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Half the Sky

Tomorrow is the annual Keyholder event for The Women's Fund of Central Ohio. Every year I look forward to this event as much as some people excitedly await their favorite sporting event or holiday. It's such a great way to connect with other women and see what kind of work is being done to support and raise up women & girls in my own community.

This year is especially great, because one of their guests is someone I deeply respect and admire, Sheryl WuDunn. Together with her husband, Nicolas Kristof, they wrote the book Half the Sky, which is the most defining book of our time.

Its impact hasn't been limited to bringing awareness to the oppression of and opportunities to help women & girls around the world. For those of us who have hardly come face to face with our own limited views of our choices, our freedom and our shared world, it is beyond eye-opening.

Who hasn't found it difficult to read the stories which documents real lives interrupted with brutal, merciless, humililating and heartbreaking actions that repeatedly manipulate populations into submission, control and fear? When I read this book a few years ago, I barely knew the words to articulate what it had to teach me, and how deeply I felt about the realities that existed in places far from my home. But it also disturbed me as much to know that there are people in my own community and in my country who know these realities more intimately than I ever could from reading about them in a book. It made me so sad to think that as difficult as it was for me to communicate my feelings, to express my sadness and despair, anyone who had lived through or understood these experiences themselves might have an even harder time unlocking their stories or their trauma. Could they ever rid themselves of the shock and pain they had survived?

As a graphic designer, I felt I had to try, somehow, in my own impossibly small way, to share what I understood about overcoming grief. Otherwise, I might be haunted by this neverending sadness forever. Just as it could take generations to replenish the spirit burdened with such abuse, I felt that ignoring my newfound awareness without taking action might actually turn every cell in my body against me, and destroy everything I held dear.

What came from that need for action was this symbol that Thrive Theory represents. Believing that each one of us needs to have the strength and power to tell our stories, find our passion, overcome our challenges and fears, so that we can champion the cause of any other woman we believe in, who may not know that her voice and her story is as significant as any other in the world. Until we can all stand up and say that we won't let ourselves be taken advantage of, underestimated, or fall short of our potential, we can help the woman next to us stand up with courage to fight her battles. In doing so, we find the strength & courage to fight our own.

Sometimes the challenges come from external forces in our world, from a young bully to a malicious adult; both try to keep us in a lower position of power. But sometimes the challenges come from within ourselves, as a tiny voice that cruelly reminds us of our perceived limitations, our past mistakes, our deepest fears. These voices may be difficult to discern, let alone quiet. It takes constant love & support from those around us to allow us to forgive ourselves the lies we whisper over and over again, that no one else will ever hear.

This is what I understand. That the reality we create for ourselves is formed by both our brilliant gifts and our limiting beliefs. How do we know which to rely on, which to trust? What are our gifts? When are we ever brilliant? As Marianne Williamson wisely advocates, Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

The answer lies in putting faith in those who love us, those who will teach us to discover the truth about ourselves. Their love reflects our light, our own strengths, right back to us. It is the only way we can move ahead in this complicated, imperfect, beautiful world.

Joining hands to find our way, back to our own center of strength. Renewing ourselves, just as nature renews itself with each season. Sustaining vitality. Being centered and connected, loved and supported. Celebrating every day, even when it's not easy. Celebrating the challenges with the successes. Honoring our stories, our journeys. Together, we help us one and all.

Deep gratitude to Half the Sky for helping me express my thrive theory.


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