It's my birthday.
I'm twenty eight.
And I'm happy to be here -- to be alive; to be part of this grand, wonderful world; to know that in small ways I am changing the course history.
I am so happy to be where I am. Ten years ago, I was struggling to keep from drowning. Five years ago, it felt like I had no hope. Some days are still difficult. But today, I can unconditionally say I love myself and I am proud of who I am and how far I've come, and I celebrate this life that I have created, where once I saw no future.
I am at peace, and at peace with myself.
I am empowered, and comfortable, and I feel safe.
I am happy.
Thank you for being part of my story.
Today I am quietly celebrating myself – and all the other three or four billion women on the planet – for International Women's Day. I don't remember this event last year; as a nanny, I was likely too busy snuggling a four month old and wrestling two toddlers into eating lunch.
But this year, it was a day of intention and reflection. I am incredibly privileged, and I acknowledge that I have and am grateful to have the opportunities and legal protection that I do. Women around the world are deprived of education, respect, and independence. Individuals who do not fit the so-called standards for womanhood (whether standards for beauty, or submission, or gender identity, or interests, or sexual orientation) are bullied and abused. Sex is used to control and dominate and shame.
Yes, I am privileged as a woman in this country and this time, and I am aware and grateful.
(Not to say that there is not a higher ideal to be met here, too; only a few hours ago a stranger believed that it was okay to honk at me as I walked, supposedly to show his approval. I am still paid less than a man earns for the same work. Sanitary necessities are taxed as luxury items. Thousands of rape kits sit untested in police storage. And on and on..)
In reality, women are strong, intelligent, capable, compassionate warriors and nurturers and builders and dreamers. We are all – every single one of us – capable of incredible, magnificent things. We are complex and awe-some and we deserve nothing less than to own our rightful place in the world.
I know that I have a responsibility to speak up, not only myself, but my fellow women who are suffocated under systems and practices of inequality. Today, I hold my sisters around the globe in my heart, and make a promise to do what I can to make the world a better place for all of us, our daughters, and our daughters' daughters.
Help me speak up for and celebrate women and womanhood with the list below!
- This is one of my new favorite poems of all time. You are extraordinary.
- My fellow Americans - let's get a woman on the $20 bill
- Love yourself. No, really. And make it a priority.
- Fill the gender gap in your grasp of history: Extraordinary Women You Need to Know Now
- Men, you can make a stand for gender equality with He for She. We're all in this together!
- Learn how to compliment little girls - without insulting their intelligence
- Make a microloan to help a woman become self-sufficient! The best thing about this is that you will be repaid, meaning you can make a big difference with just $25. I've reinvested my money 16 times!
- Challenge society's standards and make the world a place where every woman is okay exactly as she is
- Choose one of these 75 books starring mighty girls to read to your daughter/niece/student/sister/self
- Have anything to add? Please share in the comments!
Happy Valentine's Day, sweet soul. You are precious and worthy and so, so, so loved. Be gentle with yourself today, whatever your circumstances. Treat yourself to a hot chocolate, or a walk, or an hour with your art journal. Do yoga. Smile at strangers. Write yourself a love song.
My family always celebrated February 14th as a day of love of all kinds: friendships and familial and romantic alike. It was a day of appreciation and gratitude for the good things and people in our lives. Love is one of the most central qualities that make us human -- we, social creatures by nature, have the gift of recognizing ourselves in others, demonstrating empathy, and reaching out a helping hand to lift each other up
The state of the world often leaves me overwhelmed with worry and fear. From imminent threats like climate change -- that requires all of us to work together, the consequences of not doing so threatening our very existence -- to the cruelty and ego of the American political race, I am disheartened by the greedy and self-absorbed attitudes dominating current events. (Don't get me wrong: I believe in selfishness to an extent. Learning and believing in your own value is a critical component to happiness.)
Today, I am choosing to believe in the goodness of ordinary people. I choose to believe in the power of love to change the world. Small acts of kindness are an undervalued strength, and I will make a renewed effort to infuse love wherever I can.
Big hugs. I am so grateful for you, darling.
I worked on this art journal spread two autumns ago. I used up a bunch of collage scraps that I'd saved for years, not knowing what to do with, and added acrylics, crayons, wax pastels, and texture paste (try this recipe to make your own!).
These pages are somehow unsettling to me; maybe it's the oversaturation, the business, or the rawness. Regardless, it causes me to pause and seek out what, exactly, it is that I don't like -- and prompts me to turn the page and try again.
My experiments in art do not have to result in perfection. In fact, they rarely do. We as a society, as a world, are obsessed with success, and failure is often a threat. Not so in my art journal. Here, I can play and seek out and explore and find comfort in the tension and disharmony of my mistakes. Here, I can accept them for what they are.
I thank them for the wisdom they've given me. And I turn the page.
I'm going to jump right in with a list, which is in no particular order.
1. It snowed. A lot. I have felt like a hibernating bear for the last few days, cozied up in my little home-cave. For four days, I have surrendered to the elements and released real-world expectations, errands, and sense of time. It's been lovely and restorative.
2. I have still not yet chosen a word of the year. Do you follow this practice? For about seven years, I have carefully selected a word -- a mantra -- at the start of each New Year for guidance and focus. (See 2012, 2013, and 2014.) Last year, I chose cultivate, and it impacted me in positive ways I had not expected. This year, I am looking for something that will push me to both dig deeper into myself and to stretch beyond myself. If you have suggestions, I'm all ears!
3. I have not written in a while. Well, let me clarify: I have not written for myself in a while. Last May, I began a new job as a grantwriter, the essence of which is to persuade foundations and organizations to contribute financial support to a worthy cause.
4. Being an adult is wonderful. I was thinking recently about how grateful I am to have, finally, my independence. Being a teenager is hard. Feeling like you don't belong, longing more than anything to fit in, battling inner turmoil and external drama and parental oversight is hard. It's lonely being a teenager. It was for me, anyway. And being an adult.. I treasure that I alone am the master of my fate, and the captain of my soul. (Financial security, however, would be icing on the cake.)
5. World events of late have me heartbroken and furious and not a little terrified of what the next decade will bring. I'd love to share my thoughts -- if only I could find a way to articulate them.
6. Though I haven't yet read Gretchen Rubin's new book Better Than Before, I have been thinking quite a bit about habits. As I get older, I find myself unconsciously lulled into routines that are comforting but provide no inspiration, exhilaration, or challenges. I want to change this.
7. Perhaps on a related note, I keep thinking, "Oh, I'll blog more when I finish redesigning the website." or "But I don't have a fully formed thought to share yet." I need to keep reminding myself to start, and the path will unroll before me. This is true with art, with exercising, with pursuing a dream, with home projects, with trying a new skill, and so on. Just. Start. Take the first step.
Thanks for bearing with me, loves. Hope to see you soon.