Monthly Archives: February 2013

F is for Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself”

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I’ve thoroughly enjoyed connecting with the heart of feminism over the past few years. Whether that’s intentionally or by mistake, consciously or subconsciously. It’s been an amazing journey.

For me, true feminism offers forgiveness, love and growth – not the fires of spiteful anger, violence and revenge, like so many people think it is or indeed want it to be. I think this is a great misuse and a terrible manipulation of the ‘shield’ of feminism. We mustn’t use feminism to justify recklessness and violence or to trample on others. We can’t use it to hide, excuse or justify wrongdoing. We must not turn feminism into an ugly, angry, clumsy troll.

Feminism is about peace, justice, love, grace, forgiveness, growth and truth.

NONE of those words are ‘soft’, ‘pathetic’ or ‘weak’.

In fact, they are the strongest, mightiest words I know.

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I know what it’s like to be used. I know what it’s like to be treated badly because of my gender. I know what it’s like to experience sexual abuse and harassment. I know what it’s like to have your self worth manipulated and crushed. I know what it’s like to be angry and filled with rage. I know what it’s like to feel utterly alone, abandoned and ignored.

And I know that the strongest, most powerful tools I have to fight all of these things are those seven words I mentioned up there.

May we, feminists, commit to providing an alternative and righteous way of life that promotes:

Refuge, not revenge

Peace in place of pride

Justice in place of judgment

Love in place of lies

Community, not conflict

Equality in place of ego

Healing instead of hatred

Truth and not tyranny

Hope in the place of hypocrisy

Grace instead of greed

and

Forgiveness, not fist fights

Anyone care to have a stab at what they think a great

‘mission statement’

for feminism would be?

Truth Cartoon

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For married mummies who think feminism is not for them….

Megan Westra

Image(credit: Robyn Vining)

 

 

 

She was the greatest little surprise I could never have even begun to imagine.

My nose. Her father’s eyes.  A personality all her own.

 

I had been told all my life that motherhood was the ultimate fulfillment in a woman’s life.

 

For me, it has been more like the ultimate drive.

Like Indiana Jones running away from a giant bolder, the urgency of Kingdom come has never been more real.

 A fire at my back and in my bones and cradled in my arms.

 

I became a feminist shortly after I gave birth to my daughter.

My liberation came not in renouncing marriage and motherhood, not in the pursuit of a career, or the burning of my bra. What lit the fire of demanding equality for my gender was the thought of my child growing up in a world where…

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F is for Fragile

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Don’t you hate it when people say that hurts, pains and disappointments are ‘character building’? When they say rejection ‘only makes you stronger’? When the surgery didn’t work…again…and they tell you ‘if there was no sorrow we wouldn’t know joy’?

Well, I do.

I hate it.

I hate it because when I’m in pain and when I’m in despair, I’m not interested in building my character. When I’m mourning and I’m angry, something tells me joy is a myth Walt Disney made up. And strength? It’s too late for strength.

I’m worn down, I’m empty, and I’m broken. There is nothing left of me. Nothing left to feel. Nothing left within that wants to hold on any longer. It’s just too late.

But what if there was no tragic ‘event’? What if there was no real failure? No actual surgery… nothing to blame, recover from or wrestle with?

What if your homelessness and poverty is within you?

What if the famine ravaged your soul?

What if the flood destroyed the home in your heart?

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What if the invisible affliction you struggle with is depression?

What if the thief in the night is mental illness?

What if the flood, famine or earthquake is the anxiety within you?

 

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From my personal experience, there is no short-term cause and solution. There is no isolated event to reflect on, learn from, and move on from. There are no bones to set and no wounds to stitch. You’re stuck in this infinite ‘middle-stage’. A grimy, hellish, completely messed up, perpetual nightmare. Nothing you think or feel is real, or in response to anything real or factual…or is it?

You’ve lost the ability to judge that.

Your reference point, teacher and closest friend is a warped mirror you somehow picked up at one of those awful circus galleries. One day you walked by it and heard it calling you, saw it taunting you and felt it take hold of you.

Hall of mirrors, Petrin Hill, Prague. 1998

You unknowingly gave it your frame of mind, your childhood memories and experiences, your fears and your insecurities. You surrendered the very mechanism that constructs your ability to understand, think, ration, perceive, trust, process, relate and learn. It set up camp deep inside you, hidden by layers and layers of lies, fake smiles and deathly silence.

You gave it your dreams, abilities, skills, beauty, confidence, hope and passion.

It knows you better than you know yourself.

It became your puppeteer way before you think it did. You had strings tying you in knots over and over again. You were robbed before you really had a hold on anything.

This world is where approximately 1 in 5 of us in the UK live.

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I can only draw from my own experience which therefore makes my knowledge of depression extremely limited. I’m sure what I’ve written here will already contradict someone else’s experience of depression – but it certainly does not discount or discredit it.

Depression is organic. It grows, infests and spreads its roots. Depression is tailored to fit around your every atom, your every whim, your every waking breathing sleeping eating praying walking working mourning laughing dancing falling crawling yearning failing growing overflowing minute. We give it names and categories to light our way around the darkness and the mess, but no two experiences of depression will be the same.

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The people who say those frustrating, irritating, unhelpful, cliched, meaningless words…. The Walt Disney characters who seem to hop, skip and jump with ignorance… The people who you ignore completely and kind of, well utterly, want to punch in the face? The people I mentioned at the start of this post?

Well…

I’m one of them.

I have grown because of my suffering. I have felt incredible depths of joy that wouldn’t have existed if I hadn’t suffered. I am stronger, wiser and more resourceful because of it.

I really, truly, earnestly mean that. But I also meant everything before that. I’m not ‘healed’, ‘better’ or ‘ok’. I’m still wrestling with it, I’m still lost within it.

But today I could write about it.

 

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Today I have enough strength to choose to make myself vulnerable and share this part of me with you.

Today I can take a small step back and see things a little clearer.

Today I can add to the beauty…

 

We come with beautiful secrets

We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls

We come to every new morning

With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold 

Redemption comes in strange place, small spaces 

Calling out the best of who we are 

And I want to add to the beauty

To tell a better story

I want to shine with the light

That’s burning up inside 

It comes in small inspirations

It brings redemption to life and work

To our lives and our work

 It comes in loving community

It comes in helping a soul find it’s worth 

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces

Calling out the best of who we are 

And I want to add to the beauty

To tell a better storyI want to shine with the light

That’s burning up inside

This is grace, an invitation to be beautiful

This is grace, an invitation

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces

Calling out our best

And I want to add to the beauty

To tell a better storyI want to shine with the light

That’s burning up inside

– Sara Groves

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I DO!

“Everything that I know…

I know only because I love.”

Tolstoy – War&Peace

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Everybody’s had marriage on their minds recently. Some of you want to stay away from it, some of you are trapped within it. Some of you feel free because of it and some of you don’t know how you feel about it. Some of you are desperate for it, some of you have dreamt of it since you were wee and some of you couldn’t care less.

All of that is ok and all of that is valid.

Not that you need an ‘ok’ from me – I just wanted you to know that I get that life is complicated and there are few safe places to feel accepted and at peace. You can relax here and you can speak freely.

F is for Feisty welcomes you with a big fat FUGGLE! (A free cuddle, or free hug = FUG)

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Here are my messy, random, frantic, silly, OTT, slightly odd thoughts on the matter of marriage.

I got married in 2009 on July the 4th.

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Some may find that ironic, but for me it sits perfectly.

In a previous post about changing my name when getting married, I said…

From the day Russ and I started dating I felt strongly about not wanting to lose myself to the relationship. I had been ‘lost’ so many times before, I’d seen so many people get ‘lost’ and I didn’t want to sink and just be ‘Russ’s girlfriend’ or ‘Russ’s wife’.

I wanted to be Kate.

An individual who was free and independent with her own mind. And you know, Russ knew that. Before I told him. I didn’t have to spell it out – he knew my heart and he wanted to be the one to free me from the crap that bound me from negative experiences in my past.

!SOPPY SLUSHY PUKEY WARNING!

For our last wedding anniversary he gave me a bird cage, with a bird shaped candle inside.

He told me that the door on this little bird cage would never be closed – and that has been our biggest promise to each other for 6 (nearly 7!) years now – to give each other wings, to free each other from pain, insecurities – anything that holds us back.

To want the best for each other and to FIND ourselves within the promises we made, not LOSE ourselves.

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I am glad to say that this is still the foundation of our marriage – that, and honesty.

When I got engaged, I got a lot of confused looks and a lot of questions. I also got a lot of remarks like:

‘but you still have so much of your life left!’

‘but you’re so young!’

‘why not wait until you’ve lived and you’re ready to settle down’

‘marriage is for old people who are miserable!’

and so on.

My favourite list of comments showered me when I was at the hairdressers one spring afternoon back in 2009….

Shocked to see an engagement ring on my finger, my hairdresser – visibly panic-stricken – asked if I was part of a cult or if it was some kind of an arranged marriage. A good effort was made to talk me out of it and to get the ‘real story’ out of me, like I was a lost child with ‘help me’ written on my oh-so-youthful forehead. Having never met this hairdresser before I was a little baffled by the whole thing. The sad looks like I had announced I had days to live, the slight snigger at my ‘young age’ and the patronising list of questions about the seriousness of this commitment all added to my confused little chair/mirror/cape/towel combo.

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The thing that kept me confused and pretty speechless throughout the whole shebang was that my hairdresser – shocked and fearful at the mere thought of marriage – was about 7 or 8 months pregnant.

Now, please don’t hear me wrong – I have nothing against makin’ babies. In fact, I CAN’T WAIT to have a little tribe of mini people to live life with.

My point is – when did marriage become this plague-like life sentence that we are victims of and need rescuing from? When did it become a retirement home for the miserable and doomed?

Why is it for some people and not for others? Who gets to judge or decide that? Who gets to deny or grant it?

What the F-is-for-Flip IS it?!

A simple ‘define marriage’ in the google search bar gave me this ‘gem’ of an explanation:

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Personally I feel this is extremely dated and rather vague and, well, RUBBISH.

So, naturally, I turned to my friends kids.

What is marriage?! I cried. Who is it for?!

This is what they told me….

Marriage is when you marry someone and it’s after you’re engaged.

The book reader says you are now husband and wife and the lady gets another ring.

The lady changes her second name to the husband’s second name and you have bridesmaids to hold up the end of the bride’s dress.

You live together forever.

Look, bumblebee!

I asked the children “what do we do when we love each other?” a 3 year old told me…. “we get married and hug.”

Marriage is a festival!

Marriage is for mummy and daddy, you should marry daddy.

Marriage means getting married, you have a party!

It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I’m just a kid. I don’t need that kind of trouble.

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So I then turned to Sesame Street.

Seemed logical.

Cute, yes, but this kid obviously has better things to think about. He clearly isn’t FOCUSSED.

We need guidance, oh YouTube God! Help us in our time of need!

And then I saw a face.

A face in the darkness.

A face to light my way.

Yes, Brad Pitt, it was your face.

Oh sweet sweet you. 

Who actually talks SENSE!

Sweet sweet sense!

Brad’s is a message of LOVE and ACCEPTANCE. It’s a message of SENSE and PEACE and of RESPECT.

It’s a message I like.

We, too, must put on accents and suddenly become a fictitious character on TV and be GORGEOUS in the face of injustice!!

F is for Feisty salutes you, Brad!

*fist pump!*

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At the beginning of this (now somewhat absolutely random) blog post, I quoted Tolstoy. It wasn’t a quote about marriage but about LOVE. I chose this because my reason for living is to love. I try to make every choice through the eyes of love and to see everybody through those eyes too. How many times are choices made without a moments thought of love?

Let’s give it a try.

Let’s start with LOVE and see what happens.

Let’s choose LOVE and see what happens.

Let’s speak LOVE walk LOVE dream LOVE share LOVE give LOVE see LOVE hear LOVE make LOVE create LOVE weave LOVE write LOVE and inspire others to LOVE.

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Freedom is for everybody

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I LOVE this website:

MADE IN A FREE WORLD

I also love this organisation.

BECAUSE I AM A GIRL

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We just CAN’T be ignorant anymore!

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STOP THE TRAFFIK

CUT IT OUT CAMPAIGN

Women’s Rights – Amnesty International

 

What great campaigns or organisations do you know of?

How can we get involved?

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“Rockin’ Robin, TWEET!”

Thanks Michael, I’ll take it from here.

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Come tweet with me at

@fisforfiesty 

where I’ll never quote Michael Jackson lyrics.

Well, maybe.

Maybe just at Christmas.

And, you know…

If it’s ever relevant.

To the cause.

And like…

Stuff.

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Feminiwhatism?!

To be honest,

I am figuring this one out too.

I’m figuring out most things and I hope I always will be. I hope I’ll always want to learn and listen to new and old opinions and experiences and theories.

Over the past couple of years I’ve collected some images and quotes which, so far, sum it up for me. I hope they’ll be helpful to you too.

Don’t forget to share what inspires you, makes you giggle, helps you get up in the morning,makes you angry or makes your heart beat.

Leave a comment, you know you want to!

And when I say you, I mean YOU. Whoever & whatever you call yourself.

I mean the unisex, err’body in the club, love train, join hands, brother, sister, S Club 7, boogie wonderland, marching band, yours&mine, rosie&jim, marvin&tammy, ziggy stardust, granny& gramps, R E S P E C T, mama, papa, hoe down, barn dance, fred&ginger type of thing.

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Graffiti, Soweto, Gauteng

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 feminism

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You & Me

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I love discussion, community, journeying, wrestling, chatting late into the night, learning, reading, understanding, growing and sharing and I want to do all of that with YOU! I’ll post questions I get asked and comments too so that we can work things out together.

I am definitely at the

discovery

stage of all of this and I’m loving it!

I don’t have answers and rules and nothing is set in stone here – feminism isn’t a club or an organisation with a logo and a membership card. It’s simply believing that you and me are people. That we’re valuable, unique and worthy of respect no matter what dangly bits we may or may not have. Simple!

Let’s get started with a few bits from this past week……

QUESTIONS:

I wonder what you think the most immediate goal for contemporary feminism should be?

Where do you think the most energy should be spent?

How do you choose your battles?

Not to imply that any issue is trivial but I wonder if there’s a requirement for more formalised leadership within feminism?

What do YOU think? Leave a comment below and let’s get chatting!

COMMENTS:

It was illuminating and concerning to hear successful TV cook Mary Berry announce that

feminism was a dirty word

and she

“didn’t want women’s rights and all that”

this week.

Perhaps she just can’t be bothered to have a career anymore, wishes she never learned how to read, got bored of choosing how to spend her money and ran out of ideas for her own opinions. Each to their own. But I’m pretty sure she’s enjoying many rights without realising.

She cited

not liking shouting and wanting to respect men as reasons to reject feminism

but this only highlights her misunderstanding of it. Good news, Mrs Berry –

feminism is with you.

We like the same things.

We can be friends.

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a blog about honesty, hope and losing everything