Jury Duty

For someone to be tried by a jury of their peers is to give each juror an equal voice in finding that person innocent or guilty. In 1981, as the mousy stay at home Mom of three, they summoned me to Jury Duty. It set me to thinking. It changed my life.

Most people avoid serving like the plague. I found it fascinating. I have been called two other times. My serving was unnecessary. I was called the last time a month ago and excused because of my approaching age. Fine. They have thrown me out of better places!

I’ve told the story before of how foolish I felt; I didn’t get to pick out my washing machine, but I had a say in if someone went to jail. I was twenty-nine years old. We had three children, nine, five, and two. I was deeply unhappy. I consciously knew I could not hold my kids back from living their lives to make me happy. I had to make changes. For the marriage, I chose counseling; he quit after a couple months. I continued until I filed for divorce.

It bears repeating. I see many women’s groups on Facebook about finding your voice. Family, society, and the era quieted my voice before I knew I had one. No more. I want to encourage women, children, and men to find and use their voices. I was a very late bloomer, and I had to be. You can only change your life if you are uncomfortable as you are. It sounds simple. It isn’t. Timing is everything.

Are you growing to realize your potential? Are you stuck? Is life less than it can be? Do you have a voice? Is it your voice or that of tradition, family expectation, or your parent’s dreams? Are you in there anywhere? You should be front and center in your own story, using your voice.

For nearly thirty years, I was a painfully shy girl. I’m no longer afraid to speak up. Every day, I can make my own choices. I raised my kids to do the same. We respectfully disagree and go on. They know we communicated in a way which differed from other families they knew. I’m proud of that.

Start today. When you have no choice, there is no voice; and there is no power. We want to be heard as women, as mothers, as daughters, and as people. Listen to others voice their powers, too. We’ll learn many fascinating things about each other. And we’ll all live our own great story.

Thank you for reading today. Look around you. Where are you? Are you where you want to be? Can you feel your power? It’s time to take it back. Don’t give it away. It’s yours to keep and use as the gift it is. Have a beautiful day. And we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Choices and Voices

Have you ever had an Epiphany? I remember a dramatic one in 1981. I was married to someone who held ultra traditional roles for men and women – and I blindly followed them for a long time. He held it over my head it was always “his” money, “his” house. OK. He didn’t think I was worth carrying life insurance on. When asked how he would manage working and taking care of out three kids if something would happen to me?

“That’s easy. Your mom would watch them, and I’d just get married again. Problem solved.”

Yes, I was a doormat. I didn’t know any other way. He told me my friend Jan, who was in law school at the time, was a bad influence on me. Too much of a women’s libber. I lost touch with most of my high school friends and only had family, sister’s-in-law, who were wonderful. I hadn’t learned to say, “I’m here and I do count.”

Again, I’m inspired by my daily meditation. “No voice equals no choice. No choice equals no power. From now on, I want to be heard.” Many people my age grew up knowing children should be seen and not heard. I remember hearing that a lot. And girls should be “nice.” Whatever that means. Go along to get along. Don’t rock the boat.

I had a real time with being traditional. All I could see around me were women who complained constantly about their husbands, their lives, their sacrifice. My faith taught we need to make sacrifices and “offer it up.” But all these women, neighbors, aunts, were so miserable.

“How do you stop sacrificing when YOU become the sacrifice?”

I just didn’t want to be angry and bitter for the rest of my life. I was called to jury duty in January of 1981. It changed my life. Yes, it did. I took a book to read and some stitchery project to work on during the times we were sitting around, wondering if we’d be selected. I was every defense attorney’s dream. Little Mrs. Homemaker. Naive. I was on three juries in two weeks.

The last trial was the awakening for me. A man robbed a little person in the Old Market area. The robber was a huge man, who gained fifty pounds while in jail, awaiting trial. He was caught red-handed with the little person’s money divided between his sock and pocket. He was convicted.

As I waited for the bus to go home, it occurred to me, I had a say in what happened to me. I had a choice to make, I did it, and it impacted someone’s life. Why am I not allowed to pick out my own washing machine? My husband bought one that didn’t have the features I felt I needed (like a small light above the dials). It was hard to see in our dark, ancient basement. Yet, I could vote to convict a man of robbery.

My discontent grew as I tried to repair my life and marriage. I went to counseling for 18 months. My then husband went for just three or four months and quit. He expected the guy to tell me I was wrong. He wouldn’t. He helped me realize we were so far apart with our expectations and values for life and family. I started school, and had a 4.0 average. I was shocked. I shouldn’t have been.

Overcoming this pattern of the past opened so many new doors to me for life. I filed for divorce, raised my kids the best I could, remarried fourteen years later, and now, I cannot believe how much choice and voice I have in my own life. I’ve made some mistakes, but I don’t hear about it forever, either. The Babe’s attitude is, “It’s ok, you’ll figure it out.” Wow. What a guy!

It took years for me to learn to speak out and speak up. “Today, I thank God for the miracle of finding my own voice after being mute for so long.” I have learned to pick my battles, also. There are people who you are better off distancing yourself from. They’re stuck in their own version of your past. They are in denial about the need for change in life. I will not let those people take my power away any more!

Life can change for you, too. It is a lot of hard work. You have to be persistent. Don’t ever quit! We all need each other’s encouragement. Let’s give it freely to people who can soar as they come into their own. Thanks for reading today, I appreciate it so much. We’ll see each other again tomorrow. I think over the weekend, the Babe is going to be home all day! Wow! I miss him when he’s gone all day every day. I know, I’m pathetic. But he’s just so nice. I’m lucky, and so is he!

Now, I’m off to watch videos for my Women in Publishing Conference. Find something fun to do! It’s beautiful outside again. Makes me want to poke around in my flowers.