Today is International Women’s Day. (For a terrific list of ways to participate in this day, check out UpWorthy’s article.) As a woman, you would think I’d have heard about this or known about this sooner than yesterday, but I didn’t. My supervisor (a woman) brought it to my attention yesterday when she requested that I and other women on our staff do not skip work today. We didn’t.
For much of my life, I have wrestled with feminism, longing to feel part of an important movement for change, but disliking any efforts that tear others down in order to build one group up. Too many feminist efforts appeared to me to be focused on negativity and hatred towards men or “the establishment”. However, as I shed my tendency toward all or nothing thinking, I begin to see a middle ground in which I can participate in feminism in a way that feels comfortable to me. I can do so by increasing my awareness of empowered and impactful women across the globe. I can do so by advocating (through my blog, through letters to my representatives and senators) for women’s rights to make choices about their bodies. I can do so by celebrating women of all sizes and shapes and confronting those who denigrate people of size.
And, I can do so by honoring and acknowledging the women in my life who have positively impacted my self-esteem. That’s how I want to spend International Women’s Day. Here is a very brief list of the dozens and dozens of very special and wonderful women in my life:
- My mom, whose deep integrity moves me and whose courage to face her fears inspires me
- My former counselor, Pat, whose words “be gentle with yourself” still ring in my ears, a decade after she started with me on my recovery journey
- My current counselor, Donna, whose empathic understanding and validation helped me gain awareness of my feelings, tolerate them, and express them appropriately
- My spiritual director, Sister Julie, whose humility and Presence reveal to me the love of God every time we’re together
- My former boss, Myrna, whose actions and words built up my self-esteem and professional identity early in my career
- My friend, Mary, whose centered and patient presence encourages me to look within myself for answers and for peace
- My friend, Christine, whose creativity and authenticity inspire me
- My friend, Cynthia, whose unconditional love for me has been more healing than she knows
- My friend, Meg, whose ability to laugh at life has saved me from despair many times
- My friend, Becky, whose profound care for others challenges me to look outside myself for opportunities to serve
- My friend, Karen, whose willingness to share her anger about injustice has inspired me to find my own voice
- My friend, Faith, whose openness to the Divine and continued search reminds me of the greater value of asking questions than finding answers
There are so many more women I could name, but this list will do for now. This International Women’s Day, I hope you’ll take some time to think about or thank the women in your life who have had an impact on you.
Peace, joy, and inspiration,