“I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world…”
This quote hangs on my kitchen wall, in full view as I sit writing this blog or working on my book or making life coaching calls. There is some little part of me that still believes it’s true.
On International Women’s Day, which is today, March 8th, I am reminded how grateful I am to be a woman, and how grateful I am for the women who came before me who made it possible for me to vote, earn a decent wage, start my own business, live independently, and choose how to live my life, by paving the way.
I owe my freedom, my right to vote, and my autonomy, to their struggles. 2011 is the 100th anniversary of the first International Women’s Day in 1911, and it is a time to reflect back on a century of contributions by women in economic, social and political arenas, by powerful women making a difference in the world.
And it also raises the question: how can I contribute in my lifetime to continuing to advance the status of women in the world, and how can I as a woman best contribute to “saving the world?”
What Is Your Life’s Mission?
One of my life’s missions, as I currently define it, is to inspire and empower women to live their happiest, most fulfilling lives. For me, living a satisfying life includes finding ways to give back to society, and to leave this earth a little bit of a better place because I lived.
I dream of someday starting a foundation to help women around the world receive a good education, and to help promote women’s rights globally. I understand how fortunate I am to be well-educated, to live in a free country, to have the right to vote, and to be able to live autonomously.
And most importantly, I am in the privileged position of getting to choose what my future and my role in society will be. There are very few career tracks anymore in which there is a true “glass ceiling,” although women do still on average earn less than their male peers.
The question for me is, right here, right now, from where I am, how can I make the biggest difference? Where am I called to be and serve in the world?
Ah, Now That’s An Easy Question…
For most of us finding our “calling” is a long or ongoing journey. Some are lucky and just “know” when they are children that they want to be a doctor, or actress, or writer, and they follow that calling bravely, and become what they dream of becoming.
For me the path was more circuitous. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but wasn’t brave enough to tackle that full-time right out of college. I didn’t think I could make enough money to support myself that way, which although it may be a cultural myth was one I bought into.
I didn’t really know what to do with all of my talents and gifts, and my abundance of energy.
Somehow life has unfolded in an amazing way that makes it clear to me that I am called to be a writer now and make a difference in that way, and that I am also called to do coaching and teaching, and to help other women live their dreams.
I am a survivor of trauma with a frightening past who has built a beautiful life for myself. I want to help others heal and do the same.
What Difference Can I Make In Society?
For me, the question of how to give back to society and to “save the world” has always been a powerful question for me. When I was a very little girl, I felt the weight of the world upon my shoulders already. I felt certain that I was supposed to somehow, singlehandedly, “save the world,” and that I was called to greatness.
I wasn’t sure exactly how I would pull this off by myself, but I figured it’d become clear to me over time. I prayed to be shown the way.
These days, I still pray to surrender my will so that I may do what is for the highest good, and so that my work and presence can make a positive difference in the world.
Am I “saving the world” yet? Not so sure about that.
Let’s face it: it’s a pretty big job.
Saving the World One Heart At A Time
For women especially, I think that often the first step to “saving the world” or just “healing the world” is healing ourselves. Surely I’m not the only woman on the planet who has at times struggled with feelings of inadequacy, doubted my own value, self-sabotaged, or put my energy into helping a man advance his career or dreams, while neglecting mine.
Surely I’m not the only person who has been aware of her gifts and yet sometimes afraid to use them. Part of me hesitates to operate as the most powerful woman I can be in the world because I am also protective of my health, time with friends and family, and future dreams, such as having my own family and becoming a mom.
Men rarely seem to put career choices on hold in order to have a family, but as a woman who is 39-years-old, and who would like to have a child or children of my own, I feel it is important for me to make career choices that allow me to have a family and to be there for my babies.
So, for example, a former career dream of becoming the first female elected mayor of my small city of Troy, New York is on hold.
They say women can have it all, but if we “have it all,” do we also make the time to nurture ourselves? And to give back to society? I’m a little in awe of the women who manage high-powered careers, raise babies, juggle household responsibilities and pay the bills, and still find a way to nurture themselves.
Can I be one of these women someday?
I’m sure I can if I set my heart and mind to it. Right now, I simply want to make my life-coaching and teaching business successful and sustainable, finish my book, and love myself and others. Right now, that seems to be the best way for me to give back.
Saving The World By Saving Ourselves?
For women, at least when I look at myself and the women in my life, we often lack the sense of confidence that men seem to possess to live our lives fully, without regrets. Sometimes I really believe that what society needs is an inner revolution, people awakening to how powerful they are, people finding peace, love and joy within, people knowing that all beings are interconnected and that all life is sacred.
When life is lived from this space, it becomes impossible to harm anyone else, and taking the next right step becomes obvious. It makes sense to take care of ourselves, others, and the world when we live from a space of compassion, mindfulness, love and awareness.
I meditate every day to cultivate this space in myself. A friend of mine shared the idea of having 100,000 purposes in our lives, so that every loving interaction is part of my life’s purpose. Every time I’m kind or smile at a stranger, it makes a difference.
That said, there is still some part of me that says that I should be doing more. How can I help to shift society in a positive direction?
The Century of Women
I truly believe that this is the century of women, when our divine feminine energy is needed more than ever. Women are nurturing creatures and caregivers, and in leadership roles, as well as in our communities and families, we tend to collaborate to solve problems, without caring about who gets the credit.
The male dominated-energy of aggression and testosterone, war and more war, certainly hasn’t yet solved the world’s crises. In fact, this energy seems to have created them, or at least perpetuated them.
My hope is that through my books, teaching and coaching I will nurture the divine feminine energy in others and myself, and also help us give ourselves permission to be truly powerful. I don’t know what kind of leadership role I will step into in the world next, but do hope that my work in the world will help other women find the courage to be leaders of all kinds.
It’s our time.
I think that by “saving ourselves first,” and then joining forces to help create a better world, women can be incredibly powerful. We are natural collaborators and nurturers. We are all about helping others do their best, as we form partnerships, families, communities, teams — thus, 8womendream.
Of course ultimately “saving the world” will require men and women, everyone, working together to make a positive difference. I think the changes that the world needs now are about harnessing a divine feminine nurturing energy, in both men and women, to heal the world and work together to find solutions to challenging global problems.
Here’s to that beautiful future!
What will you do today to celebrate International Women’s Day?
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project.