DIANE GOTTLIEB

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We Are Not Invisible!!! Connie Shultz—My New She-ro

So … This is the first of my monthly posts where I will be recommending a book/article/poem written by a woman for women! Except—this week, I am not recommending a book/article/poem. Instead, I am suggesting/begging/pleading that you watch one or, preferably, both of these YouTube videos of talks given by my new she-ro: Connie Schultz.

 

OMG!! This woman is AMAZING!!!!

 

Ms. Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of two books . . . And His Lovely Wife: A Campaign Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man (she’s married to the Senator for Ohio, Sherrod Brown) and Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truth (both books are on their way right now to my house via Amazon.) She is also an incredibly moving speaker!

 

I first became aware of Connie Schultz last week when my wonderful daughter-in-law Melissa sent me the link to a TED Talk Ms. Schultz gave in 2016, and I will forever be grateful to Melissa for making the introduction!

 

A Woman Over 50: A Life Unleashed

 

The talk is called A Woman Over 50: A Life Unleashed, and “unleashed” she is! No apologies here! This is a wildly inspiring talk about how we, as women over 50, have so much to re/discover about ourselves and how important it is for us to remain visible and–most important–in supportive community with each other. Ms. Schultz, with great humor and honesty, tells her own story as well as the stories of friends who have made huge and wonderful changes after 50, women who have finally allowed themselves to come into their own.

 

Being Seen Can Be Terrifying

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about invisibility lately and about the risks one takes by putting oneself out into the world. For women these risks are palpable. Some of us have been forced into the shadows; others of us choose to stay there. We hold our light hidden inside until it feels like a weight in the gut.

I am thinking today about Professor Christine Ford. The courage it took for her to tell her truth and the response she has received for doing so. No wonder so many of us hold our truths inside.

 

I’m thinking of Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher the two brave survivors of sexual assault who confronted Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator after he announced that he would be voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court: “Look at me when I’m talking,” 23-year-old Gallagher commanded. See me. Hear me. I am here.

(www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/28/look-me-when-im-talking-you-crying-protester-confronts-jeff-flake-capitol-elevator/?utm_term=.3cc696a6f9f1).

 

My discovery of Connie Schultz’s videos could not have come at a better time.

 

The Weight of Invisibility

 

I plan to explore the theme of invisibility over several posts in the near future. It’s an idea that fascinates me, and one that I have struggled with all my life.

As a child, I felt invisible. My mom (whom you’ve met in my welcome post– http://dianegottlieb.wpengine.com/hello-world/) was largely unavailable when I was small. It was confusing and scary. I needed her attention, so I could know that I existed—that I mattered.  In second grade, I made a brave attempt to be “seen” –and to stuff my fears—by eating myself into an additional 40 pounds. (Quite a feat for a someone just over 4 feet tall!) It’s funny, though, my extra size just made me even more invisible. Anyone who has ever been more than a little bit overweight knows exactly what I mean.

 

In my day job, I’m an English tutor. Each fall, I help high school seniors write the dreaded “college essay.” It is a precious gift to be their guide in the process of naming who they are. It’s wonderful to witness them claim themselves on the page.

 

Witness: an individual who, being present, personally sees or perceives a thing; a beholder [1]

 

We need connection, to see ourselves reflected in other’s eyes. Babies begin to learn who they are through the mirror of their mother’s faces—Mom’s the first witness to her baby’s existence. We need people to be present, to hear us, and behold our experiences through our words. In order to feel truly visible, we need a witness.

 

I am in the process of writing a book, one that is incredibly dear to my heart. It’s about a group of formerly incarcerated men. An invisible population, to be sure. I listen to their stories, and I’m honored that they have trusted me to be their mirror.  Hopefully, I’ll prove worthy of the task.

 

Connie Schultz as Witness

 

Connie Shultz tells her story, but she is also telling mine—and, I imagine, yours. Let’s do our best to see, to listen, to bear witness for those who have never been heard. And let’s speak up and come out of the shadows—let our lights shine bright.

Here’s the link to Ms. Shultz’s TED Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97d2P7U1Ukk

 

Here’s Ms. Shultz’s shorter talk called My Story is Your Story, a powerful tribute to her parents.

Word to the wise: have tissues at hand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoancVC-v5g

 

Readers. Let’s be witnesses for each other. When have you felt invisible?

 

 

See you next Friday!

Diane

Diane Gottlieb

 

 

[1] Dictionary.com

8 Comments

  1. Dina on October 5, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    I love the attention you draw to the need for being seen for who we are, with all our contradictions and flaws. And even when we are actually finally ‘seen’, we receive such conflicting messages of what it takes to be visible, and how we should be when we are visible. Demure but sexy, powerful but vulnerable, sweet but sassy, natural but groomed, youthful but gracefully old…so many voices ready to criticize our presentation and our appearance, visibility becomes a curse in itself! I am looking forward to seeing the TED talk and the tribute to Ms. Schultz’s parents. Women’s voices are what it will take to make women’s genuine, rightful, visibility the norm rather than the exception.

    • Diane Gottlieb on October 5, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      Hi Dina! Thanks so much for jumping in!! I love your list of conflicting messages–so powerful and so spot on! I look forward to your watching Ms. Schultz’s videos as well–I think you will have found a new kindred spirit! Women’s voices are definitely the key to change–I’m so grateful that you’ve shared yours!

  2. Melissa on October 5, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Diane! This is a powerful piece on a topic that I know a lot of women can relate to. Thank you for sharing your personal story of invisibility with us and encouraging us to follow your lead. This blog is a great platform for that! I need to take some time to reflect on my own experiences of invisibility. For me, what first comes to mind are all the women I have worked. As you know, I am a social worker and have worked with survivors of domestic violence. Many of them are women of color, single moms, and came from low-income areas. Many of them had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Together, we have often explored how the various institutions they have had to engage with — the police, courts, schools, child welfare – have not fully “seen” them or their children. And, as advocates, we have to work to make sure as much of their personal narrative was heard and understood because, if not, the repercussions (like taking an unfair plea deal) could have permanent consequences. This is a topic that definitely impacts individual women but I believe it is an issue that needs addressing on a macro/systemic level as well. Thank you for highlighting such an important topic. Looking forward to see how you explore this topic in future piece. And, I’m looking forward to reading responses from your other readers on their experiences!

    • Diane Gottlieb on October 5, 2018 at 10:32 pm

      Hi Melissa! Thank you for your thoughtful comments–and for starting us off. You bring up so many important points. There is certainly a tremendous amount of institutional discounting of women on the margins that renders them invisible despite their great need. I am grateful for the tireless work of advocates like you–your years of direct service have helped many and your undying commitment to bringing about change on the macro-level is an inspiration and a source of hope. Today is a particularly dark day for many women. You are a truly source of light!

  3. Greta Holt on October 5, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    How I do enjoy our Connie Schultz! Thanks for her woman-pause message on TED Talks. Perhaps because I have a big mouth, the only times I’ve felt invisible are with rich people. Rich people have their own tribes and do not reach beyond them easily. They can actually sneer when required to engage. I’m not bitter, of course.

    I’m loving perusing your website!

    • Diane Gottlieb on October 5, 2018 at 10:56 pm

      Oh Greta! I am so sorry for your experience with invisibility! Tribes can truly be wonderful; they can give people a sense of belonging and community, a sense of meaning and purpose. But they can have a dark side too. When people in any tribe discount others, we all lose. But, damaging as well is lumping people with similar demographics into one group and attributing the hurtful behavior of some to all. I encourage you to keep reaching out and remain your outgoing self. You may have a different experience next time!
      And please! Keep perusing–and sharing your thoughts!!

      • Dorothy on October 9, 2018 at 10:51 pm

        Hi Diane, Congratulations on your newest endeavor. I enjoyed learning so much about your personal journey. Seems to me, you have been quite busy creating a important and meaningful life. I for one have always liked listening to you, you’re smart. I’m personally unable to “see this as a dark time for women “ my thoughts are different than the postings here. I remember well the Betty Freidans and Gloria Steinem or Erica Jong Fear Of Flying.. I don’t agree with how N.O.W organization is today. Or that Professor Ford was treated unfairly. I think the whole thing including the protesters tactics to be unsettling. I personally also am quite close to the me too movement and felt it was used/hijacked for political purpose. For me the confirmation of Kavanaugh should not have been about curing a serious societal illness or even worse used to settle a score for sexual assault victims. I am retired and watched all the hearings and at the end of the day it was Senator Susan Collins that gave the most reasonable sequential argument. Sadly she has been labeled horrible things for that, including rape apologist. This hysteria is why I am sad for many women that have not truly embraced fairness, freedoms & kindness. Instead far too many young women today embrace a victim stance, which in my opinion makes people far too angry and negative.

        • Diane Gottlieb on October 10, 2018 at 4:57 pm

          Hi Dorothy, and welcome! Thank you so much for the congrats! Thank you also for your comment. While I see things from a different perspective, I really appreciate your voicing your opinion. We will get nowhere in this country if we don’t listen to each other. I hope this is a space where you will always feel free to contribute and be heard.

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