You never know until you take the steps and make the turn.
You never know until you take the steps and make the turn.
There is one thing that is inside each of us. One common thread that makes it possible for all of humanity to relate; no matter race, ethnicity, religion, education, or anything else. Wherever you are you can look to your left or your right and find this commonality in a person beside you. Hope.
Hope is what makes us hold on. The hope for a fresh start, something better, an existence beyond the present. It offers escape and inspires fight. Hope makes enduring manageable and thriving worthwhile. On the surface it looks differently from person to person, the drive behind it and it’s meaning for every individual varies, but one thing holds true, hope gives purpose. It pushes people to become their best self. It saves communities, unites families, and bonds people across thousands of miles. Its force is immeasurable and its power knows no bounds. Without even realizing it we depend on its presence in our lives. For focus, drive, and motivation. Whether you’re in India, England, or America, hope is inside you.
The first time I truly recognized hope in another person was when I was the furthest from my best self. For all intents and purposes I thought I was hopeless. A lost cause with little to fight for and less to hold onto. I doubted my drive, my strength, and my ability to imagine any kind of future whatsoever. And then I looked into the eyes of my mother. Her scared, worried, and consoling eyes. The eyes of a parent fearing for a child’s life went beyond being panicked or pained. In her eyes, on the face that had been the most consistent presence in my life, I saw hope. She believed in me. Even in my darkest hours and days and months. She saw hope for the potential of what her daughter could become. She held onto hope of the voice I could have, could share with the world, and could use to empower others. She believed in a strength within in me I felt certain never existed and never could. She was hopeful in the midst of my most negative self.
Her hope was neither blind nor naïve. It was her love. Her never-ending passion for my potential. My future, finding my hope, was what she stood for. As my whole world was caving in, as I felt the sky falling down onto me, she held it up above me. Her hope surrounded me, encompassed me, and held the sky above me. The Chinese proverb couldn’t be truer. Women do hold up half the sky.
My mother’s eyes may have been the first to teach me this lesson, to show me women hold up half the sky. But as she helped me to fight and I became stronger in my own eyes I began recognizing the strength of all women all around me. Because of her, because of the way she held up my entire sky, hell my whole universe, I saw the power of women. A never-ending power that knows no bounds, that’s limitless and capable of changing the world.
It may begin when one mother believes in one daughter. When one woman believes in another. When a group of women stand together and have each other’s backs. When girlfriends support each other through thick and thin. It comes in all shapes and sizes, through all types of people and in all different places, all united as women. Women are hope.
Share the hope you have for a woman in your life by coming to The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio’s Keyholder event on Thursday, May 9th at the Ohio Theatre. Come for a night filled with inspiration. A night focused on women hoping for better lives for their friends, sisters, and daughters. Women driven by hope and strength. Come learn, love, and spend an evening surrounded by hope.
Buy your ticket here:
The number four has always meant a lot to me. It feels safe, certain, reliable. Growing up in was the indestructible number that defined my family; my dad, mom, sister, and I was all that mattered. We were a strong unit that relied on each other no matter what. I never doubted the security of our foursome. As I grew up four signified new things; it was the first (and only) jersey number I had, and often it’s how many times it takes for me to learn a lesson. But today four has all new strength to it.
Four years ago today I checked into residential treatment for an eating disorder that had shattered my life and taken away my identity. After months and years of denial I recognized I was at the bottom and wanted to begin the climb back up. Tonight as I look back and realize it has been four years since that day my breath catches. The memories of walking into the house where I would begin the first 8 weeks of my recovery are filled with tears. I cried more the first two weeks there than I ever knew I could. I was constantly dehydrated from the waterworks that came with every sentence I spoke. The journey I started on April 28, 2009 proved to be more challenging than I ever expected when I finally asked for help. I had assumed admitting the problem would be the worst step. Recovery, ongoing responsibility and accountability for my life and health, was a bigger fight than I could have ever anticipated.
I look back on a significant day like today and experience everything from relief to gratitude to sadness. It would be a lie to say I don’t miss the control my eating disorder once gave me, how powerful I felt at my smallest, how accomplished denying myself food made me. But that twisted reality no longer defines me. And for that I am thankful.
I look back and I am a mess. I may be a happier person today because I am alive and a stronger woman because of what I went through. Yet I am also scarred. I defined myself for so long by an eating disorder my identity is still being reshaped. I lost so much as my mind faded under the control of my sickness and that pain never disappears.
Four years have gone by and tonight I am trying to simply breathe through what was so that I can be who I want.
Recovery continues, it will always be a part of me. But just as an eating disorder doesn’t define me, treatment doesn’t either. I define me, and slowly I am becoming more and more comfortable with that power.
Four is a very lucky number.
Four is safe and secure.
Four is love.
Rain is inevitable, we get to choose if it wipes us down or we let it was over us.
In just eight days I have experienced a wide range of emotions. The feelings covered anger, sadness, relief, confusion, a touch of joy, and disappointment. Of course looking at this list it’s obvious the balance is off. The majority fall into an emotional category more negative than positive. Nevertheless I have hope.
Hope in my personal strength, drive, and determination. All of which I owe to the power of watching a community stand strong in the face of suffering.
Like most I was jarred by the bombings in Boston and all the terrible events that ensued. I felt the violence to my core as some of the most transforming years of my life occurred while living in Boston. Beyond how much I related to those locked down in terror (both emotionally and physically), the horrific Marathon Monday events brought my empathy out to the extreme. I felt for every life touched. Felt how true it is that lives change in a split second. Sympathy for the lives lost and those that can never be the same. My heart completely ached knowing the cruelty of the world, and with a desire to help. We are the environment that we live in. Fortunately, the resilience of Boston also hit me as deeply as the suffering.
Boston stands strong. While many would rightfully crumble and let anger overtake them the city has united. Following the senseless attack last Monday Boston has shown new courage on a daily basis. In the days following heroes rose from the pain, and bonded a community. Witnessing this caused strength radiated through me. Hundreds of miles away from Boston now, my heart remains there. And my heart was refreshed by seeing the hope that filled my once home.
Everything is put into perspective. While I feel trivial to be emotionally overwhelmed by the little things, and sweating the small stuff seems pointless, and at the same time, Boston proves that life goes on. Even when we are numb and broken, we heal because we have to. We are defined in our moments of weakness, our struggles leading to strength. I know stress and life go hand in hand. Curve balls get thrown constantly, emotions are tried and tested, but there is a constant I tend to overlook at my most overwhelmed. I have the authority. How strong I become and all the strides of growth I make- it’s all up to me. No one else can dictate it. No unexpected shock can devalue it.
Boston reminds me to live. Live in hope, resilience, and courage. Live authentically. We are each responsible for our own honesty and growth. I hope in the next week I feel these emotions more so than the negative.
I have hope.
Really, the journey never ends.
Has always been a personal motto of mine.
Comparison is an act of violence against the self.