Today is International Women’s Day, and I can’t help thinking about how women and children bear a unique burden in troubled times.
While the world is watching Ukrainian women fighting for their families, fleeing their homes, making impossible choices, and struggling to survive, I’m reminded of working in Northern Ireland at the end of The Troubles when I was a teenager at what was called a “reconciliation center.” The idea was to bring families together from the embattled North and South of Ireland to essentially help people—war-torn and exhausted from the ongoing guerrilla violence—find common ground and greater compassion for one another. As I eagerly awaited the arrival of these families, bussed in from all over the country, I was not sure what to expect. When the doors opened, it was also not what I had imagined.
I will forever be in awe of the women and children who emerged from those buses. Whether from the North, South, East or West, the scene was always the same—weary faces of mothers and grandmothers with kids of every age in tow. The hardship and courage on their faces was like cold water splashed onto mine. It’s the same feeling I have now seeing those fleeing turmoil in Eastern Europe, including people of color and non-Ukrainian residents facing bias at the border as everyone tries to find a safe haven or get home.
Somewhere in the space between Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, there sits a massive, intersecting community of wildly underserved people struggling time and again to simply live in peace. The past few years have been challenging for everyone in the world, and—I’ll be honest—in many ways it feels like the suffering is never ending. And what can we really do about it? How can we continue to move forward as individuals, as families, as nations, and as a global community when there is constant turmoil and oppression everywhere you turn?
I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you what I learned from the women of Ireland coming together on the fault lines of their divided homeland. Troubled times help us summon survival instincts and tremendous courage, but it is the radical act of rest that brings out true resilience. Once these women had settled into the reconciliation center and were able to take precious time and space to rest with their families, I saw those families from opposite sides of The Troubles sharing stories, laughing, playing, and giving each other such grace.
On this International Women’s Day, let’s #breakthebias and honestly ask ourselves:
How can I look beyond my own fears and entrenched biases to reach across to someone who might need support? Is that person really so different from me? How can I make sure I remain open minded to experiences, people, places, and paths toward reconciliation, cooperation, and peace—even in my own backyard?
I learn so much from you all every day, but one constant is that no one of us is having precisely the same experience in this great shared experience of menopause. Empathy and acceptance are a key part of journeying through challenging times while supporting one another. Realizing that you can never really know what’s happening with someone unless you listen with an open mind is so important, but it’s resting your body and soul that is essential to cultivating openness, understanding, and the resilience we all need when times get tough.
Please give yourself grace. Take time to rest and recharge (and if rest is hard-won, we’re here to help). Breathe deeply. Hug your loved ones tightly. I know we are all doing what we can to help heal this world of ours, but remember the healing starts within you.
I see you—brave, resilient, wonderful woman. You are not alone. We are Kindra.
Continue the Conversation
Leave a Reply
Tags: Personal Stories