I'm still in the vacation state of mind, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite waterfalls with you. They make me appreciate and want to protect Mother Nature. I hope they inspire you to do the same. Enjoy!
It is our pleasure to introduce Kirstin Pulioff as the first guest author in the Words With Women's Living Room. Please join us in reading her blog post discussing fairytales.

Kirstin's post: This blog recently featured an article about the negative influence fairytales can have on the female/female relationship.  I can acknowledge this is true on many levels.… but they also teach us about the good in the world.

Fairytales in themselves are stories that weave together a lesson or moral with the fantasy. They are often used to teach a child without them knowing, entertaining them with the whimsy of the story, the imagery, and the mystical elements.

When researching this topic, I was astounded to find that some of the oldest fairytales were much darker than modern versions.  The toned down versions of Disney have led to a gentler vision of Snow White, Little Mermaid, and some of our other favorite princesses.  I kind of like that.  The older fairy tales give a darker tale that us adults enjoy, and the newer ones can still teach with a positive tone.

 With so many fairytales out there, I wanted to point out some of the positive lessons from a few of my favorites.  Yes, these still have some of the negative and unsavory parts, but just like the duality of life, it’s important to look on the positive side.

Snow White
 is full of wonderful gems of wisdom.  From finding help in the most unlikely of places, to having a positive attitude at work, true beauty comes from within, and true love conquers all, there is a lesson for everyone.

Sleeping Beauty spent a lot of time sleeping, but what she learned, was if you dream it, it can happen. Never give up on your dreams, you never know who is fighting for you and who is helping behind the scenes.

One of my childhood favorites, Cinderella, is full of great messages.  This one teaches us that hard work pays off, be kind to animals, never give up hope, and always have a fantastic pair of shoes.

Rapunzel is a newer one, but filled with the positive notions of following your dreams, enjoying the adventure that life takes you on, and finding the good in the people around you.

So find a fairytale, new or old, and enjoy the positive message found within.  These are timeless tales that are filled with lessons on love, dreams, and happy endings.
Kirstin Pulioff is the author the fairytale series The Escape of Princess Madeline and The Battle for Princess Madeline.

I read an insightful blog post by Kathryn, discussing woman on woman snarky and vulgar behavior. Her conclusion that this inappropriate behavior must be addressed within oneself first is absolutely accurate. We are responsible for the way we behave. Like Kathryn, I was utterly appalled at the language and actions of these women toward each other. However, I'm not going to link the post that Kathryn discussed here. It doesn't deserve the additional page views.

This behavior seems to start at an early age. So I focused on early learning materials in this post. Albert Einstein said “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” I wonder if these same fairy tales are teaching women to be mean to each other. To follow my train of thought, let’s examine a few. Cinderella was relegated to maid status by her  step-mother and step-sisters and had to sneak out to the ball. Sleeping Beauty was given the poison apple by the wicked fairy because she was not asked to be one of Sleeping Beauty's godmothers. And Snow White was to be executed, on her step-mother's orders, because Snow White had become the fairest in the land.

It would be unfair to conclude that all fairy tales teach women to be nasty to each other. Most provide the opportunity to talk with children about good versus evil or other morals presented on an age appropriate level. For instance, they could talk about step-parent and step-child relationships that are wonderful and fulfilling, unlike those the fairy tales depict. The Three Little Pigs teaches judgment with the choice of home building materials. Or, parents can talk about the consequences of lying as they read Rumpelstiltskin with their children. Hansel and Gretel offers the opportunity to discuss that some adults are bad and that children need to be alert. By being aware, they may be able to escape potential predators. 

It seems that girls may be learning to be mean to each other based on certain fairy tales. But the parents’ responsibility remains the same. They need to read with their children so that the messages that they would like their children to receive are discussed and understood. Expectations for the child’s behavior can be included in these discussions, as well. When the parents don't spend time reading or viewing the videos with their children, it allows the children to draw their own conclusions about appropriate versus inappropriate actions. 

Perhaps it is time to evaluate the fairy tales that we read to our children. We need to look for stories that fit today's world. The BedTime Story currently posted, The Trees Have Hearts, is a perfect example for teaching friendship, diversity and acceptance of people who may be different than oneself.

I'd like to hear from you which stories you read to your children and why. I'd also like to know whether you think fairy tales are teaching girls to be rude and vulgar toward each other. What other theories do you have related to the subject?

Okay, it's happened - I'm 50! Take a close look at the caution tape. Leave it to my staff to find that!

I ducked under the tape to go in and out for a couple of hours. But that got old real fast, so I moved the tape to the window beside my door.

There were the standard jokes about the fire alarm going off. Of course, they couldn't get ONE candle with a "50" on it. There were SIX. Does that make me 300 in Office Worker years?

See the confetti on the table? More "50's" and Happy Birthdays. Can you feel the love?

I wish you could actually see this in person. The pictures don't show how many streamers and balloons adorned every surface and light fixture. I must say they did a terrific job of decorating my office. What do you think?

I don't look 50, so perhaps I'll get carded again once I begin ordering from the senior citizen's menus. Maybe I'll pretend it's because I'm 21. But my birthday wish was definitely not to be 21 again!


Aurora, CO - August 5, 2012

Newtown, CT - December 14, 2012

Boston, MA - April 15, 2013

The horrific events of these three most recent dates are seared into our memory. They changed and will change our nation in ways we don’t yet know. But have we examined the impact on our children?  As a baby boomer, I grew up with a sense of invincibility, without thinking of death or destruction.  I doubt today’s children feel the same.

How do you talk to your children about tragic events such as the mass murder of Aurora, CO movie goers? Or the cold-blooded shooting of young children at a quiet Newtown, CT school? Or bombers who target innocent people out to run a marathon?

What do you say to restore their sense of security?  How do you teach them to be aware without scaring them into seclusion? I’ve struggled with these thoughts for days.

I’ve asked co-workers how they talked to their children. Their answers ran the gamut, ranging from “my child doesn’t know and cannot handle this information, so we don’t discuss it.” Another said “my child didn’t want to go to school after the Newtown murders. I had to tell her she’d be okay and then force her to go. I couldn’t let her hide from the realities of life. I was relieved when I didn’t need to pick her up from school early.” 

Along with imagining the pain of the parents who will never see their children again, these talks shattered our hearts, too, because innocence and trust does not exist the way it used to. And while we know that we have not seen the last of these tragedies, we hope that our children or families are not among the next targets.

Mother Teresa’s compassion for ending hunger and nursing the sick was beyond measure. Susan B. Anthony’s women’s suffrage efforts gave women a voice in politics. Malala Yousafzai survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban because she dared to promote education for women.

First, let me say that I am not trying to categorize myself in the same sentence or paragraph with these women. If I had the opportunity to influence people as they have, what message would I share? I will normally discuss child safety tips and keeping the water clean for future generations in my posts. However, today for the kick-off of this website, I’m choosing to discuss education and compassion, for those lead to a safer society. 
I learned at an early age, that education holds  the key for independence.  I could not agree more with Susan B. Anthony’s statement, “Woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself.”  When an educated woman is part of a relationship that is not working, she will be less likely to be forced to stay for financial reasons. Subsequent blog posts or Q&A sessions will address other factors holding her in the relationship.

The benefits of education for women are immense. The children of an educated woman will likely be educated. Generally, she will have fewer children, and the family will be healthier. Countries that change from educating only the males to educating both men and women benefit from a more diverse thought process. Women view issues differently than men, and will bring different solutions than men. The Taliban’s attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai’s is proof that, even though they do not value women, they fear
educated women’s solutions.  

In addition to education, compassion and respect for others must be taught. Compassionate people think before they hurt others. What happened to teaching the Golden Rule? “Treat others as though you would want to be treated?” The majority of violence in today’s society could be ended if children were
taught compassion. As a child, my older brother and I fought with each other. I remember my mom admonishing my brother and me, “Don’t hit your sister. Don’t hit your brother. One of you may get hurt.” Children taught to respect others, will grow into adults who respect others. It will take years, but in this way, much of the violence existing in the nation can be alleviated.  

Many of you may think this proposition is simplistic. You are right. There are other issues that must be addressed, as well. Hungry people may commit crimes to get money for food. Mentally ill people may have access to weapons, and choose to use them. However, if the majority of the population is educated,
compassionate and respectful, then the acts of violence that can be controlled will decrease.

Mother Teresa’s love, compassion and kindness led to her having one of the most recognized faces in the world. She did not ask for the fame resulting from her actions. She asked that we value life and live it to the
fullest.  And, her actions asked while we live life to the fullest that we help others to live their lives to the
fullest, as well.

To finish, I'll invite you over to my page on the website. There, you will see pictures of the three women I've discussed today, as well as, their comments central to the development of this post.