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  • In junior high school shop class the girls were not allowed to use the equipment.
    Our teacher made the cuts and we could assemble and finish the parts.
    The boys learned everything.
    I watched them learn and saw the main difference was that they were taught not to be afraid.
    And I was getting a lesson in fear.

    When I was 8 my brothers were hired to scrape and sand a neighbors boat.
    I wanted to help them but I was not allowed to.
    He had hired them.
    I sat and watched and learned.

    When I was 10 years old I helped my brothers and Father fix up our old house.
    We put in insulation and I got to saw the boards as they nailed them in place.
    I enjoyed the work.
    I was learning to enjoy my work.

    When I was 12, my brothers played street hockey with their friends.
    I practiced with them in our basement, shooting the puck against an old mattress against the wall.
    I was the girl at the skating rink with ice hockey skates, not the lovely white figure skates that were standard.
    I have broad feet that do not fit into the standard shape of a woman’s shoe. My toes do not come to a graceful point.
    It must be the Neanderthal blood in my veins.
    People teased me and talked about me as if I were not there, listening.
    I played ice hockey with my brothers when we formed a small group.
    “Is that a boy or a girl?” someone pointed and said as I walked onto the ice, with my long hair and kneepads.
    I joined a girl’s ice hockey team that was formed, and discontinued after one season, and I dreamed of being the first woman in the National Hockey League.

    How different would my life be if I believed only what people taught me?
    There are spoken lessons and the lessons of people’s actions.
    Pay attention to the small signals, they tell us something.

    Even last night the lessons continue.
    One of our skilled carpenters left at the end of the day, and left his piles of wood shavings and dust and off cuts on the floor, in a nearly finished museum room.
    I cleaned up.
    I was fuming.
    Years of anger were behind my fuming.

    But I cleaned up and I told myself that this was also an important part of the job.
    How we present and take care of our work is a part of our work.
    I told myself this, but did not believe myself.
    At that moment the director of the museum walked in to see the progress.
    He was all smiles and gracious, impeccibly dressed in thin pin stripes on dark navy suit, and apologized for interrupting my work.

    Every part of the job is important.
    It is when things get separated that the troubles start.

    It is when you believe that you are what people think you are that you are in trouble.
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