The sky is now her limit

Check out this gem of a postcard from 1920, entitled: The sky is now her limit.Drawing of a milkmaid standing at the bottom of a ladder with titles of professions on each rung. At the top: presidency.

The detail I wish was true: that we had achieved wage equality before women gained political appointments. What is true:  The ratio of female notaries to males is 3 to 1 in some states.

Rungs of a ladder with professions and milestones listed including wage equality and political appointments.

And yes, if you can’t read it, the top rung is “Presidency.”

Source of the image: Library of Congress via Katie Casey on Twitter.

Source of the data on the notary public gender ratio (because, me being me, I looked it up): The Feminization of the Office of Notary Public: From Femme Covert to Notaire Covert  (PDF)

Beauty and wonder

Purple iris in front of a sunflower umbrella

This type of iris, named for my grandmother, blooms in both the spring and the fall. When they do, I greet them by name and think about her indomitable spirit.

A little boy grinning and grasping Mr. Rogers's face

Photo by Jim Judkis

From nearly the beginning of writing this blog I’ve had a category tagged beauty and wonder. I was re-reading a few of those posts this morning, since we are all, once again, being urged to look for the helpers, as Mister Rogers said. If you haven’t yet read it, Maura Judkis, the daughter of the photographer who captured the now-famous image, wrote a lovely essay about the boy in the picture.

Here’s what else I’ve been reading, listening to, and admiring…

Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson

The Lucky Red Tie – Micah Truran on The Moth

The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown

The Can-Do Playground in Wilmington, DE

How virtual reality can create the ultimate empathy machine, by Chris Milk

And I’m re-reading:

The 95 Theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto (because they are as fresh and relevant today as they were in 1999) a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun (because it’s also good to remember how far we’ve come)

What persists

“…The third little pig met a man with a load of bricks, and said:

‘Please, man, give me those bricks to build a house with.’

So the man gave him the bricks, and he built his house with them. So the wolf came, as he did to the other little pigs, and said:

‘Little pig, little pig, let me come in.’

‘No, no, by the hair of my chiny chin chin.’

‘Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.’

Well, he huffed, and he puffed, and he huffed and he puffed, and he puffed and huffed; but he could not get the house down.” — English fairy tale

 * * *

“History is written by the winners.” — George Orwell (1944 column)

I recently took a trip to London and Edinburgh where, thanks to my husband and younger son, we spent a good deal of time at places like the Churchill War Rooms and the Tower of London. Our older son chose the Tate Modern for one of our afternoons and, when I had the chance to influence our day, we took in a 360 Allstars show.

You can’t help but admire how the British have preserved their history. While we were there, The Independent ran a front page story about a murder that took place in 1483. My eye was drawn to this line:

Some British families with private archives dating to the Plantagenet and Tudor periods are also coming forward to open their doors to Ms Langley and her research team.

Imagine! In the U.S., genealogists are pleased if they can trace their lineage back to the 1700s, gaining them admission to societies like the Daughters of the American Revolution. Personally, I think boasting about one’s lineage is unseemly — even un-American. Just because your ancestors left written records or could afford gravestones does not mean they are any more worthy of honor than those who did not. Paper and stone persist, that’s all.

All families, all nations, all cultures have history that goes back thousands of years. But only those who built with stone and stayed in the same spot have the proof. Those who packed up and moved, by choice or by force, and those who built with wood are less likely to leave a permanent mark on the landscape like this chapel we walked to in Edinburgh:

St Anthony's Chapel in Edinburgh, ScotlandSt. Anthony’s Chapel, built in at least the 15th century (and maybe even in the 14th), was a “skin hospice” — a place of refuge and treatment in the medieval sense of the word.

What health institutions persist because they are built with stone (or its equivalent)? Who is writing the history of health care that will persist? Who is moving, by choice or by force, and forging new paths?

Blue sky

Sky MeadowI snapped this at the start of a long walk in Sky Meadows State Park last weekend — a highly recommended trail, even on a hot day, since it winds up a mountainside and through woods that somehow stay cool.

In the spirit of blue-sky, purposeful day-dreaming on a summer Sunday:

I’m reading… “How Do You Do it?” by Raney Aronson.

I’m listening to… Kate Braestrup on The Moth Radio Hour.

I’m watching… Bill T. Jones at TED 2015.

How about you? What are you reading, listening to, watching today?

Slow down

Slow Down Health Axiom

Juhan Sonin and his team at Involution Studios capture essential health messages in cards — actual, physical cards that you can stack in a deck or lay out across a table. The front is an arresting image and the back lists evidence and tips. The cards are tactile, delightful artifacts of an ongoing conversation that Invo is holding with the world.

I contributed to a recent newcomer to the deck: Slow Down. I was inspired by Fahd Butt‘s “slowgrams” — the sketches he produced instead of trying to capture life moments with a camera.

Poetry is my personal slow-down hack. I never leave for a trip without tucking a favorite book of poems into my bag. Grace Paley, Billy Collins, and Vera Pavlova are currently seeing a lot of the country.

Because even as I relentlessly gather, share, and create evidence for why peer-to-peer health care will transform our lives, if we let it, I know that my own health and happiness must come first.

For the full Slow Down story, please read: “How a Health Axiom Card is Made.”

Snow day

I’m taking advantage of the “snow day” to share what I have been reading, watching, listening to, thinking about — and I invite you to join me, even if you don’t have a snow day. (Truth be told, DC only got a couple of inches and a 2-hour delay, but humor me.)

Snow day in New York City, captured by Anna Dorfman on Instagram

Anna Dorfman (doorsixteen on Instagram) posted this lovely shot of Columbus Park in NYC. I thought umbrellas-in-a-snowstorm was just a DC thing. Curator credit: New York Times.

Legitimacy through public service: The New York Times lifted their pay wall so non-subscribers could follow their storm coverage. I love when legacy media companies are aware of the responsibility — and opportunity — embedded in moments of public need. How might we infect medical and scientific journals with the same sense of responsibility and opportunity? Continue reading

What I’m reading, listening to, admiring…

Susannah at the library

I hunkered down at the library this week, working on a couple of long-term projects.

I kept one eye on Twitter, though, as I always do, and wanted to share what distracted — and inspired — me this week:

Radiolab: Worth — what would you pay for another month of life? How about a year? They get into the debate about Solvadi, which I find fascinating, and wind up talking to patients, “the people who aren’t at medical conferences.” Thanks to Mike Evans, MD, for tweeting the link.

Pew Internet: Social Media Site Usage 2014 — 81% of U.S. adults use the internet and, of those, 71% use Facebook, which is really pretty astounding (and is an opportunity for health intervention and support). Continue reading

Let yourself in on your own secrets

I respect secrets. When my grandmother died at age 96 and a half, her final words were: “Erase my email.” Why? I don’t need to know. And she is not someone you want to cross (present tense — her spirit is still here with me, urging me to live a big life.)

But I am also a voyeur. So I visit PostSecret and greedily drink each one, like I’m doing shots of other people’s truth.

The only difference between our secrets is whether we allow them to evolve into tales of heroism or fear.

PostSecret’s creator, Frank Warren, opened a door for people to creatively reveal themselves to, essentially, themselves. And, when everyone rushed in to share, he let us all in on the biggest secret: we are all imperfect, we are all human. Continue reading