Friday, September 16, 2016

Doing the Best We Can With Our Lives

I spent my first legitimate night off in nearly six months (not counting a recent sick day) in the company of a woman I consider one of the most forward-thinking people on the planet: Gloria Steinem.

Gloria Steinem at 75th Anniversary of PPGMR
I admit I haven't always known who she is, her journey, what she represents, and all the ways she has changed the world. Hers was not a household name for me as a young girl, not because my parents expressed contrarian beliefs, but because it just wasn't. I remember asking my mother for a subscription to Ms. Magazine thinking it was simply another alternative to Seventeen or Sassy.

I was well into adulthood before I began educating myself about feminism and what it means to wear that mantle.

Gloria visited Memphis last night to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region and the work the organization has done to provide women and men access to birth control, medical services, education and advocacy.

She talked about fighting to gain and maintain women's reproductive rights and a woman's right to control her own body, hitting all the high points. As a thank-you to PPGMR, she read the introduction to her latest book, My Life on the Road. The intro reveals her own difficult choice as a young woman just starting out on her own:

Knowing that she had broken an engagement at home to seek an unknown fate, he said, "You must promise me two things. First, you will not tell anyone my name. Second, you will do what you want to do with your life." Dear Dr. Sharpe, I believe you, who knew the law was unjust, would not mind if I say this so long after your death: I've done the best I could with my life.

I'd say so.

Such simple yet powerful words that moved me to tears. It's as if Dr. Sharpe was there being honored as well for being a visionary, for imploring a young woman to move forward from that moment into a second chance, giving her an opportunity to change the world and taking no credit for his pivotal role in what would become a life spent in pursuit of my rights and yours.

Dr. Sharpe clearly understood that women sixty years ago (and today) should never have to question whether they have control over their own bodies. He afforded Gloria Steinem and who knows how many others the dignity and power of choice.

Equally as inspiring was this year's James Award recipient.  Rep. Johnnie Turner was a bona fide rabble-rouser in the best possible sense! She brought the crowd to its feet with her gracious thanks and pleas for us to send her some support in Nashville and beyond!

State Rep. Johnnie Turner honored with 2016 James Award

The evening wrapped up with a crowd of eager fans and feminists hoping to shake hands and take a selfie with Gloria.

An amazing moment for Krista meeting Gloria Steinem

*Special shout out to Charles, the Uber driver who whisked Krista and me to the big event, and who could not get enough of the brief lesson in feminism coming from his back seat. Throw in some protesters outside the Hilton Memphis and Charles was loving the excitement!

Special thanks to Krista for such an awesome event!

Inspiring night shared with friends, all doing the best we can with our lives