Prelude: This evening I attended a program in support of a new friend, Sharon Lachow-Blumberg, Founder of I’m Not Done Yet – a consulting, coaching and training firm focused on helping women create purpose, power, and profit in their lives. I was touched by the stories shared and by the degree of camaraderie Sharon and the participating women offered to one another, each seekers of joy, purpose and fulfillment on their own journey called life.
In honor of International Womens’ Day, Sharon, Whitney Johnson, and all of the other women who are working to inspire, encourage and empower women to live their voices out loud, I am reposting an oldie, but goodie. Keep doing the wonderful work you are doing – helping women dare to achieve their dreams!
I love men.
Surprised you with that opener, didn’t I? Admit it. Weren’t at least some of you expecting me to start off this post with some anti-male feminist tirade about the wrong-doings of men, necessitating the need for the great allegiance of women?
Truth is, for as long as I can remember, despite the occasional rotten apple, I’ve loved men. I like their company and I appreciate their charms. I’m also woman enough to admit that I still like a man’s attention – to know that in a man’s eyes (as well as my own) I’m beautiful, articulate, intelligent, sexy and funny. Who among us heterosexual women doesn’t feel that way? Let’s at least be honest with ourselves. After all, aren’t men the creatures we often give the full force of our heart to, at least before we become mothers? We love them, honor them, cherish them, and sometimes even give our lives up for them. Many of us blindly trust and follow them, sacrificing what we must for those men who capture our hearts. Unfortunately, sometimes we go too far, often losing ourselves in the process.
That said, in recent months there has been a shift in my focus – away from men and their charms (as well as their complications), towards the great force and beauty of my fellow females. No, I’m not switching teams, but I do have a growing appreciation for what is often referred to as ‘the great sisterhood of women’. If the men in my life have been catalytic and occasionally heartbreaking forces that pushed me towards growth, it has largely been the women in my life who have journeyed with me through that growth and beyond — who have pushed, challenged, sympathized, empathized, offered an ear, shared a burden, wiped tears, set me straight, cried with me, and stood by my side. They have not done so because they always agreed with me and my decisions, but because there is a common bond among us; because ultimately, we all want to see our fellow sisters succeed at this game called life.
As I have traveled across much of the world these last couple of years, women across cultures have reached out, opened up, and shared their own journeys with me. I have even heard from many of you via this blog or through common virtual alliances.
All of you, like me, have your own story. Heartbreaking stories of fear, pain, heartache and loss; but also beautiful stories of courage, love, and triumph.
Some of you, like me, have just gone through a major life transition…a painful, heart-splitting, oftentimes scary, lonely and difficult journey, but have come out the other side stronger, wiser, and more compassionate than ever.
Some of you have felt victimized by your circumstances, stuck in your anger and blame; but others of you have found strength and confidence in the journey, honoring your own voice, despite the pain along the way.
I’ve heard from women who have silenced their voices, afraid to be alone or to follow their dreams, yet courageous enough to at least admit it.
I’ve heard from other women who made the choice to turn personal tragedy into life-changing victory and who now inspire others by the force of their own example.
Some of you, like the brave women of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, have even assumed great risks to reach out to other women to be heard and understood, even if only virtually;
I’ve met women who, after years of being lost, finally found themselves – whether at 30, 50, or even 70 in the case of at least one woman I know. Women who dared to journey within; who dared to dream, and in doing so, found their heart place.
My feminism is not of the Gloria Steinem variety, although I once took inspiration from her. My brand of feminism is not about what is being done to us by others (though I am a strong advocate of gender equality), but about harnessing the power within; about listening to our hearts and honoring who we most authentically are.
I believe in the gifts women have to offer the world and each other. I believe in the strength of our will, the courage of our convictions, and the beauty of our hearts. I believe in our power to create lasting change for good in this world, starting with our own families.
We are many things to many people: mother, sister, wife, lover, worker, leader, caretaker, survivor, daughter, friend; but most importantly, we are women. In honor of International Women’s Day this week, I am indeed proud to be a part of the great sisterhood of women.
Note: This post is dedicated to my mother, an incredibly beautiful, smart, strong, and courageous force of nature; my first and most important example of what it means to be a woman in this world. Through her example, I have learned to become the same.