The life I am living now is a muted mural painted on a large wall, somewhere in the Universe.
I have lived a thousand lives and will live a thousand more, no doubt.
It isn't that I believe in reincarnation, although that option makes more sense to me than many religious endings. I have felt the power of a soul lifting from my body, soaring across time and space, and then returning. I have never actually been anywhere, but here. But, I have glimpsed many other places my soul could be and may be, someday.
If my soul comes back here, to this planet we call Earth, I will be someone else. I would hope that I will be someone stronger. Someone who can stand up for herself, the way she stands up for others.
It's that self that trips us up, isn't it? Why are we - and this is for the most part women, but some men suffer from this malady, also - so afraid of standing up for ourselves? I get it that we are taught early on, as girls, to be quiet and obedient, and we are taught to walk softly and leave big sticks to the boys, and we are taught that we must get by on our feminine wiles, not our intelligence, but this is 2017. Surely, we have outgrown those sad, outdated ideas perpetrated by white haired priests in order to keep girls in line.
Surely, we have.
Well, you can ask Shirley and she will tell you we haven't.
She will tell you of the thousand lives she has lived. From toddler to grown woman. Shirley and the rest of us have gone through so many metamorphoses we sometimes look in the mirror and wonder who that person is. Note that I said "person", not "woman" because we are first and foremost, people. Then, we are women. We would like to be known for our humanness first and our gender second.
Oh, that is a tricky thought. A tricky idea. A tricky command.
Because, when one is a woman, her gender proceeds her, wherever she goes and whatever she does, and before anything else, it defines her.
The problem is, even now, in 2017, no matter her race, her creed, her sexual preference, her age, her height or weight, the person who is a woman is defined as such and put in a category commonly referred to as insignificant. Because, of course, all significance in the world rests with the people who have a penis.
I am sorry. Did I say something to offend you?
OH NO NO NO!!! Let me take that back! I am not sorry. You see, I am tired of being sorry. Sorry for accidentally being smarter than the man next to me and then being loud and proud when the idea I shared is contributed to him - loud and proud saying, "Well, that is exactly what I just said. Isn't it?"
In all of my thousand lives I have done this. I have bent to the awful posture society insisted I take - always giving due to the other gender, the gender that worships at the alter of phallic symbols.
Oh, the undercurrent of anger here. Yes, I am angry. I am angry that we are still defending ourselves - we women who are so quick to defend others - we are sharing "Me, too!" across social media and sitting back proud that we announced to the world that yes, we, too, suffered harassment and worse, and we are no longer going to be silent.
My anger is with myself, and my thousand lives, and how I cannot find the words to share them. The awful events that led to my "me, too!" I am a coward. I am not courageous. I am glad to stand with others who carry this secret around in their souls, like a deep, black spot that burns on a daily basis, creeping into our hearts, our brains, and everything we do. The secret of a thousand lives lived as a young girl and then a woman, denying that the abuse and assaults happened, because it's easier that way.
Oh, well. After all, that was a long time ago. I am such a grown woman now, with grown women of my own. I don't care anymore that I endured what I endured. I don't need to share.
I do need to say I am focused now on supporting Warrior Women, those strong, talented, amazing women who endured far more than I, and who rose again to be what women are meant to be: leaders in a world that is sorely lacking leadership.
I need this Warrior Women project. I am indebted to Annabelle Denmark for her serious talent in photography, and her willingness to bring me on this project with her, as we showcase and share the stories of women who did not let society hold them back, no matter how many times they were knocked down and stepped on.
It's time to redefine the concept of Warrior Woman. I will share more over time. For now, be content to know that I can see the thousand lives you have lived. I feel the sudden despair that comes over you, almost daily, and I cheer for the way you thrust it out of your life now. You refuse to allow it to cover you in its awful darkness.
My life, my muted mural on that huge blank wall the Universe has allowed me, is full of rainbow colors, and joy, and delight, in this life. In this moment. I have family, and Tom (who believes in reinventing yourself, over and over and over), and friends, and my beloved pets, and nothing could be better than that. I am woman. I am proud. I am determined. I am working to give other women the strength and voice to say, "Me, too!" And to add, "And NEVER again!"