Posts tagged ##LoveWins,love,gay marriage, equality

International Day of Acceptance

Today is the 7th annual International Day of Acceptance. 

It all began in 2007 when Annie Hopkins made the above symbol as a tool for others to embrace diversity, educate society, and empower each other to love life. Annie was a vibrant young woman with spinal muscular atrophy but didn't ever want her disability to limit her. Before her untimely passing in 2009 she was an advocate, entrepreneur, artist, and student, who fully demonstrated what is possible when you love life. You can find out more about her life and the social entrepreneurial experiment she started here.

As I mentioned briefly in a previous post, my beloved mother-in-law Carlota has recently been paralyzed from the waist down for reasons unknown. She is still in the hospital but will soon be released to a rehabilitation centre in the Toronto area to learn how best to manage her life to regain as much independence as possible. Carlota is a feisty 80-year-old woman who until this past fall could be found running a large rice and mango ranch in Peru when not in Canada visiting her 5 children and 13 grandchildren. She had so much energy she unintentionally but honestly made me feel guilty sometimes for not being able to match her in vim and vigour and downright lust for life. Whenever we spoke on the phone she was ALWAYS laughing and overflowing with positivity. Indeed, that spirit remains unbroken and her grit and gumption is a testament to her beautiful soul. During the first few weeks in hospital, when her children were understandably devastated and angry, Carlota looked at her new situation as a challenge and an adventure and urged her family to do the same. 

Carlota's first husband and the father of her children died 40 years ago, leaving her a widow with 5 kids age 15 and under (4 of them boys). She found herself in a difficult situation made harder because she spoke broken english and had been living a life of relative luxury prior to her husbands death. She, however, remained undefeated, picked up any jobs she could get and raised those children to all be loving, responsible and successful citizens who love their mother more than anything in the world. She never found any work beneath her saying that "there is no shame in hard work". She has been proof in my life that the power of love is stronger than anything else in the universe. It transcends time and distance and can warm you on the coldest days and give you light and hope in the darkest nights.  I have been witness to it over the years, time and time again, and even more so now that her love is coming back to her through her family. Each of her grown children visits her every single day and makes sure she is being taken care of, has her favourite foods, plenty to read and everything she could possibly need to make her hospital stay as painless as possible. 

It's all too true that many things in life don't mean that much to the average person until they are directly affected by it. That is true for me and my family now that somebody we love dearly is disabled. We have begun to notice the many obstacles in her way (literally, as many older establishments are not disabled friendly) and emotionally and socially. So, on this day, and every day moving forward I hope to find myself more accepting and benevolent to all the brave and disabled souls in my community.

I hope you will too. 

Nobody knows what the future holds for any of us. Let me leave you with the idea that you should embrace what you have for as long as you have it.  Run free while your legs are strong. Enjoy yoga while you body is still supple and compliant. Swim. Give big and hearty hugs to those you love. Appreciate the little things because they truly are the big things and never miss an opportunity to

dance!

21 WAYS TO EMPOWER AND INSPIRE TEEN GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN

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Kindness can transform someone’s dark moment with a blaze of light. You’ll never know how much your caring matters. Make a difference for another today.
— Amy Leigh Mercree

In this life it is important to pay it forward, to share with others the wisdom hard won through mistakes made and lessons learned. As it happens, that is the purpose of Feby. The older we get, the more we (should) have learnt and sharing our experiences moving forward can lessen another's burden.  Never underestimate the power your actions and words carry. In a world of hurtful and shaming words and images aimed directly at teen girls and young women in magazines, fashion, music videos and culture at large, I urge us all to try and make a positive impact on the young women in our own lives. The media tends to focus on fear and insecurity; let's reinforce confidence and courage.  Below is a selection of ideas to help us in such a noble pursuit created by Lacey C. Clark of Sisters' Sanctuary.

  1. Create your own reality: in this way you encourage others to do so.
  2. Listen more than you speak.
  3. Be authentic.
  4. Be honest.
  5. Spend quality time together.
  6. Be a model of the behaviour you want to see.
  7. Believe in her potential.
  8. Share your wisdom freely.
  9. Explain the value and relevance of history and culture.
  10. Treat her with respect.
  11. Be compassionate.
  12. Be patient.
  13. Remember what it was like to be her age - communicate with her from that perspective.
  14. Let her know that she can always solve any problem - life is never hopeless.
  15. Hold them accountable.
  16. Invest your time and/or your dime.
  17. Teach others the value of staying in gratitude and saying "Thank You".
  18. Remind her about proper nutrition and diet, rather than looking a certain way.
  19. Speak words of encouragement.
  20. Allow them to express themselves without judgement.
  21. If she can't love herself, she can't love others. Does she know that?

 

Do you have any others ideas or suggestions on ways to empower and inspire teen girls and young women? Let's share! That's what a sisterhood is all about. 

'Dancing at the Shame Prom'

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shame. noun. a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour:

  • His face burned with shame.
  • She hung her head in shame.
  • He could not live with the shame of other people knowing the truth.
  • I would die of shame if she ever found out.

The first feminist book I have read this year to fulfill my pledge at the Hiding Spot2013 Feminist Reads Challenge is ‘Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the stories that kept us small.’ This is an anthology by 28 assorted female writers, edited by Amy Ferris & Hollye Dexter. 

Shame is an inherently human emotion ( a fox feels no shaming for brutally killing a rabbit) and one that can hide in the recesses of our consciousness for a lifetime.  Shame can alter our core self-esteem, making us vulnerable and so many aspects of our lives can be negatively affected.  Shame is also oftentimes transferred onto us by others, be they family members (which occurs frequently in this book), acquaintances or society as a whole and this is commonly done to keep us quiet about our transgressions (real or otherwise) and made to feel small.  But as these stories prove, the shame we carry deep within the shadows of our soul can be diluted by sharing it with others, and with any luck, release the bearer of her burden.

This book is a banquet of emotions, filled with dark details and lonely depths but one which is ultimately cathartic. The stories inside are many things including poignant,  tragic, human, profound, hopeful and most especially loving.

Recently I read the quote “I write to give testimony. I read to bear witness” and that sentiment has never felt truer to me than when I read this book. I was bearing witness to the shame felt by these courageous writers who entrusted me with their stories. Stories as harrowing as being sexually abused as a young girl, having an abortion at the age of eighteen, and walking away from an adoption when a child became available, and all are stitched together with honesty from the author and trust towards the reader. This book is at once heavy in theme and substance yet made lighter for the reading; a  necessary step on the road to enlightenment. As I alluded to in the title of this post, I am grateful and wish to express my intense thankfulness to the authors for allowing me the privilege of reading their words and sharing their lives. I would like to be the kind of person that could admit my shame publicly, but even after reading this graceful tomb I am unable to follow the intrepid example of these talented writers. (Does this mean my shame is compounded?)

I quite enjoyed the extra page at the end of each story with a blurb about what the author hopes the reader takes away with them. I was piqued by my takeaway being different to what the author had hoped on more than one occasion, which made me appreciate how the art we create can be interpreted in so many different ways by others.

If you have the opportunity to read this book, I highly recommend you do so. If you’re anything like me you will be given the gift of intense emotional impact and may even find yourself wiser, kinder and more empathetic as a result.

 

Posted on March 15, 2013 .