Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"The Invitation", a poem by Oriah

For Christmas, one of my gifts from Laurence was "The Invitation", a book by Oriah. The book is based on her original prose poem of the same name written in May 1994.

I find it comforting and filling. For some reason this is the first I've heard of it, or first I remember reading it.

At this time of year, this season of our lives, and this particular landscape of our world, I copy it here for you. A gift perhaps.

Happy 2008. May we dig deep and find ourselves and one another. Really, and truly.


It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interst me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, wthout moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments. "


March 2008 screening

Woo Hoo!

And now back to our regular programming:

Why Get Married? documentary will be part of the Women and Creativity Film Festival Friday March 14 from 6-9 pm and Saturday March 15 from 11:30am-9pm in the Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The festival is sponsored by the Harwood Art Center and the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Woo Hoo!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Why No Kids?

I have wondered about this for years. There are many forty and fifty somethings, men and women, who have never had children. Whether the men and women remained single, or got married, a growing percentage of men and women in the English-speaking world are not parents.

As I was drinking tea yesterday I started listing people I know who are not parents, including myself, my partner Laurence, and even my former husband. I came up with over 20 names in my social circle within a few minutes. In the 1950's I don't think you could come up with more than 2 or 3 names, and then everyone had a hushed reason why that person was "childless". I can think of 2 women of my mother's era who weren't married and no children. It was a social oddity. Both women worked (and did so until they retired) which also made them different in the 1950's. My Godfather, Uncle Bert never married, yet that seemed more acceptable than the "spinster". He was a popular companion and escort for many, seemingly asexual, and he always seemed content to me from my perspective as a child. He might have been gay, and not acting on any desires, I don't know. (yet also, no one asked directly, so I never really knew any of their stories.)

And childless couples in the 1950's, 60's, 70's, and even the 80's? were pitied because we all assumed they wanted children yet couldn't have them. As one golden anniversary couple said in my Why Get Married? documentary, they "were amazed that anyone would bother marrying if they didn't want children. And that having children and grandchildren gave you something to talk about in your old age. "

I don't imagine being hard up for things to discuss in my relationship or friendships, but I do wonder how our world will be different as we age and there are fewer in this next generation. And why are the number choosing to not have children growing amongst certain populations? Ah, a topic to research.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Miss Me?

Time got away from me, as did this blog.

A couple of days ago, I got a posting on this blog from one of the "experts" who appeared in my Why Get Married? documentary. I hadn't seen or spoken to her in a couple of years. Elizabeth is a professor at Memorial University in St. John's Newfoundland. I had interviewed her the summer of 2004, to talk to me about some of the differences between marriage and beliefs about marriage in Canada and the USA. I really liked one of her lines when she spoke of non-western fairytale endings being, "and they lived as happily as could be expected."

So I was happy to hear from her. Elizabeth emailed me that her cousin who lives in New Zealand said she'd seen Elizabeth on TV. Elizabeth was a bit confused as few were aware Why Get Married? is airing a couple of times this year in NZ. What a small world when word of mouth goes across so many miles. And she got in touch with me via the blog of all things.

I was encouraged when Elizabeth got in touch and I heard her story. Honestly, I have fallen down on the distribution/marketinig end having gotten consumed by some other projects. Yikes. So it is nice to know folks are still watching it because the topic is of interest. As I sit here typing though, I figure my next one should be "Why Get Hot Flashes?" THEY ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY this week. Uugh!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Marriage? A Life Sentence?

Today I went on a walk with my friend Laura, a mother and grandmother, married for over 40 years. Laura is modern, with it, and energetic. She and I may be a decade or more apart in age, yet I find our feelings on many things a good fit. Thus a nice friendship.
So on this walk we are catching up, as I have been logging over 8000 miles on my recent trip with Laurence. Now I need to reconnect with my community here. So Laura and I walk along the road to a local breakfast place, and talk of all matters on our minds and hearts.

Sometimes I expect that couples who have caring, respectful marriages that are 40 years long and still going strong have a negative reaction to those of us who are divorced. Sort of the idea of "If I can do it , then you can too." One of Laura's daughter's is divorced from their grandchild's father. I asked about that. Laura's comment was "marriage should not be a life sentence. No one should stay in a marriage just to stay in. It shouldn't be awful. And if it is, get out."

My own parents were divorced a few months after my birth. My mother did not remarry. I never saw a couple together close-up, yet I figured, and the statistics say, if your parents stayed together you have a better chance of it. Yet I think those stats must be skewed or creative statistic reading. I see no evidence that if your parents stayed together, that your marriage will stay together. Or vice versa. And what about when one partner is from divorced parents and the other from lifetime marrieds?

I guess what comes up is a quality of life issue within the marriage. One definition of a successful marriage for me would be when a couple have shared a life time together, and enjoyed themselves the majority of the time. It is not successful if a couple spend their life together and it feels like a life sentence.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

From Connecticut

I am in Connecticut, always interested in people's stories about marriage. Last night I met 2 sisters, in their early twenties. C, 26. got married in November and is pregnant expecting their first child around Christmas. Her sister K is engaged to her high school sweetheart at 24, reading through the bridal tips and wedding planning guides, especially on ways to save money on the wedding. Their confidence in their ability to find the right mate, and be better at relationship than their parents (divorced) seems common among the twenty somethings. As is the positive view of marriage, commitment, family.

At twenty, and even thirty getting married to me felt like all my life options would close up, rather than opening up. Yet there is a grounding component to having children, as your priorities and focus become very clear and focused, like what is good for your children, their life, their needs, schooling etc. .

Anyway, my Connecticut host is getting ready to take us on a tour of this area, so I'll sign off.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Single Mothering

I interviewed Laney (51) and Krista (44), while I was in Newfoundland as their point of view on marriage and relationship interested me. I hadn't yet talked to women who had decided they did not want to be wives, but did want to be mothers.

Newfoundland has a traditional, strong family culture. As a single woman, to "buck the system" in the 1980's like Laney did, and choose motherhood but not marriage had its' tough times, lack of support, former friends giving her wide berth, and family not understanding her choice. And Laney is a nurturing, caretaking person, and very committed to her responsibilities. I figured that would be the very type who'd be good at marriage. Yet she said, what she'd viewed of marriage as a young child (the youngest girl in a family of 10 kids) growing up was that the women did all the cleaning, food production, chores etc. and looking after everyone with the men in her community expecting it. It felt endless and thankless. Laney saw it as work with no freedom. At 11 she decided she wouldn't marry and said this aloud. Her mother was outraged.

After hearing more of Laney's story and Krista's(soon to be podcast on I marvelled at the choice they made. Both these women were pioneers of sorts. As hard as being a single mother can be, they realized they would rather be single mothers, than married mothers. And they chose their primary focus to be with their child, rather than a spouse.

For me the story I am looking at is that of why get married. These 2 women chose not to, although Krista said she isn't opposed to getting married. It just hasn't happened yet. Laney has a loving man in her life, but thinks for her, separate addresses will always work best.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Just arrived in St. John's, Newfoundland

I must be nuts. We are driving across the United States and Canada in the heat of the humid, humid summer. We (Laurence and I) left our home in New Mexico about 2 weeks ago and are now about 4000 miles north and east away. Yikes!

We stopped in Okalahoma City (we always visit the memorial site which is moving, peaceful and respectful.); Terre Haute, Illinois; Medina, OH; and Niagra Falls before spending 4 days in Toronto, Ontario with two of my university chums.(Note to my Ontario buddies: I am sad that due to the rush I wasn't able to connect you. Next time for sure.)

We managed to leave Why Get Married postcards in every place we stopped from Albuquerque to St. John's, be it for coffee, gasoline fill-ups, or the night. We have even taken photos of the postcards in their various leaning positions on tables, in windows, even in card racks. Subversive? I don't know. Just trying to get the message out while I travel as you never know who might right now be thinking, Why Get Married? then "oh wow" look, someone has already been asking this question.

After leaving Toronto, we spent our first night in Quebec City, a delightful place particularly historic Vieux Quebec. It has been over a decade since I have been back to explore so it was nice to walk along the cobblestone roads, and eat in one of their many sidewalk cafes. A romantic city, so I'm not sure how the WGM postcards will be received. Although I was told the numbers of Quebec couples choosing to live together/have children rather than marrying is higher than in other provinces That surprised me. I had imagined the strong catholic background of Quebecois would have couples choose the tradition of marriage.

So after a 6 hour ferry ride from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland we are now at my Mom's, our final distination. We will stay put for a few weeks. And having just arrived, we now have laundry to do, need to catch our breath, and begin scheming new WGM projects with some of our producer friends on this island of Newfoundland.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

On the Road

I am going on a road trip. A long road trip. Covering 8,000 miles in about 6 weeks. I plan to talk to people along the way guessed it, Why Get Married? We (my partner Laurence and I) will drive to Toronto first, then head east through Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, then north to Cape Breton and take the ferry to Newfoundland. It is an opportunity for me to reconnect with university buddies, the landscape, and family while working on projects I care about.

I am hoping to have a good interviewing set-up, at least for radio/podcast broadcasts, so I can capture some diverse opinions, experience and points of view across 8,000 miles of the USA and Canada. And these talks will help me get more current with latest trends, attitudes and practices about why get married.

I bumped into Theresa last week at an Albuquerque bookstore . She and her girlfriend are headed to Quebec CIty in August to be legally married. They had had a ceremony 10 years ago, and this will be on that anniversary. Even though this marriage won't be recognized where they live, it is important for them to have it and honor their commitment. It is worth flying 2000 miles and into another country to be in an environment that recognizes them as a married, committed couple.

Personally I have no desire or need to be married at this time. I do support others who want to marry. I support marriage being a choice available for any loving, committed couple.

For me the overarching issue is: All USA citizens deserve to be treated equally, receiving the same rights and privileges as one another regardless of marital status or employment. Then to marry or not to marry might become an entirely different conversation, impetus and practice for some.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

So many stories, so little time.

I can't believe how much interest I have in people's stories, particularly as it relates to their life choices and relationships. Now I am looking at "what is a successful life",( and who knows what that is anyway) versus a successful marriage say. But forever we are told a successful and even "trustworthy" adult is a married adult. Single, divorced, just isn't presented as the same, as somehow they aren't really a true participant of a real life. Or as one of my guests said, "there must be something wrong with a person not married."

Many parents say that having children forced them out of their narcissism. That before kids, their life was all about them. Then as a parent, the life focus changes to the child. That seems to imply that not having children can be a selfish act. Maybe for some that is true, but then far better they not be parents. And for some, having children could swallow some non-narcissistic types alive. Rather than needing to learn to put others first, they need to put themselves at least in the equation. An interesting balance for sure.

I am drafting titles for upcoming WGM half hour talk shows, to be available through podcasting. I begin a long road trip, from New Mexico to Newfoundland, and along the way I want to talk to people from all walks of life. I still have some audio equipment to get that is due to be released on the market in a few weeks...I hope. So many aspects to this business of making media, the creative, the business and the technical. I await on the technical right now.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A recent email got me thinking.

I got the following email today from an acquaintance who saw an interview with me, and clips from Why Get Married? airing locally in Albuquerque.

"Hey Ms. Stirling!
Very happy and surprised to tune in to channel 27 and find two of the greatest doing a captivating, realistic of times, important presentation, that truly brought paramount understanding of this institution in this day and age.
It just so happened that I had escaped to the den after a spat occurred between my spouse and myself to run into your show!
Thanks for all You do !"

When I worked on this documentary, beginning with the germ of an idea in 2001, I kept learning and distilling down the important topics and issues that interested me, but that I also felt were universal. They would touch anyone who had thought about marriage, in one way or another.

Now in 2007, recent statistics someone spouted at me were that 75% of the couples marrying this year will be divorced within the next 5 years. WOW. As my Mom says, quote your source. Well I don't know where my friend got that percentage, but I intend to investigate.
What does a 75% divorce rate, or 90% mean to us in the western world? Are we going to hell in a hand basket? Is the institution of marriage and government slow slow slow to catch up with what the population has been choosing for themselves these past many decades?

I find so many aspects of marriage fascinating because we have U.S. leadership saying it is grand, yet the evidence says no. And to not marry, does not mean we don't have committed, loving primary relationships, or well loved children. It just means the institution of marriage, the contract, the "rights, the privileges" that are to go along with it in the U.S. are outmoded. And people are voting with their feet, it would seem.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Starter Wife

I just read a promotion for a cable series called The Starter Wife starring Debra Messing. A great leggy picture of her, seated on a stack of expensive luggage. (I'll have to ruminate a bit to figure out what that means marketing-wise.)
Anyhow, a few years back there was a book called Starter Marriage. The author's definition of a starter marriage if memory serves, meant when twenty somethings have a marriage that lasts less than 5 years, usually 2-3 years, and had no children. Kind of like a "starter home", that small "fixer upper" you can afford, that jump starts you into your first home ownership experience, until you find the home, or spouse, of your dreams I suppose.

Starter marriages? Really? Well I guess if Network Television can make finding a husband or a wife a reality show, and keep doing it season after season, it must be lucrative entertainment. Or produce a show that pays a couple for their dream wedding if the couple allows their wedding and preparation to be televised to America. One show required the bride and groom to agree to play scams/jokes on their loved ones and guests to add drama to their wedding, all for primetime television.

I'd be curious if TV viewers, especially our teens, think of marriage more as an entertaining gameshow than a "sacred" institution, or spiritual partnership. Is marriage less important to people now, less of a deal to get right the first time, or any time? Perhaps finding a mate is thought of by many young people now as a well produced reality show with a stretch limo, fantasy dates, and a competition for the last rose? Starter wife would then make a lot of sense in this kind of expectation. Or do we each get our sense of mate and marital values/beliefs from our family and those around us, and not TV? I wonder.

How much do these kind of reality shows impact our idea and expectations about weddings, marriages and, yes, even being single?

Monday, June 04, 2007

I'm Back.

Where have I been you might wonder. Well I didn't die, I just got busy with other production projects and this blog got away from me.
I also was a candidate in our legislative election last November. As part of that I started a campaign blog, so that took up all my blog energy it would seem.

Now I am resurfacing, especially as I keep getting interest in this documentary from individuals, distributors and documentary channels. The question why get married? is a good one, so it gets people thinking and talking just seeing the title.

My passion continues on this question. I am now working on ten half-hour script ideas, that will work for podcasting. Plus another filmmaker, Liz, is interested to do a film, with the working title of "Old Maids". I'd like to work with her on it as I like how she thinks and some of the visuals she has described to me already. Fun!
I too have been fascinated for years by the number of women who are unmarried, and in their 40's and 50's. Many in this group did not have children. How will these facts affect our country in time? I would love to travel across North America and talk to unmarried women and hear their stories. We don't often hear the unmarried story, certainly not with a positive light, more the "old maid" one Liz is thinking about.

Any "old maids" reading this? I am interested in the myths or stigmas facing women who are not married and in their 40's, 50's in the English speaking world and beyond. What do people least understand about being single and in one's 40's + do you think?