September 11, 2012

Thank You Gloria Steinem

"The truth will set you free, but it will piss you off first."
- Gloria Steinem

Before Gloria Steinem took the stage in the early 70s, feminists were seen as homely, lonely spinsters.  They were angry women, intent on wreaking havoc with the way things were supposed to be, challenging the balance of power, and (gasp) burning bras.  They had forgotten their place in civilized society and that they, like the children they were responsible for raising, were to be seen and not heard.

All that changed when a witty, intelligent and (equally important), beautiful Gloria Steinam added her voice to the movement.  Suddenly feminists were attractive?  And chose to be single?  Because of the face she brought to feminism, women were no longer seen only as the "weaker sex".  And because of her voice, what was being said was starting to be heard.  One of her wittier quotes "a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle" sums up, for me, her feelings about a woman's real

Ms. Magazine turned 40 this year.  And Ms. Steinem is still going strong at 78.  Thanks to her, we, our daughters and granddaughters no longer think this is anything but antiquated hilarity.

"One day an army of gray-haired women may quietly take over the Earth." - GS

No Winning the Blame Game

A lot of who and what we are is hereditary -- things that are passed down through our parents’ genes. The colour of our eyes, the slant of our nose, Aunt Jean’s hips. We get a lot of other things from our parents too. Food, shelter, clothing, protection, and love (hopefully -- if our parents did a decent job). But we also get things which aren't particularly good or that are downright harmful. Low (or no) self-esteem, anger management problems, abandonment issues, financial irresponsibility, body image issues, no sense of direction, are just a few of the things our parents give us and we keep stored in the memories of our childhoods. And we blame our parents; boy do we blame them.

Now don’t get me wrong, we have every right to blame our parents. After all, they sired us and raised us by the book (thanks a lot Dr. Spock - the pediatrician not the Vulcan). And they did a horrible job. I mean, just look at us. We’re a mess. We have more “disorders” than you can shake a prescription bottle at. We’re slaves to the next biggest and brightest. We’re in therapy. We have personal fitness trainers and personal money managers and personal chefs. Hell, because of our parents we spend billions annually on the self-help industry. We hire life coaches. Is it any wonder we have issues? And god knows, we have to blame someone.

Danielle LaPorte brings The Burning Question series to her blog on a weekly basis. This week’s question, “What would you be more of if you let go of the past?” got me thinking about just what it is I blame my parents for. What do I refuse to accept as just my own stupid fuck-ups or really, really bad choices? What do I constantly make excuses for, because my parents didn’t love me enough? What do I let myself off easy over because, well how would it be possible for me to be totally awesome, based on the childhood I had. I mean, really!

So yes, really, what would I be more of if I let go of the past? If I let go of the blame and self-pity and actually acted like the adult I still feel the need to remind my mother I am?

I’d be lighter. Removing the heavy coat I wear of remembered slights and wrongs, negative chatter and past betrayals and abandonments, I can only believe it would feel like that first warm day of summer. Sun dresses and bare feet kind of days. Airy. Bouncy. Free.

I’d be braver, stronger, more committed. I’d replace 'I’ll try' with 'I do' and I’d keep doing until it was done. Failure would just mean I hadn’t succeeded yet not that I was worthless and pathetic and what the hell was I thinking, believing I could do that, be that, dream that. Hell, I’d believe in dreams and the impossible. Why not? I’d stand up and say “I can be who I want to be, who I always knew I was supposed to be” without a care for the opinions of others.

The past is done. Over. And as it was written by me and no one else remembers it in the exact same way, I can choose to close the book and put the memories back on the dusty shelf where they belong. Live in the present with the person I am, not in the past with the person I thought I was.

What would you be more of if you let go of the past?