Over the holidays I read an article from the New York Times Op-Ed section, “Feminism Lost. Now What?” talking about different ways forward for the feminist movement after the breaking of “the ultimate glass-ceiling”–a woman in the presidency–was lost in 2016. Whether or not you thought Hillary Clinton was the right person for the job, women in this country experienced a lot of sad and appalling events with respect to women’s rights in 2016. Brock Turner, the former-Varsity swimmer at Stanford, got 6 months in prison after brutally sexually assaulting a woman at the university. We elected a president to lead our country who says extremely hurtful and demeaning things to women. The rights of women to basic reproductive health services were attacked on all sides. There are plenty of reasons to feel disheartened after a year with plenty of reminders of how far we have yet to go to receive the dignity, respect and equality our sisters have fought for so long for.
Yet I feel it goes too far to see the election as a barometer for the successes or failures of the feminist movement.  So here’s the reality: Change doesn’t come from the top. It would be helpful to have a few progressive thinkers or persons who respect women (or ARE women) making some decisions, but for now there seem to be few allies at the top. Real change comes from us. If we want to break the glass ceiling, we need to break it ourselves.
While I was home, I returned to the yoga goddess, Rebecca Urban’s class–the source of so much inspiration last year– near my family home north of San Francisco. Yet again, she poured out wisdom. Towards the end of the class she had us do a hippy dippy exercise where we held a make-believe axe and jumped up and down throwing our weight into chopping some limiting belief that rested somewhere between our feet on the floor. This lady has earned my deep respect so I set aside the eye rolling and threw myself fully into the exercise. And I found myself welling up with tears as I hacked away at the limited beliefs I impose on myself. “My limited sense of self!” Chop. Chop. Chop. Since starting a business two years ago I have been regularly confronted by the fact that I am the biggest obstacle in my way. I have chipped away at my own boogiewoman little by little, but it is still there. 
For now, I can’t control who Donald Trump appoints to his cabinet or whether the Nation’s employers start paying women equal pay for equal work, but I can control limits I set on myself. I can break my own glass ceiling. In 2017 this is what I am working on: breaking my own glass ceiling and inspiring others to do the same. What does this mean? This means that I am going to bust through what remains of my limiting beliefs and unleash my best self, my most courageous work, my inner creative light on the world. No one can stop me or anyone else from doing this.
In our despair over the current state of affairs for women, sometimes we forget how much progress we are making. I am surrounded by women who are finding their courage to do their best work and get out of their own way to make this world a better place. Little by little, so many of us are waking up to our power. This is the true state of affairs, and no one can take that away from us. And the establishment–made up of privileged good old boys that pass their power positions from buddy to buddy–is right to be scared of women–lobbing petty insults, attacking our healthcare, withholding reasonable childcare services that could free us up to make some real changes in this world. Yes–our hard work, courage, and uncovered power puts your privileged, unearned position at the helm at risk. We want change and are ready to fight for it. We are coming for the reigns and you better be ready to show us why you deserve to be there. Let the old institutional players criticize, balk or ignore our advances. We advance all the same.
“Breaking your own glass ceiling” will mean different things to different women. For only a few women will it mean going after the corner office in a fortune 500 company. Perhaps it is taking a language or public speaking class, asking your boss for a raise or the flexibility to take care of a loved one at home, starting your own business or creative endeavor or running for a public office. It is probably whatever action causes you to have that funny mix of terror and excitement at the thought of it. And by all means: do things differently. Don’t get distracted measuring your accomplishments by what has been traditionally praised in our society: making great sums of money, exponential growth, accumulating possessions. We need to be doing things differently so we should be measuring our success differently.
So break your own damn glass ceiling this year. Speak out, create, achieve, and lead from your own unique light. And help your sisters, mothers, friends, and neighbors find the courage to do the same.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *