I’ve Become That Grownup

Last month when I visited New Mexico and stayed with my best friend, I made it a point to spend time visiting one-on-one with each of my two goddaughters.

They are ten and eight now, fully formed people, and their challenges go well beyond walking and eating and sleeping. The so-called “real world” has decided to come roost in their lives, and it is extraordinarily hard for me to adapt as quickly as they have.

My oldest goddaughter is incredibly intelligent and incredibly obstinate too (*coff*herfather*coff*). Her problem is that she is so smart and world savvy that she’s knows when someone is pulling a fast one or isn’t acting in the smartest way.

But she’s only ten going on eleven, so her powers to right the wrongs of this world are slim. So far, anyway.

She told me about how her new teacher this year is teaching the students a new approach to spelling. “I know how to spell, this is so dumb!”

And her teacher is making the students learn long division. By last year she had long division down cold. “Why do I have to do this all again!? It’s such a waste of time!”

You know what? She’s right. She’s absolutely right.

So what do I do as the adult she’s looking to for advice?

Do I do the usual grown up thing and tell her that the grown ups are right and she should just mind what they say?

Because I can’t do that.

Do I tell her fight?! Fight to the end for justice!

No, that’s not good guidance either.

So I dug deep into my own experiences and came up with just this:

“Pick your battles.”

It was advice that was handed to me in my first year of work. Like my goddaughter, I was willing to take on every challenge, rail against the inefficiencies of the bureaucracy, fight the good fight for every injustice.

The mentor assigned to me, a very easy-going sort of fellow who was revered by the leadership of that company was the first to sit me down and tell me this lesson.

Pick your battles.

Figure out the fights that one, you think you can win and two are worth putting all the energy into. If it meets both criteria, then go for it.

And fight for the ones you can’t win if it really, really matters. But remember you can’t fight them all if you want to win any.

So I found myself sitting in the cooling evening breeze in the backyard of a Las Cruces home, imparting this same knowledge to a ten year old.

“Do you honestly expect the teacher is going to look at you and say, ‘wow, you are right, I was teaching it wrong. Let’s do it your way!'”

Her eyes went wide and she shook her head.

“So what are you trying to get to? What do you expect?”

She wants to be challenged. Ah, ok. There’s something we can work with.

I told my girl that life is going to be pretty tough if every day is spent digging in her heels.

And so all of that best answers the question posed by the idea generator today:

“If you could pass on a piece of advice that meant a lot to you when you received it, what would it be?”

Pick your battles.

I might be qualified to impart that wisdom from my position in the long and deep trenches I carry behind me, heels worn down to the nub.

And We Haven’t Piped Down Since

Today, August 18, 2010, marks ninety years since the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified.

In case you are a little shy on your constitutional amendments, here is some of the actual text:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

That right. On August 19, 1920, women got the right to vote.

It took Tennessee’s legislature to pass the proposed amendment by one little vote for (the 36th state to ratify) to cause the 19th Amendment to become a part of the United States Constitution.

(I’m pleased to note that California was 18th and New Mexico was 32nd. Nice early adoption from my two home states.)

The 19th Amendment gave women a voice. An official voice.

This meant that a woman didn’t have to defer to a man to make her choices about how this country should be run.

My folks were married almost fifty years. My old man was an old fashioned guy. In their early years, he used to tell his wife how to vote. Many years later, my mom admitted to me that she’d go to the polls and vote the exact opposite way.

The 19th Amendment gave her that right!

Recently, over a family dinner, for no reason I could fathom, my eleven-year-old sister-in-law broke out and asked, “did you vote for Al Gore?”

I replied, “No, I didn’t vote for Al Gore. I also didn’t vote for George Bush. I think I voted for Ralph Nader that year. I believe it’s essential to cast a vote, even if it is a dissenting vote.”

I’m allowed to do that. You know why? The 19th Amendment to the Constitution!

Heck, I can cast my vote willy-nilly all over the place! And I don’t have to have a nilly ol’ willy to do so!

(This juncture is SO ripe for a “pull the lever” pun, but I’ll refrain.)

I’ve voted in every Presidential election since I turned eighteen and I’ve voted in most of the minor elections too.

This November, on behalf of my residency in the State of California and my Suffragette sisters from the past, I will cast a vote for some random person for Governor, because I sure as hell am not voting for either Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman.

But I’m gonna vote.

I’m making my voice heard for Susan B!

Watch me now, heh!

The Rhythm Is, In Fact, Going to Get You

Over the weekend, I had the honor of being included on a list of photographers asked to attend a local women’s martial arts training camp.

This is a long running event and my photography teacher is part of the team that pulls off this amazing training event every year.

As I am still a *very* amateur photographer, this event tested every single one of my limited abilities for taking clear and decent photographs of powerful ladies in action.

I’ve never been much of a martial arts kind of gal myself, so being a part of these classes, taught in many cases by world renowned instructors, was enlightening.

Oh the kicking! The hitting! The breaking chokes. The takedowns.


I found myself spectating much of the time, forgetting to use that picture-taking tool in my hand for its intended purpose. It was that intense!

But for all of that, I have to say, the class that made the biggest impression on me was the Taiko drumming class, taught by a lady named Ikuyo Conant.

This tiny woman took FULL control of a class full of strong powerful martial artists and had them drumming their hearts out.

These ladies were out on a cool Sunday morning with roses in their cheeks, whanging away at the drums and laughing. They were all having the best time. Some of the most muscle bound and rather serious women were shaking their groove thang and laughing like school girls.

It was not only a joyful place to be, it was a joyful thing to photograph. The “energy in the room,” so to speak, was overwhelming. I laughed along with them. I cheered when they made it through a sequence with nary an error.

After watching Judo, Wing Chun, Tai Kwan Do, and other ancient (and potentially rather violent) arts, I found that Taiko was head and shoulders above the rest as the class I most want to take.

I’m ready to shake the maraca’s that the good lord gave me (oh wait, cross culture reference there…whoops) while I beat hell out of a drum.

I haven’t yet processed all the photos from the weekend, and I don’t have permission (yet) to post photos of participants, but here is a quick snap of Madame Conant doin’ her thang.

And oh yes, the rhythm got a hold of me, too!

: shake shake :