2012 Summer Book Review Finale: What if?

“I never want to go back to the law,” shared a friend who is a law school graduate and a very accomplished public defender.  Our conversation was interrupted by a swirl of kids ages 2 through 8.   Mid-sentence we conducted an emergency rescue from a climbing structure that resembled a gangly over-sized found-art project.  Public defense?  Idealistic me was instantly mesmerized by the work and its likely impact.  Never?

My friend’s conclusion is more revealing to me after this summer’s 2012 Summer Book Reviews.   By chance this summer’s choices revealed more about women’s psychology and the factors that may influence our choices – in transition and more importantly over the arc of our lives.   Last summer’s book choices offered more of the brut force transition tactics necessary for navigating transition, particularly early transition.

So, instead of actions, here are the things that I’ll think more about as my transition proceeds…thanks to twelve simple books:

  • The tragedy of self-imposed boundaries:  For whatever reason we as women consciously or unconsciously limit ourselves with boundaries (#18: Dancing on the Glass Ceiling, #21 A Room of One’s Own, and #17 Basic Black).  I remember a clip from Dead Poet’s Society, one of my favorite movies. In it Robin Williams who portrays an English professor at a Vermont boarding school requires his students file to the front of the room, stand on his desk facing the classroom and view the room from a different perspective.   Our summer authors challenged readers to slow down decisions and consider, what if?
  • The impact of our socialization:  This summer I learned that women risk being silenced overtime by a society that denies girls & women open conflict.  Research conducted for both #25 Meeting at the Crossroads and #23 Odd Girl Out concluded that girls and women silence themselves to maintain relationships and avoid isolation.  “In school girls are praised for catching on quickly, for proper behavior, for having the right answers, for being self-effacing.  Because this behavior is so natural for girls, we think it’s our identity or the source of (our) value.   When we encounter change or challenges this causes us to feel pressure to do it ourselves, over-analyze and second guess, not speak or finesse the truth, hide, or worse, give up.”  (Smart Women, pg 143)  Ever encounter any of these?   What if we sailed right by them?
  • Transition’s parallels:  In How will you measure your life? I learned that “strategy is not a discrete analytical event but rather a continuous, diverse and unruly process.” (How will you.. pg 46) So too transition?  The unruliness may be rooted in Smart Women Don’t Retire They Break Free’s perspective, “how do you sort out those things that are truly important – that make you tick –  from those things you learned to consider important only because you got approval or rewards for them?”    (Smart Women, pg 67)

After this summer, I have a better appreciation for NEVER.  Never law or never ‘fill-in-the-blank.’    In transition I’ve needed to peel away the layers of expectations and approvals that have conditioned my thinking.  Did I mention that this is yeoman’s work?

Virginia Woolf offered, “it is much more important to be oneself than anything else.” (A Room of One’s Own, pg 106)  Transition is unruly and continuous and diverse.  I can vouch for each of these stages…and I’m closing in on a better understanding of ‘oneself‘….how about you?

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