Work-life balance is a hot topic these days. Famously non-feminist Marissa Mayer caused a recent stir by eliminating telecommuting at Yahoo!, a move that many mothers decried as family unfriendly and economically counterproductive. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is sparking heated conversations about women, workplace, leadership, and motherhood. Each time a powerful working woman joins the conversation about family and work, the media reacts as though this conversation is new when it is anything but. It’s been circulating around the kitchen table and the office water cooler for quite a while. And it’s time we moved it to the courtroom.
I’d been anticipating this past Saturday evening for weeks, as I would get to dance the night away in semi-formal glory. I’d found the perfect dress, in an awesome color. I choose shoes to kick off and a matching bag, and I spent some time getting all gussied up. I felt like a million bucks, and I was ready to par-tay. Imagine my shock and dismay when, just as the party was warming up, another woman arrived in a dress that was very similar to mine. Her dress had so many of the qualities I thought were unique to my own—style, classiness, and a je ne sais quoi that I can only describe as a radiant badassery. How could this have happened?
In the movie The Guardians, Jack Frost has to figure out what’s at his core before he can save the day. Santa Claus explains to Jack that his own core is wonder; his awe at the magic of toys, and play, is what motivates all that he does. Jack is confused—he’s not sure what’s at his core, and he’s not sure if he should be a guardian of children. After all, they can’t even see him. By the end of the movie, Jack figures out what centers him, and when he does, he is able to do and be so much more. He becomes his full self. I’ve been thinking about this definition of core as the new year begins, and I work to strengthen my own core.
A recent article in The Washington Post by Ann Hornaday entitled “Guns, blood and film: Sea change at the box office?” discusses the possibility that Hollywood might dial back the violence in the wake of our latest national school shooting. Ms. Hornaday notes that, after Newtown, “Studios immediately canceled splashy premieres and tweaked marketing campaigns” for recently released violent films. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), also verbally supported the idea that the MPAA is “…ready to be part of the national conversation” about gun violence. After noting the industry’s reactions, the article discusses recent violent films and moviegoers’ continued support of them; Ms. Hornaday emphasizes that real change lies in the hands of spectators. In other words, we must rely on the market—in this case, the media-consuming market—to help us make the right choices when it comes to the connection between fantasy violence and actual violence.
In the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary (a school where a friend of mine sends her child, who is safe), I’ve been struggling to write something coherent, a cohesive argument about the way forward. Or something beautiful, something to hold onto that feels more solid than words. Instead, pieces have come out. This morning I realized that it is OK to write the fragments, OK to live with the pieces. Right now, it is all we have. Here are my fragments, born of my grief. I hope they help you in some small way as we begin to look for a way to heal.