April 30, 2007

Life Like Art, Like Blog

I was recently reconnected with an old friend, a former neighbor from when I live in the City. That's San Francisco for all of you who do not live in my big city proximity area. Bay Area locals simply call it the City, never Frisco. My friend is an artist and a Purple WomenTM and we spent the day at SFMOMA together. I was her art buddy for the day.

Our Purple adventure began on a Monday night, with an overnight, as my friend lives some hour and a half more remote than we do, in a straw bale house with four wells and solar panels -- no Internet, something we couldn't do without. After turning down a sub job and breakfast, we bundled up and headed for the BART station. We had to chant the parking karma chant several times before we got lucky in the back 40, nearly a 10-minute walk back to the station.

A nine dollars and fifty cent roundtrip later, plus one dollar for parking, we were rewarded for our efforts by not having to find parking in the City, and a museum discount of $2.50 on the special exhibit when we showed our BART pass. I had no idea what we were in for, or even which museum we were headed for; just a willing participant in my friend's good hands. We saw the Picasso & American Art exhibit and got a feeling for what a stir he created and why in the art world with cubism. It was interesting to see the other artists of his time whose art was on display beside his. What caught my eye most was the fourth floor exhibit, the huge monotone "study in color" work of Bruce Marden. His work is the kind that most people think of when you say modern art and think, "I don't get it".

We may all start with a decision or circumstance which results in our common status as childfree adults, but where you go from there depends entirely on what interests you. Life, like art, like blog?

There were lots of seniors and students exercising their discount mid-week, and us, two forty-something childfree women. The seniors were congregating around Picasso and his cohorts. The students would stare for ever at the big work of Marden. Not being an artist myself, I was probably paying attention to all the wrong things. Then my friend would reel me back in with a comment about technique and art history, which made the experience a little more educational.

One piece in Marden's The Muses series stood out for me. It was a rather organic looking piece of
connecting green-hued lines, achieving a three dimensional look to it. One could almost imaging vines intertwined, passing, looping, connecting. I thought of journeys, a highway possibly, or more esoterically, the paths we chose in life. The piece was one of his largest works of art, at least eight feet tall and eighteen across. I sat there and stared at it a long time.

I concluded that this particular artwork was like this blog. It doesn't matter where you begin, what day you discover us, the journey will be uniquely yours, even though you may be visiting some of the same places. As you navigate, some topics may seem familiar, posts of a similar vein will be encountered. We may all start with a decision or circumstance which results in our common status as childfree adults, but where you go from there depends entirely on what interests you. Life, like art, like blog?

Alas, I could not post a picture of it here, no pictures are allowed in the museum. You'll just have to visit it for yourself and tell us what you think!

Flickr photo
by kwei

Technorati Tag: Childfree

April 24, 2007

Bucks for Babies

Declining births in much of the developed world have prompted politicians to offer big bucks for babies.

In some areas of Italy, couples can bag as much as 10,000 euros for a newborn. Australia offers $4000.
Japanese couples are already being offered incentives for new births but now corporations like Matsushita are getting into the act and offering increased family allowances to workers with two or more children.

Do incentives work? Depends how you define success. A financially-strapped couple might have a child earlier than they would have otherwise, but in Australia there were reports that some parents were using the baby bonus to buy plasma TVs and other non-essential items rather than using the funds to cover child-related expenses.

An interesting article by Ross Guest titled The Baby Bonus: A Dubious Policy Initiative suggests that the Australian policy "will reward parents who would have had children anyway."
What do you think?

[Flickr photo
by anonfx]
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Mea Culpa

Mistakes are learning opportunities. My last article on the subject of birth control pills for Unscripted (the childfree ezine) had a flaw in it, more an error of omission. This was a first issue that they immplented a new reader comment feature and was a good move on their part. A reader called it to our attention.

Purple WomenTM and Men are natural proponents of birth control. If there is one unifying issue to define our movement, that would be it. Many will not share my opinion that we should protect a woman's right to an abortion; however, we can have a civil dialogue about it.

Since I had my permanent solution, a partial hysterectomy (ovaries in tact and hopefully still functioning) in 1992, my personal knowledge of the birth control offerings was vague due to lack of necessity. Lucky me, because it's a quagmire of choices.
My first story for Unscripted was on the new device and procedure for sterilization available to women: Essure. No two women are the same and there is an option for every body type and life situation. In my research, I marveled at the usefulness and the controversies surrounding EC, the Emergency Contraception that was developed as a last resort pill to be taken the morning after unprotected intercourse.

My mistake was in not understanding how EC works. EC prevents fertilization. This is of monument significance as pro-lifers must be satisfied that no life is lost. EC works before life begins. Now if we could just eliminate the barriers to it, such as cost and access. Every sexually active female should have one in her medicine cabinet.

[Flickr photo
by missjasmine.]

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Public Health

Reproductive Rights are a matter of public health. To reproduce or not, affects entire families and communities -- not women alone. Policy in this area is set at the highest level and monitored closely by our highest court's decisions. Are you tracking them?

Purple WomenTM and Men will be pleased to know that last month, Eric Keroack resigned as head of Family Planning, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services here in the U.S. He was a presidential appointee, and simply the wrong man for the job. Public pressure, much of it right here in the blogosphere, contributed to this turn of events. I first posted about this back in February: Reproduction Choice and How to Defend It. Read Gloria Feldt, a fellow at the International Leadership Forum Post, to keep up with the latest on these issues and rights, which need vigilant defending and vocal advocates.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is cause to break out the champagne. As we get older, it is no less important to celebrate our advances -- in our causes, not our age!

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April 19, 2007

Deep Purple

The most fun on the job I ever had was managing a swim school for children. I only did it for two years and I still cannot go to that part of the Bay without recognizing a former student and parent. That's a nice feeling.

So when an opportunity to support families with children presented itself, I acted upon it. The local school district is in dire need of substitute teachers. The school board approved an emergency certificate to be issued to aid in recruitment.
I was given a TB test and they sent me down to the police department for a full set of prints and an FBI and DOJ background check, all of which I passed with flying colors. A bachelor's degree is required and I must take proficiency tests in the 3Rs (and pass them) within a year.

The true test is tomorrow. Tomorrow, I am going on my first assignment: Title I, second grade. Seventy-five percent of the children at this school are second language learners and/or economically disadvantaged. Tomorrow, other people's children (OPC) will be more important than anything else. I will certainly get my "kid fix".

Wish me luck!

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Purple Blessings

Guest Post by D2
Career Woman & Mother of two girls
Contributor at Diary of a Decision Blog
San Francisco Bay Area
I am not a Purple Woman by any stretch — I am full-time working mother of two girls 6 and 10 and recently separated having been married for the past 18 years.

My life, along with everyone else’s, is complicated, now just in a new way. My sanity and spirits remain positive because of the love and support of my family and a wide circle of friends—many of them Purple Women
TM and Men. Working full-time and participating in different activities puts me in contact with lots of interesting people, many of whom by circumstance or design are child-free. I don’t know what I would do without the affection and companionship of the Purple folk in my life.

For the first time in 40 years I didn’t have a family to spend Easter Sunday with, but my Purple peeps made sure I was with them. When I needed someone to mind my girls on Tuesday nights for ice skating show rehearsals, all three Purple Women
TM I emailed were able to cover all the dates with back ups, just in case someone had to travel (in fact, they enjoyed coming over so much that they want to continue Tuesday girl’s night through the summer). One calls from Minneapolis every day just to check in. Another one asked me to help her do a head to toe makeover. And still another is going to take me ballroom dancing with her husband. And these offers are not just limited to the Purple WomenTM — there are even Purple Men in the mix offering to take me out for drinks, dinner, movies and providing dog sitting.

So here’s to all to the Purple People in my life—you know just the right things to say and do to keep me moving forward. Blessings to all of you: my gang at CPTS, LAG, LB, MA, CVM, AF, SK, AG, EW, KG and the others that the Universe provides every step of the way. Ever grateful AWE (a.k.a. D2)

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iVillage Thank You!

Last year, our women-centric blog was accepted for potential blog syndication by BlogBurst. I was excited for the honor, then nothing much happened.

The way it works is that your blog's content has to be approved as worthy by the editors at BlogBurst, then online publishers who participate in their program view your material through a special portal where they can search by region or topic.
More and more newspapers are participating across the country and some publishers, like iVillage, are online exclusively.

The top 100 syndicated blogs get paid. We're not on the leaderboard yet, but I am pleased to report that for the last two months we have been picked up by iVillage in our first actual syndication. We made their short list of interesting blogs by, for, and about women featured on their front page. This is where some of our new voices have come from. No time to take a nap ladies! Let's get bloggy with it!

Thank you iVillage for making childfree women a part of your online community. iVillage covers everything from pregnancy to what to wear at your second wedding. You see gals, we really are an important part of the village. A healthy village has all kinds of people in it, even Purple ones.

Flickr photo
by caultron

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April 18, 2007

Click - Part Two

Guest post by AlphaGirl

Blog Editor's note: In Click – Part One, AlphaGirl asks...

“As a single person with no family/personal resources, and who has humbled herself to ask for help, am I any less worthy because I chose not to reproduce?”
Click continued...

It sure as hell seems that way. A recent posting of mine with another online childfree community brought forth many stories similar to mine, and one young woman did email me off-list to say that she was in fact homeless. She had lost her job, and in short order, her car, her apartment, and her life as she knew it. I emailed her back and said I most likely wasn’t too far behind.

According to the United Way, Orange County, California has more than 34,000 homeless people; approximately 22,000 of them are employed, but their wages are not enough to ensure safe, affordable housing. So, they are either homeless outright, or “partially housed” in a shelter or in transitional housing.
The small Orange County beach town I live in has a rapidly-growing homeless population. How many of them are individuals who have slipped through the cracks of public and private agencies due to their “household size”?
Fortuna snapped her fingers, and these people went from productive citizens who hit hard times, to virtual throwaways in the eyes of assistance agencies and groups. Click. Anyone can be a month away from homelessness.

April’s rent got paid. By virtue of my final paycheck, and an advance on an already-bloated credit card line, it barely squeaked thru the bank, my landlord none the wiser. The rental market where I live is a death race: For every vacant unit, there are 10 prospective tenants. Tell a landlord you are having trouble, and they will price you out the next month. The check arrived five days late, with a late fee assessed. He was not happy. He is already renting to me at about $500.00 below market. Screw the other bills, they are going to have to wait. Apartment. Car. Hold onto to both.

May’s rent is looming. It is due in three weeks and I am terrified. I have yet to see any payment from EDD. Agencies are useless; they have made their stance perfectly clear. Childfree people are not worth their time/resources. Don’t get me started on “faith based” agencies. My nerves are shot. Well-meaning friends have offered prayers. As a devout agnostic with atheist rising, I can’t help but think that prayers are not going to pay my rent. I go through my days in a dry-mouthed, queasy state of anxiety over how I’m going to meet my most basic needs of housing and food. Any phone call, any recounting of my situation, and I’m in tears. A well-meaning conversation with my friend Maria ended in silence and tears. Mine were due to fear, and hers were due to abject helplessness. Her own circumstances prohibit her from helping.

The agencies and assistance groups have assumed the role of the goddess Fortuna. Have kids? You have our help. Click. Don’t have kids? Live on the street; you are not worth it to us. From visible to invisible. I can go from housed to homelessness soon. Click.

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April 17, 2007

Purple Haze

It has been a while since I have reported on my progress as a married childfree refugee living in surburbia. We've been here for six months now.

We returned to a suburb of the greater San Francisco Bay Area -- the East Bay to be specific. My husband was raised here. Four generations of his family were raised here. We were married here nine years ago, so it's very much a "family thing" as one woman friend of mine so aptly put it. Suburbs have always been described as "a nice place to raise kids". Not exactly what we are doing as a family of two.

So I thought long and hard before I agreed to stay here, to buy a house here, and become a part of this community. It wasn't just any house. It's the house my husband grew up in. It's the site of our engagement party, the place his youngest sister held her wedding reception, where many, many 4th of July BBQs occured. We look forward to many more such gatherings here.

I had to ask myself the obvious:

Question: Is it a good place for childfree adults to live?

Answer: It depends on who you are and what you're interested in.

Is it a good place to be single and looking? Probably not, however, it is still a great place to raise kids. Our neighbors who are raising a 13-year-old, invited me to a fundraiser for the local boy scouts: the first annual Womens' Sports Shooting event. I am still a dead-eye with a rifle. The proof hangs proudly on our refrigerator.
What a hoot for only $20 in exchange for a full day of entertainment in a not-so-far-off wild California!

Our town is undergoing a bit of a cultural renaissance. The arts are mightily supported here. Even the small hobby airport is in the middle of a search for an airline to serve the citizens. Our town is among the top five participating cities in the annual Backyard Bird Count. Tourism is building momentum with the mostly undiscovered wine country setting as a backdrop. Thinking of doing Napa or Sonoma? Try appellation Livermore. You'll be in for a nice surprise.

When I make a decision, I go for it hook, line, and sinker.
At first, I was afraid I would lose my identity out here in "the burbs", lost in a suburban fog of casual dress and discount shopping. I thought perhaps I needed a big city and bright lights to keep me on track, and stimulated. Instead, I am discovering a new side of myself. San Francisco is close enough to enjoy on a regular basis. For the first time, I have some "dirt to dig in" and we have chickens on this small hobby farm. You just can't beat fresh eggs. One of my neighbors has offered to buy my extras! Who knows what else love will grow out here.

I am a Purple WomanTM, which means I do not have my own kids; however, I am very drawn to other people's children, especially my nieces and nephews. My husband and I actively seek other adults, who don't have kids, to socialize with. Children are such a rarity in my life, I really enjoy them, wonder at their innocence, their interests, when they are around. We are fortunate that many of our friends have older children who are more independent, which means they now have more time for us. It's nice to finally be in that place. I feel like I can give it a rest now and just live my life. Be myself. I am no longer seeking. I am standing still, and we do not plan to move for a long, long time.

Flickr photo
by sweetpea515

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April 16, 2007

Click - Part One

by Guest Contributor AlphaGirl

“You never know when something is going to happen to change your life.
You expect it
to arrive with fanfare, like a wedding or a birth
but instead it comes in the most
ordinary of circumstances.
The Roman goddess Fortuna snaps her fingers

and changes the channel - click
-- excerpt from What Remains, by Carol Radziwill

The Roman goddess Fortuna was very busy snapping her fingers on March 14th. Click. My hours at work were cut to less than part-time. Click. Job duties were subtracted. Click. My boss brought in her sister to do my other job duties. No explanation. No discussion. Click. Within days of the hours reduction, I lost my job. Click. My life, as I knew it, was over.

Like 65% of Americans, I lived paycheck to paycheck. This wasn’t due to irresponsible spending; it was due to a high cost of living, and a comparably small salary. Once rent, utilities and bills were paid, there was no disposable income, no money to set aside into savings, even with a small business on the side. I had new reason to resent the stereotype of the hyper-educated, hyper-achieving childfree person with oodles of disposable income. Nothing could be further from the truth for me. I am now without a job, without income, and if things don’t change quickly, I will be without a place to live. Click.

The days since my job loss have been a blur. Filing for unemployment insurance. Registering with several different temp agencies. Posting resumes on electronic job boards. Scrambling to expand my part-time pet-sitting business into full-time with no start-up capital. Hobbies have been abandoned in the name of survival. The cost of gas to drive to my track club’s weekly meeting place/training site has suddenly become prohibitive. In an instant, I lost myself completely. Click.

I had to pay April’s rent. My parting gifts from my employer did not include severance pay. A social worker girlfriend of mine suggested contacting private agencies to see if emergency rental assistance were available. “We only assist families” one told me after hearing my “household size”. Time and time again, that was the response. After many calls, I located a church nearby that would help, provided I showed proof that I had half the rent. In the meantime, Cathy hit the phones, calling around until she located an agency that didn’t base aid on family size. She rushed the grant application, and in the section that asked “How would this gift enrich the recipient’s life?” She wrote, “It will prevent homelessness”. Pure and simple. In the end, neither agency helped out. The church refused to help, because now I was unemployed, and how could I prove I would not need their services next month? Cathy called the same afternoon to report the bad news that “her” agency was not going to help…..again, based on household size, I was not considered in strong enough need. I can understand wanting to take care of kids whose parents had hit hard times, but at the expense of others?

That afternoon was spent in a state of fear and outrage. Essentially, I was not worth these groups’ money. In my anger and complete terror at the thought of losing my apartment, I wondered that if I had come into agency interviews with kids in tow, would my outcome have been different? Would I have gotten assistance? Of course. Silly me for being a responsible, proactive person for not have waited until near eviction before seeking assistance. Silly me for not having kids because I didn’t want them. Silly me for having worked and paid taxes since the age of 13, and having hit a rough spot just now. I joked about becoming a crack mama in my next life, as those folks seem to hit the mother lode when it came to assistance. It seemed as though even hard-working, sober, intact families were being turned away, but not at near the rate that single people and couples without kids get turned away. In essence, these agencies' actions told me I was not worth their help/time/resources because I had not reproduced. My “household size” had worked against me.

Cathy admitted she had to agree, and shared my outrage. Yes, funding is tight at agencies, yes, families are important, yes to all of that. But,...
...as a single person with no family/personal resources, and who has humbled herself to ask for help, am I any less worthy because I chose not to reproduce?

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April 08, 2007

Be a Good Bunny. Donate your eggs!

Inspired by my fellow Purple Women™ contributors, I recently started building my Living Childfree Squidoo Lens.

I was very amused to log on to my lens a few days later and find that one of the Google Ads that had been chosen for my lens was an appeal to "donate your eggs!"

I had to laugh. Maybe it was because it was Easter. I don’t know who or what decided that a childfree lens would be the perfect place to solicit egg donations. It certainly would not have been my choice for an affiliate for my lens but I must admit it was thought provoking, and giggle inducing.

I confess donating my eggs is not something I have ever considered. My curiousity piqued, I googled "egg donation" and found that egg donation is, apparently, big business. Then I found an informative article posted on the New York State Department of Health site titled "Becoming an Egg Donor."

According to this article, prime candidates for egg donation are aged between 21-35. It also helps to have a good medical history. You will be required to take fertility drugs (usually injected) to stimulate egg production and when the eggs are ready to harvest you will undergo a "minor surgical procedure called transvaginal ovarian aspiration."

Ouch! Reading this, I began to have a bit of penis envy. If I were a guy who wanted to donate some sperm it would be so much easier; I imagine a win/win situation involving a playboy magazine and a measuring cup.

However, I can’t imagine donating my eggs. If my best friend was infertile? Perhaps. But not for money, not because I wanted, or needed, a gene legacy.

Would you?

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April 06, 2007

Saints and Sinners

I have been riveted by the History Channel lately. Perhaps it's my late mother-in-law channeling through me. She was a history major; quite a lady. I am now living in the house she built and called home for 45 years.

Last night, the show focused on the speculation about Mary Magdelaine. Two Marys feature prominently in Christian culture - one a virgin, the other has been portrayed as a reformed prostitute. It got me thinking about women's identity in the present tense.

What polar opposites of stereotyping do adult women suffer from today?
The answer can vary depending on the setting you find yourself in, and what your personal experience has been. On the career ladder, women are often polarized as aggressive or passive. In the not so distant past, popular media has portrayed us as either knocking their heads against the glass ceiling (b****s), or as the ones answering the phones. Is there a confident, capable woman in between? More and more examples of the latter are cropping up in Hollywood and our awareness, thanks to more women in the workplace.

The experience of modern women is best represented as a continuum. At one end, we have SAHMs (stay-at-home-moms) and on the other are Purple WomenTM. There's a lot of room in between, and either end is hard to match up with a strict definition. There's a lot of room for self-definition.
Some readers of this blog have confessed to me that they don't like to be narrowly defined by whether or not they have given birth.
They don't identify themselves as childfree. That's one reason why I created a new color moniker for myself and whoever wants to adopt it!

What is the question?

That is the answer.

The question I ask is,

What lies in between

Career Women and Mothers?

I propose there are Purple Women™.

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April 05, 2007

Fem Blogger Study

Hattie Page, who authors a blog called MotherPie, is not a Purple Woman. However, she is publishing a series of posts on her findings about women bloggers as a part of her Digital Media Theory coursework towards her master's degree. Here's a link to the first post: Women Bloggers.

The majority of the respondents were parents (70%) with 64% being females with children. Only 2% were males without children. Females without children comprised 27% of respondents.

If you pay her a visit, please leave a comment and tell her the Purple Woman sent you!

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April 02, 2007

Married Childfree Catholic

Do you remember the Pope voicing his concern about growing numbers of childfree by choice adults? In the blogosphere, there was plenty of coverage on childfree blogs. We are child-free, we are not really Purple; we're invisible until we get identified as a threat, whether it's at a cocktail party or by the head of an institution.

The bigger religious news of the day was the step closer towards sainthood of Pope John Paul II. Even in death he shows us the higher path. According to Pope Benedict XVI, if married couples don’t have kids we are “selfish”. Ahhhhhh! There’s that word that is so liberally applied to married couples who are childfree. I wonder what he thinks of infertile couples? Something to do with, um, Satan?

Why is the church so concerned? What is their stance on the environment? Do you think humans in Europe will really become extinct? Or, just the Catholic ones? Not much chance of that with the big
merger that is poised to happen. That’s the big church news this week. The proposal for the 78 millions Anglicans, the church of England, to reunite with the one billion strong Catholic Church. That would make up for a lot of childless Catholic couples, eh?

The childfree choice threatens institutions – the church for example. It rocks the status quo, shifts their base of support. I am not saying that childfree people are not Catholic. My point is that if the numbers of children raised as Catholic diminish, the church’s power is diminished. In other institutions, it’s not the hearts and minds of the people they want, but their wallets.

I think I would be more drawn to the faith of my ancenstors if Rome were a bastion of tolerance, and a little more earth-friendly. If the Pope is so concerned with having more Catholics, perhaps he should allow priests to marry and let women into the priesthood. I am sure that if two priests marry, the union would automatically produce a saint. Genius!

Chilfree News blog did a nice treatment on this topic here.

Flickr photo by

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