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Empowering little girls and women starts with redefining power. Writing new stories that illustrate the strength of using inclusion, caregiving, compassion, empathy, and connections as power skills.

Generational relationships are how we learn to dream a different ending to the stories we find in history. Stories that are designed to distort the truth of the inherent equality of women. I just recently became a grandmother for the first time, and the words of Tony Morrison have been echoing in my head. “When you enter those places of trust or power, dream a little before you think, so your thoughts, your solutions, your directions, your choices will be worth the sacred life you have chosen to live.” I want little girls like my, Isla Jane, to trust their instincts and ideas and challenge the old stories that tell them they are not enough. I want them to feel the worth of their sacred lives.


Five generations of women in my life have woven stories for me about the power of courage and curiosity that has helped me feel my worth. Creating these generational stories requires time, self-awareness, and nurturing of our relationships.

So, I gave myself a month-long “grandma sabbatical” to celebrate and absorb time with my granddaughter. Sabbaticals are often considered a leave of absence for academic professionals to travel and study something new. But the word Sabbath is rooted in the concept of intentional rest for cultivating sacred connections. This time of intentional pausing has gifted me with new insights and a renewed commitment to issues of social justice for women.

Cheers to all who serve in the beautiful role of a grandmother. May we use the love of these sacred relationships to make this world worthy of our babies.



1/21/23
To my precious Isla Jane,
Our journey together has just begun. It is 4:10 am, and your mama just brought you into the guest room where I am sleeping. She needs to get a few hours of sleep—bringing you into this world two days ago was a lot of hard work. As I look down on your little 6lb 1oz body snuggled up next to mine, your eyes gently fluttering and your soft breath sound filling the silent room, I know with every ounce of my being that this is one of those moments.

 

Some describe these moments as “quantum moments,” a shift in our awareness of life. A moment when time is suspended, and there is only the experience. Those moments make us pause and absorb what it means to be human. In this moment, I am aware of your body gently stirring in my arms and the warmth of tears on my cheeks. You are stretching and making the funniest, loudest, and most dramatic noises. Your hands finally settle under your chin as if you are pondering life. And then there it is, in a flash, I see my grandmother, Nana Emily. Her hands under her chin, reading, engaging in deep thoughts, or simply belly laughing with her hands settled under her chin and over her upper lip –hiding her scar. Nana is with us. At this moment, I sense the presence of the many women woven and stitched into us. We are part of them, and they are part of us. I hear them whispering words of wisdom about the joy and responsibility of being yo

ur grandma. The love I hold in my heart for you is connected to the love of grandmas before me, whispering the same to you.

Your eyes flutter open, and you look up at me. I don’t know what your little eyes can see or process yet, but mine is fixed and taking all of you in–intensely seeing you.
My eyes are on you, Nana’s eyes are on me, and history has its eyes on us.
What hopeful new stories will we write together that redefines the power and beauty of women? This month-long intentional pause from my daily routine has given me a sacred connection to you. I will use that gift wisely to fuel my commitment to making this world a better place for you. As my “grandma sabbatical” ends, I want to leave you with a few of my hopes and promises.

My Promises to You

  • I promise to be your whisperer, holding space for you with my whole being to remind you of your value and worth and whispering to you as my grandmother whispered to me words of love, justice, and service to others as the key to a purposeful life.
  • I promise you will always be part of grandma’s to-do- list. I will be in the front row cheering for you, in the quiet places listening to you and always just a phone call away for a shopping trip.
  • I promise to keep working to lift obstacles and lay down an easier path for you in this life. A path that makes the journey open to all that is uniquely you. A path that is fair and equitable and that invites you to shine. A path that requires you to do the same for others.
  • I promise to pause long enough to see the world through your eyes.
  • I promise the kitchen table will always be waiting for you to join me for ice cream, coffee, a laugh, a tissue, and shared conversations about this sometimes broken but always beautiful world we live in.
  • I promise I won’t try to wrap you in protective bubble wrap—although I will want to protect you from the hate of bullies, broken hearts, failures, and losses. But I promise to wrap you up in my arms and whisper words of hope when life hurts.
  • I promise to leave you a legacy filled with courage to confront that which is hard, but right, to see suffering in the invisible places and people, to offer comfort, challenge injustice, and to stand up for yourself and others– to be an Upstander and not a bystander in this life.

My Hopes for You

  • I hope you learn and appreciate your connection to the generations of women from your past who have waited for you. They moved obstacles and barriers as they dreamed of your life. They built a path for you.
  • I hope you feel those gifts of sacrifice and love as you lay your bricks on the path for the little girls who will follow you. I hope that when you find yourself in the presence of injustice, you choose to stand up and not remain quiet. And when you speak out, I will be smiling with pride.  Our shared humanity is all that matters in this life. When you fully embrace this, you will live a joyful life.
  • I hope you lead with your curiosity and follow your curiosity. It will allow you to see the beautiful nuances in this life and help keep your bias and hate in check.
  • I hope you stay open to seeing and finding your way in this life. Remember, your dreams and your imagination belong to you. Put them in your pocket and keep them safe. Don’t let anybody steal them or tarnish them. Dream big little one!
  • I hope you live this life as a believer in magical, wondrous, and unseen things. Use your imagination to dream of what can be and not settle for what is. This will turn the seemingly ordinary experiences into something extraordinary.
  • I hope you carry my heart in your heart, and with every act of kindness, generosity, or courageous choice you make, you will hear me whispering to you.

.          .     .