Book review: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem


Just finished reading My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem at 70-something. A beautiful testament to her life – from her difficult childhood with a loving but somewhat looney, itinerant father and her lost-soul mother, to her many, many years traveling around the world writing for major outlets and organizing people in pursuit of women’s equality and reproductive freedom.

Beautiful stories of people she met, some of whom she developed very close relationships with, from the amazing Native woman who brought self-reliance and independence back to so many Native tribes that had lost their way, to the cab drivers and poor people and famous people and powerful people – including the then-pope – whose lives intersected with hers in some way, she gives the facts and reflects on their meanings in simple, fluid prose.

Another woman who fights for women's equality

Another woman who fights for women’s equality

My favorite parts are the ones where she speaks gently of her longing for a home when she was little and speaks tenderly about so many of the people she’s met and/or worked with. She has a clear eye and an open heart, and her book lets you know her in a way you never could from reading many of the often-harsh news stories about her battle for feminism and her long struggles to help make Ms. Magazine a force for good.

The book is a reflection on how a single courageous soul can create profound change by listening to people.

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Angels among us

The first few hydrogen atom electron orbitals ...
What does quantum physics have to do with angels? Image via Wikipedia

It’s been inspiring reading our guests’ thoughts during this Single Working Women’s Week. I want to end the week with something equally inspiring.

I’m thinking of a post I wrote years ago when I first started blogging. I used to write a personal blog called AngelsandFrogs. It’s gone now, but because it was early in my career as a self-employed copywriter and marketing consultant, I had a little more time to devote to thinking poetic thoughts. One of my favorite posts from that time—and I wrote it on a Saturday morning also—seems like a good way to end this special holiday week.

Long pause…like 24 hours.

Well, did you ever think you were going to find something, go looking and realize that whatever it was you were looking for is buried so far you don’t know if you’ll ever see it again? I had to start manually digging through all the 3 years of backups of my AngelsandFrogs blog. Needless to say, I didn’t get far enough before I had to interrupt for an errand.

Since I haven’t yet found the post I was thinking of, I’ll share this one from 2003. Just as relevant today (though it’s now Sunday instead of Saturday when I started this post).

Angels among us

“It is impossible to create any action that does not have value. You may not see it, but that is irrelevant. Live in the trust that when it is appropriate, pieces will fall into place and you will see clearly.” ~Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul

Gary Zukav studied quantum physics in order to present it for the layperson. Five years later, because he had been so profoundly moved by what he’d learned while he studied for that book, he wrote Seat of the Soul, another book in which he takes the lessons learned and applies them to the oldest, most insoluble questions of mankind–why are we here? does evil exist? what about “sin”? how can a “good God” allow suffering?

The answers he comes up with offer a kind of comfortable certainty previously available only to staunch adherents to various religious creeds. Hmmm. Gary Zukav admits he’s had great guidance from “non-physical guides and teachers.” Sounds a lot like old-fashioned “angels,” doesn’t it?

Our guest bloggers this week are just a few of the wonderful single women who could be said to be angels walking here among us. Thank you so much, ladies.

Ever ask a single woman, what can I do for you? Her automatic response is almost always, oh, I’m fine. Our next project ought to be helping single women learn how to let others do things for them! ” ) We’ll work on that for next year’s Single Working Women’s Week.

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The Power of Now


No unhappiness. No pain. Constant peace, contentment, and joy. That’s how authors describe the state of being enlightened. Sounds like a fantasy, right?

When did we first start talking about “enlightenment” in popular reading? Probably different for each of us, but it seems to be a universally known term these days. In Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now, he uses a question and reply format to explain what it means to be enlightened–that is, fully present in all you do, paying attention only to the exact moment you’re in. He asks, “What problem do you have right this moment?” The answer, he says, is invariably, you don’t have a problem.

How could that be, we might ask, if I am in pain? He says it’s possible to observe your body–and your mind–from the perspective of your Being and know that you–the real you, your spiritual essence– are separate from your suffering or your pain. He says we may experience fleeting moments of this full consciousness, where we feel and sense the sacredness of nature in the beauty of a forest or a flower, a child, or an animal. I think I feel this sometimes when I’m dancing or exercising to music that moves me–it feels transcendant, like nothing else matters at that moment, and also that everything is perfect as it is.

But we can, says Tolle, choose to be in this state as often as we like. Wow. What a power. So why don’t we do it? He says our minds get in our way–our hangups with the past and with the future. Here’s a great exercise he suggests:

Close your eyes. Sit quietly and say to yourself, “I wonder what my next thought will be.” Then become very alert and wait for the next thought. Be like a cat watching a mouse hole. What thought is going to come out of the mouse hole? Try it now.

Most likely you’ll have to wait a long time for a thought. He says this demonstrates that “as long as you’re in a state of intense presence, you are free of thought. You are still, yet highly alert. The instant your conscious attention sinks below a certain level, thought rushes in. The mental noise returns; the stillness is lost. You are back in time.”
That’s how it was for me–took a while before a thought came. And now I have a new trick to use for when I try to meditate and have such a hard time quieting my brain. Is it possible that someone who lives alone has more opportunities for practicing this? Please share if you have any tricks for meditation or for when you can’t fall back asleep in the middle of the night.