I just spent an empowering weekend. I arrived at Sunday evening feeling a great big mix of things: fatigued, sore, exhilarated, hungry, and hopeful.
It all started on Friday, when I saw this meme, and it said, “No one is you, and that’s your superpower.” And I thought, “Cool!”
It’s true- no one else is me. No one else is you, either.
Now, before you roll your eyes and say something like, “I wouldn’t wish being me on my worst enemy,” just stop for a minute. Really and truly? I used to think that way. Not anymore. Nope. Now I think like the little girl I was when I watched Lynda Carter spin until she transformed into Wonder Woman, using wits and beauty to foil bad guys. I think like the little girl I was when I watched “Electra Woman and Dyna-Girl.” I loved Batman reruns, especially the ones with Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl, who challenged the men in the room with her brains and pluck.
That little girl didn’t question her intelligence. She didn’t question her thighs. She didn’t say much, but when she spoke it was because she believed in what she was saying. That little girl was not afraid to bring questions to the table. That little girl didn’t wait for permission to climb monkey bars or explore on her bike or jump in the pool or lose herself in a novel.
Little girls still love Wonder Woman. Big girls do, too. We know it because of the resounding success of this year’s film. Diana Prince still calls to the feminine spirit of power. My daughter Libby, who works for a company that sends characters to kids’ birthday parties, reveled in it this weekend, playing Wonder Woman for an eight year old. Not Aurora. Not Cinderella. Wonder Woman. Amazonian warrior. With a Lasso of Truth instead of a broom of submission. A woman who is her own hero, not the damsel waiting to be rescued.
I am learning to be my own hero, too.
I attended my first political protest this Saturday, standing along a busy thoroughfare, holding up a bright yellow poster. I donned my own super hero costume:
to protect my thighs of power: undershorts. Because even in March, south Texas is hot and sweaty and thigh chafe is no joke;
to add spring to my step: yellow Converse of joy. Because who can feel despondent in bright yellow Cons?
To embolden my heart: a Wonder Woman logo across my chest. Because I am my own Amazonian warrior.
I rode Thelma, my bike, for over one and a half hours to get to the protest site. I am not sure why I did it, I just know that my heart spoke it and I listened. Something in my advocate soul needed to prove that I had the courage and stamina to do it. Bearing in mind that I am fifty years old, have had one knee surgery and two discs replaced with a steel plate in my neck, have two more bulging discs, and two knees that now sound like crinkling cellophane when I go up stairs, this was no small feat. I hadn’t been on a bike in two years, except for one thirty five minute ride a week ago. I honestly don’t know why I did it. But I arrived to the protest out of breath, sweat dripping down my backside, and exhilarated. I chugged water then found a spot in line.
An organizer led a chant, it went like this:
Tell me what democracy looks like!
And we answered:
This is what democracy looks like!
With eleven year old blonde girls on one side, and a mom with heavily accented English on the other, we chanted and I got choked up. Because it is what democracy looks- and sounds- like: heavily accented or native English, young or middle aged, rich or poor. This was a gathering of diverse people. Toward the end of the event, a young dad came to me with so much excitement it couldn’t be contained in his body. He wanted to know how we had all gotten organized, and he was thrilled to see like minded people in what has traditionally been an ultra conservative community. He ended up bringing his elementary aged boys over to meet me and to take in what was happening. This was what democracy looks like. And by the way, the folks on the other end of the political spectrum have the same freedom to gather. Isn’t this a great country?
I managed to get halfway back home, and was grateful to my sweet husband for meeting me at a cafe to taxi me back home after a lemon drop martini and a turkey burger. At that moment, Diana the Amazon princess needed a ride from her rescuer because her legs were wobbly and her softer parts felt bruised. Hey, even super heroes need a little help every now and then.
After a lovely and restful night, I drove (no Thelma on this day) and then limped into the cinema to revisit another childhood hero: Meg Murry in the film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s novel “A Wrinkle in Time.” I don’t know that I can adequately describe what this book meant to me as an awkward, introverted, brainy, dreamy pre-adolescent with an even brighter little brother. Meg was a hero. She saved her dad with her courage and her brain. She visited dream planets by believing and being open. She was magnificent. Oprah did what she does- drop wisdom and grace, while Reese and Mindy brought humor and joy. My own heroes were invoked and quoted over and over: Jesus, Ghandi, Maya Angelou, Lin Manuel Miranda. I didn’t love the movie because it was a perfect piece of cinema. I loved the movie because it was visually stunning, it celebrated diversity, it exalted intelligence, it honored love. After all, as Meg’s father discovered when his science experiment came to life, “Love is the frequency.”
The film continued the work that I think is underway on our planet. The work of soul and mission and caring.
As Mrs. Which, Oprah challenges Meg, “Be a warrior. Can you?” I felt the challenge in my seat in the darkened theater, too.
What’s my superpower? It’s a belief, down deep in my bones, that life is magical.
What are my tools? First, a listening ear. Then, my written words.
What is my mission, my personal legend, my work? To help others see, create, and accept the magic of their own lives.
Can I be a warrior? Hell, yes. Bring me my shield and my invisible jet. Let my heart be open. Let my soul be brave. Let my life have its own heroic tale.