Book Review: Gloria Steinem’s “My Life on the Road”

Hallelujah! I finally finished “My Life on the Road” by Gloria Steinem, which I have had since my birthday last year. What makes this book so special to me – first and foremost- is that it is signed by THE Gloria Steinem, someone I have idolized growing up. Since the physical book is basically sacred to me, I think I was scared to open the book to actually read it but I did and….it did not disappoint!IMG_5082

The beginning of the book is Gloria’s tale of growing up with her father working as a traveling (and struggling) antiques salesman, in which she would travel with him in his car throughout the U.S. Meanwhile, her mother stayed at home and struggled with mental illness. As privileged as she was and still is, I was surprised at how humble her beginnings and how her time on the road with her father influenced her. Gloria would later chronicle her own many journeys throughout the U.S. as she gave speeches at universities and organized events.

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Gloria Steinem’s autograph. 

Many experiences (unsurprisingly) include her talking about how she was not taken seriously and disrespected. During the Lyndon Johnson administration, on the way to an event for Bobby Kennedy two famous writers in a cab in NYC with Gloria leaned across one another to say “You know how every year there’s a pretty girl who comes to New York and pretends to be a writer? Well, Gloria is this year’s pretty” (139). This is just one of many examples in which Gloria was mistreated due to her gender. We all know, of course, that she is no pretty face. Ironically, she went on to break barriers for women everywhere.

What I also liked is what Gloria spent the final pages of her book on – the plight of Native Americans and the successes of her best friend, Wilma Mankiller, who was the first woman to lead the Cherokee Nation in 1985. This was a touching tribute to her friend that was with until her last breath, heaving fought many years recovering from a car accident and then succumbing to pancreatic cancer.

Between just Gloria and Wilma alone, there seemed so many possibilities as to what they could do, especially when together. Gloria was a women’s rights crusader who made feminism mainstream. Wilma was a true warrior spent her live improving health care and education for Native Americans. Both Gloria and Wilma were recipients of the Presidential Medals of Freedom. By the end of the book, you are left with the hopefully message that yes, life is a journey, and you really are free to make it your own. This may mean hitting the road and organizing events like Gloria, or finding passion at home. Whatever it is though, you should follow the path you love.

What’s your passion?

 

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How I Spent International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day, and is also my birthday. I’d like to think this was destiny, or my mother pre-planned my birth to land on this day, but it simply a great coincidence. A tradition that I started last year and hope to have in the future, is volunteering on my birthday. I am very lucky that my company has paid volunteer days and were onboard with me taking off time to volunteer!

Like last year, I chose to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, a reputable organization that helps build homes for those with financial burdens. It was too cold to work on a house today, so I worked in their retail store. Their “ReStore” retail stores carries items that have all been donated, and all of the proceeds go to help fund the building of their houses. 17201056_10154912630742605_1389717025955409122_n

At ReStore, I organized book shelves, swept floors, tidied inventory, and even painted chairs. Painting furniture is not something I have ever done but have wanted to, so I was glad I could pick up a new “skill,” even though I’m an amateur!

I think that is the beauty of volunteering in general: you pick up new skills and also learn what you do and do not like to do. I know that we typically associate volunteering with community building but it really helps build YOU as a person, so that’s why I am happy spending my birthday’s serving others.

Who else likes volunteering?

Harvard Business School’s Women Empowered: Opening Keynote Address

On February 25, 2017, I attended the 26th Annual Dynamic Women in Business Conference held at Harvard Business School. At this event, I heard from speakers including Jeanne Jackson, President at Nike, amongst many other powerful women in business. At this event, I took copious notes and think that if I were to write about it all, it would be a lot longer than a typical blog post! However, below are my notes from our opening session with Jeanne Jackson. I will likely continue to write about this conference in a separate blog post.

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Outside of the Spangler Center, where the 26th Annual Dynamic Women in Business event was held.

Opening Keynote with Jeanne Jackson of Nike called “Trailblazer in Retail, Branding and Sport: Lead Like you Mean It”

The fact that we are able to discuss female empowerment is a huge privilege in itself, since many women around the world today are still unable to use their voices. Back when Jackson attended HBS in 1976, only 7% of the class were women and traditionally, “power seeking” women were viewed negatively, unlike men during that same period.

Empowered comes from the word “power” (meaning: having the ability to control or influence others), but we should reclaim the word “empowered” to mean a person who chooses their own path.

The 4 Traits a Successful Person Must Have:

1.) Drive – Jackson admitted her drive was to make money, stemming from her need to pay off school loans. She provided an anecdote of having lunch with Serena Williams, and that Williams told her that she “threw out” all of her second place trophies, since she never would only accept being first.

2) Passion – Find something you love to do. With Jackson, she always found an emotional connection with a brand, which helped her in making decisions on where to work. “Happiness is the key to success, not the other way around” she stated.

3) Self-awareness – Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses.

3) Initiative to Lead – Leaders must lead. People have expectations for you and business is not a popularity contest. As a person who has led 8 companies and has sat on 10 boards, Jackson knows! She also said to “be the person who punches the bully in the nose” when it comes to sticking up for your workers.

Jeanne Jackson gave an outstanding speech overall, urging a women to “take a seat at the table” next to men who continue to occupy the most positions in managerial and executive-level work. Despite us coming a long way in terms of women’s rights, we still have a lot more that needs to be done, but Jackson remains optimistic.

A Physician’s Ordeal Dealing with His Personal Opiate Addiction

Do you know someone or know of someone who has battled with a drug addiction, or has passed away because of it? Nowadays it is hard not hear about these stories, especially when the National Institute on Drug Abuse calculates that over two million people in America are afflicted with a drug abuse disorder related to opiate use.

Recently, I was able to hear a physician, Dr. Peter Grinspoon, author of “Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction” speak about his ordeal getting addicted to opiates, how he was confronted about it, and how he received help. This informative session answered questions I had about opiate addiction, as well as gave me insight that I wish I had before.

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Photo courtesy of Amazon.

A few things I picked up:

  1. Purdue Pharma lost a lawsuit back in 2007 for $600 million dollars after it deceptively marketed Oxycontin as non-addictive. As you know, these companies give big incentives to doctors prescribing their drugs, so you can image how many more of these prescriptions were doled out to patients.
  2. There are many more doctors who have suffered from drug addiction/currently have an addiction problem. One source estimates that up to 15% of doctors have a drug addiction.
  3. For some reason, Dr. Grinspoon mentioned, doctors have a much higher chance of recovering. He theorized it is because of fear of never being able to practice medical again as one possible reason why.
  4. Race and social class definitely make a difference in whether or not you would face jail time, he admitted. He is caucasian and not surprisingly, did not face jail time for (spoiler alert) writing himself faulty prescriptions.
  5. There aren’t enough beds for people who need in-hospital care so in turn, not everyone is receiving the care they need.

Overall, drug addiction to opiates is a problem that will go away soon, in part due to a trickle effect of opiates like Oxycontin marketed as harmless many years ago. However, we can all do our part to accept people for who they are – folks like us who have the unfortunate predisposition to addiction.

There was so much more covered in this talk and covered in this book, so you should definitely pick up this book if it piques your interest. Found here on Amazon.

A Day to Remember: Boston Women’s March

Uplifting. Untifying. Those are the two words that immediately pop into my head when thinking about the Women’s March in Boston I attended on December 21. Though I may not be the best account of the March, seeing as I had to leave early and was unable to complete the actual marching, I can still describe the feeling that was evident while I attended the rally in the Boston Commons.

The night prior to the March, I was starting to think I would not go because I wanted to sleep in. However, that next morning I felt as though my body was being possessed to go to the March, and I am so glad I did!

I traveled to the March alone because I knew no one else going and coming from a conservative household, there was no way anyone from my family would join me. On the train to Boston, I made friends with a woman who told me about how she too was traveling alone because her husband and son were strongly against the women’s rights movement. She then proceeded to tell me a story about how her boss from the 80’s sexually assaulted her, prior to the laws shifting towards sexual harassment (thank you, Anita Hill).

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As you may notice, there were men in attendance. You can’t tell from this photo, but they were in abundance to support their ladies. 

When my new friend and I got to Boston, we joined people that she knew would be there and made our way into the Commons. We were too far away to hear the inspirational speeches but the chant of “March! March!” were heard ever so often. With the distance between me and the microphone, it allowed me people watch.

What I noticed is that there was no shoving when people needed to get by. Women were polite to one another. They were sharing their beads and other rally decorum. They were sharing their stories of prejudice and discrimination. Overall, women were hopeful. I saw a lot of people with signs protest Trump but the feeling that shook me was how you could almost feel the strength and energy bouncing off of other people. I couldn’t hear the mic very well, but that’s because everyone was huddled so close together! This closeness is metaphoric to the connectedness of the crowd.

I feel very lucky to have experienced the day even for the short time that I was there. I hope that someday, when this day is in a history book, my grandchildren will exclaim, “My grandma was there!” and know that I was part of a movement grown out of the love, to protect our country from imminent harm.

I do want to believe in our government and our President. Even though he sees the March as “fake news,” I hope he is actually internalizing the effects of this historic demonstration.

 

Lindo Puerto Rico

This holiday season, I decided last-minute that I was going to Puerto Rico. To be able to book a last-minute trip anywhere I know is not something that anyone can simply do, so I feel fortuitous to be able to do so.

I had originally thought of going to Puerto Rico in March during my birthday month but after realizing I had leftover time from work that I had to use or lose, I made the most out of my time off.

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Puerto Rico was a my top choice out of all of the other places I had considered because I wanted to travel to a plan that is very warm, relatively cheap, and a place where I would be fine to travel solo to. Puerto Rico basically fit this criteria, though if I go back, I would prefer to go with a friend!

What did not surprise me about Puerto Rico is that the people were in general, extremely warm (as warm as the climate!). For instance, my first day I got a little lost on my way back from the beach and this elderly woman pulled me close to her so that I could share her umbrella. I am not so sure if people where I am from would consider doing this with a stranger!

One downside to Puerto Rico is that if you are a woman walking alone outside -in the daylight or not-you can expect to be catcalled. I learned this within minutes of stepping outside my front door. Another downside is that walking outside at night was not safe, based on conversations with locals. It sounds like a common sense but in Puerto Rico, you have to remain extra vigilant. These two things aside, Puerto Rico is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited and I would love to go back again to explore the island further.

On a trip to Puerto Rico, the positive things you can expect are:

  1. Warm weather all year round;
  2. Kind locals;
  3. Breathtaking sunsets and sceneries;
  4. The only tropical rainforest in the U.S, El Yunque, which i did not go to;
  5. RICO COMIDA (“delicious food)!

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You should consider Puerto Rico for your next long weekend getaway.

Burqa Ban – For the Greater Good?

With the surge of asylum seeker in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a ban on full-faced vein’s “wherever possible.”Based on the Statista poll below, more than half of the Germans polled voted in favor the ban, while more than half of the Americans poll voted for people having the choice to choose their clothing.

Infographic: Strong Support For A Burqa Ban In Germany | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

From an American perspective who is not surprised by the American results, my thought is that dressing a certain way does not mean you are going to act a certain way; actions define us more than our clothing. Likewise, wearing a burqa won’t mean that you are a terrorist or are affiliated with them.

As attitudes change towards immigration both in the United States and abroad, I wonder how this ban will affect the country’s security. Will immigration-related crimes go down? Will this bill inspire more anti-Muslim sentiments?