28 March 2011

Women Abroad Take 3: Minal Singh

The worth of women is unfortunately too often questioned by the very family members and communities that surround them. It's heartbreaking to see (particularly young) women pushed into destructive decisions by the pressure of men or elder women in their households.

One amazing woman, Minal Singh, works to stop these cycles of disempowerment. She and Drishtee, the organization she works for in Noida, India, work in rural Indian communities to ensure that women get proper access to necessary education, healthcare, and income generating activities. She once said to me that everyday "we are in a war" for women - how true and tragic a statement! For Minal, this war is against all the people who believe a mother has no need of prenatal care, can give birth unassisted, and can then return to working brutally long days days after the delivery. It's a vicious system of influences and counter influences that cause countless unnecessary deaths and suffering. In the case of millions of communities in India, it is this low status of women, the actual perception that they are worthless and deserve no consideration in terms of support, love, or even basic needs as a doctor's visit in their third trimester of pregnancy, that Minal is working to diminish. The work is time-consuming and exhausting, but where would these women be without someone like her to stand up for their right to life?

I took this picture of Minal a few months ago (she's in the middle!), with two other amazing individuals that I should also write about for the amazing work they're doing for women! Nick Pearson of Jacaranda Health, and Laura Stachel of WE CARE Solar. Look them up! Inspiring, all of them!

21 March 2011

"Woman was born to create...in creating she becomes herself, accomplishes her destiny. Her whole life is only an initiation into creative power. To create is not merely to produce a work...it is to give out ones own individuality."
-Jeanne De Vietinghoff

Millicent Sophia Fish was born March 7, 2011.
Photos taken by Bella Baby Photography... in the hospital.

14 March 2011

on the individual

this past weekend, i attended a musical get-together. a group of students all packed together in a tiny little living room, trading off roles of audience and performer. it looked like a typical group of students; people i see on campus every day. however, after about ten minutes i realized something.

yes, these were typical students, but they were incredible.

many who took the spotlight that night were women. and time after time, it hit me how incredible these women are. every voice was different, every original piece (there were many) was just that - completely original, nothing exactly like it.

as women, we face temptation of social comparison. it's rampant among us today, and the most distorting mirror we can look through. when looking at a group of us {women} together, we may all look typical enough. but that's exactly the danger of comparing. at the open mic night, each woman had the chance to be an individual, to set herself apart, to be untypical. it was truly a beautiful experience.

watching these unique and individual women helped me look at women {and people, in general} in a very different way. i would have passed any of those women on campus or at the grocery store and thought, "oh yeah, they're just like me, just like all the other girls in this ordinary town." but under the typical appearance of twenty-something years old and medium-length brown hair, most of the women in that room were musical geniuses with unique talent and rare creative gifts. gifts that are very different from mine and different from each other, too.

i understood in my heart that night what i've known in my mind - that we are each unique, each individual, and each given gifts that no one else has. it's impossible to recognize that individuality while looking only at a collective. i get caught up in a mindset studying the social sciences - people become numbers: a sample, a population, a trend. but i've recognized the wrongness in that kind of thinking.

we are individual. as women, we all have absolutely unique gifts. recognizing those gifts in ourselves and others is important to our relationship with ourselves and everyone around us. so, i invite you to do two things: 1) make a list of your unique gifts. what are a few things that make you incredible? 2) get to know someone new. this night reminded me how different people are from each other and from the way i initially perceive them to be. have a conversation - find out someone's story!

next, leave a comment so we can all share the experience!

here's my list:
i love to experiment with food - my creations are unique and yummy!
and this week i've been getting to know a new roommate - with truly a unique perspective on life. she's a math major and english minor and we share a deep love of granola. she's one of the most peaceful (yet passionate) people i've ever met!

now... what's your story?

07 March 2011

the unknown

As I reread the Harry Potter series, I am repeatedly blown away by the wisdom of Professor Dumbledore. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, he tells Harry, "It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more," (page 556).

I think this quote is so great. Literally, it makes a lot of sense. Metaphorically, it's profound.

I'm at an age where my whole life seems to be about change. Moving to new cities by myself, entering the work force, deciding to go back to school . . . a lot of my decisions seem scary. Maybe you feel alone because all your friends are getting married and moving away. Maybe you feel that you are incapable of being a good mother to the baby growing inside of you. Maybe you just aren't sure what it is that you want out of life. But so many good things can come out of the unknown.

Without conquering the unknown, Harry Potter would have just lived a miserable life with the Dursleys. He wouldn't have found himself at Hogwarts. He wouldn't have met and grown to love Ron, Hermione, and Ginny. And although his life was often hard, painful, and exhausting, Harry wouldn't have destroyed Voldemort if he had just stayed in the corner, sucking his thumb.

Yes, Harry is a young, fictional character. But take a look around at all the people you admire and I'm sure you'll see the same principles at work.

So, here's to standing up tall. Here's to remembering who we are and that we're loved. Here's to embracing the unknown!