Triads of Women Give me Hope!

Political appointments don’t usually excite me, but the recent headlines following New York Governor Como’s resignation that three women now hold the top three positions in New York, caught my attention big time.

Kathy Hochul, 2017, Wikipedia Commons

On August 23, 2021, New York Times reporters Dana Rubinstein and Luis Ferré-Sadurní wrote that:

“Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who will become the first female governor of New York on Tuesday, selected experienced political aides to fill her top two administration posts. Ms. Keogh’s appointment, along with the selection of Elizabeth Fine as Ms. Hochul’s counsel, means that a trio of women will be at the helm of the executive branch roiled by allegations of sexual harassment by the outgoing governor.”

Kathy Hochul, 2017, Wikipedia Commons

Why does this give me hope?

Because it’s time. If you’ve read my speculative fiction novel, Heart Wood, you know that the power of women working in triads is one of the main themes.

It’s time that the feminine approach to decision-making and getting things done becomes our leadership style. Just look around at what we’re experiencing: environmental destruction, political unruliness, polarized communities. I don’t need to rant on about how the masculine approach has brought us to the brink of self-inflicted chaos. (Please note, I’m not talking about males and females, but about masculine and feminine approaches to life. It’s not necessarily gender-based).

Have you ever awakened in the dark of night with the answer to a problem? When I wrote Heart Wood, I struggled with how to portray how feminine leadership is different. I kept putting it off until I had written myself into a corner. I went to sleep, knowing that when I work up in the morning, I had to create a scene to illustrate how the feminine style of decision-making and getting things done differs from the masculine. To make it more challenging, I gave this task to Eliza in 1915.

In a dreamy haze, I awoke thinking about a class I took back in 2007 as part of Sierra Health Foundation’s Health Leadership Program. The instructors, Dave Logan from the Marshall School of Business, USC, and John King, JLS Consulting, had us experience the power of setting up triads in our work setting instead of the more traditional leader-at-the-hub-of-the-wheel or top of a pyramid.  I don’t have a background in sociology or organizational development, but this model has been helpful to me ever since. (You can research Dyads/Triads online for a deeper description).

Triads? Threesomes? Trios? Each person is connected to two others, forming a triangle that can independently problem-solve and move forward. Stable like a three-legged stool, each triangle is connected to other triangles for support. It felt like a feminine way of working: cooperation, collaboration, communication. It wasn’t a perfect model, but it felt right. 

When I began writing that morning, the creation of an analogy came easily. What did women in early 1900s do? Quilt. I envisioned Eliza working on a quilt made of triangle-shaped pieces as she talked with her daughter about how she would organize her departments as the new president of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Here’s the scene from Heart Wood, Eliza, 1915 ( page 383)

     Eliza reached for the pincushion, pulled out a needle with enough pink thread to work with, and started on the pink calico triangle. They continued stitching in a silence, punctuated by needles slipping in and out of each triangle with a quiet pop. Eliza thought back to all the times she and her mother had worked on quilts together. And the Bowtie quilt her mother had hung on the back porch. Who would have guessed it was a signpost pointing the way to safety for escaping slaves? Hidden in plain sight, it was.
     “Mother?”
     Eliza didn’t reply, for she was deep in thought, drawing her index finger along the seam lines, moving from color to color, edge to edge, triangle to triangle.
     “Mother, are you finished?”
     Eliza held up her hand; she needed more time to think. After a few moments she rose abruptly. 
“Of course!” 
     Dottie followed her to the dining table and watched her rearrange the stacks of files from one side of the table then back again. 
      “Help me take these into the parlor, Dottie. This table is simply not the right shape.” 
After pushing the furniture back against the walls, Eliza worked trance-like, for the next hour. She covered the carpet with her department files arranged into sets of three, each set forming a triangle by bordering with and connecting to the other two; each of those creating another triangle with its neighbors, until the floor was like a quilt of interconnecting triangles. It was a bit awkward using rectangle files, but as she straightened her aching back, she saw what had been hidden in plain sight. 
     “Do you see how this works, Dottie? Each department head is connected to two other heads. They form a unit; help each other out, share resources. On either side of each woman is, in turn, another triad of women, making each woman and department stronger. You can go on and on, creating as many connections as you need. This is as stable as a three-legged stool. And no one woman has to bear all the weight.”
     Eliza threw open her arms with excitement. “This is how women work - we reach out to each other, we set personal issues aside in order to strengthen the whole. This is women’s power.”

And so I have hope. Hope that the newly installed New York Governor, Kathy Hochul, along with Karen Keogh (Secretary to the Governor) and Elizabeth Fine (Counsel to the Governor), will usher in a fresh wave of New York politics; that they show us how to work together for the community’s benefit, and that we are all smart enough to learn from them.

As Eliza concluded:
     “We’re all so accustomed to the organizing structure that men have handed to us,” she told them. “But it is a structure that keeps women from our power. I propose we try something more aligned to our female nature: a structure that facilitates sharing connections and power, not merely an exclusive hierarchy of power. One that promotes the integrity of our planet, not one that destroys the planet for man’s selfish gain.”  This, the women understood.”  

Heart Wood – Four Women, for the Earth, for the Future

Winner: In “Visionary Fiction,” National Indie Excellence Award (NIEA)

Finalist: for “Thought-provoking” Books, The Montaigne Medal, Eric Hoffer Awards

Finalist: Self-published Review Award

Recommended: US Review of Books

Purchase Heart Wood at your local bookstore (support independent bookstores!)

HERE on Amazon, and in Nevada County, California, at Harmony Books, The Book Seller, JJ Jacksons, Reflections Skin Oasis, and SPD Markets.

Please consider leaving a review on AMAZON and GOODREADS. It’s a great way to support independently published authors. Thank you!

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WEBSITE:  https://shirleydickard.com/

Contact the author at heartwoodnovel@gmail.com

The Challenge of Zooming in the Mountains

It’s shivering cold inside the room where I’m about to take part in my first webinar panel about writing Heart Wood. If this had been old Japan during a freezing mountain winter, I might have kept warm by sitting at a table with a brazier of hot coals by my legs and a thick futon draped around the table to enclose the heat like a tent – a warming method called a kotatsu.

But it’s 2020, and without broadband internet access at home, I’m seated in our unheated Community Center in the Sierra with my own version of a kotatsu. Instead of hot coals by my feet, I have a small electric heater under the table. The wool blanket draped around the table and a wool sweater on my shoulders keep me warm so my teeth don’t chatter as I discuss writing with the other authors.

Kotatsu zooming in the mountains

My guess is that webinars and virtual zoom meetings are here to stay, so I’d better figure out how to make them work! I’m not a luddite, but I tend to embrace new technology reluctantly – just ask my husband. Without his penchant for upgrading all things techie, I’d still be getting up from the couch to change the channel at my trusty-old 1980’s-era TV set. 

Being an active participant via Zoom is easier said than done when you live in the mountains without cable, where satellite connections are fickle, and where there’s an awkward half-second lag before people hear the words you just mouthed. (BTW-most of us mountain folk still cling to our landline phones because mobile phones don’t always get good reception – a fact that’s lost on my urban friends!) But necessity is the mother of invention, so when I must be at my virtual best, I reserve a room at the local Community Center and use its high speed WiFi. 

Looking good on camera is another problem. YouTube is now filled with people offering advice: how to place your lighting so you’re not a shadowed monster; where to place your script; what colors to wear; how to sit and look natural;  background do’s and don’ts; and group conversation manners. Most sites offer at least one link to merchandise that promise to make you look professional: halo lights, tele-prompters, webcams, etc. It’s a booming business.

Before educating myself on YouTube, I didn’t realize that with my camera lens located at the bottom of the screen, it makes me look like I’m following a trail of ants across the screen instead of looking at the audience. I tried various suggestions, like elevating the laptop, but to no avail. In the end, a friend loaned me her plug-in webcam to hook on top of the screen and that did the trick.

I used to hate struggling with problems, but my attitude changed when I realized how many new brain synapses are formed in the process of problem-solving. At my 70+ age, that’s important!

How did the webinars go? The Sierra College OLLI Class on “Writing Your First Book” wasn’t recorded, but the “Friday Fiction” Panel on the Nevada County Library’s Virtual Author Showcase, 11/6/20, can be Viewed Here.

Heart Wood is the perfect gift for the holidays, whether for curling up in quarantine or as thoughtful consideration for how we can touch each other’s lives, give the earth a break to recover, empower a more feminine approach, and create a future that all forms of life can live in.

You can purchase your copy of

HEART WOOD

HERE: To support your local, independent bookstore!

Also available at The Book Seller and Harmony Books in Nevada County.

HERE: To purchase on Amazon (ebook and paperback)

If you enjoyed Heart Wood, please consider giving an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads. It’s one of the best ways to support me and all indie authors. Thank you!

Heart Wood has Arrived!

Now that social isolation has become the norm, how about curling up with a good book? The coronavirus will continue to alter our lives in unimaginable ways, but at least we can still enjoy reading! 

Heart Wood will transport you into the lives of three women of the past, present, and future as they cope with their changing worlds. No viruses, I promise! The most common reaction I do get to Heart Wood is “this gives me goose bumps!”

You can order Heart Wood on Amazon Here

The ebook version will be available online soon and Heart Wood will eventually be available in local independent bookstores. Be sure and ask for it and support your local indie bookstores!

“To my own surprise, I don’t expect new authors to be so sly or quick in engaging, holding, and enlightening their readers. Whenever I pick Heart Wood up, I always regret having to put it down. Shirley DicKard is extremely good.”
             – Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet, essayist, environmental activist 

SYNOPSIS

Heart Wood – Four Women, for the Earth, for the Future

Deep in the heart of a small oak writing desk is a legacy that mysteriously connects three family women across centuries and generations in their fight for the future.

     Shima’a, an ancient woman with disturbing visions of the Earth’s demise, sends a message of warning, and a seed of hope, forward in time within the heart of an acorn to three family women:

     Eliza: Post Gold Rush in the Sacramento Valley, late 19th century.

     Harmony: Back-to-the-land homestead in the Sierra Nevada, late 20th century.

     Amisha: Dystopic San Francisco and the Sierra Nevada, late 21st century.    

Writing on the heartwood of the old desk, each woman is influenced by the ancient message as she views mankind’s escalating destruction of the natural world through the eyes of her time. The women learn to listen to the silence, hold the earth in their hands, gather the women, then do what must be done.

Heart Wood is a compelling family saga set in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada. Its characters shift from one generation to the next, as do the struggles they face in saving their homestead from the ravages of climate change, fire, and human greed. But it’s mankind that poses the most dire challenges to the land and to those who seek life upon it. Heart Wood speaks of the collective power of feminine energy to protect the Earth. If you feel you’re not doing enough or that it’s already too late to make a difference, Heart Wood may change your mind. An eco-speculative-historical-magical-feminist novel.