Susan Lyons Guest Blogs…

Today, Susan has written a wonderful guest blog… 

The Female Balancing Act 

We all play it, don’t we? We have so many things to juggle, and each of us has to find her own way of choosing which balls to toss into the air, and figuring out how to keep them moving. 

Career, friends, family, health – and let’s not forget, romance! 

That’s the dilemma faced by the heroine of my September release, Touch Me. Lawyer cover_touch_me_130px.jpgAnn Montgomery’s primary goal in life is to build a brilliant career, following in the footsteps of her single-parent uber-feminist mom. According to Ann’s mom, a woman is not only entitled to a good career, she’s obligated to pursue one. And to do it on her own because, after all, “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” 

That’s one interpretation of feminism, and Ann has to figure out whether it’s hers. Especially when her devotion to her career is hurting her, physically. She has frequent headaches, her jaw’s locked up with tension, she’s continually taking painkillers. And yet, she really does love her job. 

When one of her girlfriends recommends massage to ease her aches and pains, she never imagines the masseur will be a Greek god named Adonis. Adonis Stefanakis is a laid-back guy who doesn’t even work full time. He loves healing people but has no desire to build a brilliant career. He’s exactly the kind of man Ann’s mom would label an unambitious loser. 

But as we all know, opposites often attract, and the chemistry between Ann and Adonis is powerful. They quickly turn their relationship personal, and find out the other thing about opposites: they argue a lot, and they challenge each other. Adonis challenges Ann to find a healthier balance in her life and Ann challenges him to grow up and find something to commit to. (And yes, of course they get a happy ending!) 

Separately and together, they explore some important issues: 

·        How much influence should parents have in their grownup children’s lives? 

·        What does “women’s lib” mean for a young woman today? 

·        Is there something wrong with a guy who prefers to live a balanced life rather than strive for greater career success and recognition? 

·        Is there something wrong with a woman who puts career first? Or who puts family and friends ahead of her career?  

·        How does a woman – or a man – figure out what things are important in life, and find the best way of balancing them? 

Most of us have faced issues like this in our lives, and we know the answers aren’t easy. I’d love to hear your opinions.  

Thank you so much Susan for that great blog…and for being my guest these last few days.  I have really enjoyed it and I am sure readers have too! 

Readers, don’t forget to enter Susan’s giveaway mentioned in yesterdays blog.  Here it is again in case you missed it:
Susan has graciously donated a prize to one lucky winner.  If you enter her website contest and mention you heard about it on “Jennifer’s Random Musings”, you will be eligible to win a book of your choice from Susan’s booklist. You’ll also be entered in Susan’s monthly contest and be eligible to win a prize package themed around the heroine of “Hot Down Under” in The Firefighter (which includes an autographed firefighter calendar from Queensland, Australia!).

Winner for the blog giveaway will be selected sometime after December 8.


12 Responses to Susan Lyons Guest Blogs…

  1. Jane Squires says:

    I try not to interfere in my two girls’ lives. Both are adults and live away from home. I am not happy one is living with a boyfriend but happy she is still attending College. I cannot make her decisions for her. I can only hope I’ve raised her well enough to have the skill to make wise choices. My oldest is separated after 5 years and not because it was her choice. I do not know what all happened – only what she tells me. She moved 11 hours away to rebuild. I have to let her make her choices and just be here for support and love her through the rough times.
    It hasn’t been easy.

  2. Eva S says:

    Jane, I so agree with you! My younger daughter broke up with her boyfriend after 7 years,we had many times told her to (although I know I shouldn’t have interfered) she isn’t happy but what can a mother do? Just show her we all stand behind her and I just wish she in time will find happiness again.. Her boyfriend left her with tons of bills, his last was to crash her new car. Since he was drunk isn’t the insurance company going to pay…

  3. Susan Lyons says:

    Jane and Eva, you sound like great moms. Yes, your daughters deserve their independence but I’m sure they know how much you love them – and that any time they need help they can turn to you. And rough times are part of life. I know it’s hard for a mom to see her daughter (or son) going through bad times, but weathering the rough spots is a learning experience. Not only does a person get stronger, but they really learn to appreciate the good times when they come around again.

  4. Nancy Morse says:

    Great subject, Susan. The women’s lib movement, ah, I remember it well. I didn’t burn my bra, I just stopped wearing it. I was always an independent person, so it wasn’t much of a transition for me to pursue a career. Fortunately, I found a guy who didn’t stand in my way. We’ve been married for 40 years, and during that time our earning capacities have shifted to where I now earn more than he does, but he’s okay with that, and even if he weren’t, there’s not much he could do about it because I have no intention of putting my career on hold to satisfy a male ego.

    I don’t have daughters, but if I did, I think I would be the kind of mom who lets them go their own way and make their own mistakes. How much influence should parents have in their grown-up children’s lives? The key word here is “grown-up”. They did their jobs in raising us, now leave us grown-ups alone to live our lives as we see fit. Advice and guidance is always welcome, but interference/influence is not.

    As for figuring out what’s important in life, I think in large part it comes down to the partner you choose. Any man who would hinder me in any way just isn’t the man for me. That said, I would never put a career first over family. As for the guy who doesn’t strive for career & success, that’s perfectly fine if the woman he chooses is okay with it. Part of being an independent, career-oriented woman is accepting the fact that not everyone is. It’s called live and let live, and women’s lib contributed greatly to that concept.

    As for the young women of today, I hope they look back on what life was like for woman before the women’s lib movement and what it’s like for women now. More women graduate from college. More women hold well-paying jobs. More women have created a balancing act for themselves that enables them to have their families and their careers, or to have one or the other. The point is to have the choice, which women didn’t always have. Unfortunately, women aren’t always paid as much as men for comparable jobs, but we’ve come a long way, baby! I just hope the young women of today don’t take it for granted and keep the momentum going.

    As for that bra, I do wear one these days, but I hate, hate, hate it, and I wear it only because my breasts have succumbed to the lure of the southland and aren’t quite as perky as they once were.

  5. Susan Lyons says:

    LOL re the bra comment, Nancy. I hate the dratted things too.

    I love your reflections on women’s lib and how far we’ve come. Equality still hasn’t been achieved – but then, it hasn’t for men either. There’s still more pressure on them to “succeed” in terms of career, and it takes a guy with lots of self-esteem to be with a woman who makes more than he does or – gasp! – even supports him. But it’s all about finding the right partnership. I’m totally with you, in that I’d never be with a man who didn’t want me to fulfil myself, whatever that means in terms of work, hobbies, friends etc.

  6. Judy Wiebe says:

    I think it’s tough to balance everything out for young women today. Although us ‘more mature’ women had to blaze the trail, at least we weren’t conflicted about the direction. We wanted to have the same opportunities as men in the working world and because of our determined efforts, things are greatly improved in that direction. However, we didn’t have the alter ‘super-mommy’ issue to live up to. We judged parenting on how we were parented, which was much less restrictive. There was no preparing our kids for pre-school, no hassle about qualifying for the ‘right’ elementary, middle and high school. Now it seems that being a ‘good’ mother is another career that you have to prepare for and constantly work at in addition to holding down another full-time job and still be an effective partner to your spouse.

    I really don’t think you can ‘have it all’. I think we need to find some middle ground somewhere. Men are not all expected to be rich, successful, a good parent or a good husband 100% of the time. We recognize them as human beings with limited resources and cut them some slack. We need to give ourselves the same permission not to be perfect at everything.

    My daughter is a strong, capable woman who has made some choices I don’t agree with, but what the hell…..I’ve done some stupid things too. Haven’t you?

  7. Susan Lyons says:

    Me? Do stupid things? LOL, Judy. Let’s just not start counting them. But seriously, you’re right about giving ourselves permission not to be perfect. A lot of women have trouble with that. I have friends who, despite working, raising kids and writing, somehow think it’s wrong to hire a housekeeper or buy pre-prepared meals. Like, somehow if they do that they’re not being a proper wife/mom/woman. Get a grip!

    I think you’re right that the mom-job has become more complicated. Life itself has become so much more complicated. It seems people used to be home- and community-oriented. That was your world and you pretty much stayed inside it, except maybe for a summer holiday. Now we’re all connected to the entire world, what with the internet. The opportunities, thanks to technology, ease of travel etc., are so much greater – but so are the expectations. Add to that the fact that many parents don’t feel that it’s safe to let little kids just hang out and play together… Well, it means that parental responsibilities are continual and complex. Kids need all the latest toys – and not just for play but for school as well. There are school activities and trips, out-of-school activities, then there’s the need to be vigilant about what kids are actually doing with those computers. Yikes! Hats off to anyone who is raising a child today!

  8. fedora says:

    Yow, Susan–a pretty serious topic for reflection!

    I agree with Judy in that I don’t believe it’s possible to have it all if what you want is to succeed across the board–career, family, friends, hobbies… I just don’t believe there are enough hours in the day, and I don’t think that’s how we were designed. I think part of growing up is having to prioritize and choose the areas of our lives we will give greatest honor and commitment.

    As for parents and their grown-up children, I think that assuming that the child in question is supporting herself, her life is hers to direct. And I assume that as long as the family had a reasonably good relationship, she would consider and value her parents’ input, knowing that they had her interests in heart, plus experience, etc., etc. (Hindsight is 20/20, of course–I fought with my parents over quite a few things that I now realize they had more insight in… ack… NOT looking forward to potential conflicts with my children!)

    I think women’s lib today means that a woman has the power and right to make her own decisions regarding the direction of her life in the same way that a man would. I think in the U.S., this is more an accepted standard, but sadly not world-wide.

    And no, I think there’s something RIGHT about a man who desires balance and recognizes the value of his family and community, and has perspective on the place his career has in the whole picture! I, for one, am incredibly thankful that my husband is not only doing an excellent job at work, but is committed to me and our family in a way that means he spends time and heart on us. (On the other hand, I do wonder whether conversely, men are beginning to feel more of the pressure and hopefully more understanding of what it means to try to do/have it all.)

    As for women and their choices–I’ve chosen to focus mainly on family and less on career, and am thankfully in a place where I can do that. I don’t presume to understand other women’s choices and would want them to be able to choose their own path–that’s what our freedom is all about after all. But I do think anyone (female or male) who focuses on career to the exclusion of all else is missing out

    I think in terms of figuring out what to give priority to–a question to consider is what will have lasting impact? What will your legacy be? What part of what you’re doing today will live on and be eternal? (Not that everything in our day needs to be weighty and focused on everlasting permanence, but I think it helps to figure out what the cornerstones will be first.)

    Sorry to ramble on so long, Susan! Thanks for the food for thought!

  9. Susan Lyons says:

    Fedora, your comments are insightful. Yes, I think growing up is about learning to set our own priorities – and women’s lib has given us a wider range of opportunities from which to choose our priorities. In the “old days,” if a woman didn’t have a child, people tended to think there was something wrong with her. Now she can choose not to have a child. Or choose to have a child even if she hasn’t found a life-mate. And all those choices are valid and in general are respected (or at least more respected than they used to be!).

    That’s a really good point about what will have a lasting impact. It’s one of the things my heroine Ann thinks about in Touch Me. She has two potential boyfriends. One’s a very successful lawyer and she’s been raised to not only be a lawyer but to have great respect for them. The other guy is a masseur, a job that even his own dad doesn’t have much respect for. But what Ann comes to realize is that the masseur does his job because he wants to heal and help people, and he probably does more good every single day than the lawyer does in months. (Not to say that law isn’t a really important profession and that lawyers don’t help people – but so do masseurs. So do moms, teachers, nurses, doctors – and all are making the world a better place and creating a legacy.)

    It’s one of the reasons I write. This morning I received a review of one of my short stories, in which the reviewer said after reading the story she’d gone back to work feeling lighter and more optimistic. Wow – I actually improved someone’s life for at least a little space in time. I’ve also had readers comment about how I’ve helped their romantic relationship – and how I’ve made them think differently about people and perhaps overcome some stereotypes. Each of those comments warms my heart and reaffirms my belief that writing truly is my calling.

  10. fedora says:

    Thanks for sharing that, Susan–it’s a gift to receive confirmations that you’ve found and are doing your true calling! How wonderful to hear it! Keep writing! 🙂

  11. I’ll never forget the day I was actually discriminated against for being a woman- a coworker of mine and I found out he was being paid more for the same job and we had basically identical backgrounds. . I’d talked a big women’s lib game up till that point but I felt like a complete hypocrite at that moment because I’d been all talk and no experience. We’ve come a long way (baby-LOL) but I still feel like women have six jobs and men have two. One time my circle of women friends wrote down all the jobs they are expected to handle and it was pretty amazing compared to what their mates were expected to do.
    I personally am pretty much conflicted at all times regarding work and family. I’m glad I can work from home, that makes me feel better. :~) Suz

  12. Susan Lyons says:

    Thanks, Fedora.

    And Suzanne – hi! How nice to see you here. There’s an interesting book called “Women Don’t Ask” which, to quote the back cover, “explores the personal and societal reasons women seldom ask for what they need, want, and deserve at home and at work – and shows how they can develop this crucial skill.” It documents lots of experiences like your work one – women tend to assume we’re being treated fairly and that if we’re good girls and work hard we’ll be appropriately rewarded. Whereas men just barge in and ask for higher salaries, promotions etc. – and they’re the ones who tend to get them.

    Working at home is wonderful, isn’t it? It sure helps when you’re juggling all those balls. But you have to have lots of self-discipline to organize your own life, when the world outside isn’t imposing the structure of regular work hours.

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