Saturday, January 21, 2017

This One's For The Girls

I am not an overt activist. I believe strongly in a number of causes, financially supporting some, and simply singing the praises of others. I get passionate about a few, and I can hold my own in a war of words about what I believe is right.

But until today, I had never taken to the streets to make my voice heard.

Thousands were invited to the Memphis Women's March via Facebook. Thousands said they were interested. Thousands attended. Including me.

The March started with a rally at the Judge D'Army Bailey Courthouse at Adams and Second Street. You could feel the electricity. Thousands of people, young and old, women, men, children, each with their own reason to lace up their shoes and shut down traffic on a Saturday morning. Appropriate that we should start our march at the courthouse named for a civil rights icon who fought for justice for all.

And the signs! So many clever words and images hoisted into the clear blue Memphis sky! Human rights, women's rights, reproductive rights, equal pay, climate change, gun violence, black lives matter, trans lives matter, pro-Hillary, anti-Trump, and don't shut out refugees. No matter the cause, we all stood together raising one voice, saying one thing: we are not happy with the direction things are going and we will not be quiet about our displeasure.

We were quite a spectacle, making our way across downtown Memphis from the courthouse to the National Civil Rights Museum, chanting "love trumps hate" and "no hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here." People stopped on the sidewalks to cheer us on. They hung out of high rise windows to throw a fist in the air to say "I'm with you!"

I felt such a sense of empowerment, that I was part of something much bigger than just the Memphis March.

So why did I put on pink and stand shoulder to shoulder with so many others? Because frankly, the current political climate scares me. As a woman and as a human being. I fear that my rights as a woman, and those of the women I love are in jeopardy. Because I am a believer in choice, and I fear that my choices will be whittled down to nothing. I fear that my right to choose anything at all could be revoked. Because I believe that climate change is a real issue, that Planned Parenthood provides desperately needed medical care to millions, and I really do care where I get grabbed.

And I'm not alone.

I may have been quiet about the queasy feeling before, but not today.

Today, I did something I've never done before. I marched in the streets for what I believe in. Now the real question: what will I do tomorrow?

Some of my favorite nasty women!
Photo Courtesy: Anna Marie Birkedahl
Photo Courtesy: Krista Pennie Myers


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What Better Situation

“Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore.”
Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things

It seems only fitting that the 1099 from the federal government would land in my inbox on the one year anniversary of my firing. That's the form I will need when I file my taxes because, despite a five month delay, I took unemployment from Uncle Sam.

One year. I can hardly believe it. I still remember with great discomfort the numbness I felt that day.

And now, one year later, here I am: keeping on keeping on. Good Lord, the things that have happened in just one year! Here I am.

I read "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed several years ago and loved it. So many times I found myself marking pages and quotes, hoping to remember them. The one that has stuck with me though is actually a pair of questions I ask myself often:

“Who would I be if I did? Who would I be if I didn't?"
Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

I'd like to think I've done a lot of moving forward since I was terminated from a job I hated. I have a much better idea of who I am, what I want out of life, and maybe I'm even closer to getting it.

One thing is certain: I know what I don't want.

I don't want to spin my wheels. I don't want to stop moving forward. I don't want to end my days bitter and frustrated by how I spent the first nine hours. I don't want to be a negative force in the world, though I seriously struggle with staying positive sometimes. I don't want to dismiss those with different opinions than mine, and I don't want to be judged for my views.

The mantra I put forward one year ago was that I want whatever I do to be something I can be proud of. Looking back over the past twelve months, I'm proud to say I've done just that.

I have found a place where I am a student and a teacher. I learn something new every day from the people I'm surrounded by, and I am invited to share my own experiences as well. It's an enriching way to be, and my life is greater because of it.

What better situation is there? Who would I be if not for this sweet life?

So what's next? I have a few projects in the works. One of my resolutions this year is to build better deadlines for myself so I can focus on the plans that are important to me. We'll see how that goes!

“Don't lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don't have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don't know what it is yet.” 
Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things