At one of my lowest moments, a woman said to me - Your heart didn’t break. You’re sad. Feel sad as long as you want to, but be clear, your heart is not broken.
I was questioning everything. My career, colleagues, my sense of home and family, my place and purpose. After the irreparable decision to leave a perfectly fine marriage, losing my best friend in the process, I felt directionless, alone, and guilty because to the outside eye, nothing appeared wrong. But something crucial to my being-ness was off. My heart felt broken.
Her words, spoken in fierce love, stopped my tears and set me in motion.
This woman didn’t deny me the experience of loss and fear, she refused to let me cultivate any dramatic notions which took away my agency and made me smaller than I am.
The fierce women in my life, my extraordinary female guides, are always older, with voices that are low and strong. Women with wild hair and bright eyes, they have traveled far away places and are usually in some sort of calamity with male authority because of their willingness to stand by moral vows.
Their words are never cruel, and never coddling in ways that would encourage delusion. They speak not from a place of self interest but from a place of integrity, with mental nimbleness and awareness of their own biases. Life learners all, they never crow their own abilities or mine because they possess wisdom enough to know there is always more to consider.
They are not victims, no matter what they have endured. They recognize profound change begins with one voice speaking out loud and clear in a moment when silence would be easier. They know living a life this way requires grace for yourself and for others at all points on the path.
These women are not duplicitous. They do not rely on banal sentimentality to woo a room, and they are never women that speak one thing in public and something else in private. They do not speak empty words of the day, no borrowed clichés that have no root. Their language comes from lived lives of dedicated engagement, a deep practice of letting go of stories that are not or have never been true, relentless introspection, grace, and as Joan Halifax would say, a strong spine and soft front.
These women know in their bones that the world can hold us all, and that we need not press one another down for more space.
These women are this way because they have been tested by their own village of women...
This same woman who demanded I source my own strength regularly reminds me to be my full size.
and so I say to the young(er) women that will stand on my shoulders,
Be your full size....
always in motion, Fia
p.s. This is not meant to exclude men. Encouraging wholeness in any person will set kindnesses in action in ways that ripple out and change the world... With this, I'm referring specifically to the ways women call other women to greatness...