On a Mission

This post was inspired in part by Sue’s post on a similar topic.  I’m going to follow her lead and note that I too shy away from the controversial topics of politics and religion, but some topics are too important to ignore.


My kind of girl - friends' daughter dreaming of driving a fire truck in a PANK skirt!

Firstly, I have to say that Sue and all the feminists who came before us are my heroes.   That word feminist is slightly uncomfortable on my tongue, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade.  You see, I was raised by a Marine who both pampered me and empowered me to take on the establishment.  I was surrounded by strong, opinionated women who spoke up, stood out, and made a difference in their communities.  I’ve never found it odd that as a petite, young female firefighter, I fought for a skirt and heels with my dress uniform.  As a child of Baby Boomers, I was taught I could – and should – have it all.

I am feminine and a feminist, and I thank Sue and my other heroes for making that possible.  There are two organizations very dear to my heart that share my values:

Girl Scouts and the Junior League

If you’ve been here more than once, you probably already know that I live and breathe Junior League.  But I fail to speak of my early leadership (and girl power!) training through the Girl Scouts, and that’s a shame.  As I’ve pleaded with you to get to know MY Junior League (we’re not white gloves and pearls), I’m going to ask you to click over and get to know the “new” Girl Scouts.  They took the long, hard road a few years ago and realized they were no longer relevant and they recalibrated.

I had the distinct privilege of hearing the CEO-emeritus Kathy Cloninger speak last Saturday.  I also had my eyes opened as she began her address; nearly every single Junior League president-elect and other rising leaders in the room was a Girl Scout, Blue Bird, Campfire Girl, etc.  So… if you haven’t ordered some diet-busting cookies, when you see your local troop outside a grocery store, stop and buy a box or give them a donation.  It’s an investment in our collective futures.

Kathy has written a book advocating women in leadership.  I’m not saying – nor is she! – that we need to boot the men out of the board rooms, but she has hard facts about how much more effective co-ed, balanced boards are… or could be.   Check out Tough Cookies for yourself.   I have a feeling I’m going to use it as a required reading assignment before our (League) board retreat this summer.  (Disclaimer:  I have a free copy of the book on its way to me…  we missed the distribution of said book at the conference because of our flight schedule.)

As I told Sue, while the complacency about women’s rights sometimes upsets me too, I also feel it’s a sign of the progress we have made.  It’s not yet time to rest on our laurels though.  As women, we need to vote, write our politicians when they aren’t representing us to our satisfaction, and to my way of thinking, most of all we need to mentor the girls growing up around us.

My grandmother (far right), one of her sisters (far left) and one of their nieces (center).

This isn’t a call to arms, but it is a cry for open eyes and hearts.  I don’t believe one has to choose between a career and family, but I’m glad that there are options, and some of the smartest, most successful women I know are devoted full-time to raising well-adjusted children.  Likewise, I know a few men I’ve heard joke about being “Mr. Mom”, and I think that’s beyond awesome and can’t wait for it to no longer be a novelty.

This is my passion.  When I chose to leave the fire service to support my inlaws’ family business, I hadn’t really recognized that I was leaving one male-dominated career for another.  And honestly, it’s not the same…  I am “staff” here, which isn’t as revolutionary as a petite little gal driving a big ol’ fire truck.  And I refuse to apologize for being a lifetime Leaguer.  Any preconceived notions you have about me based on that statement…

Well, I’d be happy to talk with you about them.  I’m proud to claim a League legacy via women in my own family, but who wouldn’t be proud to stand with women like Mary Harriman, Sandra Day O’Connor, Eleanor Roosevelt and other inspiring women?   I am “committed to developing the potential of women and improving our community through effective action and leadership…” and the Junior League gives me a very effective vehicle to affect such change.

Do you have a passion or two?  Are you mission-driven?


15 comments on “On a Mission

  1. gMarie says:

    Very good and thought provoking post. I was very, very active in Girl Scouts while raising my daughters and I think you know that The Princess is still very involved in Girl Scouts. I think raising children – male or female – is one of the most important jobs we have as parents and sometimes it’s hard to juggle job demands with family. But to be able to raise children who grow up to be responsible members of society you have to find a way to be involved. Somehow – I think I managed that.

    As for causes of my own that work with? I don’t really have any right now. I do what I can to support causes that touch me – like Quilts of Valor. You inspire me daily to find something I can do, but…..


  2. Nancy says:

    Until I started reading your blog, I’d never heard of the Junior League, but it sounds fantastic. It’s good to know that young women are being honed into “Tough Cookies” by this and other organizations.

  3. Sue says:

    Thank you, Chan. I felt like I was hanging out there all alone, but my passion got the best of me yesterday and I had to write that post. It wrote itself, really. There is so much more to say than will fit in a blog post. The job isn’t over, it’s not even close.

    I separated a bit from the movement when I felt there was a rift forming between working women and stay at home moms. The whole point is choice and belittling another woman’s choice wasn’t part of the deal for me.

    The burka photo which upset some people is also my clumsy way of saying we must have choices. If someone chooses of her own will to dress in a burka, a blanket, or short shorts, that’s her choice.

    I chose not to have children, and it was a choice. I respect those who choose to raise families, if that’s their choice. If I hadn’t run into gender discrimination early at vet school, my life might have been very different. I guess there fire is still inside me and I mourn when I see women hurting other women by denying them choices.

  4. AlisonH says:

    What a different world we live in now (after reading Sue’s post.) My grandmother was hired to teach music at the University of Utah before women were allowed to vote. Or rather, to be able to vote again–Utah had to give up women’s suffrage in order to be allowed into the Union.

  5. kathy b says:

    GOOD FOR YOU!!! your league and other interests pursuits and passions are inspiring

    Im working on my passions, but helping at the animal shelter is one of them.

  6. Kathy says:

    I’m sure glad we live today and thankful for those women before us who fought for our rights.

    When I bought my house 14 years ago as a single woman my mom told me this story. When she and my dad bought their first house, they only considered my dad’s income for the mortgage. Both parents were teachers in the public school system with the same education and experience, therefore same salary. But being that my mom was a woman, she could get pregnant at any time and quit working, therefore quit making money. So the bank couldn’t count on her salary when approving the mortgage. Isn’t that amazing? My mom was contrasting that with the way I was able to buy a house on my own.

  7. Marjie says:

    I’m not a joiner, and I’m not mission driven. I just do what I want, when I want, and expect the world to stay out of my way. Thus, Jeffrey humorously refers to me as “The Fierce Midget.”

    I did read Sue’s post, and I guess I thought she was around my age, where maybe she’s 10 or 20 years older than I. Odd, the impressions we form.

    And I wear skirts and dresses not because they’re required, but because I like them. In this day and age, it’s much less common than women wearing pants. When I took Mark to the orthodontist on Wednesday, I was the only woman in a dress in the place, out of 8 staff and probably a dozen mothers who arrived before or after us. But I really don’t know that anyone would choose to wear a burqa.

  8. Barbara says:

    Fabulous post, Chan! And the book looks like a winner.
    I was a Girl Scout AND later, a GS leader. And a member of the JL since I was 21! I wouldn’t say I was an active feminist, but nobody could grow up during the times I did and not be a feminist at heart.

  9. Mary says:

    Sue and I must be of an age because I remember when we were required to put the date of our last menstrual period a on job application. I lived through all that she references in her post, including such things as the degrading act of having to kneel on the ground to prove my skirt length was “appropriate” and being paid less than my male colleagues; It wasn’t pretty (Go Sue). So yes, for those whose memories do not include such experiences, please don’t take any freedom for granted.

    As for the Junior League and Girl Scouts (called Girl Guides in UK-my GD is a member there), they help expand horizons and provide opportunities for service. I was GS as a girl and though I am not a joiner now, I have worked in refugee resettlement (helping those fleeing persecution) for the past 21 years. Frankly that has to be my contribution to the world for now as it takes up about 50-60 hours of my week. But hats off to volunteers who contribute to their communities.

  10. Ruth says:

    I believe women cam be wonderful leaders and do nearly anything they put their minds to. I am not now, nor likely have ever been part of the “Women’s LIb” movement. I believe in equality between the genders and truly appreciate those who went before to fight for this in its truest form. Was a BlueBird in my day, too. Passionate about? ….many things. But exercising my right to avoid conflict here by declaring them publicly. 🙂

  11. Blond Duck says:

    My main passion is writing and family….if I was a better dancer, I’d dance a lot more! 🙂

  12. britknitter says:

    Well said! I haven’t read Sue’s post yet, but am headed over there right now!

  13. Katherine says:

    Many years ago I wanted to buy my first car. Even though I was working, as a wife and mother (homemaker) I was unable to buy a car in my name. I had to take DH with me to even get a salesman to talk to me/us. We did the unthinkable and went to a friend who owned a Ford dealership. (Mom said never buy a car from a friend lol). He guaranteed the loan himself and put the car in my name. Every time I check my credit rating I think of our dear friend who believed in me and in my rights of ownership.

    Thanks for the reminder that as we are helped along the way by many angels, we too must help other women fight the battle.

  14. […] last month, I shared a little bit about Girl Scouts with you, and thanks to the always on top of the calendar Louise, I didn’t […]

  15. […] blogged before about the author, Kathy Cloninger.   Her book is a powerful reminder that the gender gap is alive and well and we owe it to […]

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