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Moving Beyond Words

This incredible article from the New York Times was brought to my attention recently, and though much of the information in it was familiar to me, I found its presentation incredibly moving and powerful. As I read, I began to tear up, as I read further, tears flowed freely from my eyes and down my cheeks and my heart ached. It reminded me of the reasons I am a feminist, activist, advocate and work with, and in support of, organizations which seek to help and empower women in this country as well as others.

It is frustrating to me that feminism still has a negative connotation and that so many women perpetuate that and the perceived non-issue of gender inequity out of ignorance. This article illustrates the incredible power of women and the abhorrent injustice and significant loss in the mis or dis-use of all that women throughout the world have to offer. In the US, feminists still protest and rally for equal pay, fight against sexual and domestic assault and attempt to bring light to the reality that at the end of the day, women are still regarded and treated as second class citizens. Being treated as second class citizens, however, means something totally different in countries such as those described in this article. In the words of Gloria Steinem (the inspiration for this post title), "The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn."

This is a reminder to me that there is more I want and need to do in this life, the drive to make a difference, or at least work towards making one, is so strong for me. I have felt it, heard the calling, yet ignored it for years, making one excuse or another. Empowering women is something I feel the need to do, and have begun to on a small scale in my life already. I have the fight and the passion inside me, and hope to use my creative ways to inspire, educate and empower. We all have the power to make a difference, whether on a small or large scale. Incredible acts and everyday miracles are needed; great and small, near and far, here and now.

The article, and my reaction to it, reminded me of Sarah McLachlan's inspiring music video for her song "World on Fire". I first saw the video during an early morning elliptical session years ago, during which I continued my workout, with tears streaming down my face as I experienced today, and the same aching in my heart and soul. Instead of actually creating a costly music video, Sarah recorded her own video, donating the would be production expenses to various world organizations. Incredible, amazing, inspiring. Sarah has always been one of my favorite artists, for all these reasons and more.

The video is here.

The list of the donations and recipient charities can be seen here.

Hasn't the time come for moving beyond words and ideas?
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Happiness is a journey, and it's a nice one to be on

Almost two months ago, I closed the doors to the business I have run for 7 years. It was bittersweet, as I had put so much of myself into it, in so many ways, but through it all, I never looked back or had much of a doubt in my mind that this was the right thing for me. Guess that seven year itch gets me every time, or something. Nah, that wasn't it... though my life does indeed go in seven year cycles. Months ago, I did something that began the chain of events that ended one era for me, and opened the door to THE REST OF MY LIFE. I simply gave myself permission to make changes in my life - if I wanted to - meaning that I could change my career, change my place/state/island of residence, change my mind, change my LIFE.

And I did.

Though it began as giving myself permission to think of a life totally different than the one I was living - simply entertaining the possibility - it quickly became a plan, then a reality. It is said that Saturn return is a period in our lives in which we experience unrest, upheaval and the onset of "true" adulthood, bringing about major changes, often including leaving relationships and/ or careers behind. The first Saturn return also is said to bring self-evaluation, independence, ambition, and self actualization. Yup.

Over the course of the 2008-2009 Nicole year (June to June), I had begun to realize that the career I once found amazing, challenging and inspiring, had become anything but. I no longer had that dynamic, creative zest for what I did, in an industry I once loved. My creativity and passion for jewelry, gemology and design, once brilliantly flourishing, was as barren as a desert. I felt the life being sucked out of me, by the very thing I once loved, and it was taking a major toll on my physical and mental health. To boot, I was no longer running the business, it was running me. INTOTHEGROUND. I decided that I would rather be an inspired starving artist, than to continue to essentially whore myself and my talents out, for anyone, anything, any amount of money. Well that all happened pretty quickly, starving-artist-dom, there have been a few weeks where I couldn't afford groceries. Self-fulfilling prophecies have always been my thing...

Now, two months later I find myself in a better place than I have ever been. Gone is the regular, comfortable income that afforded me my once desirable and enviable lifestyle. Instead, what it has been replaced with is a beautiful thing. Calm, serenity, inspiration. Appreciation of simple pleasures, everyday adventures and ordinary miracles. I have time to read, write, dance, dream. I can again create art - in the many forms in which I am inclined - just because I want to. There are lots of things that I don't have, that I once prized and held onto tightly, such as money and a tight, flat stomach, but those things are less important these days, as I realize and define for myself the things which truly bring me happiness. Life is short, life is funny, life is indeed what we make of it. We can't buy happiness, but we can create it. I've always been good at creating things and this one is my greatest work of art yet.

"Happiness is a journey, not a destination; happiness is to be found along the way not at the end of the road, for then the journey is over and it's too late. The time for happiness is today not tomorrow." - Paul H. Dunn
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