Monday, February 15, 2016

The Value of Women's Friendships

I found this well worth passing on: In an evening class at Stanford University, the last lecture was on the mind-body connection -- the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman ... whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious. Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically, this quality "girlfriend time" helps us to create more serotonin -- a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings, whereas men often form relationships around activities. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very GOOD for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym. There's a tendency to think that when we are "exercising" we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged? Not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! So go spend some regular quality time with your girlfriends. Laugh it up!

Create What You Want

Being single or in committed coupledom, is a popular topic in terms of the changing state of people's marital status over the last 25 years in particular. How beliefs in a society come to a rock hard belief "this is the way it is" is an interesting investigation. Who decided what, say, marriage looks like? More and more people are co-creating marriages as "spiritual partnerships" where one another's inner growth is important and supported too. Unless we ask WHY about the many things handed down as "this is right and best for all" like marriage, then we are not thinking nor deciding for ourselves. And sometimes asking a WHY question is important. Maybe there is an action or assumption or practice our community or family supports, yet for us it feels weird or uncomfortable. Questioning and being open to listen is a valuable life tool for examining and considering different points of view. We can be open to the possibility there is another possibility. Always.

Monday, November 09, 2015

10 year reflection on what led to 2005 documentary Why Get Married?

I started wondering seriously about why get married in 2001, the year of my divorce. Even 2 nice people couldn't make the marriage stick, and I wondered why. Particularly when divorce is such a painful process and working it through seems far better than getting out. Yet that isn't what is happening for most of us. In 2015 the topic is more common, the questioning and sharing various approaches to relationship, marriage, singledom, parenting etc. There are more sites, movies, blogs, questions and testimonials etc coming out on the topic, investigating it or sharing one's personal experience. I find the discussions healthy, that finally there isn't just one "right way" to do marriage or life, but rather we need to think, examine, reflect and communicate, if we are to have healthy human relationships and companionships that enhance our lives, and our communities. Let's keep questioning and being curious.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Are Singles Discriminated Against?

In the United States, marriage and employment offers a citizen certain rights or access to things that non-marrieds don't have. Mostly it offers cost drops in getting healthcare, tax breaks, or buying into any number of group plans be it memberships to a Box Store, or car insurance. Now generally things have relaxed a bit, and a household at the same address get those perks if you will. Which I guess perks are different than right and privileges. Withholding or granting rights and privileges seems kind of hoity toity.

In Canada, England, France, Australia, and New Zealand for starters, being a citizen of that country entitles you to the same rights and privileges of any other citizen of that country. If you need healthcare, an ambulance, decent housing, work or child care, as a citizen you have the same right and access to those services as a single, married, divorced, employed or unemployed. It doesn't matter. You are a citizen. Citizenship is the criterion.

In the United States then, the issue gays wanting to marry have brought to the surface the question, Why is marriage an institution through which the government can deny or provide certain rights and privileges, especially to its tax paying citizens? If gays want the right to marry in order to access certain rights and privileges denied them by the government, wouldn't it follow that anyone single is also denied the same rights and privileges? Singles who don't marry are just as single as gays who want to marry and are prevented legally. We have the right and choose not to use it. Yet if all citizens had the same rights as citizens, marriage could be for love, family, children, not economics, pensions, healthcare etc.

So is being single a discriminated position to have in America, in terms of not having the same rights and privileges as anyone else?

If all American citizens were given the same rights and privileges across the board that are currently denied some, then we'd need less paperwork, bureaucracy and yes, expense. Government workers wouldn't have to look for all the ways you might not qualify for something, but rather how you could. Oh, you're a citizen? Great, here you go. Oh you are married? Not Married? Single? Gay? Oh heck, it doesn't matter. Your marital status doesn't allow you more access or less access. It's all good.

Most of my straight friends never married. Many of them are Canadian, so they have health coverage, pensions, everything their married friends have. And if anyone gets divorced, you still keep your own health care, pension etc. Things don't get lost or reassigned in marriage or divorce from you as a citizen. How could it? You are still a citizen. And it is attached to your social security number. That relationship stays steady whereas the others may not be. My single American friends don't talk much about the legal rights and privileges they don't get because they haven't married. We saw unhappy marriages, so often getting into marriage doesn't appeal, so we feel, hey, maybe I have more personal rights not being married? At least under my own roof.

Yet to fight for the right to marry for anyone who wants to marry, it is important. Yet to me, the bigger issue is really that every individual in America who is a citizen of this country deserves the same rights and privileges as any other citizen. Single or married we pay taxes to help in the shared things we each need to keep this country running and healthy. Many of us pay taxes and provide support for things such as our public schools which we may never need directly. Yet single taxpayers for example, gay or straight, help pay these costs. We do that for the higher good. Instead, should we be asking that some of our tax contribution be redirected towards services we can gain access, like good healthcare coverage, pensions, etc.? Mmmmm a thought.

Discrimination by denying rights and privileges based on a person's marital status or employment is not a friendly practice. Or culture. We are all citizens. We each deserve what one another deserves.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's it all about?

Ok, I have left my post. I stopped even checking here, so distracted by attending to life, the now, real moments. And sometimes words, or my observations or these kind of notes cannot reflect what is "composting".
And all of this is not so much about marriage, but how and why and the quality of the relationships we each choose to create with one another.
This past week I attended an "International Women's Film Festival" and I saw about 40 of the 80 films (lots were short films) programmed. The way people and relationships portrayed on screen were mostly sad or dark or painful,in my mind. Where is the joy and spirit of coupledom? or acceptance? or real love? Mr Jones, a short documentary about a well known actor/writer had the most balance to me of life with its ups and downs. I appreciated that. And one other that had a sense of humor and depth, as exhibited by writer Lois Brown. But the rest of it seemed dark, dark, dark. I am sure we can find ways to tell good stories with a balance of the dark and the light. It just seems that the light is not in evidence much, be it TV or film festivals.
And my interest is in how we are with one another in relationships? Are we humane? Caring? Kind? I guess that is always my quest around Why Get Married? Or why be in relationship if we feel more darkness than light?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Why Matters

I am pondering why a lot these days. Why get married was my first big question that wouldn't let go and took about 4 years from idea to finished dvd. I still have more questions about why get married, why we seek relationships yet seem to have trouble finding joy within them. Why do we think we are supposed to feel joy if we are? Why do some people plan what they are looking for in a person or relationship, some people "fall" into it, and regardless of how, each seem to have an equal chance of having happiness. Some try to be isolationists, figuring being in relationship is too hard, too exhausting, and has no joy for them. Why is that?
Some find joy in solitude and not in relationship. Some create solitude within their relationships so that they can feel joy.
I bought a microphone for my ipod and plan to interview people for podcasts, asking Why why why. And not just about relationships, but other issues that they feel passionate, want to share and answer a Why question.
Why you ask?
Because I seem compelled.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Wedding Machine

I am working on a short narrative script about a twenty-something couple planning to get married. In scene one they agree to get married and the rest of the story is their journey through "the wedding machine". My writing partner and I are having fun figuring this out from our different life perspectives.
Jim is a father of 3 grown kids in their 20's and 30's who aren't in sustaining relationships and talk to him about those concerns. I come at it from my non-conventional life and am curious how differently young people now can approach weddings and marriage. There is far more choice, and room, and acceptance to mold it all the way you want. Hip hip hooray.
It is fun to write a story that is based on all that I have learned through my research in documentaries on this subject. All I have ever wanted is to reach people on the topic of love, romance and long-term relationships. Telling a story is a new way for me to experiment with it, and it has some freedom and fun I must say.
These 2 characters, Lily and Josh, are becoming real to me. They have likes and dislikes, mannerisms, humor, smarts, and skills in the game industry I am having to learn about. Lily has a mother who I am writing with a traditional view of weddings ( that could change. I am toying with my authoring options) and there is stress on this young couple. Stress they hadn't imagined when they decided they loved each other and wanted to marry. So we are trying to show that, how stress builds, and a couple can be pulled in different directions when they don't want to go in any direction but together.
I am enjoying this creative process, and our deadline is next week, so I best get back to Lily and Josh.
Ta ta for now.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Empty seats at a free screening are sad sad sad.

I was sad to see so few showed up for a free night of films. Is it that in NM people just don't attend free film events? Or that our film line-ups didn't interest people? Or we aren't good at getting the word out when we have free film events? Or that low turn- out for free film events happens in every state no matter what? Or that my expectation of healthy attendance is unrealistic?

I was looking forward to the 6:00 pm-9:30pm screening of several shorts and features Friday night, films produced by women. The evening was sponsored by several state/city funded art organizations. Why Get Married? was one of the longer films in the night's line-up, a Festival celebrating Women. (March is the month for that don't you know?)

Once my documentary screened, many shadowed figures left the theater. When I realized the lights weren't coming on between films, and so many had left, I went out to the lobby in case folks had questions. I needed to get to talk with a members of the audience who might have comments. I made the film for that very reason, to be part of a conversation about Why Get Married? I did have some nice exchanges with several who were happy to see and talk to me. I'm glad I did because by the night's end, many who'd seen Why Get Married? had left due to rumbling stomachs.

It was heartening for me to see how good my documentary looked on this big beautiful screen, and how well it flowed. I haven't seen it in over a year, and one can be critical of one's own work. I sat with my good friend Margaret, visiting from Nova Scotia. Her plane left early the next morning, yet she wanted to spend the evening with me at our state- of- the- art cultural center. There was a Q and A period at 9pm with the filmmakers. She wanted to see what that was like. There were 3 of us left by the end of the evening, facing about 20 people, most associated with the festival in some way or another.

I was sad that a free evening of film, sponsored by over 20 film/art organizations in the city/state were unable to help the filmmakers fill the seats. I am not sure what that means exactly. Too many variables to process I suppose, but marketing with personal outreach seems key key key to getting butts in the seats. Those marketing events need to personally invite specific people to come to these events. We all respond to personal contact as it feels as though our presence matters. Large email blasts, beautiful printed programs or generic posts alone won't do it. I did my best. Maybe my outreach efforts got 20% of the audience that flowed in/out that night.

It was an interesting and diverse film line-up in a swank theater. It was also a great opportunity and venue to have lively energy for the film festival. An audience creates the energy and is important to filmmakers naturally. Without enough people in a theater a screening feels entirely different, like there are energy leaks coming from all the empty seats.

So back to my original question, do free film events equal low turn-out just because they are "free"? Or did we not make enough effort to fill the seats, to make it a packed house, that would create buzz, goodwill and energy to build on for the next event?

My guess is an intermission and some good finger food would help attract and keep an audience for such an event. And fill the theater with great energy.