Women Studies wasn’t a subject “of study” back in my day, at least not at my parochial high school or Jesuit college. Or maybe it was, and I never noticed. At the time, I pooh-poohed all things feminine.
I prided myself on my more masculine qualities. I wasn’t moody. I didn’t have cramps. I relied on rationality. I kept a few close women friends, but preferred the company of men, and their attention–not only for my looks, but for my strength.
Approaching 50, I’ve let all that fall away. (Mother Nature helps.) I have a growing appreciation for my stormy passion and my tidal shifts. I am developing a relationship with my belly. I wear skirts.
It was in my early thirties, as a new mother, when I began to recognize the power of “not” doing; and out of that precious surrender came the need for the company of women.
As a mother of two sons, my world continues to be defined by men, making it crucial that I carve out the feminine. I started out with baths and moods. I added in cooking and dance. I became a gardener and a singer. An artist and a dreamer.
I softened into those aspects that I had long denied, ignored or refused.
This past month, I took my softer self out into the world for a spin at the United Nations for the 56th Annual Commission on the Status of Women. I sat in the same room with Madame Bachelet, the Director of the newly formed: UN Women. I stood beside women leaders and activists, as well as ordinary, every-day women like myself–from all around the globe.
In the twenty plus years since I left college, I have “become” nothing. Nothing that I could put on a business card or as a blurb in my alumni magazine. But I was there. I was among. And I felt at home. (Women are like that with each other.)
Today, I am on my couch, with a sore throat and a fever. There was a time when even this couldn’t stop me. I would have pushed through and had that party, gone to the prom, showed up for the conference. But today, I surrender. Even without data. (I refuse to take my temperature as an act of self-referral.)
Instead, I read and write and listen. I watch You Tube clips from the 2012 Women in the World conference in New York City. I am inspired. I am ready.
But first, I will rest.
Kelly Salasin, Spring 2012