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    We Have Our Work!

    karenWhen I was younger and just a little bit more carefree, I tested the “lady” waters pretty easily and frequently. I was the classic city version of “looking for love in all the wrong places” and I consoled my often wounded heart by sharing with friends that my “picker” was broken, a theory I believed with what was left of my whole heart.

    One of my dear friends in those early years in Berkeley, California, was my soul sister and comrade in similar romantic undertakings. She—a budding writer—and I—a budding comic—spent a good deal of time discussing writers and politics, feminism and women’s rights, children and child care, and other relevant issues of our time…along with our brief laments about our errant love affairs. We shared our writings at sidewalk cafes, in brick huts, and while browsing through new collections of featured radical lesbian writers at the now-defunct Mama Bears Coffeehouse.

    She too had a broken “picker,” however, her words of wisdom during one of her break-ups (or breakdowns…I don’t remember) still ring true for me.

    “We have our work, Karen! No matter what happens!”

    What a powerful statement! And I have seen it translated in so many situations where women have persisted—moved through toward their higher good and greater mission—despite the many transmutations and transformations in their personal lives and intimate love affairs.

    From the emotional bruisings suffered by Eleanor Roosevelt in her trying marriage to the great FDR to our current lady phoenix, rising from the ashes of another case of presidential betrayal, Hillary Clinton, the ability to focus on their work is the most stunning jewel in their character.

    We don’t have to be First Ladies to relegate our lives to a higher purpose. We simply have to decide that what we choose to devote our lives to matters, if only to us; and more often than not, it is the work that helps us to navigate the murky waters of betrayal, angst, grief, unwanted solitude, and that unsettling state of emotional weariness. In particular, the work of writing, which at first sets out to soothe one’s own soul, can, when shared, deliver others from sorrow and despair and offers glimmers of hope and restoration and peace.

    Writing is my work…whether penning for the craft of comedy or making journal entries, scripting poems or signing cards of encouragement…the value of living with purpose and meaning expressed through this medium has endowed me with courage and strength of character. Love affairs be damned! It’s the work that matters!

    Well, at least until I get the courage to try again.

    Thank you, my dear friend, for your tenderly expressed words of conviction that have stayed with me all of these years. For when all else seems to fail, we have our work, and when we turn our attention to that which really makes sense and turns us on, we can find relief and renewed energy to continually move forward.

    Karen Williams is devoted to her work! To learn more, please visit