, Racism, Raising Awareness

Yes, I Blogged my Mammogram

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Well, we’re still talking about the girls here on Morningside Mom. As you know, I have been stressing about a mystery pain in rightie, so I went to the doctor last week. Two days ago, I had a mammogram. And in the name of promoting breast health everywhere (well… at least here on this humble little blog), I just gotta do it. I gotta blog the whole dang experience.

Now I shouldn’t get you too pumped up. It honestly wasn’t nearly as heart stopping of an experience as its reputation might lead you to believe. I think it took longer to fill out the paper work than to actually go through the entire mammogram itself. No, in fact, I am sure it did. But I do think it is worth sharing how its done. There are plenty of friends of mine who have yet to have their first. And I also think there are plenty of women who are afraid of going through with one. As my dear blogger friend Ilinap has described it, “who wants to go have a car door slammed on your breasts?” While I had a good laugh at her description, I swear on my left breast (the good one) that it’s really not that bad. So here we go…

Once my paper work was completed, I waited. And there is no doubt about it. Even though this was my second rodeo (I had a baseline mammorgram at 32 due to my family’s history), I was nervous. In fact, I had been nervous all day. What if while their scanning, the tech sees something? What if the tech, calls the radiologist and the radiologist calls a doctor and they all mumble in hushed tones from across the room behind my file, glancing over at me now and then, shaking their heads back and forth? What if? So I was all kinds of worked up.

And do you know the most irksome part of the whole process? I couldn’t wear any deodorant (powders and lotions are not allowed either). So there I sat in the waiting room, my stomach a pit of nerves, and generally feeling “not so fresh”. Thank goodness it is Florida’s version of winter. Can you imagine getting a mammogram in the dead of summer?

But I digress.

So, after staring at the same page in my book for about 10 minutes, the tech opened the door and called my name. In I went and I followed her to a dressing room where she asked me to take my top half of clothing off and put on a pepto-bismal pink gown, opening in the front. Once dressed, she lead me into the room where the mammography machine loomed before me. Ok, I am being dramatic. It was just a machine – a digital x-ray machine actually – that stood taller than myself, and across the room was a monitoring station where the technician can view each digital image.

It was thankfully fairly warm in the room. The technician was very kind and professional. She led me right up to the machine and asked me to lean forward while she adjusted the machine to my height. There is a horizontal plate that is chest hight and then there is a plastic plate above which is lowered down also.

Now, all I did was stand there. She did the adjusting and arranging. To get a good, comprehensive picture, every bit of me needed to be resting on that plate. And… well… let’s just say it didn’t take very long to get me all on there.

Once I was set, the plastic plate above was lowered slowly. That’s where the “car door” analogy comes in. But there isn’t any slamming. Its just lowered enough to… pancake you a bit.

How does it feel? How did I react? Well, it didn’t hurt. At all. Neither mammogram that I’ve had have hurt. But both times, my reaction has been to giggle. Its all a very strange situation, you know? And I would advise you not to do what I did and look down at the plastic square pancaking your chest. Oh goodness. I had to bite down on my cheek to keep from breaking into a long belly laugh. You know that “face pressed up against the glass” kind of look? Yeah, it’s worth a laugh in my book.

She took two pictures of each breast. I got the “pancake” first horizontally and then vertically. After each take, she checked the monitor (I assume) to be sure that the picture was clear. Once she was done, she lead me back to the dressing room to wait while she spoke to the radiologist. She said that she wanted to be sure he didn’t need any other shots taken before she could let me go.

Ok. So I sat again. And my wheels starting turning again and my heart rate jumped right back up. And I stared at the same page in my book. If the radiologist wants to take more shots, that must mean they see something… Right? So they are looking right now. They could see something at this very moment…

“You’re all set!” They didn’t need any more pictures? I was free to go? Ha! As I got dressed, I rationalized that this meant one of two things. Either there was a mass there so obvious that no further pictures were needed. Or there was nothing there that the radiologist could see. Or. The radiologist wasn’t very good at his job and he missed something that is there after all! There goes the heartbeat again. Cheese and crackers, get me home to me deodorant.

So that was that. Not so bad, I swear to you. I am going to call my doctor by the end of the week if I haven’t heard anything. I usually assume that no news is good news – but still. Peace of mind is a very valuable thing. Obviously, since I felt nothing and he felt nothing and the radiologist (assuming he or she is capable) didn’t need more shots, I am assuming all will be well. As always, I will keep you posted.

Now to those of you who have put off your mammograms? Make an appointment already. It’s not so bad. Besides, you could probably use a good laugh.

Further desciptions and FAQs about mammograms can be found here:

 

***UPDATE***

Best words ever to read in a letter from a Radiology facility:

“NO MAMMOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF CANCER”

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Filed under Breast cancer, Dr. Visits, Health, Mammograms, Raising Awareness, Reality check, Women

Minding My Mammaries

self-exam

Breasts are strange things. As the ultimate feminine accessory, they make outfits fit better, give us fabulous curves and restore wavering confidence. They can be worn to be oggled or stuffed away in a t-shirt and overlooked. Miraculously, after our bodies mix some crazy internal hormonal cocktail, these “accessories” can become endless kegs of milk at the ready for an infant looking to party into the wee hours. And then of course, they can be objects of intense and sobering concern.

I had a wonderful Christmas filled with family, fun, children and food. Even my breasts got a piece of the action. My mother took me to buy two new bras from Victoria Secret. Now you must understand. My underwear is the least of my concerns. I have two boys – I am focused on them and dinner and bills and keeping gas in the car. Fancy bras just seem silly and frivolous. And I hadn’t bought a new bra since before my two year old was born. I mean, get real. My other ones seemed just fine – they kept the girls in check and who needs all the lace, the fra-la-la and the frippery anyway. 

But into Victoria’s Secret we stepped. And I found the BEST. BRA. EVER. I am now the proud owner of two Angel Airbras. Putting one on does not *poof* turn me into Heidi Klum. (Snorting my morning tea as I write this…) Yeah, not at all. But you know what? They have truly given me a little pep in my step. What an unexpected and welcome surprise to be sure. For so long, I have overlooked the shape of my chest thinking there is really nothing more I can do to give the girls any more “oomph” at this point. But whadda ya know. I have got myself a little “oomph” afterall. Again, there is no miracle involved. And similar to my wee but rallying chest size, the change is so subtle it may not be even apparent to the naked eye. But *I* notice a change and *I* feel better about myself. And that is worth its weight in gold. So here I write, smugly puffing out my somewhat puffy – but better shaped – chest.

However, in the midst of this little breast ego trip, I have been quietly concerned. You see, something seems a little …off… with one of my breasts. It’s probably no big deal. No lumps (phew, phew, phew, phew) but one is sore and just feels a bit different. I don’t understand why there would be any pain in one and not the other. I had convinced myself over the past couple weeks that maybe I had pulled a muscle from coughing or from running. But its still there. One boob. And I’m “aware” of it.

Honestly, I am fairly sure this is an over-reaction. But my over-reaction is comparable with a knee jerk reaction whenever “irregularity” and my breasts are concerned. With my family’s breast cancer history, I am am perpetually on watch – wondering when my turn is up. I almost don’t consider breast cancer an “if”, I consider it a “when”. So if something now seems awry – well, it’s time to ready the girls. Even as they are tucked peacefully in their padded lace, we need to prepare for anything. We’ll see what the doctor says in a few days but, in the meantime, here’s to hoping I am making a mountain out of a molehill… so to speak.

So, if I were to turn this post into a public service announcement, what would it be? Um, how about: “Don’t ignore your breasts”. Breast cancer is a real possibility for every woman. And ignoring something “not quite right” is never the answer. If you’re worried, just call your doctor. Rather walk back to your car after your appointment, hugely embarrassed, but with healthy mole hills than find out too late that your molehills are actually mountains.

And certainly don’t ignore your girls and forget to give them a fancy, fabulously supportive bra once in awhile. It’s good for them, it’s good for you, things fit better, you look better, it’s just a good idea all around.

Be well, my friends. I’ll keep you posted.

**Update**

No lumps. Phew. Next stop? I get to have a  mammogram next week. And I am even kind of looking forward to it. Once again, I’d rather over-react than not react. Plus… I’m gonna blog the whole experience anyway. In an effort to promote further boob health to all my readers, stay tuned for a breast by breast walk through of what a mammogram is really like. Don’t expect any pictures though…

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Filed under Breast cancer, Educating myself, Family, Health, Holidays, Panicking, Raising Awareness, Reality check, Women

Charities Entered in the HP Giveaway Contest

giving_tree

During my HP Giveaway contest, I received some amazing entries. And I mean AMAZING. Choosing a winner seemed near impossible and I am about to show you why. But I did choose a winner and the Moms Without Moms Organization spent last weekend opening up all their computers and finding new homes for them at the Laura Walker Project. I am thrilled those computers will make a significant difference in the lives of the women they serve.

But back to my entrants. The stories. The heartache. The charities. And even once I had worked my list down, the remaining folks were honestly all equally deserving. Even since this contest has long passed, I think about their charities and the work so many of these folks do for others. So, I thought that the only small way I can give to these folks might be to introduce some of them to my readers. You see, there is amazing work happening out there, even during these very difficult times. Selfless giving happens daily, without any fanfare or fabulous HP giveaways hyping up the amazing work they do.

Please read along and learn a little something about some incredible charities that my entrants hoped to donate the the HP giveaway to.

But can ask one favor of you though? If you are able to, or if you know someone who can, please consider contributing to one of these charities. Or post this link on your blog encouraging folks to give. Or send this link to friends. Or Stumble it. Or tweet about it. Do what you can do to expose these charities to others. I believe in the power of word of mouth, blogging and community. Maybe some more good can come for these charities after all.

Also, forgive me. Rather than writing my own blurb about each place, I have copied quotes from most of their mission statements. They do a better job explaining themselves anyway. Ok, here we go…

Legacy Cultural Learning Community

“Muscogee-Seminole and Cherokee artist, Dana Tiger, founded Legacy Cultural Learning Community to offer “art making” as part of the daily lives of Native youth.  Since 2002, Legacy has provided art opportunities ranging from outdoor youth and elder camps where traditional foods are prepared on an open fire, to the production of film by 5th through 8th grade camera and technical directors.”

Arise for Social Justice

“Arise is a low-income rights, membership organization based in Springfield, MA. We were founded by welfare mothers who believe we have the right to speak for ourselves about the issues that affect our lives. Our membership is poor people, people who are homeless and at-risk of homelessness, working people and people who have been pushed to the side by society We organize around voting rights, housing, homelessness, access to health care, family rights and criminal injustice.”

Endependence Center

“ECI provides an array of independent living services to individuals with disabilities and to the community.  The purposes of ECI are two-fold; to prepare individuals, and to prepare the community for full integration of persons with disabilities into society.”

Lighthouse International

“Lighthouse International is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to preserving vision and to providing critically needed vision and rehabilitation services to help people of all ages overcome the challenges of vision loss. Through clinical services, education, research, and advocacy, the Lighthouse enables people with low vision and blindness to enjoy safe, independent and productive lives.”

Wyoming Search and Rescue Association

The Wyoming Search and Rescue Association assists with “the employment, coordination and utilization of available resources and personnel in relieving distress, preserving life and removing survivors from the site of a disaster, emergency or hazard to safety in case of lost, stranded, entrapped or injured people.”

Vision Hope

“Presently Vision HOPE’s sole focus is on raising the necessary funds to operate Champions for Life Kids’ Camp. Foster children from the surrounding communities will participate in a variety of fun and educational activities in a non-competitive and non-threatening, loving environment. With a highly trained & devoted staff, these children will discover not only their inner strengths and abilities, but their self-worth as well.”

Peace for Kids

“Peace4Kids provides programs and services for foster and at-risk youth from ages 5-18, and after emancipation until age 24. Peace4Kids is truly on the front lines in addressing the needs of foster and at-risk youth in the South Los Angeles neighborhoods of Watts, Willowbrook and Compton.”

Schweinfurt’s SFAC (Soldier and Family Assistance Center)

“The SFAC is a one-stop location designed to provide support services regarding finances, child care, Family Advocacy, budgeting, Chaplain assistance, Legal Assistance, Military Personnel issues, logistics and transportation, installation access, benefits counseling, education and employment opportunities. The SFAC provides a warm, relaxed environment where Soldiers and their Families can gather to foster physical, spiritual and mental healing.”

Youth Power Center

Youth Power Center (YPC), located in Anacostia of Washington, DC, is a career training program that assists teenagers to empower them to reach their potential.

Zoe’s Heart

This blogger writes about her daughter’s dire need of a heart transplant. Visit her site to learn more.

Talking About Curing Autism

“Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) provides information, resources, and support to families affected by autism. For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments. TACAhelps to strengthen the autism community by connecting families and the professionals who can help them, allowing them to share stories and information to help people with autism be the best they can be.”

Kennebec Valley Community Action Program

“KVCAP offers a range of services for men, women, and children. These include Family Planning; home ownership, repair and weatherization services, heating assistance; transportation; and a teen center. We also support families through home visitation programs for first time parents, parenting classes, childcare and Head Start. Many of these programs are available to people of all income levels.

Capitol News Connection

“Capitol News Connection is an independent and innovative multimedia news service that brings politics ‘home’ to citizens with localized and custom-crafted reporting from Congress. A bridge from the ‘Beltway’ to the ‘Heartland’, CNC connects the dots and ensures all Americans have access to locally relevant, trustworthy, engaging and unbiased information. By bringing new relevance, transparency and accountability to the political process, CNC reporting empowers citizens to shape their own destinies by being active and effective participants in our democracy.”

Sacramento Loaves and Fishes

“Without passing judgment, and in a spirit of love and hospitality, Loaves & Fishes feeds the hungry and shelters the homeless. We provide an oasis of welcome, safety, and cleanliness for homeless men, women and children seeking survival services.”

Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center

“Our mission is to provide opportunities and an environment for neighbors and families in southwest Indianapolis to improve lives, increase independence, and strengthen community through service and collaboration.”

Blogger Kate discussed their amazing adult re-entry computer education program and how it supports and assists “Baby Boomer” adults as they reinvent themselves at various points in their lives.

Ballet Tech

“Ballet Tech is dedicated to seeking out talented New York City public school students and provides a continuum of training from introductory through professional level training. Throughout the children’s instruction, dance classes, shoes and leotards are provided free of charge. During the first year of training, transportation is provided while students attend ballet classes on a school-time release program. Students who show the talent and passion required to study classical ballet are invited to attend The New York City Public School for Dance (NYCPSD) – a cooperative, tuition-free venture between the NYC Department of Education and Ballet Tech. The School offers a rigorous academic curriculum paired with intensive dance training for students in grades 4 through 12.”

Cathedral Square Cooperation

“South Burlington Community Housing offers affordable housing for people with mobility impairments aged 62 and younger…the community offers nine one-bedroom apartments [and] a non-institutional setting where residents can live independently in a group setting. All residents participate in a care-pooling plan, which allows them to pool their resources to direct the caregiver staff of the community in providing their care, which allows more freedom and independence than a traditional care giving arrangement.”

And finally, there were many entrants who were enthusiastic about donating to these very important charities: the Salvation Army, the Make A Wish Foundation and the Ronald McDonald Houses.

Thank you for reading and giving anyway that you can!

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Filed under Bloggers, Causes, Children, Contests, Education, HP, Inspiring people, Money, Mothers, Philanthropy, Raising Awareness, Women, Working moms

Keeping it Green this Holiday Season

led

While getting caught up in the fun of the holidays, it is very easy to throw your usual rules aside and go all out – hoping to ensure the perfect holiday gathering for your family. We go on endless shopping sprees, the budget is long forgotten and so are some of our better “green” habits – all in the name of holiday cheer. The holidays don’t have a reputation of excess for nothing. However, here are some ways to try and keep your cool and stay green without having to forget the fun of the season too.

Decorating

Some of us will be buying Christmas trees this year to decorate. If you do decorate a tree, consider buying a potted tree and planting it after the season has passed. If that isn’t possible, be sure to contact your local Waste Management Program to find out how to recycle your Christmas tree. Also check Earth 911 for local Christmas tree recycling options.

When it’s time to string up the lights in my home, my inner Clark Griswold comes shining through. However, this year, if you happen to need new lights anyway, consider buying LED holiday lights to save energy. Or if you don’t have to buy new lights, be sure to keep your current lights on a timer so they are off during the day and when you go to sleep.

If you are looking for new ornaments this year, All Free Crafts suggests making ornaments out of recycled Christmas cards. I love to make salt dough ornaments with my children and those treasures will stay on my tree for years to come. Don’t forget about the extra things around the house that might spruce up your tree too like left over ribbon, restrung beads and buttons and even stringing good old fashioned popcorn garland for your tree.

Holiday Cards

It has never been easier to send e-cards or virtual greetings. I use Hallmark Smilebox to send festive slideshows, greetings and even movie clips. If you still prefer sending mailed cards, consider buying cards made on recycled paper this year. Some options are Cards Direct, Cards for Causes and Green Field Paper.

Cooking

Part of the holidays always includes cooking traditional meals for friends and relatives. Plan ahead and try to be a green chef this year. For example, try to buy organic foods when possible, think about some vegetarian meals and buy free range poultry and eggs. Another fun tip is to track down a local farm and buy your fruits and vegetables locally – they taste better and are usually more affordable.

Green Gifts

Gift giving is on everyone’s minds right now. Think carefully about what you are giving and why your are giving it. Grabbing as much “stuff” as possible just to wrap and stick under the tree isn’t a smart idea. Rather, buy one or two quality items, than a bunch of less well made, more likely to break items. Also, think about buying things that are personal, make some gifts and put your heart into the giving process. A hand knit scarf is always more valued than another boring tie.

Another inexpensive way to buy green gifts is to hop onto Craig’s list or shop in consignment stores. Recycling and saving a dollar never came so easy.

Finally, here are some links to articles or websites with green gift ideas: EDF.org, NRDC.org, Ecomall.com, and Treehugger.com. One of my favorites? Consider buying your loved one some poopoopaper. A fun gift and it’s certainly, er, been recycled.

Gift Wrapping

When I was a child, it was inevitable that as we opened our gifts a relative would shout out “I forgot one!” And they would run off and return with a gift wrapped in a towel or pillow case. We used to laugh about it then but now it really isn’t such a bad idea after all! If possible, try to make your own wrapping paper this year by using beautifully decorated paper bags, magazines, old posters, old maps and even the tried and true funny pages. And make my family proud, an old piece of cloth might even look beautiful with the right ribbon and sprucing up.

Another thought? Wrap presents that go together in one package. Also, try to avoid buying gifts that are too large that would take extra wrapping – they probably have too much packaging in them anyway.

If you do need to wrap some gifts in paper, track down some recycled gift wrapping.

Shipping

I know I still have to get my gift boxes sent off. When you do, try to find old boxes to mail your gifts, be sure to avoid the plastic peanuts and use old newspaper and other pieces from your recycle bin to pack your items. Sometimes I save my sons used ziplock bags and then blow them up for cushion in the boxes.

Finally, you should know that the USPS is actually doing an excellent job of being green about their shipping. They have eco-friendly packaging and even soy based inks and non toxic adhesives. To learn more, go check out their site.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Getting green, Gifts, Holidays, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Recycling, Shopping, Thinking outside the box, Traditions, Unnecessary stuff