(Originally published, with different edits, on elephant journal on October 26, 2015)
Photo by (the incredibly talented) Camilla Albano
I honour the women.
I honour the women who howl at the moon and the women who bow their heads in silent reverence, instead.
I honour the women who are loud with their words and the women who don’t feel they need to be loud in order to be heard—the ones who know that the wisest ones speak softly or do not speak at all.
I honour the women who call themselves fearless and the women who are full of fear but also full of courage; the ones who rise above fear; the ones who speak the truth even when their voice shakes.
I honour the women who understand that feminism is about choice—about choosing to be a mother or not to be a mother, to be a CEO or not to be a CEO, to have many lovers or one lover-for-life or no lover at all.
I honour the women who respect that there is nothing wrong with a white picket fence if that is what a woman chooses; the women who don’t consider other women to be inferior (less fun, less free, less fierce) simply because they have made different choices.
I honour the women who hold others accountable for their mistakes, but also hold themselves accountable when they are at fault; the women who understand that accountability is important, but that forgiveness (of self and of others) is infinitely more important.
I honour the women who realize that it’s not all about them; that the world is built on interconnection; that every action creates ripples in the fabric of life itself.
I honour the women who respect their perfect, precious vaginas (and treat them like the lifegivers they are) and I honour the women who don’t because they have been told, their entire lives, that being a woman means being second best and that to "play like a girl" is to play weak.
I honour the women who have explored their sexuality and accept themselves as glorious sexual beings and I honour the women who haven’t explored their sexuality because it has never been safe for them to do so.
I honour the women who value their own worth and those who aren’t sure they have any worth at all.
I honour the black women, the Muslim women, the indigenous women, the trans women, the poor women, the homeless women, the abused women, the women who have a voice but whose voice has been muffled for decades upon decades upon decades; the ones who are rarely represented in media and government; the ones who must ceaselessly fight against the marginalization imposed upon them.
I honour the women who don’t give up.
I honour the women who do give up; the ones whose spirits have been crushed; the ones who have been beaten down one time too many.
I honour the women who work tirelessly to protect Earth and her earthlings and those who don’t because they are too busy working two jobs to put enough food on the table to feed their families.
I honour the privileged women who not only acknowledge their privilege, but push back against the system that fosters it.
I honour the women who vote with their dollars; the women who know that change happens from the ground up and so who get down on their knees and dig in the mud; the ones who put their actions where their words are; the ones who understand that we are all doing the best we can with what we know and what we have and that that is enough.
I honour the women who don’t vote with their dollars because they simply can’t afford it.
I honour the women who, through their thoughts and words and deeds, revere the children (who will inherit the world) and the elders (upon whose shoulders they stand).
I honour the women who create—the ones who write and sing and dance and paint and knit and garden and mother—in brave and inspired ways.
I honour the women who recognize that it is their duty to give a fuck, that it is necessary to give a fuck, that there are too many people in this world who don’t give a fuck because they are too caught up in romanticizing the moment, the individual experience, and the ego.
I honour the women who understand that in order to create a better world—one where there is justice, equality, and freedom for all—we must exist in the present, but expand our awareness beyond the present (we must think of tomorrow); beyond the individual experience (we must consider others); beyond the ego (we must restore the heart to its rightful place as chief commander).
I honour the women who try to be perfect because they have never been taught that they are fabulous just as they are and the women who don’t try to be perfect, but aim to be purposeful.
I honour the women who build bridges between the gaps that separate women from women and women from men; the ones who know that, despite our vast differences, we belong to one another.
I honour the women who are real, who are raw, who are able to walk in the world with a heart full of scars that declares:
Here I am. I am a bit tender, a bit scared, a bit unsure. But here I am, taking another breath, greeting another morning, walking another step in the direction of wholeness, of healing, and of love.
I honour the women who love; the ones who keep on loving this broken world and its broken people because love is the force that fuels action.
I honour the women who, in time, learn to shamelessly own their stories and the women who never do because shame is so deeply embedded in their bones.
I honour the women who sacrifice, the women who give, the women who grieve.
I honour the women who stand tall and proud and those who keep crawling forward on their bruised and bloodied knees.
I honour the women.
(Note: In August 2014, a piece was published on elephant journal entitled, This Is For the Women Who Don't Give a Fuck. That piece—which both excited and angered me, at the exact same time—was the spark that inspired this piece and, for that, I am grateful.)