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It is hard to write. The days fly by. But I have so much I want to say. Someone told me yesterday that there is absolutely no reason I can't sit and write at least 15 minutes every other day. I will attempt to begin this now.

My thought of they day...

Has life actually become harder for modern women than women of my grandmother's era?

I'm 29 years old. I went to college for 7 years. I have an excellent education and many talents but have not seen this translate into a real paycheck. Instead, I divide my time between 4 or so non-paying passions: my husband's amazing restaurant, my photography and media projects, our community's efforts to teach children about delicious farm-fresh food, and a couple projects incredibly dear to my heart - helping women in Uganda and Somalia.

Unfortunately, in today's economy, there is a lot of pressure on women like me to find a good job. Like many others my age, I'm struggling to pay back a load of university loans. It's stopping me from what use to be the normal progression - get married (well, that one's done), buy a house, and have kids. I'm not unhappy about where I am in life. However, there are moments when I think of my grandmothers. Both were married in their young twenties. They worked part-time jobs but most of their energy was spent raising their families. Sure, they worked very hard and at times, they struggled greatly. But, they did have a certain peace of mind. They were firmly planted in their roles of mother and care-taker. They knew what was expected of them and excelled at it - wonderful gardeners, cooks, seamstresses, hosts. Is there not a certain freedom in not questioning your identity, being able to root yourself in a community, and feeling like things are becoming ever more stable?

Even to a self-proclaimed feminist, its very appealing. But then, something will remind me that I just happen to be born with wings that have me wanting to soar here and there and everywhere. I want to push myself to the max - give every ounce of myself to the causes I care about. But, it's no longer just me. I have joined myself to a wonderful man and want to experience the joys of a family and to see the success of our hard work.

Days like today, I just have to take a walk to the lake, let the fresh breeze blow on my face, breathe deeply, and let it all go. I have to remind myself that everything will come in time and to try and find a balance. Usually, I have a pretty easy time surrendering fears and having faith that all will work out just as its meant to be. Lately, I just feel like I'm caught on a snag. But on what? I suppose only time will tell.




Maria de Chirikof's picture

spoiled by choice

I loved reading your post and your thought of the day made me smile. I was imagining your grandmothers (as modern woman of their times) asking themselves that exact same question. I think part of it in today's times is we are spoiled for choice. More options are open for us then ever before and then we feel the pressure of having not explored them all fully and maybe begin to worry we are not superwoman who can do it all.

Then, of course, there is the economy crashing, our weapons of war growing extremely deadlier then ever before, and it seems lots of Nature acting up where floods, wild fires, earthquakes are read about. While we know it is not under our control we feel like we should be in control of at least our own lives. So we begin to reflect upon and dream of reaching a time when we can just enjoy our own little space without feeling guilty that we are not "doing more" to help others. I love how you do takes walks I nature since I believe it does help sooth the soul.


Lili Miller's picture


Maria, thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. I liked reading your perspective. You are absolutely right, choices can be overwhelming. Its hard to feel in control when your brain is constantly trying to process the hundreds of options in front of you. I try to remember that for most things, there is a quiet voice that can help me make a good decision.

Lili Miller

aliĝngix's picture

Teetering in between

I think it is pretty much like Maria said. You are trying to decide between some offered "duty" and your desire to walk your own path. I say, if all's going fine, why change the path you are taking/ You are you. You are free, and no one should change that unless circumstance decide that you maybe want to walk a different path, as long as it was your own choice. You won't regret it otherwise. Once you've had you taste of life, you'll maybe want to settle down. Maybe.

Lili Miller's picture

Teetering, yes

I appreciate your words. Life is good. It's more about deciding which direction I want to put my next foot forward. I am on no one path. And, while I am free, I've made a choice to share my life with another. So, just as he is respectful of who I am and my wants, I must also be thoughtful of his dreams and direction.

Lili Miller

aliĝngix's picture

Yes, I guess what I was

Yes, I guess what I was saying is that it's just your choice. Didn't mean to sound like I was disrespecting your husband or anything. Sorry.

Lili Miller's picture

Understood :-)

Dear sister - no apology needed and no disrespect taken. The truth is, balancing a marriage is just as hard as balancing one's own dreams... so I was just thinking aloud. Thank you for your comments.

Lili Miller

LauraB's picture


Our grandmothers, they did know what they were supposed to do didn't they. My life is not unlike yours right now- doing a number of things and at times difficult to focus. What keeps me centered is place, people, nature. That's something our grandmother's had- their homes, lands, children. You can see how it rooted them. I am thrilled for the choices we have as women. Many women can expand their voices, their minds, their embrace these choices wisely, I think means embracing also traditions, our land, our families, relationships- those roots that steady us within a place and people.

I like reading your musings. How's the 15 min. every other day going?



Lili Miller's picture

Cultures and Tradition

Yes Laura - culture is everything. While life moves at a dizzying pace, I am so blessed to have a wonderful family whose culture and traditions keep me grounded. In figuring out ones identity, its so important to have a point of reference. If we're lucky, these references will be strong role models. My grandmothers are role models - vibrant, loving, beautiful women open hearts. The later has given them the ability to embrace the incredible changes they've seen in their life times. One of my grandmothers (82 yrs of age) just finished writing a book on her life and my other grandmother (83 yrs of age) writes me regular emails! I learn so much from them.

ps: as for the writing - it looks to be working... except I was suppose to write yesterday so I'll write again tomorrow!

Lili Miller

giftypearl.abenaab's picture

Honest and lovely post

Lilli, this is a honest voice. you sound like me and it is one of the best i have read so far. keep sharing.

Gifty Pearl Abenaab
Greight Foundation

Hi Lili
I loved your post and your question.
I don't think life has become harder. I think the hardships are different.
I'm a generation older than you. If I think about my mom's life in comparison with those of my my daughters, I do see seismic differences in terms of the challenges these two generations faced/face.
As a member of the bridge generation - I feel my own experience is far closer to my daughters' than my mother's. She, like your grandmothers, had great security in knowing who she was in terms of her role and she, like them, was accomplished in so many of those home-making ways.
In contrast, I still have difficulty, at the age of 62, in identifying if someone tries to box me in with a single noun! Yes I write, but I don't feel i am really a writer, yes I consult but i don't feel well described as a consultant, yes I mentor but I don't think of myself as a mentor, yes I mother, but I don't like it at all I my kids only see me as 'mom'!
My ma once told me her life began when she became a wife and later a mother, because then she had an identity and knew what she was meant to do and be in life. It seemed to me that her greatest hardships came from being born of a time and in a context when her role prevented her developing some of her many natural skills and being fully who she was as an individual. And although she accepted her place in life philosophically enough on the surface, I know she also struggled with that identity. I observed her questioning what she had missed, especially in later years. I think she felt the constraints ever more deeply as time went on, even though she did eventually become a professional woman in her later years, and the demands of being 'wife to' evaporated with my father's death. She had time then to reflect on what she had missed and it weighed on her, although she was busy to the last and determinedly positive in outlook.
So my daughters and I may lack the freedom of that apparent security and certainty of my mother's life, but we haven't suffered her hardship of being restrained from living out her full self. The hardship for us is maybe more about choosing voluntary limitation and focus.
Yet still, what an incredible privilege it is to lead such a life! I can think of so many women I know in Africa - Uganda, Somalia and elsewhere - young, middle-aged and old, who would willingly transfer their present hardships in exchange for the kind of 'hardships' of choice that we face.
And what a privilege also that we get to experience nature as our solace, our source of renewal and our friend, rather than finding ourselves pitted against nature each day as we struggle through the vicissitudes of the seasons, in drought, baking heat or aching cold to eke a living from an unforgiving soil, in order to try and feed our families...
All the best dear Lili, with juggling your multiple roles and carrying your pressures and making your difficult choices. May your steps be light! Thanks for sharing your experiences and yourself here with us :-)

Midi Berry, California

Beautiful post, Midi. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. Your thoughts struck such a chord with me. As you talked about your grandmother's experiences, it made me think - why not forward my post to mine and see how she responds? Does she feel - now that she too is widowed and has a lot of time to look back on life - that she missed out on anything? Maybe I'll post her response!

And I absolutely agree - with so many choices on where to put one's energy, one does have to create 'containers'. Otherwise, that precious energy gets diffused in to a million different projects. It was a good reminder to my self not to take on more than I can handle.

Thank you for you words - you are a great writer.


Lili Miller

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