…on showing up and showing off

To all the women participating in today’s “World Without Women Day”, I thank you for all you are doing…  or not doing…  no, doing… to highlight the importance of women in the
workplace, in the marketplace, and on the battle front for equality.  I appreciate what you… won’t be doing… today on my behalf.

I have been struggling with how to participate and so I guess I am following suit by… not participating.  At least, in the same manner you are not participating.  Because, well, my job is showing up and throwing my weight around in order to “topple” a system feels more like showing off.

It’s confusing, isn’t it?  Making a statement of solidarity by not showing up is a risky move and I aone-green-leaf-023pplaud your creativity but I am making a different choice today and since the point of all of this is that we are allowed to make our own choices I am hoping you’ll understand.   Because today I will even show up for you.

I am like this one leaf.  I took this photo during a really scary November several years ago because that one green leaf still struggling to stand out when every other leaf had fallen away was how I felt.  I had been called to a battle that I was going to have to fight alone and I was searching for the courage to move ahead.  I found this leaf, clinging to a spindly tree and it stood strong and undaunted.  The 30′ oaks that surrounded it were bending and swaying in the breeze and I got it.

One leaf can stand.  By focusing His breath on one leaf, God can create the movement that can lead to the fall of a forest.  But it has to start with the decision by the leaf to hang on.  For one more storm or one more day or one more moment and if all the other leaves have dropped it feels like the breeze is just blowing you around.

Because I understood when you couldn’t help me.  When I marched into a principal’s office on behalf of an entire team who deserved better, I went alone.  When I stood for my children within an abusive home because they deserved better, I stood alone.  And when I speak for a child in need as a CASA, I am a single voice… except I’m not.  I have the strength and resilience of all the people who showed up before me and showed me the way to be, because it wasn’t about rights, it was about doing the right thing.

The forest floor is covered in a seasonal system of stepping up and stepping off to generate the next generation.  And that is what I show up best for.

My daughter came down today wearing this shirt.  It says “Girls Never Quit”.  She didn’t imageput it on as an example of women’s solidarity.  She put it on because it’s a part of her everyday wardrobe.  Because solid women are a part of her every day.  For her, not showing up is not an option.

A few weeks ago her school principal walked past me and thanked me.  I laughed and asked “What for?”.  She said for showing up.  I laughed again and said, “Well, that’s my super power!”  Showing up, especially when you don’t want to, is a super power.  Because it teaches those around you what that looks like.  It reaches those around you with a message of worth because they are worth your presence.

Today, I will go to work at my daughter’s school and be the consistency they need.  As a CASA, I will show up to advocate for my child in need and be the voice that he needs.  I will fill the gaps and voids left by those who don’t show up because that is what I have always done.  Not showing up is not a new thing, but calling attention to it and showing off because of it is.  Because with or without you, need still shows up.  Hunger still shows up.  Trauma still shows up.  When they take a day off, maybe, just maybe, I will, too.

For me, it’s not about marching for anyone’s rights but walking, alone if I have to, toward what is right.  Putting one group down as a way to lift another lets down the very people we need to protect.  Because I have daughters who will learn, by example, that they can do anything and be anyone and I have a son who knows he needs to do everything he can to treat everyone with respect.

I don’t want equality.  I want better.  I want to be better.  Not than you but for you.  All of you.   If we strive for equal that simply means I have become them and that, I will never do.  I won’t join them in the gutter and call myself a name that makes me shudder even if I get to wear a cute pink hat.  Using their tactics and labeling myself with their words simply means I have joined them in their sixth grade playground politics.  It’s become a giant game of “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I” playing out in the backseat of our parents woody wagon.  Pun intended.  These strategies were designed by our parents and we are simply redesigning them to roll out over social media.

I want equity.  Fairness.  Justice, even.  And that means adding right where wrong has been, not taking something away.  Not showing up today is not fair to the children who count on me to be there.  No excuses.

I support your effort because everyone needs to do something.  I hope you are successful in making your point.    That the world can’t go on without us.  But, since the world does not revolve around us we can’t shut down tomorrow.  So, after the numbers are in and the head count of absence (is that possible?) has made it’s statement, show me what you’re going to do… but you’re going to have to catch up to me because I’ll be out there walking alone.  Ever onward.  But there I go now, showing off.