This is a blog that will focus on women and their ability to turn adversity into strength. Susan Wittig Albert, in her book Writing from Life, defined “Glories”, “Gifts” and “Graces” below:
Glories – the achievements and successes that give pride and personal empowerment. Glories are the product of gifts.
Gifts – the aptitudes and attitudes that contribute to our success, and the education and training that sharpened and strengthen these gifts, which are then enhanced by graces.
Graces – the luck of the draw such as the time, place and circumstances of our births and upbringings. These are the Happy accidents and synchronicities. Women typically will minimize their achievements – chalk it up to luck or coincidence.
“Women. . . internalize countless messages: we do not belong in important places; we do not really count; we do not really shape history and culture. And so when we do achieve recognition, we tend to attribute our success to luck or if not that, then to something, anything other than our competent and entitled selves.” – Harriet Goldhor Lerner, from her book, The Dance of Deception.
Historically, women were not permitted to openly acknowledge their glories but rather needed to acknowledge them as a grace from men. Still today it remains a struggle for women to speak their voice of success, even to themselves. Even now as I sit to write this blog, I find myself pushing back the loud critic in my head that is shouting the familiar words – “this doesn’t matter.” I wonder how many women in my community, my state, country and the world hear similar words. I wonder how many women feel their bodies echo that same negative message, reverberating and reinforcing it.
It is important for women to remember their successes and their struggles. When these are not brought to the conscious mind, when they are pushed to the bottom of the well, the memory of success gets lost in our everyday life. When women are faced with a challenge, the memory of their past successes are not accessible, and they enter the new situation only with the memory of the failures. Our memories of the failures appear to have more buoyancy and stay on the top of the well, so when we dip the bucket in, they are the first ones to fill the bucket and the first ones to be swallowed.
Failure is important to success. There is nothing in this world today that did not take a lot of trial and error to achieve the conveniences we experience today. In the book Half the Sky the author explores women from all around the world, in some place’s women are considered less than the dirt under their feet. The stories were about women that had survived great abuse. Some left their villages, homes and spouses and started their own village or raised their children as a community. The men they left in the village would sometimes attack and burn their thatched structures and leave them in ruin. Nevertheless, these women cleaned up the destruction and together they rebuilt their community. Failure is necessary to reinforce the knowledge that we hold, and it gives us the strength to continue, which is essential for learning to happen and for self-confidence to grow.
“The women of today are the thoughts of their mothers and grandmothers, embodied, and made alive. They are active, capable, determined and bound to win. . .. Millions of women, dead and gone, are speaking through us today.” – Matilda Joslyn Gage, 1880
Today I challenge you to stir the well and allow your successes to come to the surface. Dip your bucket in and gather all of them. Drink them in, bath in them and allow them to run through and over you. Own them, hear them, feel them and see them.
Begin by making a list of all your Glories – your success and achievements. Allow your pen to keep moving as the well water flows.
Choose one Glory at a time and write it on a page. Underneath it write all the Gifts – the things you did to achieve that Glory.
Then create a list of all the Graces – the happy accidents and synchronicities that attributed to your Glory.
Repeat this for each and every Glory.
You can also write your failures as these have also aided you in success and added another connection of courage and confidence in your body and brain.
Alternative: Susan Witting Albert in Writing from Life suggests the “Seed”
In the center of the page write a Glory and circle it
Coming out of that seed draw a stem, from that stem draw branches for each gift that brought you to the Glory
Out from the bottom of the seed draw the roots. On each root write your Graces – the synchronicities and luck that enhanced your Glory.
Once you have your list, choose one Glory, along with all the Gifts and Graces, and write your story. Write it honoring yourself, acknowledging all that you did to accomplish this Glory.
If it is difficult for you to write this in first person then begin by writing it in second person. You can always edit later and change all the “you,” “they,” and “she” to “I” and “me.” Then read it out loud to yourself and again drink in all the flavors of you.