Before we jump into the latest Women of Character interview, something from the newsfeed: In about a week, we’ll be revealing the cover for Wasteland Renegades…and other surprises! Keep checking the Warpworld comms or sign up for our non-spammy newsletter for a reminder. Now, on to the good stuff…
On Ama’s world, women do not hold positions of power within the political system. And, as on our world, whenever a group of people has no political voice, those people exist at the bottom of the social ladder, sometimes resorting to extreme acts to claim their rights and freedom. Ama becomes a rebel because she has no other choice. Thankfully, in North America, we are slowly beginning to realize that women make excellent leaders, and communities benefit when all of their members have a voice. In Twentynine Palms, California, one of those important voices belongs to former teacher, Mayor, and current college board member, Elizabeth “Liz” Meyer.
Of all the words I would use to describe Liz, ‘shy’ is not one. From the moment she charged into my life, in Baja, Mexico, with her delicious Trader Joe’s pretzels, her fascinating conversation, and her ‘energetic’ canine companion, I knew I was dealing with an extraordinary individual. She hasn’t proven me wrong yet!
WWC: Liz, we’re so thrilled to have you join us on the Warpworld Comm! Aside from facing down a high ranking military official now and then, tell us about some of the things you’ve done in your life that challenged what society believed women were “supposed” to do.
LIZ: At the age of 69, I cross a generation gap of greatly changed beliefs of what women were “Supposed” to do. Education was high on the list of my family’s values. My mother was well educated, being one of the first women to get a Master’s Degree in Education at Columbia University in NYC. The purpose of her education, however, was not to get a job – it was to be an educated wife to an educated man.
I was the first of the three girls in my family to get a job, and that was over the objections of my parents. I was in the third year of college, and yet they felt a summer job would conflict with the family summer travels. I was also the first to get married, (I am the middle child), and join the Peace Corps with my husband, again, over the objections of my parents, who would have preferred I complete my Master’s Degree.
I cross the the generation gap – I did get my Master’s Degree eventually, and I did raise a family; but I also balanced a teaching career and eight years on the City Council, two years as City Mayor, into my role as a woman.
WWC: What project or accomplishment are you most proud of?
LIZ: My husband Dave was my partner in life in every sense of the word – my love, my security, my best friend, my past and my future. When he suddenly died eight years ago, I decided that, despite the greatest loss of my life, I would not just go on living, but I would thrive on my own. I have taught myself landscaping, plumbing, roof repair, property management and business management. All this has given me a sense of accomplishment and confidence. For fun, I designed and ordered a camping van, and I camp across the country with my two dogs, loving the freedom and adventure.
WWC: Who were your heroes or role models when you were growing up?
LIZ: My parents were my role models. They were pioneers in our small desert community and as such were involved in developing the town – the first church built, first bank, bringing in city water, surveying for the roads, etc. I continue to play an active role in community development in the same town of Twentynine Palms where I have spent my life.
WWC: Were there any times in your life where you felt you were either held back or discouraged from pursuing a goal because you were female?
LIZ: Not only am I a woman, but a very small one! At 4’11” and 110 pounds, I have never been aware that my size or my gender were roadblocks. I have the personality of a presumptive strong character, and feel I have always received respect.
WWC: What do you think it means to be a “strong” woman?
LIZ: A “strong” woman is short on fear; long on confidence; tempered with a sense of humor and a loving spirit.
WWC: What words of advice would you offer girls or young women today?
[pullquote]You will only be as strong and successful as you see yourself to be.[/pullquote]
LIZ: As a woman you will only be as strong and successful as you see yourself to be. Trying to be “like” someone else is futile – be yourself and focus on your assets, letting them take the lead in your vision of who you want to become.
WWC: What does the future hold for Liz Meyer?
LIZ: Liz sees herself continuing to enjoy good health, her wonderful family, her many friends, and fun adventures.
WWC: That sounds like a fantastic plan! Anything else you’d like to share with us?
LIZ: It has been fun to stop and take a look at myself and my beliefs through this interview. Thanks for the opportunity!
WWC: The thanks are all ours!
When Liz Meyer was born, in 1944, there were no hospitals in the desert. She was born in Pasadena, California, and brought home as soon as soon as it was deemed safe to take a newborn out to a place so remote as Twentynine Palms. Growing up on the desert provided countless ways for her to play in the sand and water, make “forts” in the creosote bushes, play “covered wagon”, and enjoy the outdoors for most of the year.
Liz earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Arizona State College (now NAU) in Flagstaff, AZ., and later her Master’s Degree from Cal State University, San Bernardino. While studying at Flagstaff she met her life partner, Dave Meyer. After college graduation, they served two and a half years in the Peace Corps in Venezuela, then returned to raise their children, Jeff and Angela, in Twentynine Palms.
Liz taught Spanish for 28 years at Twentynine Palms High School, was elected to the Twentynine Palms City Council as the first woman Councilperson in 1992, and was Mayor of the City in 1994 and 1999. She is serving her second elected term as Trustee of Copper Mountain College, currently President of the Board.
When Liz’s life partner, Dave, died in 2005, and she realized she would have to “go it alone”, she combined her love of traveling and camping, had a van designed for her camping enjoyment, and now travels with her two dogs. She has crossed the United States three times, camping out and experiencing all the byways of America.
She will always consider Twentynine Palms her home, where she has lived all her life.
Stay tuned for more Women of Character, coming soon!