I’m sitting on a beach.
My hair is full of oil from a deep tissue massage.
I am having a conversation with two friends about everything from French fries to crushing the patriarchy.
I am in Africa.
Thanks to an entirely divine chain of events and good fortune I am able to take this journey. I am grateful for this opportunity.
Now that the Women Deliver conference is over, I am trying to process the call to action I heard there and the work that needs to be done before I fully accept that challenge.
I have about two more weeks on this globetrotting adventure and it feels a bit like my own personal, “Eat, Pray, Love” moment.
My journey might be called, “Eat, Rest, Reckoning”
It has been a joy to enjoy the foods we’ve been served and what we’ve discovered along the way. I've worked hard to savor each bite in hopes of remembering every flavor, every spice, so that I might duplicate these meals once I am home.
Making space for this joy requires a good deal of internal strife on my part as I am also dealing with a body that feels large and unruly on this trip. My internal voices are raging with judgment and shame, but I have promised myself, my true self, to shut off those voices and to enjoy trusting my body, giving it what it needs and wants and deriving unadulterated joy from each morsel I am served.
Rest, true rest, is always a bit of a challenge for me. My head is spinning constantly – there is always a narrative running. I’m also the product of very hard working parents who believed you earned rest. It’s taken me years to wrap myself around the concept that rest isn’t something you earn, it’s something you need in order for work to happen. I’ve had to be very intentional about rest since I lost a kidney to cancer in 2016. My natural instinct to just “keep pushing”, will cause me to get sick rather quickly. There’s been some work happening while I’ve been on this trip. I have managed to keep up with my weekly blog posts and podcasts, though not always on time, they have been uploaded. I’ve answered emails and texts about other projects, but I have also taken off my watch, stopped wearing makeup and allowed myself to listen to my body and shut down in this leg of my journey. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, it can be tempting when you’ve invested a lot of money into a vacation to try to pack in as much as possible to “get your money’s worth” – but, I don’t want to get sick and I want to be fully present to this experience, so I rest when my body tells me to rest.
As for my reckoning, I’m just at the beginning of this process. I mentioned last week I need to come to terms with what it means to be an American white woman. I have to gain a larger and deeper understanding of the role I play in racism. In what little work I’ve done in this area so far, it feels like I have to break apart and that’s ok. The thought I have unintentionally caused pain to someone else breaks my heart wide open. But before I can truly begin healing I need to take the full inventory and impact of the role that I play and the cards I’ve been dealt simply because I was born white. That means I also need to assess the role I play as a leader in my community and the jobs that need to get done for the future. I have an important role to play, but in some cases that will mean I need to move out of the way for other leaders to step forward. In other areas, I need to speak out about the injustice I see and am just now attempting to fully understand.
What I know for sure is there is work to do. Half of the women on this planet do not have control over their reproductive health. Over 60 countries on the planet have made forward progress on reproductive rights and gender equality. Only 4 have gone backward. The United States is one of those four. When I get home, I’ll be collecting information about how those numbers impact Idaho. The best estimates for global gender equality is over 100 years. As a mother, I feel called to do better.
What's next? I'm working on more complete travel logs of the trip with more details and photos. Stay tuned for those. I'm headed to London and Ireland next and I'm sure those destinations will also be filled with adventure.
What am I listening to: A tropical rainstorm and a lovely Spotify playlist called “Summer Reading”. It’s instrumental and peaceful.
What am I reading: Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder I just started this novel and can’t put it down. It’s a compelling look at motherhood and household roles… and much, much more.