Letter to my Heroines
Updated: Sep 19
9/19/2020 These words were written and published over a year ago. In memorandum and respect for the great lady known as Ruth Bater Ginsberg, who served 27 years in the US Supreme Court and since the 1970's a legal architect for women's rights. May your soul be at rest and thank you for showing all of us what is possible, what is achievable no matter what the odds!
My dearest soul sisters, women of wisdom, loud stomping angry bass playing drum thumping ladies! Women of words, music, mediums, science and self-expression, women who trip and fall flat on their face and show us how they get back up and go on to write an award winning album-book-play-song-poem. For my Grandmothers who encouraged my creativity, and the women who quietly held my heart as it broke over and over, for the friends who stayed present in dark spaces, and for those brave enough to hold up a mirror so that I could really begin to see my Self.
I would not be traveling this bumpy chaotic fabulous road if I had not met you in person, through your words, or vocal octaves that became the soundtrack of my life. You came with purpose and so often at the time when I needed guidance, a shoulder to cry on, when I needed a plan, something new to think or sing about. You gave me words, vibrations, validation, a Kleenex, a song. This allowed me a really deep breath. If not for you, I would have given up a long ways back.
Today is a day I celebrate because my Heroines encourage me and they don’t lie to me. My Heroines are the type of women that extend a hand when they see me stuck in my own shit. Heroines don’t tell us how to do the thing, they show us. They offer examples, stories and narrative so that we can find our self in the story. They give you the truth, even when it’s bitter.
Recently, two heroines of mine offered an opportunity to heal my Self in a way I didn’t know was possible until I went through the steps. I am writing now because the experience was so powerful and because I believe in sharing knowledge and tools to heal our selves. This is the story.
One wise woman shared the title of Eve Ensler’s new book, “The Apology”. Having been in the Vagina Monologues twice and the hostess for several V day parties, I’ve learned it is safe to be vulnerable with Eve. Whether offered in writing or performed, her words and truth echo deeply in the psyche of a world that continues to participate in acts of genocide, war and crimes of power like rape. That even when she takes me down the darkest corridors of the human psyche (or vagina) I am allowed, and encouraged to feel all the grotesque, angry and sometimes humorous emotions connected to surviving violence. Respect doesn’t begin to describe how much admiration I have for Ms. Eve Ensler and her ability to talk about sexual violence.
The Vagina Monologues entered my life when I was in my twenties, living in a progressive west coast town and working for a non-profit that provided services to women and children fleeing violence. Through work I met my own version of “Bob”, a man who also understood family violence. My “Bob” was a terrific gift giver and he really tuned in to what I liked. When “Bob” and I approached our first valentine’s day as a couple (which I had already found consumer driven fault with), he tipped me off that I would be going out. At the time I didn’t catch the “I” and on Valentine’s Day, he presented a ticket to the monologues; one ticket, the gift within the present was to go alone. “Bob” knew me sometimes better than I knew myself. I had no idea what kind of emotional rollercoaster I was in for. Mind blown. Thank you Ms. Ensler for changing my life and becoming one of the world’s most courageous ass-kicking heroines. Since 1999, I have celebrated V day. If you were lucky enough to know me in my heyday, you might have attended a V day party. Things could get a little wild at these parties…like the time we frosted sugar cookies shaped as vaginas. I don’t think I have to illustrate how creative a group of women can get with sprinkles and frosting! Those cookies would have impressed another talented Heroine, Ms. Judy Chicago.
As far as heroines go, I want to declare my passion for Ms. Ani DiFranco whose voice and lyrics have accompanied me through the laughter and pain of what it is to be a woman. Hildegard Von Bingen composed the most magical music and in her later years learned to embrace and live her most authentic self as a mystic. On an aromatherapy side note, Hildgard gets credited by the French as the developer of Lavender distillate (hydrosol). Alice Coltrane is one of the most incredible jazz Heroines I have ever heard. Have you listened to jazz with Harp? I think it might have my altered my DNA it’s that transcendental. Though Eve Ensler has a monologue about this, it was Inga Musico’s book that taught me how to reclaim the word Cunt. Byron Katie’s techniques snap my attention into place. I love a good Super Soul Sunday binge, many thanks Ms. Winfrey you have brought the wisdom of so many into my awareness. Heroines Carolyn Myss and Clarissa Pinkola Estes, taught me about the energy of the body and the power of story. There are heroines who wrote about sex from a feminist and sexually inclusive perspective. Women who question authority and use their voice (RGB, AOC, and many more), who use art to lift themselves and others up; these women are my Heroines.
I am humbled and forever enlightened and inspired by the women who I count as friends and confidants, who walk this pilgrimage of life within reach of my hands, voice and heart. Thank you Heroines for being the light in the dark, for illuminating the journey within. I anticipate only being half way down my path….so much more to go, but your presence keeps me company, gives me hope and asks me to step into the shoes of the Heroine I am becoming. I hear your voices in my head, I receive your love, see laugh lines across my kitchen table sharing a cup of tea. Thank you seems too small an expression, so in addition I dedicate to all the Heroines, this sweet song by Natalie Merchant,
“Kind and Generous”
La la la la You've been so kind and generous I don't know how you keep on giving For your kindness I'm in debt to you
For your selflessness my admiration For everything you've done you know I'm bound I'm bound to thank you for it La la la la Hey hey hey
You've been so kind and generous I don't know how you keep on giving For your kindness I'm in debt to you And I never could have come this far without you
For everything you've done, you know I'm bound I'm bound to thank you for it La la la la
Oh, I want to thank you for so many gifts you gave The love, the tenderness, I want to thank you I want to thank you for your generosity, the love And the honesty that you gave me I want to thank you show my gratitude My love, and my respect for you, I want to thank you Oh, I want to thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you I want to thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you
Songwriters: Natalie Merchant
Kind & Generous lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing