I want to briefly share two stories that came to my mind when I was preparing for this year’s post. The first is a dream I had a few nights ago. I was in a museum-like setting where the bust of a man was replicated 20-30 times. A crowd had come to pay tribute to the man. At each “station,” there was a plaque enumerating the man’s accomplishment across his lifetime. In sensing the crowd’s admiration, I understood that this man had lived a good and virtuous life. When I awoke, the details of the dream stayed fresh. After pondering what it might mean, the predominant question became - why did I dream about a man and not a woman? The answer came instantaneously. The bust of a woman would not have stoked such fervent admiration from me. That is because the successful and effective leadership of a woman feels like the exception rather than the rule.
Which leads to the story I shared in the video introduction - the race. Frankly, until my dad boasted about me “beating all those boys,” it never occurred to me that I could not win. Though I am positive his intentions were good, the idea that I am weaker because of my gender sprouted. Over the years, this idea germinated until it grew into the belief that I am not as capable or competent as someone of the other sex. Honestly, I do not know what stoked the belief so successfully: cultural or societal norms, my own feelings of inadequacy? Here is what I wish – that we as women would stop viewing ourselves as less because of our gender.
Feminism is not about making women stronger. Women are already strong; it is about changing the way the world perceives that strength.
Let me be clear. 30 Days for Women is not anti-men. It is not my intention to separate or divide by pointing out inequalities and/or discrimination. Character not gender is what should define a person. With that spirit, I encourage everyone to participate. Even if you do not consider yourself a person of faith, the experience may surprise you. Join us. Simply raise your voice each morning to the one who listens and understands issues of inequality better than anyone – someone who longs to act justly and mercifully. Prayer works. Prayer is powerful, so share my post. Invite others to come alongside to improve communities across the globe. When we acknowledge the inner strength of each individual woman, we will channel that strength for the greater good.
A world full of empowered women is not one where men are marginalized. It is a world where everyone thrives.
― Purnima Mane, President and CEO of Pathfinder International
This past summer while on a family vacation, my fifteen-year-old son informed me that his impression of me is that I am a forty-something year old feminist. (His words not mine). At first I was a bit offended, but I mostly shrugged it off. The boy couldn't even nail down my age, so what did he know anyway? I think the part that had me taken aback was his casual use of the word feminist when he described me. The term feminist can have such negative connotations, after all. I've never connected with that label, nor if I'm being honest, have I ever wanted to. After all, I've been a life long Republican. (Can Republicans even be feminists?) Upon further reflection, however, I began to ponder what it means to be a feminist, and whether or not I should have felt offended by my son's casual use of the term when describing me. Here's what I'm learning about women who carry the banner "feminist" a little more willingly than I do. They are good people. They are for women. Really, when I think about it, what's so wrong about being pro-woman?
Over the past several years, I've been pondering what it means to be a woman. Does it mean I'm less? Less worthy of respect, dignity, love? I have come to the conclusion that being a woman doesn't mean in any way, shape,or form that I am less. I am a prized and special part of God's plan. I wasn't born to be a slave. I was born to be a partner. I wasn't born to be subjegated, I was born to fly free. So, why do I sometimes feel like I'm less? Is it the curse? Because Eve ate the apple first and gave it to Adam, does that mean I've got to live with the load of crap that rolled out of that choice she made? (Thanks, a lot, Eve.)
In my ponderings of what it means to be a woman, I've begun a little ritual every morning when I slip a particular bracelet over my wrist. I say a prayer for women across the globe. The prayers vary, depending on what's in my heart. They include everything from women who have been victimized, to women who are in loveless marriages, to women who are in war torn countries. A few months into doing it, I felt empowered. I mean what's better than girl power? Then, a really brilliant plan struck, what if l created a list of 30 prayers for women and asked my friends to join me in my prayers? I'm calling it 30 Days for Women.
I want to take a moment to clarify, though they are prayers, I'm not identifying them as such. I don't want anyone to feel excluded from this exercise. I know many good people who don't consider themselves Christians who might be tempted, if my list were coined as prayers, to feel as if they couldn't engage in this exercise. In that spirit, I'm going to stick with the label 30 Days for Women. Beginning Monday, November 1st, whether you feel you have a "connection" to God or not, I invite you to band together as women and lift your hopes and voices high for women across the globe.
Though I won't list all of them here, I will share my first one:
I have attached a pdf of the 30 Days if you prefer to print it out, hang it on your mirror, and send up your daily request. I will also post my list daily on instagram, twitter and facebook, so feel free to follow me on one of those platforms:@nicismeyer
Two more things, if after the 30 Days are up, you want to continue the practice but need a daily reminder, please check out my friend's website: wemakeripples.com and buy a bracelet which would not only support a great cause, but also serve as your daily reminder to pray for women across the globe. Finally, if you've read this far, do me a solid and visit my About page. I recently changed my image to one that more accurately represents this 40-something-year-old feminist. Thanks to the incomparably lovely, Jennifer Ryan Eyestone, for capturing my joy that day.
30 Days for Women
About 30 Days
Once a year in November, I post a list of 30 daily prayers or wishes for women's issues. Follow me on twitter, instagram, or Facebook (@nicismeyer) during the month of November to join with others in lifting our voices high for women across the globe.
A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”