On Saturday January 21, 2017, history was made when close to 4 million women united together to bring awareness to women’s rights. Unfortunately, due to a previously scheduled commitment I couldn’t attend the rally in LA but instead spent a good chunk of the morning glued to the tv and internet stream soaking in as much energy as I could. There were empowering speeches, and inspiring interviews, but the photo I posted above resonated and inspired me more than anything.
This sign is from the rally in Washington DC. I don’t know the women who are holding the poster, nor do I know the woman who created it, but there is a story that goes deeper than the photograph. As you can see, this poster is recreation of the iconic photo of Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman-Hughes from the women’s rights movement of the 1970's with the smaller poster bringing the correlation of that movement to the next generation of women. The message is clear, fighting for the needs of women now, impacts the rights of those yet to come.
What you don’t see is the story behind those females of our future. One of those future females (the blonde one) is Avery. I have no doubts that Avery will grow up to be an amazing young women. Why do I know this? Because she is blessed with an incredible Mom. Her mom, Colleen is beautiful soul with an even bigger heart. It’s no wonder she is a school teacher, because she has is leader and a guider. She listens to conversations intently, she responds intelligently, and makes everyone she is surrounded by feel like the most important person in the room. She shares with her daughter her love for life, which in turn molds a daughter with a love of life.
Like so many others who were inspired by this showing of the power of women uniting this past weekend, I have been soul searching trying to find out where to go from here. Since the time Colleen shared this photo with the world, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. There are so many young girls whose life is surrounded by amazing strong women, but there are so many who aren’t. I keep coming back to the empowerment of being surrounded by strong guiding women in your life, and the reality that there is also a guidance, and a power of not being surrounded by strong women in your life.
While this weekend, reignited the flame for so many, this is actually something I have been stewing around in my head since I moved to LA. I heard Lauren Fleshman speak on occupying space in this podcast with Julia Hanlon. I too have been trying to find my place, finding a way to fulfillingly occupy space, but doing so in a way that serves me. When I was in Chicago I was pretty heavily involved in Girls on the Run, serving on the Board and volunteering with them for many years. While I love everything about that organization, the time has come for me to find a new form of service. I want to be a light, guiding the path, a support system for females, especially those who are the future. The future can seem a bit scary right now, in many ways, but I really believe, if we come together, support the ones we love, and the ones we don’t, we can make a difference.
While I don’t know exactly where to go from here, I have a few ideas and some avenues to research. We (myself included) live in a society where it is easy to make time to scroll through social media, but difficult to find the time to get out and meet others for coffee or a run. The power of connection that social media brings also leads to isolation for so many. This weekend, we saw the beauty of what happens when we come together, in person, as liked minded people to connect and peacefully share a message.
I commit to spending the next few weeks, sourcing out volunteer options, getting to know my local political leaders and discovering ways to be of service in LA. This might be through running, through facilitating ways to bring others together, or something completely new, I am remaining open. What I do know, is my mission is to be one who is guiding, molding, shaping, and engaging while listening to the voices our future.