A Woman Visible

Search for beauty. Search for adventure. Search for the visible you.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Woman Visible: Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)

The big news today here in Atlanta is the death of Coretta Scott King.

I will be honest--while Mrs. King, wife of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., did many things to help her husband's cause even after his death, she also did many things that hurt his cause. She was a complex, controversial woman whose presence will hover over the Atlanta area as well as the civil rights movement long after her children bury her and memorialize her at the King Center. I didn't want to write about her at first, but then it hit me--she was a woman visible during a time that marked her doubly:

1) she was a woman in a male-dominated movement

2) she was an black woman living in the Deep South

What made her terribly visible was her willingness to be vocal about what she believed in, and her willingness to stand up in a political arena that wasn't initially geared for a woman with such a large presence. To get what she wanted she often pushed the envelope of what we in the South would consider geniality. Ok, to be more blunt, she was sometimes downright rude. People didn't agree with her, people didn't like her--but things got done around her.

It was her force of nature approach that made the King Center a reality. It was her determination that made her a loud voice in the din of voices that raised after her husband was murdered. I don't have to like her to understand that she was someone that could be considered the "matriarch of the civil rights movement" (WSB radio this morning).

She was a woman visible, like it or not.

My prayers are with her family.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Biblical Woman Visible

Since the beginning of the new year, we've been studying the book of Ruth in my Sunday school group. It's been a really interesting study because the class is mostly women and we've focused primarily on the relationships that are made in this book.

I talked a little about what I thought about this text and my classes response in The Other Invisible.

Ruth is a curious, wonderful character in the Bible. She is an outsider who becomes a part of the Hebrew fabric. She is a woman that is bold, beautiful, and adventurous. She is a woman visible.

Today we discussed chapter 3 of Ruth. (The lovely picture featured today is the cover of a book called This Ruth by Harold S. Paisley, a devotional book published by Olive Press).
For those of you that are not familiar with the story, let me give you a quick over view: Naomi, who lives in a place called Moab and is Hebrew, loses her husband and both sons within a very short amount of time. She is left with only her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. Naomi decides that she should go back to Israel to her village (most likely Bethlehem--she's related to the family that will be the house of David). She tells her daughters-in-law to go back to their parents. Orpah goes back to her parents, but Ruth does something remarkable. She decides that she will go back to Israel with Naomi, and become part of her family and people.

So the set off and go to Israel, where Naomi's people take them into the village. Because they are widows, the law allows for them to glean wheat from the fields during harvest time to eat.

It's there that we meet Boaz. I love the manliness of his response upon first seeing Ruth--"Whose woman is that?" This is a question that begs a few things:

1. Who is that woman? I've never seen her before.
2. Is she seeing anyone or is she married?
3. Who's family does she belong to?

Boaz is amazing. He makes sure she gets her share and a bit more of the grain, he offers her lunch (the first date in the Bible?), and he tells the other men working the fields to leave her alone. Ruth goes home after working the fields, and tells Naomi everything. Naomi is thrilled! Boaz is her kinsman, and by law, he may be able to help Ruth, and even, possibly, marry her. So, Naomi encourages her to get closer to Boaz by doing something a little sneaky. This is where Chapter Three begins, and my questions begin.

Read the chapter, if you like, and think about this:

Is doing this a form of pursuit? If so, is it ok to pursue a man so blatantly? Something I considered this morning was that Boaz started this, so it was ok for her to continue to show her interest. Also note how he acts--he's just so great! He's respectful, and kind. She is visible throughout the book,but is she visible in a positive or negative way? Can you explain why?

I will post my thoughts more clearly later. I'd love to see a discussion follow.

More later!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Is visibility only skin deep?

Beth made a a really interesting statement in her response to my first Coffee Klatch Discussion that I think is worth considering. She said,
"I usually make myself visible through words. I tend to argue and I really like to be sure that someone understands my point. I got into an argument with a friend who people don't usually stand up to. I became very visible that night to a lot of people. I became stronger in their eyes."

Most of us that are writers tend to make ourselves visible via words. I am a vocal woman, as Beth can attest to because we are in a class together. For a long time, I wasn't so vocal. My divorce changed a lot of that. I learned that if I wanted to be visible as a person, I had to speak up. That speaking up got a work out when I went back to school, and then started writing on the Internet. So, I guess I've been visible in that sense for a long time. I'm just not sure that my visibilty has always been attractive.

I have moments of real abrasiveness. I say what I think. I never thought about how that would impact anything, I just shot for honesty. Now I wonder about my judgement. My daughter, who is now eleven, exhibits some of the same outspoken traits. This is good, but also bad. She has a tendency to become very visible in very harsh ways. I wish, sometimes, I could have modeled something more than harshness, and loud criticism about life and things around her when she was small.

So does vocal visibilty count? You bet! I think that just like visual visibility, presentation is everything. What I find especially interesting is that there isn't as much written about our vocal visibility as our visual. I guess it's societal. We want to be nice to look at, but I've learned that if I am vocally awful, then my visibility is going to be awful too.

What about you other vocally visible women? What do you think?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Shall we gather for coffee?

One of the things I wanted to do with this blog is create discussion and thought among my readers. To me, that's really what makes blogs so incredible--the chance for community. On my other journal, I have an almost weekly question called "The Writer's Weekly Question." I wanted to try for the same thing here, but instead of focusing on writing, I will focus on questions to consider concerning what it means to be visible, and how we can impact our visibility. One of the resources that put me on to this idea of visibility is a lovely book called Captivating! by John and Staci Eldredge. The premise of the book is that women often miss opportunities to be visible because we are so busy turning our backs on the very things that make us feminine. What I am finding to be quite wonderful about this book is that they aren't saying what most women's books from the Christian POV seem to say--namely that women are most feminine when we are working for our families and our church. The Eldredges say that isn't the case, and goes on to support the idea that women are on a search for beauty, adventure, and ultimately, visibility (that answer to the question, "Am I lovely?").

So, here it goes, the first

Coffee Klatch Discussion:
Consider the first time you felt visible, and share what you remember about that experience. Was it a good thing or a bad thing? Now, consider the last time you felt visible. What happened to cause you to be visible? How did you know you were visible?

I'll go ahead and share my answer, just to get the ball rolling. The first time I really felt "visible" was at a dance I went to in high school. I wore this dress that was red and off the shoulders. It was beautiful, and I felt beautiful and totally visible. The last time was at a wedding I attended in October. I wore this wonderful brown dress, and actually caught a man (yes, he was single) checking me out. Even though he sees me every Sunday, it felt like he was looking at me for the first time and seeing something other than just plain Jess. I felt beautiful all evening!

OK, this is how this will work:
  1. Anyone can participate in this discussion as long as you keep your comments on topic and clean (this is a "family" blog).
  2. You can post your comments here, or leave a link and post your comments in your own blog.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Dr. Phil weighs in on Visibility--Should I Listen or Be Scared?

Before I begin, let me tell you that I'm not a huge Dr. Phil fan. I think his show works like every other "dog and pony show" host on TV ("dog and pony show" = most talk shows on TV). He finds people with the worst kind of personal issues, invites them into his lavish studio to make fools of themselves in front of God and everyone else who might be watching, while he tries to offer "sage psychological advice." I digress, however, because this is not what I wanted to share this morning.

Yesterday, on my Bellsouth home page, I saw a link to a Dr. Phil article. Turns out it was sponsored by Match.com, one of the thousands of online dating services living on the Internet, but the article was still of interest. It was about how single women can make themselves more open to relationships--more visible. If I had been a smart blogger (I am about 80% of the time), I would have posted on the article right at that moment. I went back this morning, and the link had been changed to another article, called "Leave the Baggage Behind."

The article was written by
Melanie Williams-Galuten and I guess she's basing her information on things Dr. Phil has said. I've heard all of his quotes she uses in this article before including "The past is over and the future hasn't happened yet." It's the same old, same old about not allowing your past relationships get in the way of what you may encounter in the present or future. There's a part of me that says, "I know all this... sigh...isn't there any other way?" What I really hate is that Dr. Phil and the author of the article may have a point, and maybe that's why I'm acting like my twelve year old about this. I am especially disturbed (is that the right word?) when Galuten points out, "if your bag is ‘packed ' there is no room for anyone else to get in. You must make some space for that other person to truly enter into your life. The relationship can't survive if there is no room." Don't you hate it when people you don't even know meddle? Still, in the search for visibility, this is some mighty strong advice.

After reading this article, I went on to research what Dr. Phil was saying on his website about this subject. Of course, he had something to say and had an article of his own called "Single and Sick of It." Apparently he had some singles my age on his show recently and they said a lot of the same things I've said about myself. They sabotage their possibilities,and I have to admit, I too have made a practice of sabotage. I've been too scared to open up to another person, made myself too busy, and been too harsh sometimes. This is probably stemming from that first point of baggage. So, maybe Dr. Phil has a point. Maybe I should make myself more available without being someone I'm not, and maybe, just maybe, I should dump the baggage. What do you think? Have you had similar thoughts?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What do you mean "a woman visible?"

Welcome to my newest journal! If you are familiar with my original journal, The Other Invisible,
then you may know that this new journal connects to that original journal. For those of you that are new, let me explain myself and, in the process, explain this new journal.

When I started The Other Invisible, it was with the premise that I was a thirty-something, divorced woman who felt very invisible in a society that celebrates--no, worships women that are young and attractive. Since I started in June of 2005, I've learned quite a bit about myself and about how I am actually perceived. One of the things that I've learned is that, perhaps, I'm not as invisible as I thought I was, and, sadly, I may have contributed to my own invisibility.

Just as I originally wondered if other women felt invisible, I now wonder if other women have fallen into the trap of seeing themselves as invisible, and therefore causing themselves to be so. With that in mind, I have determined that this journal will be dedicated to sharing articles, and reviewing books that uplift single women and revealhow beautiful, adventurous, captivating, and strong they really can be.

This is not a journal that is going to try and tell you what to do. As Wil Wheaton
says often, "I'm not the boss of you." I can't tell you how to be a better woman. I can't tell you how to get a man. I can't tell you how to be a perfect woman. What I can do is share ideas that will help you to maybe see yourself in new and different ways.

I see this as a journey that is as much mine as it is anyone's.

Let's see if we can be seen in a new and brighter light.