The Friday Five

Here are the five things that caught my attention this week: 1. My Hometown is on Fire

The fires continue to rage in Colorado while more than 30,000 residents have been evacuated and 350 homes have been destroyed. The photos reveal empty lots where homes and trees used to stand. The skies look as though armageddon has come, and we all wonder when it will end. A raging wildfire wakes us up to realize that we are not in control of our lives as much as we think we are. And reminds us that the things of this world can instantly become ashes to ashes, and dust to dust.

2. Who is John Galt?

Those of you who have read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged probably know the answer to this. I am nearly halfway through this 1000+ page book and, therefore, still do not know. Atlas Shrugged is often referred to as one of the most influential books of the 20th century, and I'm wondering if it was from the earlier part of the 20th century because, who has the attention span these days to dive through a 1000 page philosophy book? Well, my book club and I are trying. I will hold my review of the book until I am finished (which will be about 650 pages from now).

3. Fish and Visitors Stink in Three days - except for at the Nardellas!

Ben Franklin's wise little words do not apply at our house this week. We have had a rare experience of being in Nashville for the entire month of June. And in that time, we have hosted our best friends (and their child, parents and sister) from San Diego, my best friend from South Africa and a surprise visit from my dear mom (Wednesday's text from her said, "Can you do breakfast or lunch tomorrow or Friday? Just wondering. Miss you.") I said yes and she hopped on a plane. Our house has been filled with the sweet aroma of conversation, laughter, home-cooked meals and the deep and enduring friendships that remind us that relationships are sacred gifts in this life.

4. Supreme Court

Regardless of where you stand in the healthcare debate, it was hard not to pay attention to Justice Roberts' bold stance in yesterday's decision. For spending so much time in broken African political systems, it is no small thing to see a congress creating laws and a supreme court reviewing the consitutionality of those laws. Despite the ugly brokenness of our own political system in the US, I am grateful to live in a country that affirms a separation of powers. It is a privilege that our nation gets to debate the method by which we bring healthcare (like is it a tax clause or a commerce clause?) because so many of our neighbors around the world do not even have a system to debate, a doctor in their town or services to care for the sick.

5. Chloe is my new friend

For the last couple of weeks, I have been greeted in my yard by a 5 year old girl named Chloe. She and her mom fled an abusive relationship in Maine and have been homeless since. Her mom moved into a house across the street from us, a house that often has several different people coming in and out of it. I am never quite sure who truly lives there and life for everyone there seems rough. Chloe and I have enjoyed chasing fireflies and playing with her purple build-a-bear and pretending that the world she inhabits isn't as bad as it actually is. I am glad for my new friend.

On Why Women Still Can't Have it All

The Atlantic published an article last week titled "Why Women Still Can't Have it All." It has become a raving topic of conversations among many of my friends, both male and female. The article is written Anne-Marie Slaughter, a remarkable woman who has spent her life working in highly demanding leadership careers (as Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School and Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department) while raising two boys and maintaining a marriage. She speaks candidly about the real challenges for women who want to be successful both at home and at work. I really encourage you to read the article. It is a long read, but it is packed with relevant issues that we would all be better by engaging in and discussing.

Here are a few take-aways for me from the article:

Having it all, in general, is a first-world ambition.

There are women on my street here in East Nashville who are simply trying to make it to the next paycheck or trying to avoid being beaten by the men in their lives. Most of my female African friends are primarily concerned about survival - of their bodies, babies, and livelihood.  As a woman in today's world, it is a rare opportunity to have the freedom to make choices about work, life and self-actualization. It is specific to an elite population of privileged women, myself included. Before we go any further, I just want to acknowledge that asking the question of having it all is, in itself, a privilege.

We must be realistic about limitation.

While there are enormous societal challenges that make it very difficult for a woman to successfully serve in work and life (for instance, school schedules do not align with typical work schedules), there are also unrealistic expectations about what women (and men) are capable of managing. My priest, Becca Stevens, told me that life is a box, and in that box are various balloons representing the commitments of our life. If we want to fit more in the box, we may have to deflate some of the larger balloons to make room for the other ones. Or we may have to only have two really big balloons or a lot of really small balloons. The point is, pay attention to the balloons because the box isn't going to get bigger.  And we live in a culture of broken boxes and popped balloons.

We need a new paradigm shift. 

James and I are replacing work/life balance for something we are calling vocational rhythm. We mean vocation quite literally as “calling”, which includes work and life, business hours, vacation hours, children, family, friends, and job as pieces of an integrated pie, not diametrically opposing forces. In the vocational rhythm paradigm, all parts of our lives are working toward one mission, telling one story. I am interested in what it looks like to integrate the whole self into a vocational rhythm. I am curious if there will be a cultural shift to continue to encourage that for everyone.

What do you think? Can women have it all?