Strong of back. Soft of heart. #shepersisted No 75

No. 75 #ShePersisted Series – They said, you gotta be strong like us to change the world. She said, being strong like you won’t change the world for the better. We all need to be strong of back, soft of heart to create a better world together.

It is something I find fascinating about this dance with the muse I enter into every time I step into my studio, or sit at my desk, or go for a walk, or lie in the bath… OK. Maybe that should read, this dance with the muse I live everyday.

I don’t ask for her presence. She just is. There. Here. Everywhere. Within and all around me.

I also don’t ‘ask’ for ‘the words’ for the #shepersisted series to come. They simply appear. Sometimes, they come without need of editing. Sometimes, they form as a sentiment calling to be expressed, asking me to massage the words into deeper meaning. To find that meaning, I often have to go through the journey of creating the visual message first.

And then, there are days like yesterday when the words appear before I even enter the studio. They arrive in my mind, full of fleshy substance, carrying with them a deep compelling desire to be brought into visual being.

On those days, like yesterday, there is nothing I can do to dissuade or convince the muse I have other things to do.

I must heed her urgings. I must create.

And here’s the thing. While I don’t intentionally ask for or summon up the words, there is an intentionality to the creation of the artwork.

For example, beneath the layers of paint, the foundational background of No. 75 was created by using a rubber mat, the kind you put in the bottom of a sink to protect dishes. It’s all flowers and butterflies. To begin, I placed it on the blank white page and sprayed purple ink over it. When lifted, the page was covered in white flowers and butterflies between purple splotches.

The use of a kitchen sink mat is intentional.

It signifies that moniker I keep grating against yet still succumb to thinking is mine to take care of. That ubiquitous thing called…’women’s work’.

Yeah. I know. Division of labour and all that but the fact remains, while advances have been made over the past 40 years, women continue to do the majority of unpaid household work and continue to spend more time at it than men. Even more significant, COVID has caused many of women’s advancements to be lost, pushing women out of the workfoce, back into the home.

From kitchen mat to boardroom table, women continue to face obstacles that impede their rights, their opportunities, their independence, their health, wealth and well-being.

For me, the #shepersisted Series is my personal statement of ‘ENOUGH’.

Enough of playing by the rules. Of being, polite not forthright, assertive not aggressive, ladylike not badass girl-power running wild at the frontlines of making change happen now.

Seriously. Do men ever get told it’s not ‘manlike’ to ask for what they want? To be assertive, yes. Aggressive no. (watch for a yet to be created No. 76 on that one!)

The muse is not done with the #ShePersisted Series.

Neither am I.

But then, I’m not done with changing the world either.

How about you?

Have you had enough? No matter your gender identification, are you willing to stand up, give voice and make change happen for everyone?

None of us can do it alone. But together? We are a mighty voice. A powerful force. An unstoppable collective.

#choosetochallenge #speakupforinclusion #weareallinthistogether #strongtogether #womensvoicesmatter #girlpower

12 thoughts on “Strong of back. Soft of heart. #shepersisted No 75

  1. oooouuuuh – you’re digging deep into the human flesh and thoughts here! My father used to say (and for a long time I didn’t understand what he meant, as I was still a small child): It’s always better when the heart is a bit softer than the head. I think that’s what you too wish to convey – only in other words.
    And incidentally, I had a quite interesting and taxing conversation today with an African friend I got to know in France. I needed to tell her that they have presently three cultures fighting with each other at any moment in their life in Europe. The young daughter, a highly intelligent but super kind woman of 17 years with the wisdom of an oldie, her mother, a youngish African woman who lives in Europe since over 20 years and her African husband who is still totally ‘encrusted’ in his superiority as a MAN. He can do and say what he wants – his word is God’s gospel. He can dispense his love or wrath as he pleases, because HE IS A MAN. His wife has adopted a much more open and maybe controversial European attitude: You treat me right and I’ll be your dream woman. You don’t – I won’t budge to your wishes. A daughter who is torn between two cultures, two worlds, different understanding and interpretation of What to Do and How Not to Do…. compelling, interesting, and that it was a day or two after the International Women’s Day was unintentionally but maybe ‘just had to come up’.
    Those women will never stand up like we do. WE would never accept being treated by our men like they seem still largely to accept. They don’t persist, but at least they mutter already. They’ll make their way – I’m sure. They have strong backs and soft hearts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I LOVE your father’s saying Kiki! Thank you for sharing it.
      Your wisdom with your friend is astounding — and yes, those culture clashes are difficult terrain to traverse without digging up some mud and muck along the way! Though I do find it interesting that the one who holds on the most tightly is the man — I think in some ways he is a reflection of so much of the masculine side of society — when we believe we have ‘the most to lose’ as men often inherently do, we hold on more tightly to what we have.
      And I agree, in their mutterings, the seeds of persistence are planted. They will germinate and sprout as all seeds must when planted in the fertile soils of possibility. And, with strong backs and soft hearts, beauty will grow along with strength and courage to break free. Your friend is very lucky to have you in her life. ❤

      Thank you for your powerful and beautiful response Kiki. Such a lovely conversation!

      Liked by 1 person

      • African women still have a VERY loooong way to go – but when you live for such a long time in a totally different country you are bound to take up also at least a few bits of their culture, one would think!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dearest Kiki, my mother was born and raised in southern India. Her way of life incredibly different than the Canadian life she came to. It was a very challenging assimilation for her — especially when we moved to France and she was amongst her family, most of whom had let India when it reclaimed its independence. And still, after decades of ‘westernization’ she had ideas and traits that were so very foreign to me. I think sometimes, the progress is slow — my mother had a ‘Westernized’ husband so her journey was not as fraught with complexities as your friend whose husband is still attached to the old ways. Sending you much love and gratitude my friend. ❤ — I so love your beautiful spirit.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, what a conversation you have started. Kiki’s response to your powerful words is an awakening that I wish MEN would read with eyes wide open and and open mind. However, we know that is not going to happen. But, if even just one did and realized that men and women can live together in cohesion of sharing life’s responsibilities then I consider that a success.
    I learned long ago that no matter what I do, how hard I try, I cannot change the WORLD. I can effect change, influence change through positive example, suggestion and guidance in my immediate sphere. I know, I have done it and been thanked for it. I just hope that the individuals passed it on forward. If we all can effect some change in our personal spheres, multiply by many, that is how change for the better will begin in the WORLD and it will be noticed. And yes, when I look back to my formative years, through my professional and volunteer careers, I do see change, one step at a time. Then along come moments such as Black Lives Matter, the sexual harassment cases in the RCMP and now at the highest levels of Canada’s military and I stop. These are steps going backward, way too many. Why? I wish I had an answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You always ‘wake me’ Iwona with the power, honesty and insight of your words.
      And yes, there does seem so much that is taking us backwards, but then, I remember how getting to the moon was not a straightforward journey only achieved by men (though they did try to keep that truth hidden for a long time!) , and Marie Curie worked against seemingly insurmountable odds and surmounted them — though I find it fascinating that her discoveries, intended for medical research, were then used by men to split the atom to support war efforts. Hmmm..
      Anyway, in the backwash of all the sexual harassment cases being reported I remind myself that there was a time when they were unreported. When they were not considered ‘wrong’ because well, boys will be boys and old men’s club rules and all that jazz — and I look at how big a shock all of this attention to bad male behaviour that was once considered acceptable or at least tolerable, must be on the male psyche, and I say a prayer for strength, courage and fortitude for all of us (along with a whole lot of gratitude for those who have been willing to stand up and be heard). We have come a long way baby. And yes, we still have such a long way to go but… bringing attention to the ‘wrongs’ is as critical to change as standing up, speaking out and demanding change. Because, when we can see how the things we tolerated (both women and men) caused such damage, we can then create pathways to the ‘better’ we all deserve.
      Hugs my friend.! I’m stepping off my soapbox now. 🙂 It’s a beautiful morning out there with the promise of a gorgeous day!


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