When I saw your story on stage, you made me think of my crucial bonding experiences with women that help me get through life. These relationships require us women to dig deep within ourselves to be real, be gentle and be tough with each other in order to become better–not perfect–people.
When I was younger, I had moved to a conservative and non-diverse small city of Minnesota. It was an initially isolating experience, but I slowly made a female friend here and another there, mainly by working as a temp throughout the city. I doubt that it was an accident that most of us had come from somewhere else–outsiders clinging to each other for understanding and companionship. We were younger then and talked often about our dreams to be a singer, writer, artist or who knows what. Most of us ultimately moved away to other parts of the country. Though we are not as often in contact, I have not lost touch with these women. We now discuss the important matters in our lives, such as how we are navigating motherhood, experiencing deaths of loved ones and making music, writing or creating, from afar.
This past year, I joined a women’s leadership group that is focused on fostering authentic leadership. So often in the public and professional sphere, women are required to project a certain facade to be accepted or to advance. To lead in a less masculine way in our society leaves us so vulnerable to criticism. However, to support each other’s growth has required each of us women to talk deeply about our self-perceptions and self-doubts, a process that has required much trust as well as built trust amongst us. We know that we can be world changers (if not already so!).
At the moment, my writers group consists solely of women of color. Sharing my works and views opens me to devastating judgment or awesome support. Our initial meetings informed the future tenor and stability of the group. To my relief, our meetings have surpassed my expectation of support, as we discuss a full range of personal and social as well as writing topics.
And of course, as a mother, I have benefited from a vast network of women to laugh with, to cry on and to get things done–in school volunteerism, coming of age ceremonies, shared childcare, carpooling, play dates, gnome kidnappings….
Girls of the Alternative Calendar, thank you for living a story that inspired the play Calendar Girls, which portrays the truths of womanhood with such candor, empathy, humor and grace. Congratulations, too, on your successful fundraising. You’ve helped a lot of people in more ways than you may know.
Ting, Honorary Calendar Girl for a Day