We are marching in the light of God

The Woman’s Movement came back to life this week.

This week, in the aftermath of the Trump inauguration, we marched. Old women, young women, children, boys and men. We marched for civil rights and kindness. Wearing silly pink hats and carrying handmade signs, we gathered, listened to politicians and we slowly  inched along.

We planned to march but there were too many of us to run a normal march.

I took the T to Park Street to join so many others on Boston Common. The land was full of very polite protestors who smiled because they could see they are not alone in this struggle.

Friends of mine were marching in Washington, DC. My Facebook page filled with people I know who gathered in other cities to mark the beginning of what is sure to be a difficult journey.

I remember the 1970s very well. In 1972 I served as the state coordinator for the National Organization for Women in Massachusetts. It was a title that was phased out a year or two later.

For me the path to feminism began because of a history professor at Stonehill who insisted I read Eleanor Flexnor’s book “Century of Struggle.” The was back in the 60s in days when I thought I wanted to marry, have children and become a housewife. My college professor opened my eyes.

And while I eventually became a mother, I thought I had a right to juggle a career as long as my two children were safe. But I gave up political action in the years I was a young mother. After all, it seemed the political struggle had been won.

And there were so many other priorities. At least it seemed there were.

Kindness was missing from that long ago movement. Those of us working on strategies were angry about a world where men and women were not treated as equals.

When I boarded the train to Boston – a train that was standing room only before reaching my stop – a woman in her thirties offered me her seat. I smiled and turned it down but the thought of her kindness brightened my day.

Despite the crowds on Boston Common, people didn’t push to get ahead. The placard I liked best was ultimately creative. It said, “Love trumps hate.”

The Boston Women’s March, and so many other marches, gathered for the same reason. We want to make the world a better, kinder, place filled with justice and love.

An Episcopal priest taught me a simple hymn that sums it all up. We are marching in the light of God. Actually I understand it is a Zulu hymn that has been reworked with a Christian theme. It gathers up all the hope and determination of a righteous movement.




The election from hell

Until today, election day 2016, I resisted writing about the presidential battle.

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and the two also ran candidates for president were not something I wanted to think about – let alone concentrate on.

But I had to realize as I voted today that what was bothering me was that I thought the world had moved away from sexism and racism. The words in the mouths of what they now call “surrogates” and one candidate in particular made me realize that some people still do not realize that all people are equal.

My first job as a journalist began 50 years ago at a daily newspaper. I was still in college, very naive, quite unaware of what a reporter should do.

Back then I accepted the fact that I was treated as incompetent – because I was. But I learned from the editors and older reporters on staff. I learned and I made sure I said yes to every story offered to me – whether it was working late on a Friday night or interviewing victims of tragedy. I was shy and didn’t want to talk to parents who had just lost a child. I agonized over how to begin as I’d ring a doorbell or make a phone call. After a few calls, I learned the victims of tragedy usually want to talk about it with someone who would just listen.

I learned not to wear a skirt to work because you could never tell where you might be sent. I covered the story when Stanley Bond blew himself up at Walpole State prison wearing a short skirt. Hundreds of men were able to see my underwear that afternoon when I walked up a narrow staircase to the bomb site. I was safe since the press contingent was being escorted by guards but I learned my lesson.

The first time my editor left me alone on a Friday night to cover the city of Quincy I called him at home to let him know there was a five-alarm blaze. He told me to get right over there and call him back when I returned to the office.

I ws a little excited. I went to the fire and watched the water stream over a multi-unit building. When I called my boss back, I said, “It’s all right, it’s out now,” and I hung up.

He called me right back and helped me go over the details I needed to make the story work.

Yes I was an inexperienced reporter who never had a class in journalism. I got my chance because the men didn’t want to work Friday night. And I learned from patient and generous people who already knew how to get to the bottom of a news story.

After I had become good at my job, I was one of a generation of women who insisted they should be able to rise to the top of their field without giving up the right to motherhood.

I remember when that newspaper allowed a woman to move up to the role of city editor. It was a hard fight because 50 years ago the people at the top thought women should write features, social news and obituaries. The men in our company union backed those of us who were not men in this lengthy management argument.

It was sometimes contentious back then. After I wrote a memo to the head of the classified department explaining why group the jobs available section into Men and Women was not helpful and that grouping the jobs by categories such as Professional, Sales, etc. would better serve our readers, I was invited to talk with the editor-in-chief who questioned my radical leanings.

I loved my job. Writing makes me feel whole.

It did make me nervous to argue against a system that didn’t seem to realize political reporting was not a something only understood by men.

About five years ago, I ran into a remnant of the past. I was at a party and introduced to a bank president who had just open a Milton branch. His bank advertised in my newspaper but I dealt with a much lower level employee there.

“So do you know Pat Desmond,” the bank president said after we were introduced.

“I am Pat Desmond,” I replied, thinking he hadn’t heard my name correctly.

“No I mean the man, are you related to him,” he asked again.

The guy was spending quite a bit of money with me. I was careful not to embarrass him but I was embarrassed by the conversation. We never became close. I hear he eventually rode a motorcycle cross-country after his bank merged with another.

It’s painful to think people still treat women differently, have different expectations for them. But is a great sadness that so many people in this country fail to understand everyone needs a chance to succeed.



Creating new markets

My staff and I have begun to promote a new app – it’s called Milton Insider.
It can be found in both the Apple app store and Google Play.
Why would anyone over 70 be interested in an app, someone asked me.
Hmm, maybe for the local residential phone book feature.
The phonebook itself opens slowly on the app, but the developer who partnered with me says that will change later in the fall when his servers are expanded. Right now opening the full phonebook takes one full minute.
But the key to looking up a number is to put the last name in the search bar – the search takes seconds. And of course it is possible to click through and dial the number from a smartphone.
The real answer to why I worked on this app is I’m still alive. I still have ideas. I still want to make a difference.

Time to live



The ladies of AWH class of 1964.

So much has been changing in my world since I last worked on my blog.
My own health is just fine… I turned 70 earlier this year and am beginning to create an exit strategy to be sure my business survives me.
It’s something I care about.
But I also care about having a life worth living in the winter of my life.
This summer there were weeks when I only read the Milton Times after it was printed. I’ve divided my time between playing with my three-year-old grandson and helping in the creation of a new APP we call the Milton Insider. The APP is a fun creation.
Freud believed that a full life comes from work and love.
I agree with the part about love. Friends and family can bring purpose to my life.
I’m not as sure how work fits into the mix. I know it’s time for me to create a retirement plan. It’s time to celebrate life. Time to look at work in a way that leaves me more time for family and friends.


Mindfully healing

it’s been five years since I was diagnosed with cancer.

Five years …. It’ a magic number – it means I am truly a cancer survivor.

My oncologist had me on every six-month visits these past five years. But last summer he let me know that I could stop taking my estrogen blocker when my prescription ran out in February. My next appointment at Dana Farber happens in midsummer.

My cancer is still part of my life. It left me with a feeling that life is certainly too brief. And that what is important is love, family and friendships.

When I first coped with the thought that cancer was growing in my body, I felt frightened and worried, thinking my life was heading in the wrong direction. But I spent time talking with other women who had already faced breast cancer and that’s when I began to realize there is life after this disease.

For me treatment was a double mastectomy followed by years of little white pills. My life changed. I became someone who read labels and choose organic anything over chemically altered substances. I tried to exercise, following the physical therapy prescribed as a part of aftercare.

i still pay attention to my diet. I sleep more and have found ways to avoid worry.

It feels really good to know I’ve survived. It feels as if life sent me a blessing  – a chance to continue living.

i’ve come to see that my cancer diagnosis was a gift.

Changing the pace

So the Blizzard of 2015 hit Milton on Jan. 27 and for the first time in the history of the Milton Times, we closed the office due to weather.

The difference didn’t come from the intensity of the winds and snow. It came from changing priorities – mine.

So I am sitting at home today, typing on my computer, while my grandson sleeps in the next room. It’s his first nap of the day. He and I were up at 6:45 a.m., playing. Watching the snow dance outside my window, watching it pile up on the marsh, watching the river turn white. It’s a good day.

I’m not sure whether the office will reopen tomorrow. It just doesn’t seem to matter right now. What matters is finding where we left the “Wheels on the Bus” book before Finn wakes up.

Thinking about my future

Time passes all too quickly for those of us who have passed the middle years.

Most of the time I love my life. Today I realized it is time to create a succession plan for my newspaper.

It’s something I’ve known I needed to do for about 10 years. And there were times in those 10 years when I thought I had a plan in place.

Over the years one of the plans I’ve toyed with is the creation of a non-profit group to take control when I retire. There are two newspapers in the United States that use this model. One is The Day in Connecticut. That paper, a daily, has succeeded with the model for more than 100 years.

It’s something to think about.

Another possibility is for me to search out a buyer who would want to take control of the paper. Over the years I’ve had a few offers but they were from major chains. I hope the paper can remain independent and totally local.



Back on Track

So it has been months since my last post.

The regular business of running the Milton Times has taken some time and I wish I could blame my distraction on the paper.

Truth is I have been spending more time with my three grandchildren who live in New Hampshire. If only it were as simple as a trip or two.

My youngest grandchild is a year and a half. He is amazing and filled with love. His energy is over the top. This week Finn and his parents are visiting his other grandparents in California.  Finn’s favorite word is Up. He uses it to explain who it is he wants to hold him.

My granddaughter Hayley is a senior in high school. She lives about three hours away from Finn. Like all young women in her age range, she wants to enjoy time with her friends.

My other grandson, whose name is Desmond, is just beginning high school. Like most young men in his age range, he keeps his thoughts to himself.

Being a grandmother is much more fun than being a mother. But just like parenting, the time is brief.



Winter Slides into Tomorrow

The snow continues to fall tonight.

Making travel unadvisable.

The branches outside are laden with white stuff, thick white particles.

The storm creates a space of peacefulness.

I am not sure that I am enjoying this cold, snowy winter. But I do appreciate a season where it is impossible to rush about.



Santa Came to Town

The weather was perfect for Lighting the Holiday Tree in East Milton Square.

All three of the town’s Selectmen were on hand.

Santa had spent two hours at Abby Park talking to the true believers before the simple ceremony.

This year the Milton Chamber of Commerce decided to push the event to the weekend before Thanksgiving to make room for all the other holiday parties that are in the planning stages. It was a fantastic event.

Vance Welch of Abby Park provided cookies and milk for all. But Santa brought the magic.

Tate Isgrieg and his wife brought their son dressed as an adorable elf to add to the party.

M. Joseph Manning was scheduled to flip the master switch on the holiday tree but unfortunately he fell during the past week and was hospitalized. Everyone on hand wished him well.

The number of little children who worried and teared up while facing the big guy made the afternoon all the more interesting. What is it about a man in a beard that worries very small children.

But the number of youngsters who offered Santa small tokens of their appreciation was at an all-time high. Bob Marotta, a freelance photographer, who helps keep the Milton Times graphically excellent, was on hand to snap one photo after another of youngsters telling Santa all their hopes.

Tom Pilla shot a bit of video.

Al Thomas sponsored the lights with the help of the town’s DPW. The Milton Art Center added a massive star to the top of the tree. Again that was done with the help of the DPW.

By the time the event was done, I had decided I need to lose weight. I was thin once, very long ago. I’m not expecting to revisit those years. But it is time that I don’t look like Santa when I walk down the street.