In Celebration of the Nineteenth Amendment

Ninety years ago this week Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment—giving women a right to vote that should have been inalienable. This week, Joanne Gavin continues apace in co-authoring her third book, "Live Your Dreams: Change Your World," a powerful guide for women that offers scientific approaches from fields of business management, cognitive and executive psychology, and stress management and preventative medicine. The book is set for 2011 publication by American Mental Health Foundation Press.

Gavin is chair of the Department of Management in the Business School at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. (disclaimer: I am Gavin's colleague at Marist and serve on the AMHF Board.) Gavin is co-authoring her latest book with her co-authors from "The Financial Times Guide To Executive Health, Second Edition." These include James Campbell Quick, stress expert and Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Cary Cooper, and Jonathan Quick, MD.

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"We are asking women to take stock of their physical, emotional, and spiritual health," Gavin said. "Although we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment this week,many women still need to fight to obtain access to equal opportunity in many settings.

"The stresses faced create a perfect storm of hurdles, frustrations, demands from others, as well as internal doubts. Women still bear the bulk of child care/household work, and have the additional pressure of careers and service in the community. Many women now have the double responsibility of taking care of children and aging parents."

In the United States, women's lifespan traditionally have been longer than men's. "Women's life expectancy is going down as women continue to assume the double responsibility of home and career," Gavin said, "and the gap between their life span and men's is narrowing."

In their upcoming book, Gavin and her co-authors offer cognitive therapy approaches as well as medical findings on stress management. The role of spirituality in certain situations is examined, as this is now considered one of the areas to be assessed in executive health. One situation where spirituality comes into play is when women face situations that cannot be changed, and here Gavin suggests the use of the traditional serenity prayer: "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Gavin and her husband David have been married for 36 years. Gavin believes herself fortunate in having been a full-time mother, and after this experiencing a challenging and rewarding career.

Gavin credits Dennis Murray, President of Marist College, for being aware of the lack of significant administrative positions for women in higher education, and credits Murray for inviting herself and others to be part of the Higher Education Resource Services (HERS), a group offering intensive workshops in leadership services in academia. Gavin frequently reflects fondly on the life of her father, Daniel Haar. "My Dad always supported me in whatever I did. He didn't have any pre-ordained idea of what life should be like for me. He supported and affirmed all the choices I made along the way."

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we vnornm
8 years 1 month ago
David,

I admire you for being a realist and recognizing that we can create more stress for ourself by the way in which we view the world. I wish I were at the point where I could accept life's "struggles" with more equanimity, but I'm not there yet. Despite the Serenity Prayer etc., often it's hard to get through a day without feeling there's a bunch of burdens so it seems a battle. Maybe I'm just neurotic, as they say most psychologists are. Unfortunately for many women (and increasingly more men) there isn't much choice between career/family as there are so many "single parents" who didn't choose this path. You gotta pay the bills. 

"Living where we are" is a wonderful thought. Thanks! bill 
John Scileppi
8 years 1 month ago
Your blog is a great way to honor the ninetieth anniversary of women suffrage in America.  I also appreciate the themes in Gavin's book integrating the need for stress management, cognitive therapy, spirituality and progress in gender equality in business.
Stress is implicated in exacerbating most physical and mental illnesses and is a contributing reason for the vast majority of visits to health care providers.  Reducing stress at work will cut health care expenses dramatically.  Such an investment in 'human capital', typically the largest significant component of any corporation's budget, will both increase productivity and the quality of life of the workers and their families.  Women have had to 'multi-task' for many decades as they juggle family and occupational concerns.  I am happy a woman is teaching the rest of us how to deal with stress!
we vnornm
8 years 1 month ago
John,

Thank you for your helpful and optimisitc comments. In higher education there is a very effective tool for stress management and it is called a sabbatical.

amdg, bill
we vnornm
8 years 1 month ago
p.s. David (and others)

Please read the last paragraph in John Martens' recent blog on "Continuing Education."

How does Jesus' use of the verb "agonizomai" in Luke 13:22-30 add a theological dimension to this idea of making our lives easier and less stressful? 

Reminds me of the phrase "Momma never said it was gonna be easy."

amdg. bill
8 years 1 month ago
I don't like the serenity prayer   :)     How do you decide for sure what things can't be changed?  And some things, even if they can't be changed, should still make us upset and should be fought against  I don't think stress is a bad thing in itself, it's how people handle stress that determines whther it harms them, and anyway,  sometimes being harmed is worth it.

8 years 1 month ago
Joanne Gavin's book is one I'll read and pass on to my friends in Child Protective Services.  The stress inherent in their jobs is immense and burnout is a continuing problem.  Dr. Gavin's assessment of the "perfect storm" in women's lives is excellent.  We all know women in these circumstances. 

I've been particularly interested in the feminization of poverty ever since the years of 1981-1984 , during one of the worst recessions up to that time.  It struck uneducated, poorly skilled, single parents the hardest.  As a recent divorcee, out of the workforce for many years, my wonderful degrees and accomplishments meant nothing.  But, I had a family that would not have ever let us be homeless, if I had asked for help.  I met so many women who had almost nothing and no family support and children to raise.  So, when I was at our local parade and celebration of the 19th amendment I thought about those women and those living now in this terrible economy.   I didn't hear any speakers addrssing their problems.  Are they invisible?   To be written off?  The emphasis is still on the middle class, educated woman.  And according to the speakers if you don't  follow their particular political  beliefs you are naive, ignorant and need to be educated!

David, I wish I could have your attitude about life I have to say that my adult life has been and is very difficult.  Sometimes, a vale of tears, The Cross is a reality.  Life is a struggle.  It seems that everyday I have to reach deep inside myself to find the strength, courage and joie de Vivre to cope with hard problems and to find joy in living.  Maybe I'm neurotic, too, Bill.  After all, I am a social worker and aren't we related to psychologists!! 

Where I find great sustenance, consolation and beauty is the Mass.  I don't find much help in the Serenity Prayer.  I agree with Crystal's points.  It doesn't consider people's affections and loyalties.  Say, I love someone and know that person suffers but I'm not able to do anything about it because of circumstances out of my control, do i just say, oh, too bad, I won't stress myself over him.
Janice Johnson
we vnornm
8 years 1 month ago
Crystal,

"Sometimes being harmed is worth it."

Sacrifice of physical/emotional health can be a good thing?

Now here's a thought you don't here much about or read about, and I can think of examples.

Veryn provocative. bill
we vnornm
8 years 1 month ago
Janice,

When I discovered rural New York I was shocked how environmental beauty and extreme poverty co-exist. People in these towns-there seem to be more women present-are prematurely old. Sometimes it is gaunt and weathered faces, other times obesity from poor diets. Yes, forgotton people.

Your thoughts remind me of the concept of "suffering love."

Does the Mass say "save us from anxiety" or "save us from needless anxiety?".(Frank J. Kobler thought the emphasis is on the latter)...Joanne's book will help free people from the anxieties that are "needless" but won't prevent suffering.

Two people critical of the Serenity Prayer...is nothing sacred?

Bill
we vnornm
8 years 1 month ago
David,

Your interpretation sounds very good to me. (Carrying our cross?)

Mother Teresa knew how to overlook needless anxieties, I think-many would consider her "actualized"-but think of all the suffering she absorbed, and as Fr. Jim notes (see his blog), she endured an inner spiritual and psychological suffering which she used to better understand the incredible suffering of the poor. She lived a long time, so she knew how to manage stress.

So to bring us back to the theme of my post-Joanne's book can help women and others clear lives of annoying clutter and inspire greater balance and fulfillment-but we have to keep in mind another dimension of life: carrying one's cross, sometimes remaining unfulfilled because this is being sacrificed for others.

David, thanks for your thoughts and have a good day. amdg. bill
8 years 1 month ago
Bill,

You asked "Sacrifice of physical/emotional health can be a good thing?"

I'm thinking  of Ignatius' hope that retreatants will be indifferent to their health in the pursuit of their project.  Imagine a loved one is chronically ill and you make some scrifices to care for them.  The whistleblower who told the truth about the tobacco companies in the movie The Insider  lost his job, had his life threatened.   Jesus who when he met people who were suffering became upset himself (that Grek word "splagchnizomai").  Compassion = suffering with.
we vnornm
8 years 1 month ago
...or you give a kidney to someone else, knowing there are risks to yourself; work a job or work so many hours that your health is jeopardized, but you keep it up because your family needs it; volunteer to work in a dangerous environment (epidemic, disaster); etc.

Thanks Crystal. bill
8 years ago
Crystal,

I complete agree that some stress is a good thing. Without some stress and in the correct amount, we would not be very productive. And yes, there are things that should not be forgotten but too many people, in my opinion, spend too much time fighting things that they are not going to win and may not even be worth their time. Maybe the better prayer is "grant me the wisdom to pick and choose my battles."

Joanne
8 years ago
Dr. Gavin (Joanne),

I say, "amen" to your revised Serenity Prayer.  It is a daily sorting out of what to contend with and what to let go of.  I am looking forward to reading your book!
Janice Johnson

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