Nine years ago I wrote the first Girl Warrior post called We Are The Girl Warriors. It was dedicated it to all the cherished women in my life. It was equal parts love letter and motherly words of wisdom. I only intended to write one post on this subject but surprisingly it was well received. It resonated with people beyond my social circle, which stunned me but also got me thinking. Maybe there’s something here. Maybe there’s an audience of women out there who might benefit from my rough-around-the-edges, unpolished, unsophisticated way of doling out advice. Maybe I could be some endearingly weirdo version of Ann Landers or Dear Sugar for these women.
That’s how it all started.
The Christmas after I wrote that post I hired a very talented designer to turn the post into a little book, which I gave to my female family members as a very personal gift from my heart to theirs. Being able to share this with these beautiful women was, and always will be, one of the most gratifying moments of my life. Right next to giving birth to my three children, which I often refer to as the ultimate in creativity.
After that Christmas, I simply could not stop myself. I was a woman on a mission. The topic consumed me, my love, respect and admiration for women consumed me, my desire to see women to do well and to rise and rock this world consumed me, but ultimately my abiding desire to help other women was at the heart of every word I wrote. It was that uncomplicated.
I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.
Fast forward to April 2017 when I launched the Girl Warrior Productions website. To see that initial blog post grow into a safe place dedicated to women’s stories and issues was beyond gratifying. And humbling. Truth is, I wanted it out there. But I also wanted to hide it. Keep it under wraps. Keep it safe so no one could hurt it, and of course by extension, not hurt me.
I have always suffered from Imposter Syndrome and all the emotional upheaval that goes along with it. Not intellectual. Not sophisticated. Not talented. Not worthy. Not good enough. My shame has haunted me all the days of my life. It’s one of the first gut-punch memory I have. So fucking ashamed of everything. I live in a constant state of red-faced-blushing embarrassment and humiliation at the things of thought, said, done and wrote.
This was the conflict but not the hill I was willing to die on.
Before Brene Brown gave me a word to describe these self-destructive lifelong rules of engagement, I was “rumbling” endlessly with these thoughts and emotions. But then I took them to battle in my The 204 Stories. Diaries of the Breadman’s Daughter. Here, I exposed the unvarnished truth (from my perspective and as I understood it) of my life growing up with Ma and The Old Man. Although the telling of these stories was healing and cathartic, the biggest gratification came the day I realized that by telling my story and revealing all the good, the bad and the sometimes utterly ugly, and bringing it into the light, exposing it for what it was and what it was not, that I wasn’t alone. I felt less isolated. Less ashamed. I was free to leave the island. I let down the drawbridge and walked across, granted on shaky legs, but I kept going. And the beautiful, truly extraordinary bit, was that on the other side was a group of kind loving magnanimous people, not only welcoming me, but cheering me on. High fives all around.
From that experience, I learned that my story was in many ways universal. It was a family story. And families are complicated. Dynamic, thorny muddles. They contain many characters – all with their own perspective, pain, hopes, dreams, fears, joy and particular definition of the meaning of life and love. Discovering this, and hearing the stories of others, has grown my compassion muscle exponentially.
Fast forward to the spring of this year. In March, the advertising agency where I work followed government rules and dispersed the staff to their respective homes to work remotely. It was a bit weird at first, but we’re humans and we either adapt or perish. Now it feels relatively normal and we’ve all learned that we can do this productively and effectively, plus the commute is quick and easy.
People have been doing all kinds of marvelous things to make the most of a scary uncertain unsettling disturbing unprecedented revolutionary historic time. Everything from sourdough bread-making to the 7pm noise-making. All of which has been shared a million times over on social media. Humans craving connection and closeness. Praying for healing, not just for the ones near and dear, but for the entire world. The enormity and expansiveness of that thought both takes my breath away and breaks my heart.
I haven’t made bread or made any noise, although I did learn to play Oh Canada on my guitar, so there’s that. But I did do my version of these things. I made a book. Again I employed the services of an extraordinary designer, who works for the ad agency, to weave all the Girl Warrior posts from the past nine years into an elegant cohesive collection called Posts From The High Wire. Essays on Living Without a Net.
Now that I’ve birthed it, I’m not entirely sure what to do with it. I can’t give the baby back. It’s here. But so much has happened in the world since its inception and creation. So much.
I produced something with the intention of helping and serving women, hoping at best it would inspire, and at the least not insult or offend, or cause harm in any way. But none of that works for me now. This little book of boo-isms had become irrelevant before the ink was even dry and it slid off the press. Right now it’s gasping for a first breath that it may never get to take. I’m okay with that.
I’ve learned in the last two months that this is my time to listen and to learn. To hear other voices. To honor and respect those. And to not pass judgment. There’s so much I don’t know nor truly understand. But I sincerely want to. I do.
My heart and mind are wide open. My spirit is willing. My guts are spilled and on display. My deep earnest desire to be a part of the healing and recovery of world is all I got right now. I’m stumbling along the path to figuring out what that looks like. Maybe for some, it’s this book. I don’t know.
The only think I know for sure is that I’m here doing the best I can.