Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

Girls Need Heroes Too

I was born in December of 1947.  I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s, which were extremely oppressive decades for women and young girls.  There were no female heroes little girls could look up to and aspire to become.  The closest I came to female heroes was Lois Lane and Dale Evans.  Later, I would fall in love with and read every Nancy Drew book published.  I wanted to become a sleuth like Nancy.

The sad truth is, there were no such characters as Wonder Woman, Super Girl or the like.  Boys had the monopoly on heroes, which made growing up with realistic aspirations a given.

I was the oldest girl of six children.  My brother was the oldest of all six.  Our family was a dysfunctional one with a father who wielded his power over everyone with zeal, and a mother who was wholly beholden to her husband.   Dad was an officer and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Navy, which meant he was not home all the time.  He would go off to sea for months on end.  In his absence, our mother took over the household.  She was in control and, in my eyes, did a great job.  However, when Dad would return, she shrunk to her second-class-subservient-role never questioning the demotion.

Mom became anything but a role model for me, especially when she would stoop to talking in a baby-like manner in the presence of Dad.  The mere thought of that behavior makes my skin crawl.

Living in a household populated by lots of people, I was extremely lonely.  The reason for my loneliness was devastating for me.  I fell victim to a father who was also a pedophile.   To date, my siblings have confirmed that I was his sole family victim.

I realize now that I spent my entire life in my parent’s home trying my best to hide from my father.  The only periods I felt safe were those when he was gone.  While he was home, I looked forward to family vacations when we would stay in motels.  I learned to love the evening sound of traffic as trucks and cars whizzed by the motels.

While he was home, I sought safety in my mind.  I found solace retreating to my mind where I would write my future; one which was free of harm; and, one where I was equally important.  Too, I would devise situations where I could protect myself from him and his hands.

When in high school, for example, I talked my youngest sister into sleeping with me promising her she’d never make another bed.   With her in my bed, I knew our father wouldn’t risk coming to my bed during the night to bother me.  All the while I lived under my parent’s roof I didn’t realize I was cultivating a new female hero.

With my ingenious thinking, I was becoming my hero because I was devising ways in which to stay safe.  Still, I craved outside female heroes.  Those didn’t come along until much later, and after I finally fled my parent’s hell.

It’s no coincidence that I met my husband of now forty-seven years in 1970, the year I left home.

Until then, I tried numerous times to leave.  Each time, however, my parents would play the blame game with me, e.g., “How dare you think of leaving, after everything we’ve done for you.”  In truth, they did little for me.  In fact, when I went to work for the Federal Government at the age of 18, they demanded that I hand over my entire paycheck from which my Mom would give me a meager allowance.

Working out in the world,” at 18 I decided I wanted to go to college; my parents did all they could to discourage me.  Until then, I never considered college.  For one, I was never encouraged to think of anything other than getting married and having as many children as God would give me.  Too, until I experienced the freedom of being in the workforce, I was constantly in a state of emergency where I directed all my energy toward staying out of harm’s way.

I would soon learn that there was a college fund; but, it was never meant for me.

It was originally intended for my oldest brother.  When, however, he made it clear he had no intentions of attending college, the fund was reassigned to my sister who was two siblings younger than me.  I was not intelligent enough. Instead, my label was not college material.

My parents were panicked.  How can we discourage Maribeth?

They enlisted my Dad’s younger brother, who was a Dominican Priest and a professor at Catholic University in the Washington, D.C. area where we lived, and I worked.  He, Tom, devised the perfect plan as he made an appointment for me with a female dean at the University who was instructed to intimidate and discourage me, leading me to acknowledge I was indeed not college material.

I remember that dark-haired, be-speckled queen-bee type woman.  When I told her I was interested in studying biology, she went to work scaring the bejesus out of me as I became convinced I could never pass chemistry.  So, the next day I went back to work, leaving my college wish behind.

In April of 1970, and after having saved a down payment for a new royal blue Camaro, I finally moved away from home.  I planned to move back to the Washington, D.C. area and, in one year, qualify for a program where I would be sent overseas to work.  I wanted to move and work in Brussels, Belgium.  I wanted to move far away physically and emotionally from my past.  I wanted to begin living the life I only dreamed of living.

I never made it to Belguim.  Instead, on my first night in D.C., I met Bob.  He had become friends with my older brother, with whom I stayed while looking for my apartment.  Bob was different from any male I had met.  He was kind, going to college while working as a meat cutter in the Safeway stores.  He was paying for college via his earned income and the GI Bill.  During the Vietnam war, Bob had spent four years in the U.S. Army as a medic assigned to an evacuation hospital.

Soon after meeting Bob, we moved in together.  We married in September of 1970.  One Sunday, while talking to Bob about what I wanted from my future, I told him about my desire to earn a degree.  For Bob, that was a no-brainer.  He encouraged me and a few months later walked me through registration as I registered for two evening classes with the University of Maryland, the same college he attended.

I began taking courses during the evenings, and, during the day, I worked at the Civil Rights Commission.  My world was expanding rapidly.  I relished every single minute of my growth.  Ironically, the same uncle had left the priesthood, married an ex-nun and was in the process of moving to Washington, D.C. where a job was waiting for him.  He asked me to take him around to apartments.  During those few days, Uncle Tom tried his best to break up Bob and me.  He explained to Bob that he was leaps and bounds ahead of me intellectually.  He begged Bob to break up with me.  “Maribeth is a sweet girl, but she’s not all that bright.  You will become bored with her and wind up breaking her heart,” Tom explained.  Bob countered that Tom had no idea who I was nor how intelligent and complex I was.  Tom lost that argument and Bob, and I married a few months later.

I think I was always looking for female role models, so, in 1992, when Bill Clinton won the presidency, I fell head over heels in love with his beautiful, assertive wife, Hillary.

Hillary was everything I aspired to be.  She was bright, inquisitive, assertive and she was not a typical wife, let alone First Lady.

Soon after Bob and I wed, the Navy assigned my father to the Pentagon as he subsequently moved my Mom and younger siblings to the D.C. area.  A week after Bob and I married, Bob’s father called him.  Bob’s daughter, Kimberley, from a long-past marriage, was living in a foster home in the California area.  Social Services removed Kim from her mother’s living quarters where a live-in boyfriend beat her with a beer bottle.  A month later, I was a mother.

When we married, both Bob and I agreed that we would not have children.  I never knew why I didn’t want children. However, I knew I didn’t.  So, becoming a mother the way it happened was a shock to my senses.  For the first few months after Kim’s arrival, a Social worker visited us on a frequent basis.

My mother went to work on me coaching me how to act.  She encouraged me to make cookies for our first Social Services visit.  I reluctantly did.  However, the social worker caught on to my feelings of reluctance to play the stereotypical mommy role.  When she left our first meeting, she instructed me to be myself and act naturally.  It wasn’t too long after that meeting that the social worker suggested that we had the option to send Kim back to California.  Bob had not been a father very long when he and his first wife were divorced.  Thus, when suggested, he flirted with that solution.  Too, he was terrified of losing me.  I, however, could not agree to send her back.  I had spent my entire childhood in misery.  I was not going to be the person who doomed Kimberley to a life of misery knowing she was unwanted.  So I raised her, giving her all the guidance I could offer.

When Hillary came along, she was the very role model I had thirsted for all my life.  I was captivated when she made the statement, “I’m not sitting here like some little woman who stands by my man like Tammy Wynette.”  Later, she followed that up with, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and have teas; but, what I decided was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public office.”  Wow, hot dog was my reaction to this assertive, proud female who was my age and was standing up to the world with vigor, confidence and an I am who I wish to be boldness.  And, so, I stepped up and became the same type of woman, one who proudly assumed the label of uppity.

Later in life and during a job review, my male supervisor evaluated me as an average worker on paper, however, in our meeting he raked me over the coals.

I was the Kroger, Nashville Division’s first female Meat Field Supervisor.  I supervised two store districts and thirty meat departments.  My approach to those departments and their meat managers was not the typical field supervisor one.

Instead of playing a merchandising department cop, my style was to become a partner with the departments.  Everything I did, including sending out a plan that accompanied the weekly sales plan was intended to help the departments utilize their merchandising skills.  For example, I would discuss selling cuts of meat that made up for the unprofitability of the cuts on sale.  I respected the department heads and their staff.  In return, I was respected and appreciated.  In fact, after several inventory periods, all my stores began bringing in profits that surpassed their expected profits, something that had not been achieved in recent history.  The zone and store managers loved me because I was making them look like heroes.  My immediate supervisor did not.  He felt threatened; and, so he told me I had a reputation for being too pushy.  He then told me that women should have a quiet power.  I listened, felt bad, questioned myself, but, then, picked up my head, held it high and, when offered a job with a Fortune 500 company, I moved on.  I would later learn how much respect I earned while I was the Meat Field Supervisor.

One of my husband’s co-workers was friends with the Kroger, Nashville Vice President of Store Operations.  This VP expressed regret that I left the company as he called me a shining star who was destined to go places with Kroger.

Recently, a friend asked why I was still commenting on Facebook that I was #StillWithHillary.  He explained that although he respected the former Secretary of State, there were so many other outstanding women in politics and business.  I decided not to give him the short, tart FB answer.

Instead, his question made me ask myself the same one.  I wanted to know the answer, and that would take me time.  I explained that to him and told him I would give him the link to my blog when published.  He accepted my offer and said he looked forward to reading my answer.

Hillary Clinton was my first real female hero.  She came along for me when I desperately needed a female role model.  She was everything I aspired to become and now realize I was already becoming.  Although there are many outstanding women qualified to become our first female president, I feel Hillary earned that right to be the first.  She earned the right to be the first female to break that ultimate glass ceiling.  She wasn’t, and now I look to the future.  However, I will always stand with Hillary Clinton.

As Hillary became my first hero, I became my second hero.  I have overcome much in my life to accomplish more than I ever expected.  As the title reads, Women need Heroes Too.  As girls and women, we need other females to look up to and emulate.  We also need to be so proud of who we’ve become that we too become our hero.


Filed under Maribeth Shanley, writing

ELECTION YEAR – One Person’s Struggle with Heart and Mind

They say a person should follow their heart.  As a natural born idealist, my heart tugs at my mind. My heart has good intentions.  It knows what it wants.  My mind warns me that, at least in some cases, the heart has a tendency to ignore reality.

I have been an idealist for a very long time.  My favorite song is John Lennon’s Imagine.  I can imagine; and, more, I want to imagine.  However, I see caution signs all around me.  The biggest sign is the one that says humans are not even close to the idealism of a world imagined by John’s poignant lyrics.

I grew up in a family that was not only run by a militarist dictator but one who was also a criminal.  He ruled over his realm with an iron fist and demanded everyone acquiesce to his commands.  The partner in his parenting relationship was a weak individual who would rather hide her eyes than stand up for what was right.  She had her mind and idealisms yet it was easier to do as she was told and allow her dictator spouse to rule with impunity, regardless of the outcome.  Having been the one subject in his realm who experienced all his authoritarianism, including his secretive propensity for criminal behavior, I retreated into my mind.  That is where I began to listen and lean to the left of politics.

When I left home and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1970, it was an easy choice for me to embrace the anti-war movement, feminism and every single anti-establishment sentiment that rippled through the environment of that movement.  Later and as a liberal arts college student in the midst of an institution that taught idealism, I flirted with socialism.  At one point I even joined a young socialist group.  It was there, at the meetings, that my idealism got its first taste of reality.

The group’s ideology was one that tugged at my heart; but, the political structure of that ideology forced me, for the first time, to question the reality of that ideology.  The structure dictated that I behave according to the group thinking.  I was back where I began under the roof of a dictator who wished to own both my soul and body.  So, one evening, as we all sat around a huge table, I spoke my mind.  I questioned the political structure of the group and asked why I should allow them to tell me how to live, but more, how to think.  I never returned to that group, but went my way knowing that I needed to gather more information before I committed to any one humanly orchestrated ideology.

Election year, 2016, finds me back at the crossroads of ideology vs. reality.  There is no doubt that my heart and mind still exist on the side called liberalism.  I am an ardent liberal.  However, my 68 years of real world experience cautions me to weigh all the information before I commit to who I will cast my vote for now and in November.  There’s one more element involved.  One of the two opposing candidates is a woman.  I have never given up my feminist affinities.  I know that part of me is solid because it is always weighing all the information.  My father ensured that part of me would stand vigilant at all times.  Nevertheless, there is still the matter of my heart.

It would be so easy for me to feel the bern.  John Lennon’s Imagine and Simon and Garfunkel’s Looking for “America” pulls me to that side of the spectrum.  I want to imagine.  I want to believe.  I want to follow my heart.  Alas, my mind and its wealth of learned knowledge won’t allow me to slip silently into the slumber of the song the siren sings.  I know too much.

I am 68 years old.  I am a recipient of Medicare.  Before making the decision of how I wanted to have my Medicare administered, I joined an organization and sold Medicare to people who were first time recipients and those who were existing recipients, but had never been exposed to the different insurance choices within the system called Medicare.  I demanded of myself to know my choices.

Medicare in its purest form is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Medicare in its purest form means a recipient is subject to pay 20% of all medical costs.  At first blush, that doesn’t sound all that foreboding.  However, when one weighs the medical institution that currently exists in the U.S., for a typical human recipient, financially, Medicare is a prohibitive system.

Imagine the typical full-blown hospital bill for one hospital stay.  Such a bill includes copious fees for, e.g., doctors, tests, and procedures.  They also include facility usage fees which include those $100 Kleenex boxes.  Fact:  given the evolved and complicated medical institution, based on one hospital stay, a person on straight Medicare could easily go bankrupt.  It would take much more than eight years to rein in that system, and it wouldn’t go quietly.  The party on the right, lobbyists, the drug companies, doctors, et. al would fight tooth and toenail for the status quo.

I recall the McDonald’s guy, Morgan Spurlock, currently with CNN, did an investigation on the cost of getting a colonoscopy in the U.S.   During his one-hour report, he broke down the history of our medical institution which is the elephant in the room.  It’s big, complicated to the point of incoherence, and has one goal in mind.  Profit.  Through hours of research, Morgan could never lock down a cost for the procedure.  What he did discover was that in the U.S, without insurance, this procedure would be too costly.  Instead, he opted to go to Thailand for a vacation/procedure holiday which cost him less than what the procedure less the vacation would have cost him in the U.S.  In other words; the medical institution has had years to become what it has become.  One man named Sanders is not going to have the time to rein in that system in four or even eight years.  Bernie Sander’s call for 100% Medicare for everyone is a pipe dream.  The siren is singing a myth.

Medicare for everyone?  I sure as hell don’t want to be put on pure Medicare.  Having had dual knee replacement surgery, I would have already experienced bankruptcy at the hands of the medical institution.  With a Medicare Advantage plan, I had to know all my plan co-pays to monitor the bills mailed to my home by the sub-contracted medical industry called Medical Billing.  If I didn’t know my plan co-pays, I would have wound up paying, at least, five times what my co-pays were.  In reality, the medical system is corrupt.  It complicates its corruption with layers of red tape, hidden information and multiple layers of sub-contractors.  The medical institution is determined to keep the system too difficult to understand.  Had I not known my plan, I would never have made the phone calls I did to verify that the numerous bills that found their way into my mailbox were bogus.  I may have unwittingly paid them.

Okay, you say, there are institutions in place that keep the cost of Medicare down.  Yes, there are, but, guess what?  They are all run by another institution called the insurance industry.  Medicare Advantage insurance companies are the institutions that, just as all medical insurance companies do now, negotiate with the medical profession to keep medical costs in check.  Because I knew my co-pays,  my procedure was well within my budget.  However, reality tells me that most people will not know their co-pays and will fall victim to the crooked medical institution that sneaks bills into the mail that are not owed.  I know this because I sold Medicare Advantage to Medicare recipients, existing recipients.  Most recipients have no clue what their co-pays are.  Thus, they fall victim to medical billers who slip in bills that tell the recipient he/she owes the difference between retail and the negotiated fees for a procedure.  Did I just lose you?  The point, the Medicare system is so complicated that to think of making it available to the masses is pie in the sky.  It will take more than two terms of bern to create a system that could become that ideal system.  Mr. Sanders would have to become a permanent president to make that happen and, the other party would have to cease to exist.  It just isn’t realistic.  It’s the song Imagine in spades.

Yes, there’s another alternative for keeping down cost called Medicare Supplements or Medigap.  Having sold it as well, unless a person was chronically ill, I typically steered people away from it.  For a healthy person like myself, it’s a waste of money.  Where Medicare Advantage is a pay-as-you-use insurance plan, a Medicare Supplement plan is like car insurance.  You pay a high premium every single month whether you use it or not.  Plus, with every birthday, the cost creeps up until the premium becomes prohibitive.

One more thing to consider.  A single payer Medicare type system for everyone means for everyone.  That includes the one-tenth of 1% of the population who are billionaires.  The Donald Trumps of the world would also become beneficiaries of a Medicare system called Bern.

Then there’s the promise of free college tuition for everyone.  Think about that institution and its red tape and hidden fees, etc.  Eight years of one presidency isn’t going to be able to make a single dent in that system.  Plus, even if the presidency became a forever one, 100% free tuition for everyone means the children of the one-tenth of 1% billionaires would also become beneficiaries.  That doesn’t even sound like pie in the sky to me.  It sounds like pie in the face of the 99.9% of non-billionaires.

Well, here I am back at the beginning of my quandary.  Should I follow my natural born idealistic heart and allow myself to feel the bern or do I listen to my pragmatic years of experience in the real world?

I don’t know about you, but I chose to face reality.  The U.S. is not ready for a Bernie Sanders.  There’s a lot of prep work to do before the U.S. can begin to work toward his dream.  There are institutions that must be reined in, some that must be created and some that must be eliminated.  There’re lots to do.  The U.S. is not ready for Mr. Sander’s revolution.  It is pie in the sky and a disaster waiting to happen.

I know who I’m casting my vote for in a few months and in November.  I’m voting for the woman who is still fighting to break through that damned ceiling, the one who has the real experience and fortitude to take on all the big boys, domestic and foreign, the one who will build on all the good that has come about over the last eight years.  I’m voting for the battle worn lady named Hillary Clinton.  She will get us closer to the bern than the Bernie will.


Filed under Maribeth Shanley, writing