Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Not so impressed with this year's Golden Globes red carpet showings

"Don’t be into trends.
Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are,
what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live."
~Gianni Versace

The Golden Globes aired on Sunday and though I didn't watch them, I certainly checked out the red carpet photos on Monday morning. To be honest, I was not that impressed. It was rather disappointing, actually. There were very few that I liked, even a little bit.

Even so, I've selected a handful to share with you in no particular order, but I'm still not even sure how much I like them.

Helen Mirren can be counted on to deliver a classy red carpet photo. I love the color, the neck, the sparkles, and look at that smile. She seems delightful.

Helen Mirren at the 2015 Golden Globes in Dolce & Gabbana

Diane Kruger had a sparkly number, but I couldn't find a picture of her smiling or looking remotely pleasant, so this one will have to do. The sparkles were sparkly enough but not to overpowering.

Diane Kruger at the 2015 Golden Globes at the 2015 in Emilia Wickstead

Yellow is typically not my favorite clothing color. Well, I suppose it's not ever MY choice, but I really love the color on other people. Jenna Dewan Tatum pulled this shade of yellow off quite well.

Jenna Dewan Tatum at the 2015 Golden Globes in Carolina Herrera

Next up is Emma Stone. I appreciated the comfort that pants must afford on at an event when you're constantly surrounded by cameras. No long train to trip over. Beautiful sparkly top. But what is the drape she is carrying? I would have liked to see that on.

Emma Stone at the 2015 Golden Globes in Lanvin

This teal-colored gown worn by Felicity Jones leaves me with mixed feelings. But I thought it earned a spot on my I-guess-I-sorta-liked-it list. The color is beautiful.

Felicity Jones at the 2015 Golden Globes in Dior

How could I not include Amal Alamuddin Clooney on this list, no matter what she ended up wearing? As we've been hearing she quickly joined the rank of fashion icon this year due in part, I'm sure, to her widely-publicized marriage to George Clooney. She'll be photographed all the time now. She does make good fashion selections, but still this ensemble was only okay in my book. Elegant touch added with the gloves.

Amal Alamuddin at the 2015 Golden Globes in Dior
And finally, this red number. I certainly like the shade of red. It complements Catherine's skin and hair well. The fabric drape on the top adds some alluring interest.

Catherine Zeta-Jones at the 2015 Golden Globes in Angel Sanchez
Well, that's it. Not bad. But not any that will top my list of all-time favorites. Nevertheless, they all looked lovely. I hope they had a good time.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Christmas in Salt Lake

"Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second."
~Marc Riboud

Christmas at the LDS Conference Center

Christmas lasted quite awhile for me this year since I started thinking about putting up my tree and listening to music on November 1st. I refrained from putting up all my decorations until the day after Thanksgiving, but I was certainly listening to and rehearsing Christmas music at the beginning of November.

What follows is a few pictures to remind me of what went on this Christmas: concerts both attended and performed, a play, dinners, a wedding, warm weather in early December, cold weather just after Christmas, daily walks downtown, and loads of pleasant days.

A beautiful December day in Salt Lake City

Mom and I saw "Peter and the Starcatcher" at Pioneer Theatre.

Emery, Amber, Mom

Stephen, Mom, me, Amber, Claire, Emma, and Grant

After my concert in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square

Terra and Bryce got married


Saturday, November 29, 2014

First time hosting Thanksgiving dinner and a turkey brine recipe.

"We can choose to be grateful, no matter what. "This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer."
~President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Grateful in Any Circumstances"

Thanksgiving 2014 Sunrise

Just about every year for the past 40 years my mother has hosted Thanksgiving dinner to which usually upwards of 30 people come. This year, I offered to change to course of history. With Thanksgiving dinner at my house, only a handful of guests were invited. I just don't own that many chairs. Plus it was my first time hosting and making a turkey, so I didn't want to overwhelm myself.

Speaking of turkey, I read all kinds of recipes and tips online before I decided to brine my turkey. Everything I'd head and read convinced me that my turkey HAD to be brined to be juicy and moist. So the night before, I got started with my preparation of both the turkey and the veggies.

After two and a half years living in my new house and being SO careful, this guy finally attacked me. I was surprisingly amused at myself. Laughing sure is good for the soul.

So the brine. There are endless recipes for turkey brine on the internet, but all of them seem clear about the basic salt and water ingredients and ratio. The salt must be coarse kosher salt. And you must have one cup of salt per gallon of water. Also, use two oven bags (Reynolds makes these) one inside of the other to avoid any leakage. As for a recipe and instructions, this is what I came up with:

1 cup coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
16 cups water (split in half during the process)
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
5 fresh sage leaves
1-2 Tbsp of peppercorns (crushed)
a few random celery sticks and leaves
Combine salt, sugar, and half the water (8 cups) in a large saucepan and stir on stove. Add all the fresh herbs and bring to a boil. Let boil for a minute or two and then turn the burner off. Let the saucepan sit for as long as it takes for the liquid to cool.
While brine is cooling, take turkey out of it's plastic and rinse off. Remove the neck and the giblet and set aside for later. Place the oven bags in a large stock pot or bucket or casserole dish that can fit in your fridge and fit the turkey. Place the turkey, breast side down (this is important since you want it to get the most access to the brine, since it will cook breast side up and the juice will drain down to the back), in the two oven bags. Add remaining 8 cups of water (cold) to turkey bag.
When the rest of the brine is cooled, add it to the turkey. At this point, be very careful that you have a good hold on the edges of the bags so that the brine doesn't spill right out as you're pouring it in. Make sure all the herbs go into the bag. 
Now you will take the inner bag and wind up the top as tight as you can, pressing out as much air as possible so your turkey is completely immersed in the brine. Secure it with a twist tie. (Reynolds oven bags come with a handy tie.) Then do the same for the out bag. Next place the container in the fridge. If your container with the turkey in it doesn't fit on a shelf  (like mine) then you should have planned better to start, but just transfer it to carefully to another container.
Leave turkey in the fridge in the brine for 8-10 hours. In the morning, place the bag in a freshly scrubbed and disinfected sink, undo the bags, and pour out the brine. You will want to rinse turkey to get any excess salt or wilted herbs off and dry it thoroughly, inside and out, before placing it the roasting pan.

Then just prepare your turkey as you like. I put onion quarters, celery and carrots in the cavity, along with some other aromatics (more rosemary and thyme) and then slathered the outside with melted butter, crushed fresh rosemary and thyme, and pepper. Then I cooked it for 3 1/2 hours until it was perfect. And it was perfect.

I have to admit, I'm pretty proud of myself. That turkey tasted so yummy, I'm ready to roast another. Apparently, even the white meat was tasty. I'm not a big fan of white meat; I much prefer the dark and juicy thigh meat, myself. Everyone's offerings made for a beautiful plate.

And, I've been enjoying leftovers for last two days. Yum! First Thanksgiving dinner as host was a success! I think I'll go make myself another plate.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Utah Opera: Madame Butterfly and Why You Should Care to Go to The Opera, My Dear.

"An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I've left the opera house."
~Maria Callas

Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah

As a kid, I can clearly remember my brother quoting, Laverne and Shirley, "Would you care to go to the opera my dear, and you'll say..." and then there was a lot of spitting. Probably I remember most the recording he made of himself quoting them. (Note to self: we've GOT to get those tapes digitized.) Here, watch the original for yourself.

Shirley was quoted (and still is) over and over again in my family, spitting and all.

Every once in awhile it's nice to play dress-up and go to the opera. I really do love the opera and it's simply fabulous to have a night out on the town and a reason to wear all your jewels. This year, I decided to treat myself to season tickets to Utah Opera. So in October, I took my mom to see Madame Butterfly for her birthday. So tragic and so beautiful.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes by now or maybe you've stopped reading, but pause one moment while I tell you the opera is mahvelous and addicting, and why I just can't get enough.

1. The drama. Oh, the drama! Every opera has it and frankly, it always makes my own life's drama pale in comparison. It's like a full season of Days of Our Lives rolled up into one night.

2. It's architecturally beautiful. The lighting, the costumes, the sets are all absolutely stunning (when done well, and Utah Opera always does opera well). The elaborate layers of color, dimension, and fabric give your senses something to write home about.

3. The music. Now, this is a debatable point, since some operas I simply like more than others. But, typically, Puccini (composer of Madame Butterfly) never disappoints.

4. People watching. Come on now, everyone donning their best for a night out on the town certainly means there will be some entertainment off-stage also. Also, the half who certainly don't don their best also provide interesting people watching. Watching those who think they have donned their best is always, well, eye-opening. There are often some handsome men who have clearly been coerced into coming by their girlfriends, wives, mothers, and grandmothers, but suit up or tux up for the event. And let's face it, a man in a tux is a nice sight.

5. It's glamorous. It just is.

6. The voices. I mean really. Half the time they aren't even miked and if have never experienced an operatic voice and the power it has, just try Renée Fleming's  soprano on for size, the only performance of our national anthem

Now, if you're just having a hard time getting into opera, but want to dabble in it, might I suggest one of the top ten most popular operas:

La bohème by Puccini
Carmen by Bizet
Madama Butterfly by Puccini
Tosca by Puccini
La traviata by Verdi
Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) by Mozart
Rigoletto by Verdi
Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) by Mozart
Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) by Rossini
Aida by Verdi

They’re popular for a reason: they all mix music and drama and emotion in a particularly gripping way. All are typically considered good starting points for beginners and you can find great recordings of all these works to help ease you into your opera journey. I've also, conveniently, linked videos to scenes from each one. Enjoy!

And maybe I'll see you at the opera next time!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Ten random thoughts for Monday.

Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.
~William A Ward

Sunday Sunset
Photo by me
9 November 2014

1. A neatly made bed and a clean sink won’t solve everything, but they make it easier to deal with almost anything.

2. A good bra is like money in the bank. Only it’s not, because good bras are REALLY expensive. And banks are, like, not so good with the money, as it turns out.

3. "Bean counters should not be allowed to make decisions for humans." ~former co-worker Victoria

4. For some reason it warms my heart when I watch the car in front of me slightly swerve to drive around a small pothole or drive closer to one side of the lane to avoid a deeply-set manhole. I know they are smart, aware, and know the roads just as well as I do and I can’t help but feel like kindred spirits.

5. I was once billed for a first trimester ultrasound. Convincing the bill collector that I never had an ultrasound and was not pregnant was no easy feat. Finally she said she would check with the doctor's office (thank you), and I never heard from them again.

6. I've worn a toe ring for over 16 years.

7. I've been called Henry twice (TWICE!) in the last two weeks. Via email. In response to an email *I* sent… I’m hoping it’s an auto correct issue.

8. I dislike the word noshing. I also dislike when people say nom nom when expressing their satisfaction with food. When women refer to their husbands as hubby or announce “we are pregnant” or “I’m preggo,” I just throw up a little in the back of my mouth.

9. I need a massage. Yes, need.

10. Is it Friday yet?


Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Emmy Red Carpet Favorites.

"The most important thing to remember is
that you can wear all the greatest clothes and all the greatest shoes,
but you’ve got to have a good spirit on the inside.
That’s what’s really going to make you look
like you’re ready to rock the world."
~Alicia Keys

I'm a little late in posting these favorite looks from the Emmys this year, but I've been busy at work, busy finishing up my IWHHR course, and I threw my back out which has just put a damper on my mobility and my mood.

SO here we go, in no particular order. I do not know any of the designers on these and I'm not going to take the time to research them. And all the pictures were borrowed from Yahoo!

I have mixed feelings about this first one. The color, I like, but then I don't like it, but then I like it. You get the idea. I feel it was a little tight on Vanessa, just because of the stretchy lines of the fabric across the top part of the skirt. But overall, I still think it was nice, with the trendy peplum even.

Vanessa Williams
Photo found here

Then there is Amanda Peet. The hair was dreadful, but I like the sort of romantic flowy-ness of the dress. I think I would have preferred different colors for this event, but I like the lines of the dress. And she's pregnant under there, so it attractively accommodated the growing baby.

Amanda Peet
Photo found here

Now, Heidi Klum. Beautiful lines on this dress. I love the sleeves and the train, very elegant. The color works well for her. I really like this one.

Heidi Klum
Photo found here

Camila Alves (Matthew McConaughey's wife) always seems to look good. I like this geometric lacy number. The neck is nice on her and the 3/4 length sleeves work well.

Camila Alves
Photo found here

Michelle Dockery is lovely. Her dark hair and fair skin always make her a striking face to look at. Her dress choice at first was not my favorite, but I do really love the colors. She pulls it off well. The high neck works really well for her and I love the drape of the fabrics (and colors) at her sides.

Michelle Dockery
Photo found here

Again with the high neck and belted look, Julia Louis-Dreyfus looks great. The red suits her color perfect and the belt in a slightly darker red is a nice touch.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Photo found here

Now, I read that some people felt that Katherine Heigl's dress choice was far too matronly, which I suppose I can see, but I think I like it. The only thing I might change would be the sheen of the fabric. I think I might like it better if it were a matte fabric with no shine to it. But overall, I like the style and think she pulled it off well.

Katherine Heigl
Photo found here

Well, that's all I've got. What were your favorites?


Thursday, September 11, 2014

The day our world changed.

"This nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail....I have faith in America; you and I must have faith in America, if we understand the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ."
- Harold B. Lee

Sitting in my cubicle on September 11th, the thirteenth anniversary of the the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I am flipping through an online gallery of pictures, images which are heavily embedded in my mind, and I have chills. I'm reaching for my jacket to stay warm, the chills run so deep. They just aren't going away. If anything, they're getting more and more intense with each picture and description.

In 2001, September 11th was a Tuesday. It was a day I was able to sleep in because I didn't have class until the afternoon. And didn't work until later that afternoon, if at all... I can't even remember. I remember walking through the hall of flags as school and passing by a few television screens that were continuously showing scenes of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. It was dumbfounding. There was an eerie silence. People didn't know what to say.

Today, I spent the day in a 2nd grade classroom, reading with three girls who were born six years after the 9/11 attacks happened. They were born into a world already at war with itself. It's hard to imagine that they weren't even alive, that they didn't experience that day and the aftermath. They know nothing different than the way life is right now. Luckily for them, as young 2nd graders, they are largely shielded from the harsh realities of the conflicts going on around the world. But inevitably, not for long.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

IWHHR: Engage Your Community, Part Two

During the summer of 2014, I am taking an online course in Global Health from Stanford University taught by Anne Firth Murray entitled, "International Women's Health and Human Rights" (IWHHR). I will be posting my reflective writing assignments from each week's course of study. All writings can be found under the tag IWHHRDetails on the course can be found here.
If you are interested in taking this or another course, you can find a listing of the online courses offered by Stanford here. From economics to cryptography, courses are added each semester.


Find a person who is more than thirty years different in age from you. Interview her and find out about that person and her ideas about women's rights and health.

Does she consider women in her country to have full equality with men? Why not? What issues relating to women's health and human rights does she consider important? Has she ever been discriminated against because of her gender? What advice would she have for young women growing up in her country in this period of time?
Interview with: Susan Roylance
Date of Interview: 28 August 2014

Susan Roylance is a mother, grandmother, and author with particular interest in international public policy as it relates to families. I met Susan through another friend, equally interested in families, the refugee communities in Salt Lake City, and serving people in need. We had the opportunity to sit down and talk with her about her work, her writing, and her hope for the future.

In 1977, Susan was approached by a friend to lead a small group of pro-family women at the Washington State International Women's Year Conference. At first she was not interested in the least, but after she listened to recordings of the other states' conferences, which were full of pro-abortion and anti-motherhood activities. These conferences happened in every state in the U.S., after then-President Jimmy Carter established a $5 million fun to hold IWY Conferences across the country and appointed Bella Abzug to lead the women of the nation in establishing a national plan of action for women. In an article entitled, "Mothers Not Welcome," published in Mothers and Father Defending Marriage and Family In the Halls of the U.N., Susan wrote, "While the original intent of the conferences may have been benign--merely attempting to focus on the need to treat women with greater equality in the work places, etc., somewhere along the way these conferences became the sounding board for radical feminists."

Susan's involvement over the years in over 25 international conferences, including the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, stemmed from her belief that women's rights include a pro-family focus. She supports the need to treat women with greater equality, but not by breaking down the family in the process. Susan founded United Families International in 1978. She also created an HIV/AIDS education program for children called "Stay Alive" in response to the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Her program has now been used in educating children about HIV/AIDS in over 16 countries in Africa.

In addition to her political and social activism, Susan has had a great interest in the peoples of the world. She and her husband lived in both Kenya and Uganda for several years, assisting rural farmers increase their income. Currently, she works closely with the Burmese refugee population in Salt Lake City, helping them adjust to life in the States. She also teaches piano to Burmese teenagers and English to families who have just arrived.

When I asked Susan if she has ever felt discriminated against because of her gender, her simple answer was, "no." She was raised in a family where she felt valued and was encouraged to do everything her siblings were encouraged to do as well.

The women's movement in the United States has done much for women. The initiatives are positives steps forward until, Susan says, "they begin to breakdown the family." Women around the world in developing countries still need the benefits of "the women's movement" because many women across the world are still in situations where they are undervalued and unsafe. But Susan still believe that a focus on strengthening and nurturing the family can assist with many issues that are plaguing women and families across the world.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

IWHHR: Conclusion (Choosing Priorities and Making A Difference)

During the summer of 2014, I am taking an online course in Global Health from Stanford University taught by Anne Firth Murray entitled, "International Women's Health and Human Rights" (IWHHR). I will be posting my reflective writing assignments from each week's course of study. All writings can be found under the tag IWHHRDetails on the course can be found here.
If you are interested in taking this or another course, you can find a listing of the online courses offered by Stanford here. From economics to cryptography, courses are added each semester.
Photo by S. Smith Patrick


Of the many topics that we have covered over the past weeks, focus on one topic that is of particular interest to you. Describe the situation relating to this topic in your community. What would you want to do to improve the situation for women relating to this topic in your community?
As I review the course topics and think about what I have learned, the one thing that sticks out in my mind as something which needs improvement is simply what value we publicly put on women and girls and their roles in the family, in the community, and in the world. Valuing not only women, but valuing families as the foundation of our society is crucial to improving the world. We can all do small things to help make improvements in this area by starting within our own families: Encouraging our girls (and boys) to get an education and to make the most of their time in school. Ensuring that our homes are safe havens for children to share thoughts, feelings, and feel safe. Instill a sense of love and respect for all members of the family, so that each feels their own worth and value.

So maybe we're doing those things in our own families. Should we stop there? I would say no. I recognize, and have been repeatedly reminded throughout the course, that I have lived a fairly privileged life. I have parents who not only love and care for me, but have advanced skills which they handed down to me, life skills, academic skills, and language skills. All these things helped to set me up for a more privileged life. This is not the case for many children and I think it's important to recognize the need that could be right next door. I can support local organizations that are working to improve the situation for children who live in homes that are not safe or supportive. I can volunteer. I can teach. I can also step back and realize that every family is different and functions differently. But a family is successful if it is filled with love and support and safety.

Another thing I have been thinking about are the vast number of refugees that have been brought to Salt Lake City for a second chance. There are many ways in which these families need assistance. A friend of mine volunteers with refugee families and has told me many stories about teaching them how to live in The United States, even down to learning how to use electricity, flush a toilet, and load a washing machine, all things they had never before had opportunity to experience.

Over the next few weeks, I will be chewing on ideas of ways I can help and get involved in improving the quality of life for women, girls, and frankly, the whole family, in my community. Getting outside of myself and serving others always seems to be the answer to greater happiness and greater fulfillment. And of course, in the process, I'll be helping someone in an invaluable way.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

IWHHR: Engage Your Community, Part One

During the summer of 2014, I am taking an online course in Global Health from Stanford University taught by Anne Firth Murray entitled, "International Women's Health and Human Rights" (IWHHR). I will be posting my reflective writing assignments from each week's course of study. All writings can be found under the tag IWHHRDetails on the course can be found here.
If you are interested in taking this or another course, you can find a listing of the online courses offered by Stanford here. From economics to cryptography, courses are added each semester.


In your town or region, locate an organization that is working on one (or more) of the issues highlighted in our class. Interview the people at this organization and write four to five thoughtful paragraphs about this group.
Please be sure to address the following:
What is the name of the group? What is its mission or goal?  How does it carry out its work? What is your general sense of the effectiveness of the group?

Organization: YWCA Utah (www.ywca.com)
Mission: The YWCA Utah is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
Interview with:  Cory (last name withheld for privacy)

I selected the YWCA Utah as the organization to learn more for this assignment because I have had brief conversations with my friend, Cory, who has worked there, about its mission and work. Since its inception in 1906, the YWCA Utah "has worked to meet the needs of underserved populations," its website states. Over the years, it has focused on employment, fair working conditions, racial discrimination, family violence, homelessness, and teen pregnancy. The YWCA Utah assisted women migrating west to find work during the Depression, servicemen during World War I and World War II, and relocated Japanese-Americans after World War II. According to its website, the YWCA offered Utah’s first African-American and Japanese-American girls clubs, women’s boarding house, public cafeteria, women’s employment bureau, and local traveler’s aid society.

The organization is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women. In 1976, they opened Utah's first domestic violence crisis shelter. Currently, they provide emergency services for women and children experiencing domestic violence, transitional housing, case management, wrap around services through the Center for Families, and community education. It carries out this work by not only providing a safe place for women and children who are experiencing domestic violence, but by using a strength based model to empower women. There is a strong emphasis on economic empowerment and education.

As all with all organizations, Cory feels like there is room for improvement, but that they do an amazing job with the resources they have. "Everyone works hard and is focused on the mission," she believes. Their most recent published annual report (Fiscal Year 2012-2012) states that they served 777 women and children in the crisis shelter. However, it also states that they were unable to meet 801 requests for shelter, involving 1,569 adults and children. Clearly this brings to light that though they do an amazing job at providing services, they are limited in the resources they have. Luckily, these other 801 requests were often able to be met through other area partnerships, providing temporary space until they were able to be housed at YWCA Utah. YWCA also reaches thousands more through their Family Justice Center and comprehensive children's services.

The leaders and workers at YWCA Utah are proud of their legacy, stating on its website, "Since 1906 the YWCA Utah has been a voice for women, a force for change, and a place for hope. Our enduring belief is that better lives for women – all women – will lead to stronger families and communities. Throughout the years the YWCA’s underlying purpose has remained the same but we have changed as women have changed, as the needs of our families have changed, and as our world has changed. Since our earliest years we have responded to the needs and aspirations of local women with innovative programs, promoted the rights and interests of women, and advocated for positive social change that creates better lives for all."

The statement, "better lives for women – all women – will lead to stronger families and communities," resonated with me and my belief that empowering women is really about empowering families, empowering human beings to change for the better and live better and more enriched lives. This focus on families is an important aspect of YWCA Utah and one that I believe in and can wholeheartedly support.

Monday, September 01, 2014

IWHHR: Group Meeting - Individual Reflection #3

During the summer of 2014, I am taking an online course in Global Health from Stanford University taught by Anne Firth Murray entitled, "International Women's Health and Human Rights" (IWHHR). I will be posting my reflective writing assignments from each week's course of study. All writings can be found under the tag IWHHRDetails on the course can be found here.
If you are interested in taking this or another course, you can find a listing of the online courses offered by Stanford here. From economics to cryptography, courses are added each semester.
Photo by Paola Gianturco from her book Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon

International Women’s Health & Human Rights

Week 8 Discussion Guide:

Themes from this Week
• Aging
• Demographics and the “feminization of aging”
• Social exclusion and loss
• Women as caregivers

Part I. Initial Response
Please discuss your personal reactions to the readings and videos from Week 8 on Aging and the End
of Life. Describe one new idea or fact that you have learned from the course this week.

Part II. Topical Questions for you to consider with your group.
1. What does it mean to be elderly? Take one minute and write down a list of words or phrases that come to mind when someone says a person is “elderly” or “old.”
2. After you have finished, share your list with your group. Which words did you have in common and which words were unique to one or two members of your group?
3. Why do women make up the majority of the elderly? (See p. 234 From Outrage to Courage.) What are some of the features of aging, and are there challenges specific to women aging?
4. List the ways that you think elderly women draw assistance from society. Next, list the ways that you think elderly women contribute to society. What do these lists illustrate about people’s concepts of “productivity”? How “productive” are elderly women? Does this discussion bring to mind anything you discussed during Week 7 on Globalization & Women’s Work?
5A. How does your society treat elderly people and elderly women in particular? Have you personally witnessed what you described in answer to that question in your own life or in the lives of others? We encourage you to share these experiences with the group.
5B. Choose a culture different from your own. (For example, if you are from Europe, you might choose an example from an African or Asian country or if you are from Asia, you might choose an example of a Latin American country.) Do you think this society differs in how they care for the elderly? Why do you think such differences might exist?
6A. What are some of the characteristics that older women in poor communities share? A suggested starting place is to consult pp. 245-246 in From Outrage to Courage.
6B. Consider again elderly women in your community. Do they have similar or different experiences in comparison with the women described in the text?
7. We encourage you to talk about some ways that activists are working to create social change for the elderly. Could similar strategies be applicable in your country? What about the elderly themselves: are they able to be agents of change for themselves? To what extent do you think elderly people in your country are effecting positive change in the society in general?

Using Discussion Toolkit #8 about aging, Anu, Purniya, and I discussed the status of women and what it means to be elderly in each of our countries (The United States, Pakistan, and India). The state of the elderly and how they are regarded and taken care of can differ from family to family, community to community, and often generalizing by country does not give an entirely accurate picture, though does give a general idea. We noted that strong loving families can help to diminish ALL of the issues and problems we learned in this unit, as well as most of units in this course. Focusing on the family and strengthening it can help to solve many of these problems. Women often dominate the topic of family because of their traditional roles as nurturers. Purniya commented how when there are family get-togethers at her grandparents' home, they often refer to going to Grandma's house, despite the fact that Grandpa lives there as well. However, focusing on the family as a whole, both the mother's and father's roles, is important to strengthen and nurture the family as a unit, which will help to alleviate many of the problems our society has.

Women generally assume caretaker roles both for young children and for the elderly. This fact was very apparent in our group discussion today with Purniya at home caring for her younger brother while her mother was away at work and Anu caring for her young daughter who was very excited to be part of this video discussion since she wouldn't go to bed. This care-taking role continues into old age, when they are taking care of young grandchildren and aging parents at a time when they themselves could be considered aging. This can be difficult because as women age they have less and less energy, so the role of care-taking is hard on them and not rewarded in the formal economy.

In our experience, older women are the bearers of family culture and wisdom, and are deserving of our love, attention and care as they age. As they age, we age too, and with that comes a greater compassion and understanding of what our mothers, grandmothers (and fathers and grandfathers) have sacrificed and done for us. We feel an urge to honor them and learn from them as we age and come to understand the role they have played in our lives.

While there is always room for improvement, in my family and community, we honor our women and seek to assist them with everything they need as they age. There are still issues with ensuring there is enough money to financially sustain oneself and family in old age, the issue of loneliness, the issue of lack of recognition in the formal economy, but we are doing our best. And as usual, the majority of effective of change happens at a grass-roots level. The most effective grass-roots organization is the family. Strengthen it, love it, nurture it, and it will sustain you throughout your life.