The Shriver Report – Janice Lynch Schuster

Special Edition

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Janice Lynch Schuster

Janice Lynch Schuster is a poet, essayist, and non-fiction writer. She is a co-author of the award-winning Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness, which received a 2012 award from the American Medical Writers Association. Her collection, Saturdays at the Gym, includes poetry inspired by her experiences, ranging from time spent boxing at the gym, to years spent raising children.

Her essays often appear in The Washington Post, and cover everything from her challenges as a cook to her father’s sports fanaticism to Elvis. She is also a frequent contributor to the Post’s Health section, where recent articles have included organ donation, compassion fatigue, and communication strategies for working with people who have dementia.

As a senior writer for Altarum Institute, Lynch Schuster’s professional work aims to improve lives through improved public health; she is currently working with the Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness, which aims to “make it safe to grow old.”

Lynch Schuster has degrees in math and creative writing, and lives at the intersection of the two. The mother of five adult children and a tween, Lynch Schuster lives near Annapolis, MD. She is a new devotee of Zumba, and—not at the same time!—is always trying to perfect her knitting skills.

Gender Equality Is a Myth!
By Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet. Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change.  → Read More
Working on a Dream: Reflections on The White House Summit on Working Families
In the late 1940s, my grandmother found herself a single mother of three, living far from family in Washington, DC, where she had moved to be a Government Girl during the war.  → Read More
The Urgency of Now: Family Caregivers and the Future that is Upon Us
Just before Mother’s Day, I was a guest on an Al-Jazeera news segment focused on the challenges of aging in America. It was my first-ever news appearance, and, later, I proudly showed a recording to my adult daughters when they came by to visit. The segment included a look at how elders are navigating the shoals of old age, sickness, and financial insecurity—a future millions of face, and all of us deny. One segment featured a mid-life African American woman who had abandoned her retirement dreams to care for her mother, who has Alzheimer’s. As the woman fixed her mother’s wisps of hair, both daughters turned to me and said, “We are never doing that. You need to tell us what you want.”  → Read More
A Better Life: Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon Models Success in Local Politics
In a time when so many women shy away from seeking public office, understanding what enables some to overcome barriers and fear may be critical to engaging more women to seek elected office. Here is how Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon reached her success.  → Read More
A Hand Up, Not a Handout: Paycheck to Paycheck and the Voice of 42 Million
As the entertainment industry grows ever more out-there in its portrayals of suffering, cruelty, and violence, the heart finds it better to harden, or be overwhelmed. Which is why I was so thrown off when, at a screening of the new HBO Documentary, Paycheck to Paycheck, I burst into tears. The focus of the film is Katrina Gilbert, a 30-year old Southerner and single mother with three young children. Her story is meant to put a face on the numbers, the 42 million women The Shriver Report counts as being on the ever-present brink of absolute poverty—and the 23 million young children who depend on them.  → Read More
My Story
A Mother’s Thoughts on Addiction and “Just Say No”
A front-page Washington Post article about a 16-year old’s heroin overdose caught my attention recently as I read through papers I had missed. The story is becoming all-too common throughout the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore, MD-Annapolis, MD triangle, where I live. As I read the article, I felt for a moment that I was back in the D.C. of the early 1980s, when crack was killing young adults everywhere, and the motto of the day was simply “Say no.” The Post article quotes an unnamed official as trying to “temper” the “disturbing trend” of heroin overdoses by “by explaining how potent and unpredictable the drug is.”  → Read More
A Woman's Nation Pushes Back from the Brink
Habits of the Heart: Building a Life Beyond the Brink
Few Americans know the story of Sofya Kovalevsky, an 18th century Russian mathematician. And yet her experiences would resonate with what millions of American women face now, especially those women who live on the brink of poverty, and confront daily its toll on their families, work, health, education, and options.
I thought of Sofya often the other day, when I joined an event in Washington, DC, celebrating the release of The Shriver Report. Every speaker touched on themes that are as prevalent today as they were 150 years ago. As a nation, we do not support, foster, or promote the wisdom, the potential, the resources or the lives of the 42 million American women who live in poverty.  → Read More
A 21st Century Moonshot: Health as a Human Right
As a Washingtonian, I hear lots about solving problems—although we do not always seem to find solutions that work. Our problems seem so intractable, from climate change to feeding billions of people. The solutions are not going to come from approaches that involve repeating some formula that has always worked in the past. Instead, like a beloved math professor who advised me to do just this, we are going to have to sit back and dream about it, envision things that challenge us, and try to imagine better strategies, ones that have not yet emerged in text books or treatises or laws or policy.  → Read More
The Weight of the Heart
Since being overwhelmed by chronic oral pain last spring, I’ve done lots to cope, including things that would proved to be my downfall: I comforted myself with way too much ice cream (full-fat, every day, it was soothing and numbed the pain), and I put my scale away. Physicians prescribed an array of painkillers and novel approaches, and I even underwent a few nerve blocks. I learned to meditate and distract myself. But nothing kept the pain at bay as effectively as a huge bowl of ice cream, followed by just one more.  → Read More