One moment I feel like I have a lot of knowledge about a particular topic – the next moment I’m learning things or thinking of them in ways I’ve never thought of before.
This was the experience while reading and discussing the book Cassandra Speaks by Elizabeth Lesser at a recent Sparks of Wisdom book club gathering. Many of the participants expressed the same feeling, almost like there was something they couldn’t quite put their finger on until diving into the pages and stories expressed in this book.
From the moment I picked up this book, which was a gift from my beloved daughter, I had countless moments of “oh, I see where that comes from now.” Let’s face it, women have not had much of a voice, or at least a recorded voice, in stories until recently. Myths, legends, and even biblical stories were told by men, written by male scribes, leaving a woman’s point of view out of it.
On a recent trip to Galveston, Texas I looked at the monuments through a different lens – I saw several that paid homage to the founders of the city, some who created great wealth there, and others to past wars fought by people who’d once lived there. Nowhere did I find one monument to a woman who’d mothered children alone while her husband was at sea working or gone to war. Come to think of it, I have yet to see monuments of this sort anywhere.
One of the participants told the group “oh my gosh, I’m not crazy” and shared that she’d had feelings of being left out of the story for her whole life, but it wasn’t till reading this book, twice, that she realized why.
We discussed the qualities we valued of a hero – authenticity, true to themselves, someone who’d overcome any obstacle in life, but wasn’t “showy” – simply used it to help and inspire others. Kindness, caring, and generosity were also valued. Ironically not what is commonly thought of in the typical hero’s journey of pillage, violence, and brute force.
We dove deep into “imposter syndrome” and the ways it showed up for us at work and home. We felt that men didn’t seem to suffer from this the way that women do – we believed much of this has to do with the stories we’d been told and how many of us were raised. Together we came up with some ideas on how to support other women in our quest for self-confidence, voice, and advancement. Shining a light on other women’s work, praising them, reminding them of how awesome they truly are – even when things aren’t going as planned. A celebration box to help keep all the kind words people have shared with us in a place we can go to from time to time. And jotting down the things daily we’re proud of.
Lastly, we discussed some of the toolbox ideas – a few loved the meditation, and the writing your own obituary. Personally, the “Do No Harm and Take No Shit” was my favorite and I thought we should ALL have that nearby in our workstations or even as a t-shirt.
We all agreed this was a topic we could discuss for hours or days and would love to do so around a fire with a glass of wine. Perhaps, we’ll make that happen one day soon.
Reading books and implementing ideas is far more fun when you’ve got others to discuss them with. Join us in our next book club meeting in June where we’ll be discussing Badass Habits by Jen Sincro. Register now at www.MichelleSpalding.com/book-club and join the pre-discussion over on the Sparks of Wisdom FB group.