I have some friends who attend a book club. Their goal is to read books about strong women. One woman in the club announced that there are not many books out there...I thought that was absolutely crazy. So I looked. Googled 'books about strong women'. Lots of sites come up with lists of books about strong women. But when I actually looked at some of them, they included books about strong girls or strong teenagers. Nothing wrong with that, but I just assumed there would be thousands of books about women. Many of the lists contained the same books as previous sites. How is that possible? There are millions of books out there!
Reading books influences us, shapes us. I thought back to the books I read when I was younger. Do any of these sound familiar? Harriet the Spy, Pippi Longstockings, Ann of Green Gables, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Little Woman, Little House on the Prairie, and the Nancy Drew Mysteries. When I reflect on them...they included a lot of moral lessons, taught perseverance in the face of adversities. Like being left alone on an island or coping with living in a cabin over a harsh winter. Good stuff but not quite what I'm thinking about.
What about really kick-ass heroines?
Not so many of them...they're typically male.
So here's the deal. I was watching a movie and this woman is locked in her house and the abusive boyfriend/husband/maniac stranger is outside trying to get in. Maybe you've seen that one? Yup, I thought so. The woman is always the frail victim, attacked from every direction.
Which means that the noise I hear in the middle of the night outside my window could be a squirrel or it could be him. I know that as women we have to be vigilant for our safety but isn't it tiresome?
When the movie Enough came out with Jennifer Lopez, WOW-it felt good. It's about an abused wife that fights back. Physically. And she emerges as the victor. (sorry to ruin it but seriously, it's been out since 2002)
Maybe that was a turning point.
Just look at Wonder Woman. Fight scenes dominated by Amazonian women whose sole job was to protect mankind. For 141 minutes, it was nice to watch the protagonist frown at danger and fear nothing. I came out of the theatre wanting to taking boxing lessons or karate or something else physical-I could still feel the adrenaline coursing through my body. And then I saw them.
A mother and her toddler daughter dressed the same - like Wonder Woman. The little girl's tutu, a slight variance, but likely deemed necessary. (Besides, there's no logical reason that defending the universe can't be accomplished in a frilly skirt.) That mom is raising her daughter to feel like a super hero. How cool is that?
I hope that this next generation of girls is bold, cocky, fearless and daring. I don't think they necessarily have to use a sword or a lasso but it would be really nice if they weren't brainwashed to believe that someone else has to rescue them. That they can do the job themselves. Oh, and I hope they wear lots of sparkly jewelry while they kick butt.
Before they let you loose on the wards with actual patients, the medical school I went to required a CPR course. I'd taken one before but this one felt different. Instead of training for an improbable situation, we were preparing for what we’d actually signed up for. Saving lives.
Paul was my partner and he was ready to hear the mock situation. He leaned over the dummy, staring at it like he expected it to take a breath...or stop breathing. The paramedic described the scenario and then related the vital signs. It was up to Paul to intervene based on the information given to him. Reacting incorrectly might cause the heart rate to drop dangerously low...or stop altogether. Paul was practically hyperventilating with stress and I couldn’t blame him...I clenched my fist with each of his answers. Telepathically offered my support as he ran through the drill and demonstrated different life-saving techniques. When the paramedic announced the last set of vital signs, Paul looked up at me in confusion...and then in triumph. The vital signs were normal, completely normal. He’d saved the patient. He flung his fists up into the air, threw back his head and in a deep voice announced...
“I am a GOD!”
The paramedic chuckled. Waited for Paul to meet her eyes somewhat bashfully after his outburst. Informed him, “It feels exactly like that...”
Not for me.
The first time wasn’t quite like that.
There are two entrances to the ER. The main one handles toddlers with fevers, football players with broken clavicles, asthmatics with coughs. The back door is for the the paramedics unloading ambulances.
It was to that door that I ran to when the overhead paged the arrival of a patient. The paramedic burst through the door holding a limp toddler. He transferred her into my arms and as he did I could see the flash of relief in his eyes. He’d done his job, gotten her to the hospital alive. Barely.
I looked down at her face. Dark lashes feathered over too pale cheeks. Scary long pauses in between breaths. She sagged in my arms as if she were in a deep sleep. Oddly, my first instinct was maternal, I hugged her to my chest and thought of running away from what was about to happen to her. Instead, I pivoted and headed to the trauma room. Oh so gently, I laid this wispy haired little girl on the gurney.
Staff flew in behind me. Nurses, techs, a pharmacist who opened what looked like a toolbox loaded with emergency medicines. I stood at the head of the bed, brushed her hair out of her eyes, and called out the first set of orders. And then I put the mask over her face and starting squeezing the bag that would give her the oxygen she needed.
There is a system to remember what to do in emergencies like this. It starts with ABC-Airway, Breathing, Circulation.
Since she was still not responding, I put a slender tube into her throat and down her airway. It went smoothly but the nurse to my side wasn't as fortunate. Despite several attempts she couldn't get the IV started.
Having secured the airway, I hooked up the ventilator and ordered settings that would help take over for breathing. As I attached the tubing, the nurse on my other side announced that she 'got the IV' only to have it 'blow' shortly afterward. By this point, this child's arms were dotted with bleeding holes from failed attempts to get life saving fluids into her body.
My mouth was dry and my heart was slamming in my chest. There is no partial credit for correctly performing the first couple of steps in CPR, for knowing what blood work to order or what drugs may be needed. Without access to the circulation, a simple IV, she would die.
She was not responding to any of it. The repositioning of her body, the cacophony of voices, the repetition of needles jabbing and digging into her skin. I was losing her and I was absolutely out of my mind terrified. From that day forward, whenever I hear a child screaming when my nurse goes in to draw blood, I think the same thing...”you fight little one...you fight!”
Exactly one second before my head exploded from the angst of the situation, the tech on the left announced that he thought he had something. In her ankle. Every person in the room watched as he hooked up the iv bag and opened the tubing to let the fluid flow. We held our breath to see if this would hold or if it too would 'blow', the term used when the vein ruptures and the fluids leaks into the surrounding tissue instead of entering the circulation. It worked.
Almost immediately, the color improved in her cheeks. We finished stabilizing her and she was whisked upstairs into the ICU. I was left standing amongst the debris- blood soaked gauze and empty IV packages with all kinds of thoughts running through my head.
Thank GOD they got her in time.
Thank GOD he got the IV.
Thank GOD she's going to be alright.
When do we change? When do we stop believing we are capable of absolutely anything?
I often ask children what they want to be when they grow up. Whereas the teenagers will answer with a one word sentence...a lawyer or teacher, the younger ones feel no restrictions to name just one occupation. A football player, an artist and the president.
Of the United States? I ask...as if I didn’t know. Yes, they answer confidently. An astronaut, a mommy and vet. Large animals or small animals? I ignore the astronaut thing altogether. A brief pause to seriously consider the question - both - they answer, somewhat perplexed that they would have to make a decision to exclude one category.
I'll be honest. I rolled my eyes at their replies. Smiled and chuckled. Good luck with that...
But then I saw the cupcakes.
I know an acquaintance that made cupcakes for a fundraiser. For me, that would mean Duncan Hinds and ready-made icing. Both chocolate. Sprinkles- if I wanted to make them fancy.
This woman’s cupcakes...I saw the pictures...were a work of art. She took the whole cupcake making very seriously and now she can churn out cupcakes that should grace the cover of a Bon Appetit magazine. She didn’t stop there...she does beautiful jewelry too.
Did I mention she has a full time career in the medical field?
It was this person I thought of when I wrote my first book. She puts her whole heart into what she does...She taught me that, despite being in a demanding field, you can reach higher, push yourself further. You can make art..
And then I went to see my dentist. Along with asking about my kids, the hygienist talked to me about my book. Then she asked if I knew that Dr. Dresser was a musician...
Upon which I gave her an excited, but garbled response (instruments still in my mouth). Dr. Dresser has been my dentist for years. He's also a golfer and if you've met him...you'd get it. Lanky body, kind eyes and a relaxed demeanor. So I thought I knew him. But it turns out that he writes music, plays guitar and has recorded two albums. Steve Dresser on iTunes and Spotify.
That's not him below but a cool picture right?
I read an article on musician-scientists and scientist-musicians. Scientist who study the impact of music on the brain and musicians who do the same. I had no idea that some very famous musicians were scientists too. Mickey Hart, member of the Grateful Dead, has worked with neuroscientist Dr Adam Gazzaley to see how the brain responds to rhythm. Peter Gabriel (Genesis) is an advisor to the Sync Project to measure the structural properties of music (like the beat) on biometrics like the heart rate and brain activity.
Back to those kids.
Why do we limit ourselves to one passion? Why do we think we have to pursue only one objective? Kids know better. And when I look around I see a lot of smart people who have figured it out. You can do absolutely anything you want. Be Anything.
For me that means being a pediatrician, writing books that have heroic girls, quirky aunts and guardian unicorns, playing with spices in new recipes, growing herbs, running...
Hmm, I wonder what it would take to be an astronaut?
Yesterday I spoke to the woman who designed my website. She has given me lots of advice on Facebook and social media. She had no idea that I'd published my second book. I'm not exactly rocking this book promotion...
The problem is that I'm pretty uncomfortable with the spotlight on me. In my dreams, I was going to write fun books, jump through the hoops to publish them and then become absolutely delighted as readers commented on how thrilling my books were. I just missed a critical junction there. Finding readers.
When my second book came out I sprinted around my office showing everyone how cool the cover looked. Dramatic, beautiful, perhaps one could say...stunning. I was flush with giddiness and kept the book propped by my desk for the entire week.
After which I started really working on the third book because, let me tell you...it's going to be awesome. Even started mapping out the Grand Finale. Explosively fun stuff.
Yeah, I dropped the ball on marketing. I once went to a lecture titled "Auntie M's Guide to Greaseless Self-Promotion" which was wonderful (thank you Tex Thompson). But what I'm really looking for is "Self-Promotion while maintaining your Invisibility." I'm not alone. Writing is the perfect sport for introverts. Somehow, I have to get over it.
So let me tell you why you should read this book.
Because today is International Women's day and my book features a strong female who will do anything to get revenge... and who's got nothing left to lose. It's got a villain with a charming southern accent and ice in her veins. A shopkeeper with an unfortunate selection in hair color and a serious addiction to tea.
And best of all. It's got unicorns. And these fantastic creatures are seriously impressive. I just wish they could protect every single one of our kids. Because they really know how to kick...
You didn't think I was going to use a bad word did you?
They know how to kick bottoms.
You can get the book here at Amazon. It's also available at Barnes and Noble.
If you get a chance, I would really appreciate it if you would write a review (good or bad!) where you purchased it. Thanks!
I consider myself pretty patient. But it took years to gain that skill...
Charlie Ridenour, pastor at Crossroads Bible Church, wrote an article about Patience in the Cross Timbers Gazette this March. It was Charlie's sermon that made my last Christmas so memorable - read a past blog for that story.
I planned on providing the link on my Facebook page but ...alas, I could not find it. I have before me the actual paper copy. I thought I would re-type it it for you to read. Unfortunately, you'll have to hear my comments along the way.
"I'm not a patient person, and I especially don't like waiting. I'm the kind of guy who will drive 15 minutes out of the way to avoid 5 minutes of traffic. Hey, at least I'm moving somewhere."
I can confirm that. His dad is the same way.
"Not surprisingly, almost all advertisements annoy me. It's a version of hitting traffic while trying to consume media. I'm the kind of television watcher who constantly changes the channel to avoid a 15 second commercial.
When we think of patience, we think of traffic and commercials and often forget the conversation extends to the people around us. The problem is relational patience is the most challenging, bu the most needed today."
Can I hear a giant amen?
"Each week, as I look out at my church I see a church comprised of differences."
He said...my church...he's a pastor now. Leading a church. Going on mission trips. Incredible. I still remember him driving my daughter to school as a teenager.
"Differences are difficult because they require us to be patient with one another. It's why Paul spends a good bit of time in his writings discussing unity and body life (Romans 12 and 14, I Corinthians 12, Philippians 2) It's natural to try to make everyone think, act, walk and talk like me, and in doing so create a world where I don't need to be patient.
The problem is, if we all believe, think or even act the same, we lose the beauty differences bring into our world. Differences don't have to threaten truth. Truth exists as we see it in the scriptures and is worth pursuing, but that's another conversation. My fear is that in an increasingly impatient society, we forget that our differences are an expression of an immensely creative God who uses diversity to reveal his majesty.
If I'm completely honest, my idea of relational patients mostly centers around my perspective. It's the time it takes for others to see my point of view or the time it takes them to move from my perspective to mine. I'm patient if others move toward me.
The problem is, that's not real patience."
Exactly what I was just thinking.
"It's the difference between allowing difference and actually celebrating it. If I believe difference reveals the majesty of God, I want to do more than simply allow it in my life: I want to celebrate when it's encountered."
That is a hard concept to wrap your head around. He's saying to be happy when someone has an opposing point of view. Which sounds suspiciously like...love your enemy.
"I'm beginning to realize practicing patience is an expression of celebrating differences. I still hate traffic (and most commercials) but am trying to learn the simple joy of practicing patience with the people around me - it helps me see more of God in the world."
That's what I want...to see more of God in the world, even in those that don't share my views. And I wouldn't mind seeing less traffic too...
Charlie Ridenour preaches at Crossroads Bible Church in Double Oak, Texas.