a prayer for women – my commencement speech

a prayer for women: i decided that instead of this being a keynote, it would be more like a commencement. commencement has a really good ring to it. you know: beginnings. graduating. next steps. i’m dedicating this commencement to Joules Evans who shows me every single day what courage looks like. and let me tell you, she wears courage so beautifully, she can mix & match courage with anything, even plaid. every day i wake up and i think: how can i make the world a bit better? and then i have coffee. and then of course, i do my morning facebook post/musings: what i know this morning post coffee, pre-wine. so this is what i know this evening. I know that we are fierce & mighty and powerful beyond belief. we are feminist warriors. and warriors are not without struggle or self-doubt, suffering and pain. i know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but sometimes, many times, the tunnel is excruciatingly long & dark, and scary. i know that with pretty much every obstacle, every set-back there is a stunning benefit, a grand result that matches in size. i know that the good outweighs the bad, but sometimes the bad feels never fucking ending. i know that kindness wins over cruelty. i know that love can beat hate and win at any & all games and or matches. i know that actions speak louder than words, but words – when spoken or written – can change someone’s life forever. i know it’s easy to say, ‘let go, put it behind you, give it up… stop beating yourself, eat gluten-free’ i know, i know… it’s much easier said than done. and sometimes, actually many times, it’s much better to say nothing, and just listen. and yes, listening is hard… but paying attention is what’s important. i know that there isn’t a woman who can’t turn lemons into lemon sorbet. mistakes into mission. bad boyfriends & bad girlfriends into really cool anthologies. toxic friends into supportive allies. and a fuck you into a thank you. i know that every woman – every single woman – is capable of the most stunning, gorgeous, extraordinary, stupendous, glorious things. capable beyond belief. we are each filled with more goodness & kindness & love than you can probably even fathom. i know that we are, every single day, capable of shaking up the world, turning it on it’s side, and making it spin like a 45. i know that each of us can make the world bigger and better and sexier. please, oh, please…don’t underestimate your greatness. we are, each of us, goddesses. we are. we have magic in us. magic. glitter. moondust. sparkle. there is a light – a gorgeous light – in each one of us, and we must never, ever let it dim, or die out. we are IT. we are. and let me tell you, it is time for us to let go of everything that holds us back. all the unnecessary crap. all the clutter. All the stuff & crap that makes us feel oh so small, so fucking unworthy. all the folks who don’t support us, who don’t believe in us, who don’t root for us. who wish us well, but … you know, not too well. yeah, those folks. time to let them go. it is time to let go of all the baggage we’ve been packing & repacking & schlepping around because it serves no purpose other than to weigh us down, and god knows in middle-age, we have enough extra fucking weight. it is a grand time – a perfect time – to fall madly in love with our own lives. to step into our own gorgeous glorious power. and as a reminder, anger is not power. anger, loud, mean… that is not power. do not mistake it for power. power is, and should be soft. we don’t need to be angry to be heard. we just need to show up. it’s time for us to step out of the box. to start a new line. to stop believing all the negative, nasty, mean stuff that is said mostly behind our back by folks who don’t know us at all. to take a leap of faith. to write that book, to make that film, to start painting…to make art, play an instrument, start dancing, singing, and yes, stretch our wings. oh, my goddess…flutter those babies. It is time for us to go for what it is we want in life. without reservation or question, without the self-doubt lingering, or hiding in the corner. we need to stop apologizing for being us. imperfectly perfect us. let me repeat that: stop apologizing. stop seeking approval. stop seeking validation. the only validation you need is in a parking garage. we need to stand up. to injustice. to inequality. to start a ruckus. a SHEvolution. to demand more for our lives. to demand more for our children & grandchildren. to stop making excuses. to stop taking less than. to stop taking crumbs. to own the absolute irrefutable truth that we are enough. more than enough. so, do your life. go on. do it fully. balls-out. no holes-barred. And for god sake, let it be messy & complicated and pile up those mistakes, pile them up, and please don’t think for one moment those mistakes are who you are. mistakes are detours, wrong turns and sometimes they take you places that you would’ve never known existed. remember a bad first date can turn into a great marriage, and an awful first draft can win a pulitzer. messy is a life well lived. a life well lived, and well worn. to be able to look in the mirror and say to yourself, “my god, i am so fucking beautiful,” so, please, on this evening of new beginnings: choose to live your life well. fill it to the brim with goodness, and kindness and generosity and beauty and magic and mistakes and messy and love. good love, kind love, sweet love, unconditional love, and self–love. do not allow anyone to make you feel small, unworthy, undesirable, or less than. wear all of your scars like stardust. you earned them. every bit of them.

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