Sit down. Pour yourself a cup of tea and know that you are going to need some time to read author Amy Ferris’s story slowly and carefully. It will sear you. It will uplift you. I encourage you to write your thoughts about it here too. Thank you, Amy for sharing it.
First, here’s the cover note Amy sent to me, inviting me to post it so all of you could read it too, then her essay in full:
i wrote this essay about a week, week and half ago, on the advice of my amazing therapist. i have been dealing with such deep shame, deep doubt… and she helped me pull this up and out. and on the page.
righting my life. or … writing my life. as the case may be.
i’ve sent it to 3 people for both a reaction and their advice where to place it/put it. three amazing writer friends – two who are survivors, and one who just came out. they were – without sounding too bloated – absolutely amazed by this essay. they were so taken aback by my truth, my story… this piece.
i wanted to send it to you, after seeing on your blog that you are asking for stories.
this is my story.
it’s very painful.
it’s very raw.
it’s very liberating.
i am so fucking proud to have been able to write it, say it, share it, give it, open up an heart or two. make a difference.
i hope it saves many, many lives.
and i hope, deeply, more than anything, that my story gives women courage to stand in their truth, to tell their story … and that they too realize that their lives matter oh so much.
It’s been quiet here with the holidays taking people’s attention. And I’d just about run out of 9 Ways stories to tell. Then in the “what you need is there if you can see it” mode, Shay Pausa’s story landed in my inbox. Shay has a video production company, ChiKiiTV, and in full disclosure is currently making a new speaking reel for me. Trust me, if you have video production needs, hire her. She wrote to share how her experiences and feelings as a woman in the workforce matched my findings in No Excuses. Here’s Shay’s story:
Truthfully, I’ve never thought of myself as a feminist yet as I read your book and watch your presentations, I know that I am and always have been. I struggled from the time I entered the business world at 17 years old to be taken as seriously as my male co-workers. I made attempts to be unattractive so that my superiors would see that I was a smart, assertive hard worker. I was passed over for promotions and opportunities repeatedly. I was even once was told by the hiring manager that though I was the heir apparent, the executive team could not “picture” me in the job. They hired a man with 5 years less experience from outside the company. But I did not give up and I stayed at that company until I got the promotions. At a certain point, I brought up my concern that I was not being given deserved promotions based on my sex and age. I got the next one. What they feared even more than a smart woman who can call a spade a spade was a lawsuit.
“Stories are medicine for our false isolation. A way to forge connection and community and help shift our course . . . the seed forms of culture we carry around within us.” ~Nina Simons, founder of Bioneers
Your story is your power and your truth.
My friend, the master storyteller and storytelling teacher Laura Simms, sees stories as a path to healing oneself and the world. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, told a story that changed how Americans thought about slavery and intensified support for abolition. It became the second best-selling book of the Nineteenth Century, behind only the Bible, itself a collection of stories.
In fact, throughout the writing of No Excuses and on the 9 Ways Blog, I’ve been most inspired by the stories of women, and men. They have moved me, mentored me, and taught me. I hopes their stories do the same for you when you read them.
Shannon Drury of The Radical Housewife is the lucky winner of my Wear the Shirt contest. Thanks to my stellar team of interns, Gabrielle Korn and Dior Vargas for making the selection, because I love all of the photos. But I guess the rule that one should never try to compete against a small child still holds, and Shannon’s exuberant daughter Miriam in her shirt proclaiming “Feminism runs in our family” won the day.
Shannon is a writer, an at-home parent, and a community activist who has been blogging about parenthood and politics since 2006. She is a prime example of Power Tool #8: Employ Every Medium. The accessibility of blogging and social media has truly changed the political landscape by making it possible for everyone to speak at the same decibel level. Shannon writes about gender, politics, and parenting, among other topics. I’ll be sending a set of my four signed books to Shannon, and maybe Miriam will read them, too, in a few years.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest. You can view the complete slide show of all the entries here.
And by the way, though this contest is over, don’t hesitate to send me more photos of you in shirts that proclaim your convictions. I’ll keep posting them and I am sure readers of this blog will keep enjoying them. Most important, keep wearing them!
On a snowy January day in Grass Valley, California, 250 women packed the Holiday Inn Express conference room, the only place in the Northern California town of ten thousand large enough to hold such a crowd. Even in good weather, it would have seemed remarkable for so many bright-eyed activists from a sprawling rural area to spend a full day in a cramped meeting room discussing what they were “going to do about it.”
The “it” was each individual attendee’s passion. I’d been invited to speak about “Sister Courage” at this first See Jane Do Passion Into Action conference, organized that winter day in 2010 by Jesse Locks and Elisa Parker, a dynamic duo of young women who created the hub for activism and social change called See Jane Do. But I ended up learning more than I imparted. It was an eye-popping experience.
Blogger Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish is an amazing woman. I was so moved by her how she used the three principles of movement building: be a sister by reaching out to others with similar concerns, have the courage to raise issues that you feel are important, and put the two together systematically to create movement. Watch the video of Beth telling her story of why and how she persuaded Brita to offer recyclable water filters to US consumers. I knew I had to highlight it in No Excuses the moment I heard about her.
What’s your story? How have you been able to use movement building principles to achieve a goal? What was the issue you wanted to take on? What was the result?
In this video, women wearing their virtual shirts put their convictions into action. But they didn’t do it alone.
In No Excuses, I show how to apply movement building principles to any area of life. Those principles can be described as Sister Courage: be a sister. Reach out and ask for help when you need it. give help when someone else needs it. Have the courage to raise issues. Put the two together with action and you have a movement.
Think about it. When you needed to plan Thanksgiving dinner, didn’t you call on your sisters to help you plan the menu and distribute the workload? Those same skills can be incorporated into the workplace and in politics.
No Excuses Power Tool #6 is “Wear the Shirt.” It’s a metaphor for sharing your convictions with others. Whether it’s a slogan, a DIY ensemble, or your Feminist Majority “this is what a feminist looks like” shirt, it’s important that we wear our shirts proudly. That’s why I’m hosting a Wear the Shirt photo contest.
Send me a photo of you in your favorite message shirt, and I’ll include you in the slide show on my homepage. One lucky winner will receive an autographed set of my four books, including No Excuses.
I would love for you to participate in this opportunity to socialize and share your favorite shirts! There are three ways to participate:
1. Take a picture of yourself in your favorite shirt and send it to me in an email.
2. Post the picture on your blog and let your readers know about this contest! E-mail me and I’ll link to the post and also put it on my Twitter and Facebook page.
3. Tweet your shirt and about the wear the shirt campaign, linking to @GloriaFeldt.
Last Monday night, thanks to my great friend Dede Bartlett’s orchestration, I had the pleasure of speaking about No Excuses at the New Canaan (CT) Public Library. What made the event really special was that two of the women I interviewed for the book were present.
So I invited Sophfronia Scott, writer and founder of Done for You (a service that helps authors write and package their books) and executive coach Bonnie Marcus, who also hosts the “Head Over Heels” radio show, to share their stories with the audience.
Both demonstrated power tool #6: wear the shirt, by revealing their authentic selves, their passions, their aspirations.
Marcus described how she went to a job interview at a cardiac center with no management experience– in fact, no business experience whatsoever, and yet by showing her passion she got the job. “I talked about my passion for cardiac fitness,” she said. “I had been teaching aerobics. I talked about how the mission of their company resonated with me because my dad had a heart attack at fifty-seven and my family completely changed our lifestyle at home, becoming more active and eating heart-healthy foods. I showed the cardiac center how their mission and message was my way of life. They hired me! Certainly not because of anything but my passion and energy for the company and their mission.”
Scott told us how she decided to tell the world (via a powerful blog post January 1) that 2010 would be her year of living fearlessly.