I took a long hiatus from writing- too many reflections which I simply could not express as authentically as I wanted. So, I put it on ice for a while. A couple of weeks ago, I was a speaker at the Rotary International District Conference session on women empowerment. The opportunity to express my thoughts to a great audience was for me a gift- it lit the spark to write again. I have shared excerpts of my conversation with my audience in this blog post.
Empowered To Becoming
So, I haven’t told this to anybody yet. Not even my husband– Nothing scandalous!!! I have a dream - to write a book, with my mother, about how our destinies connect. That desire was birthed from fascinating stories she told us of her childhood, usually in Kwaku Ananse style. Skipping through the streets of Cape- Coast in her mother’s “kaba”, rummaging through sand, looking for the coins that may have fallen from the pockets of drunken revellers after a dance, or running to hide her grand-aunt’s illegally brewed “akpeteshie”, after a tip- off from the very policemen detailed to do a swoop.
This is the first chapter of the stories of many women who conquered the odds and on whose shoulders you and I, men and women have viewed the world and are charting our path.
I believe there are two spheres of women empowerment- for one it’s literally a fight to the death. For career women like you and I (homemakers included) , it’s more of jumping the hurdles to the journey of our becoming. And it’s you and I that I want to speak to. It is for us that the answer is a little muffled when the question is asked, should more be done? No matter how veiled, you can tell the discordant voices when you are in the midst of a madding crowd, or even in the middle of a logically reasoned discourse on female empowerment. You can see in your mind’s eye the wagging of a finger at you, as if to say, there goes the damsel in distress, or the feminist, or the Marie-Antoinette to the cause of female empowerment, depending on who you are with, and where you are.
But whether you assess it empirically or anecdotally, we all can’t deny that women still battle their right to education, their right to be economically empowered, their right to decide who to love and marry and it goes on.
And if you think about it, some women will never know the thrill and intensity of an orgasm.
I want to share with you the musings that I chew on when I am alone with my thoughts about why beyond external influences, I am less than the whole empowered woman that I was destined to be, and what I am embracing with a new fervor. Some of my reflections may come across as stereotyping, forgive me if it hits you that way. But I do encourage you to be vulnerable to yourself for the next few minutes.
The Power To Embrace Our Looks & Our Authentic Selves
As women, our looks matter to us and it should. There is a certain aura about a woman who embraces her looks. Whether she is a barbie, a Maria Mutola, a Marilyn Monroe, a …….....!
We are bombarded with images and stories that shout that beauty is a woman's sceptre. But so is being competent, so is kindness, so is intelligence, so is diligence, so is warmth. The truth is that outwardly, none of us are ever going to be beautiful enough. Don’t get me wrong, by all means, be the best physical you that you can be, but don’t be held captive by everybody else’s idea of how you should look. Some of the most captivating women, I have had the pleasure of knowing were the ones who made an impression on me with an aura that was magnified by their authenticity. Wisdom demands that you don’t walk this earth with your guard down and your chips on display but do radiate your authentic self.
The Power To Stay Positive Whether Or Not You Are Validated
Like many of you, I craved affirmation when I was younger. With maturity came the verve to embrace more fully my innate power to stay positive whether or not I was validated. The craving of my youthful days has given way to something less potent and more liberating.
Your ability to go through your moments, your obligations without the fanfare will empower you ultimately. As women, we wield such power which we simply hand over because we are looking for that person – boss, husband, friend to validate us, to applaud us. And when they don’t, we crumble under and spend our energies second guessing ourselves.
This is what I tell myself when I do something great which I believe is worthy of commendation and I don’t get it - “Whether …………. (name) affirms me or not, does not change the fact that I did something great. So why sulk and dispossess myself of my very power”.
For the younger people thinking or whispering, - I will get there when I am also more mature, I say to you, what I say to people who care to listen; even a 100 years in another 100 years, will be but a moment. So you need to decide to accelerate your self-empowerment now, and not wait to uncover yourselves painstakingly.
And When You Feel Like Being The B.I.T.C.H
Let’s be real. Empowering yourself to BECOME is no walk in the park.
I must confess that there are times when I feel like being a real B.I.T.C.H. When I just want to eat off the floor with the “waddling” ducks because that’s where my “tormentors” are feeding. There are times when I do indeed start quacking and then I remember, I am a swan, not an ugly duckling. Then I go into my store house of power to be rejuvenated and to go on. My store house is my faith in God. It resurrects me. Find your storehouse and enter its gates! Don’t let those pain bearers drag you under with their negativity and their smallness. Don’t give into the temptation to stay in that ugly place that is beneath your best you.
Now, close your eyes for 30 seconds.
Imagine who you would be if you embraced your looks, if you moved beyond your mistakes of yesterday, If you were bold enough to stand out, if you walked your journey with or without applause, if you stopped eating off the floor with the ducks and the chickens.
That image in your mind, that’s your gift to yourself. Hold on to it and work your way each day to your becoming.