Feminism, and the Defiance of Daughters

by Alicia on April 21, 2016

hands raisedSexism. What a dirty word. What a list of cruel and ugly things it draws on your mind as you think it. There is a falsehood that sexism is only in the obvious and the overt- grabbing a woman’s ass, complimenting her new skirt as opposed to her intelligence, jokingly instructing a woman to get back in the kitchen. The sinister part of sexism is in the smaller, nameless, acceptable moments. The ones that feel too small to call out, lest you earn yourself the title of Bitch. It’s asking a woman why she’s so emotional, it’s assuming she won’t commit to staying late because she’s maternally inclined or at least she should be, it’s being free to question whether a woman got a promotion based on the fact that she’s a woman or perhaps something she’s done with her womanly body, it’s paying her less because there’s too many unknown factors about her potential future.

And so. Feminism becomes a tool my daughters are learning intrinsically, like how to get the shampoo out of their hair in the shower and the reasons we wear seatbelts in the car. I show it in the moments I decide to do for myself, I give it a voice when I remind them I belong to no one. I lay the tools of feminism out for them daily: your voice, your mind, your body, your free will, your team, your sense of self. I remind them we all lose track of our tools from time to time and that’s ok. The act of picking them back up is an act of personal empowerment. I expose them to challenges and wait…just wait for them to decide for themselves. Not decide how I have instructed, no. To pull and piece together anything they hold in esteem, to feel the power of knowledge that they are whole people deserving of their voice and giving a clear and firm answer. I hold space for them, but it is not sacred. They need to earn it, even with me. Can you defend your position? Are you willing to stand in the shakiness of having perhaps disagreed and display the use of your tools? If you are willing to voice your opinion, part of power is acknowledging your weakness, part of growth is observing and really hearing dissent. Everyone will not agree, perhaps no one will. Use your tools and decide for yourself, and know that it is not failure to acknowledge something you didn’t know. And know that your opinion doesn’t need to change because of it, but eagerly entertain the fact that it might.

They don’t do things my way, these girls of mine. That absolutely stings. It bites back in the personal insecurities that tell you they must not approve of you if they don’t copy you. This is of course false. They are not you. You have molded their little worlds and alongside your version they created their own, and that’s where they live. Honouring that unknowable space for my daughters has been my hardest, most rewarding lesson. Not just as a parent, but as a human being. To acknowledge the truth that I know them the best, and there are depths to their lives that will remain a mystery to me. It is their defiance that brings me simultaneous pain and pride. It’s a pain in my ass, but I’m proud that they feel their worth enough to go their own way.

We claim to be willing to meet people halfway, but in action that’s far too much exposure. That’s scary. That’s uncontrollable. Instead we set people up to travel to our side first, as if we can convince them before they even start. We think we are willing to listen, and we fight or flee when our feelings get hurt. We approach everything from within our own lens, and rarely afford the empathy that others are simply doing the same. Feminism is not exclusively dealing with the glass ceiling. Feminism, at its heart, is many levels below that, right at the ground where we meet to trade ideas, to observe each other without judgment or the need to instruct. If my daughters can meet in that place and both feel and invite equality? If we could all do that? Imagine the actual conversations we could have. Think of the issues we could solve. Think of how open and light you would feel about your future, how much you would encourage those around you, how much more respectful our interactions would be.

Women bring pieces to the discussions and debates, local and large scale, that are ours uniquely. Our voices, our ideas, our questions, they are all necessary, they are all needed, they are all worthy. Be feminists. Men and women- be feminists. Invite the women in your life to show up without armour. And lay yours down too. Stop proving and start experiencing. Proof can come later, but not until you humble yourself enough to stand and take in dissention. Then pull out your voice and reflect on your lessons and speak. Speak. Speak. Speak.

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Why I love Windsor.

by Alicia on April 5, 2016

Occasionally still, I’m asked why I don’t live in Harrow anymore. Why I choose the city life, why I choose to live in Windsor when almost all my family lives in my hometown.

The plain fact is: I love it. I love Windsor.

Detroit skyline from Windsor, Ontario

I chose long ago to fall in love with it. To let my life wrap up in everything Windsor has to offer. And the city has paid me back in spades. The things I love about my daily life, the pieces that inspire me, the energy I feel, would not be possible without living in Windsor. There are no shortage of people talking all the terrible things about Windsor, let me tell you about the great parts.

Taloola Cafe, WindsorNearly every weekday morning, I’m up around 5am. I stumble through my dark, quiet semi-detached house on Windsor’s east side which costs me almost nothing and affords me the opportunity to invest my money in myself and my family. My neighbour is not yet up, and I know this because his school bus is still parked in our shared driveway. I like having them so close. They’re good neighbours, we chose this place well. I grab my mat, my bag full of work clothes, and my purse and I’m out the door to make it to my 6am yoga class, 15 minutes away in Walkerville. There’s no one on the roads, the city is still sleepy, and I can predict traffic really well.

I Breathe and think and move for 60 minutes, in a tiny beautiful studio a block from the Detroit River. I dress for work after yoga and take my time choosing a place for coffee. Some mornings it’s Taloola and I sit and check my phone for 20 minutes. Other mornings I trek further away to CraftHeads Brew where the guy remembers that I like black Americanos and asks me to tag them on Instagram. If I’ve got time, it’s Marija’s Place, the breakfast spot around the corner where the woman brings me the paper because she hates that I’m on my phone so early. She also hates coffee, I know this cause we chat. Sometimes I take my coffee to go and sit by the river in my car just taking in the skyline view. It’s stunning, you know. Every single time I’m in love with watching the sunlight glint off the highrises in Detroit. I stare, I take another of the same picture I have at least 30 times on my camera roll and don’t regret it for a second. It’s gorgeous, I love that city so much, it inspires me and I’m reminded sitting there every time how lucky I am to grow up here.

Detroit skyline from Windsor, Ontario

 

I drive to work, where lucky doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about my job. I’m an alumnus of University of Windsor, and now a very proud employee. I work on a small team, we make big changes. I rarely feel small here, my team is fun and inspiring and smart. Driving home there’s more traffic, but I’m skilled now, I know where to avoid the messes and how many left turns I’ll need to make, and how long it’ll take me to get home, even if I hit traffic on the expressway. The drive home takes 23 minutes. It’s not a stressful 23 minutes, it’s perfectly fine. Sure it’s obnoxious in the summer when there’s construction across every east-west outlet in the city. I grumble about it as I sit in my air conditioned vehicle listening to my latest awesome playlist. It’s not nearly as bad as I want to make it out to be.

My girls get off the bus from their schools- yeah, multiple ones. We got stuck in a district shuffle that split the girls up when the little one started school. I met with everyone I felt I needed to trying to fix it, and in the end just accepted the reality. And the reality is actually completely fine. It’s probably annoying to some, but we don’t even notice anymore. I wait approximately 16 minutes for 2 school buses and it doesn’t bother me. If I decide not to make dinner, I can take the girls almost anywhere to eat within a 5 minute drive. On the weekends, gymnastics is 5 minutes away, and drawing class is 3 minutes from there. Ryan’s commute is about the same.

Art Gallery Windsor, Windsor, OntarioEverything I want to do is right here. The city is filled with art and food and coffee and beer and events and shops and bakeries and markets and if none of that satisfies you, two border crossings that bring you to an entire other country filled with everything you could possibly want. Our hop, skip and jump proximity to Downtown Detroit is one of my top three reasons I love Windsor. That place, you guys, it’s incredible. Have you ever walked around Campus Martius Park, right downtown? You must. If you have a heart for inspiration, you can’t help but feel it sitting there. Ask a local where their favourite hangout is and you’ll get a different answer every time. Try them all. (I’d tell you mine but it’s way too cool and already too crowded so back off.) Take a tour of downtown and you’ll be amazed at all the connections that city you barely care about has to the rest of the world.

So yes, parking in downtown Windsor sucks. So yes, there’s not a whole hell of a lot open past 9pm. So yes, there are parts of the city that seem sketchy and unfriendly. So yes, there’s traffic and people seem in a rush. So yes, it can seem like no one knows you and you’re so detached from everything. You can change all that. Show up. Try it anyway. Make a point to already know all the crappy things about what might happen, and push those aside to look for the great stuff you don’t know anything about yet. Hit up the downtown market on a summer weekend (you’ll see some friendly county faces, I bet!). Then stay. Pay 4 damn dollars to park at the river. Grab a snack and take a walk. Window shop the stores downtown, make a list of the cool places you want to eat at, zig zag the city streets back down to the river front and sit, for a minute, and take in the view you’ve probably taken for granted your whole life. Understand that Windsor has its flaws, like everywhere else. And understand that expressing excitement and positivity about Windsor can actually make you like it more. That trying to see the inspiring parts of the city isn’t betraying the roots you’ve laid anywhere else. Know that it’s cool to love Windsor too, and that you’re not alone in that. I love Windsor. I love living here- because I really live here. I take the city in, I love it and that alone opens up so many opportunities for me to love it more. There’s community in a big city too, and I know it’s true because I’m part of it.

 

UWindsor WinCity shirt

This is definitely self-promotion: I write about Windsor. I’m pretty good at it.

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Higgy in DetroitHere’s why I wanted to do Listen To Your Mother: because I love story telling. It fills my aching soul with incomparable beauty.

People are fascinating. Their stories, even ones I cannot readily find myself in, touch me in deep ways. I’m oddly not fond of reading, but have found that audio books really speak to me. (See what I did there?) The truth is, I need to hear the emotion in your voice or I don’t feel it right. That’s actually a pretty deeply personal thing about my every day life too, right there.

I have to write to know what I’m thinking. I have to hear you speak to know what you’re thinking.

So here, at Listen To Your Mother, I get it all. I get to write a piece of my story and really tell it the way I want you to hear it. I get to listen to other stories and take them in, wrap them in my own human experience and then carry them with me.

I am one of twelve story tellers, getting on stage at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit, MI on May 1st to tell my motherhood story. I am so excited. I am so flattered. I am so nervous. I am so honoured.

These women all have different stories to tell. They all approach the motherhood question from different angles, they each take a new piece out of the puzzle and study it a little more intensely. And by extension, I get to examine it a little more closely for myself. These are brave, inspiring people…and they are fiercely normal people you pass every single day on the street. How wonderful it is that Listen To Your Mother gives these women a microphone and a stage to speak their moments out loud, so we can take them in and figure out what, if anything, they mean to us. Because let’s be honest, I can be grateful for your sharing of your story, but when I hear it, I’m putting my own lens on it, I’m only able to pick out the pieces I identify with, and I’m inspired by what you put out that I have been missing in my own experience. There’s a unity in story telling that is hard to replicate anywhere else. Good story tellers make you feel things, good story tellers leave you just enough room to put yourself into their story, good story tellers pull you in and unlock things in you that will sometimes sweep you right up out of that room you’re in.

 


 

LTYM-logo

*We’d love to have you out to St. Andrews Hall on May 1st, 2016 to be a part of the experience. Tickets are on sale now.

(I get to be in a Thing for which I get to announce: tickets are on sale. And I get to stand where maybe Kurt Cobain stood, who even knows. YOU GUYS! How is this my life?!)

 

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How To Get Through an Anxiety Attack: a 10 year old’s guide

December 14, 2015

My 10yr old daughter, Isabella, wrote this. She had to choose a procedural writing assignment topic, and this is what she chose. Bella has been dealing with anxiety for quite a while now, she has learned many tools from many people. She has good moments and bad moments and moments she can’t quite define. She’s learning just […]

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Why I Don’t Make a Big Deal of the First Day of School

September 7, 2015

We don’t really take Back to School pictures. I mean, I’ll usually snap a quick one of the girls as I’m headed out the door to work or something, but we don’t do a sign or a chalkboard or even a pose of any kind. I went to Bella’s first day, and Annika’s first day […]

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