I’m a longtime fan of literature written to empower women; an even bigger fan when that literature is written by empowered women; just plain excited when I find three of those books in succession in less than 90 days. It’s like a Power Woman’s Leadership Conference on my Kindle. So grateful that happened the second quarter of this year. Permit me to share a bit about them and the messages I think they have for all us.
The Island Of Sea Women by Lisa See
Lisa See and my librarian daughter, Laura, are the two women that made me an avid adult reader. Laura introduced me to Lisa a dozen years ago and I’ve read and loved everything she’s written that I can find. As always, Lisa writes about women's friendships. She uniquely captures its daring, heartbreak, strength, and forgiveness. As shared on the cover of her new work, “This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a unique and unforgettable culture, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children.” As one of her reviewers notes, “ A classic Lisa See story-one of women's friendships and the larger forces that shape them- The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce female divers of Jeju and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.”
Every time I read Lisa, I learn more about women; how deeply they love, how strongly they friend, and how fiercely they tend to things and people that matter most. Her latest reminds us how powerful women can and must be to survive.
The understanding she shares makes us better men and women if we listen. She always takes me places I’ve never been; introduces cultures I know nothing or little about; and teaches me to understand and respect a gender that remains a mystery to many men. Thank you, Lisa, for the magic that is you.
The Moment Of Lift by Melinda Gates
I don’t know Melinda Gates, but everything I know about her is powerful and positive. She is an equal to her husband Bill in their family and in their philanthropy. Her book was a short, easy read. As I plowed through, it seemed every page had a new, noteworthy notion worthy of reflection and remembrance;
- Sometimes all that’s needed to lift women up is just to stop putting them down.
- It’s not enough to help outsiders fight their way in – the real triumph will come when we no longer push anyone out.
- Who got the least share of power and the largest share of the pain?
- Discrimination against women is perpetuated not only in laws that exclude women but also in the absence of laws that support women.
- This is why I wrote this book: to share the stories of people who have given focus and urgency to my life.
Speaking of her husband, “When he reflects on life and connects with his deepest self, he knows he is not special; he knows his circumstances were special – and a man that can see through hierarchy, honor equality and express his tender heart.” That sounds like a pretty evolved (or maybe today’s word is woke) man to me. I’m impressed and grateful that a family with such an abundance of resources focuses so much of their time and treasure tackling the toughest problems on this earth. Thank you, Melinda for bringing Bill to understand and act on “Gender Equality” being the foundation of solution to many problems.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
There was such excitement around the former First Lady’s book. It seemed everyone was reading it day one. My daughter suggested it to me, and I never reject a good librarian’s recommendation. I wasn’t sure how I would connect as she was a black girl from the South side of Chicago and I was a white boy from Columbus, GA. She was a graduate of both Princeton and Harvard and I still have my rejection letter from Yale. She was an attorney in one of the top law firms in Chicago and I couldn’t get a deferment from the Army to go to law school. She had been First Lady; I hadn’t been first at much of anything. That’s where a lot of paths begin; not sure of where they’ll go.
The more I read, the more I understood. Her Mom was her rock and wasn’t letting anything stand in the way of her success. Her Dad struggled mightily and with great dignity against MS, which finally took him many years too young. Special needs change families.
She saw inept teachers give up on kids, particularly kids of color without understanding, “They are not bad kids; they are just trying to survive bad circumstances.”
She taught me that in Chicago, almost any good job in her day required a union card and if you were black, you probably wouldn’t get one. That perpetuates status quo.
When she was First Lady, her most important job was always being a mother to her kids. From what I read, she had little interest in her husband running for any office, but supported him none the less. Her organic garden was genius on the White House Lawn. She probably did as much as anyone getting kids to think about nutrition.
Through it all, through “Becoming me”
“Becoming us and
She always had the same nagging question, “Am I good enough?” For me, the triumph of her book is the triumph of her life in answering that question affirmatively. So thankful I got to hear her story.
Three very different women from very different places telling three very different stories. To me, they share a message. When you want something impossible done, done right, and done right away, bring in women to lead that effort. Women are the way; the way in; the way out; the way through; the way to; and the way around. Even though historically, they work the most and get paid the least, they cradle and change the world. Keep on leading ladies. This world needs your touch more than ever.