Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lessons from Hillary

The news this week about Hillary Clinton is distressing. Named as the Most Admired Woman in a Gallup poll, I feel so proud of her and for women who, like her, have been showing the world that women can, indeed, DO! and do well, the big jobs. No one who is even minimally aware of the news can doubt her commitment to her job as Secretary of State, and prior, as a Presidential Candidate, Senator and First Lady. She has demonstrated her intellect, her grit, her compassion, and her nurturing, and in my mind, represents so much of what women coming of age on the cusp of this past century have fought for.

And this past week, she has been in the hospital, with a potentially life-threatening condition. Could stress and exhaustion have anything to do with this? I don't know what Hillary did for herself these past years, whether she rose from the airplane seat to stretch and walk around, or ate her veggies, or meditated. I know for sure that she sat for hours reading briefs, discussing strategies, stretching her intellect, sorrowing over mistakes (hers and others), and working, working, working for a better world.

How many people, men and women, can we say pushed him or herself to the point of collapse? Too many. We admire those who give their all, sacrificing their own needs for the job, or the family, or the greater good. By lauding them, we are also implying that it is OK, even desirable and expected, for a person to degrade his health by ignoring the most basic needs of the human body....adequate rest, movement, and high quality nutrition. When will we learn to value effort and ease, relentless pursuit and rest?

As I wrote on this blog in 2011, life is in the balance.

As our society comes to recognize that we cannot push our physical systems to the maximum---our bodies, the Earth---perhaps we will be able to exalt those who balance their own lives in a healthier way. I applaud Hillary's achievements and am grateful for the example she continues to set, for good and ill. May this latest experience lead her, and the rest of us, to better balance and health.

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