In The Shriver Report Maria says, "The new iconic image of the economically insecure American is a working mother dashing around getting ready in the morning, brushing her kid's hair with one hand and doling out medication to her own aging mother with the other." What she has described is literally my life. Wow, I've achieved icon status.
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Based on a preview of the 400-page report, you can expect to be blown away.
"The report is a groundbreaking investigation into the millions of women who are doing it all and barely scraping by, struggling to provide and parent in a nation that hasn't kept pace with the modern realities of their lives. It combines research, analysis and ideas from the nation's top academic institutions and think tanks, essays by leading thinkers, stories of real women struggling with our modern economy, and a comprehensive poll."
Contributing authors to the report include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Beyoncé, Eva Longoria, LeBron James, Jada Pinkett Smith, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Sheryl Sandberg as well as many, many names you will not be familiar with. These are women who are like me, women like my neighbors, women like you.
Starting on Sunday, January 12th you can download a copy of this report for free via the Amazon Kindle App.
Next week NBC will be airing special coverage that will span across several days addressing the myth of having and doing it all. On The Today Show it will begin as "a conversation about women balancing work, family and life as part of a three-day TODAY series, #DoingItAll."
Maria Shriver introduces the report with a powerful personal essay that brought me to tears. She bluntly says that she has never lived on the brink. "I've never been in foreclosure, never applied for food stamps, never had to choose between feeding my children or paying the rent, and never feared I'd lose my paycheck when I had to take time off to care for a sick child or parent. I'm not thrown into crisis mode if I have to pay a parking ticket, or if the rent goes up. If my car breaks down, my life doesn't descend into chaos."
Maria hits home with some startling facts and figures, but she also speaks about how we have divided ourselves as women, and she hopes the information within the latest Shriver Report will give us "the blueprint for a new way forward."
While I have personally been over and finally traveled away from the brink, I know it. I remember it. I can still feel a panic about it if I feel like the bills are piling up, and I haven't calmly written every check. I still hold my breath when I swipe my debit card at the grocery store check out and hope to goodness my card isn't declined. I do this knowing there is money in my account, knowing that there is a safety net of savings, knowing that it has been years (plural) since I depended on food stamps.
When you know this kind of overwhelming panic in your everyday life, of just surviving, it makes it hard to imagine ever actually achieving. Recently my family and I decided to focus on saving up to buy a house. We work extra hours and save everywhere possible to keep adding to our house savings account. Yet the idea of home ownership feels impossible because I know if there was truly an emergency in our lives, we would look to our house savings to help us. It also feels impossible, because it was only three years ago that my family was homeless.
What is the difference on the spectrum between success and failure? Where do each of us fit in?
I hope that "A Woman's Nation Pushes Back from the Brink" offers not just insights to women today, but practical solutions for betterment and empowerment. I am no expert, but I know that we can all be better when it comes to help.
• Women need be better at asking for help
• Women need to be better at giving help
• Women need to be better at accepting help
• Women need to know how to put an ear to the ground and see who is in need of a word of encouragement
In addition to downloading the report next week, you can also tune in to The Today Show from Monday through Wednesday to watch a panel of experts provide advice "on how to balance #DoingItAll at home, at work and in life." On Wednesday, January 15th there will be something called a "Help-A-Thon" on The Today Show. According to the show's website, "13 TODAY legal, health and personal finance experts will be on hand to answer tweets, emails, and Facebook messages as they come in during the course of the broadcast." You can join the conversation by following the #DoingItAll hashtag.
-By Dresden Shumaker
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