Tuesday, May 2, 2017

On Being Dangerous

I went to Nellie McClung's house today. I drove down Broadway, past The Legislative Building where her statue stands on the west lawn. I parked near Westminister Church, a few blocks from Chestnut Street, and walked in the spring sunshine. I walked and thought about Nellie walking this same path. I walked and thought about Nellie walking a much more difficult path; the path to liberation. The path to Personhood.

Nellie McClung was born in Chatsworth, Ontario in 1873. By the time she moved on to Chestnut Street in the 1911 she was married with children and neck deep in the suffragette movement in Manitoba. She was challenging the stays quo and debunking all the myths about women's intellect and morality. She was standing up and making herself heard. Nellie was pushing back against centuries of oppression and mistreatment of women. She was reclaiming our personhood. By the time she lived on Chestnut street Nellie was dangerous.

Two weeks ago, I wandered through a book fair, looking for books on the Indigenous history of Canada. I hit the jackpot. A half hour of looking yielded 17 books on Indigenous culture, literature, history and reconciliation. I was heading toward the impossibly long check-out line up when I saw a small sign on an out-of-the-way table. Nellie McClung Books. While I've always like the idea of this spunky fighter for women's rights, I've never known an awful lot about her. I didn't know that she had penned several novels during her lifetime. I didn't know she wrote poetry. I didn't know, not really, how witty and brilliant she was. And I didn't know that she wrote the battle-cry book of the suffragette movement, In Times Like These, while she was living on Chestnut Street in my very own hometown.

I bought the 1915 edition of In Times Like These and headed home to give it a read. I had no idea what that book was about to do to me. This book has turned me inside out. I stand up in my kitchen and read Nellie's words aloud - all by me onesies - because she is preaching -  like seriously preaching - to me. She is witty and decisive and strong. She takes no prisoners and is unapologetic in the truth she writes. Nellie may very well be my spirit animal! This book, written in 1915, is still so very dangerous today.

A few months ago, I flew out to Chiliwack, BC for a retreat. I joined 99 strangers who became the best tribe of friends I've ever had. I showed up at the retreat drained, exhausted, disappointed and fragile. I left strong, determined and dangerous. It's hard to explain what happened in those four short days. The best I can do is to say that I was reminded of who I am. I was reminded that I don't have to explain or apologize for who I am. I was reminded that the world needs who I am. I was reminded that there are others who are as I am. I was reminded that I am dangerous in all the best ways.

Since that retreat, we Zebras, as we call ourselves, have decided to create online what we experienced in person. We have created a space to connect, to celebrate, to discuss and to remind. Its called The Dangerous Women Tribe.

A lot of conversation has gone into the use of the word 'dangerous'. There were some that felt it was too radical, too violent, too angry. Others felt that our purpose could easily be misconstrued because of a word that was difficult to commonly define. Still others felt that it was the perfect word to describe this rogue group of women who were worn out from the ordinary "women's ministry" stuff. In the end, we chose a subtitle to clarify things. Love on the Rise. Perfect!

Idelette McVickar, editor-in-cheif of SheLoves Magazine, is the founder of this tribe. She's giving us direction and she is the fuelling visionary behind what we're doing. She wrote a few words that bring clarity to what our kind of dangerous is.

When we speak up against injustice
We are Dangerous Women
When we rise even when we feel inadequate
We are Dangerous Women
When we see a need and do our part
We are Dangerous Women
When we see a hurt and choose to comfort
We are Dangerous Women
When we see hatred and choose to respond in love
Now that is Dangerous
When we choose to weave instead of rip relationships
We are Dangerous Women.

Idelette's dream is to see women who are ignited, stirred, empowered and unleashed. Nellie had the same dream. And so do I.

If you've been around this blog for a while you know these last few years have been rough. I've struggled a lot. I've felt lost and like something inside of me was dying. Or maybe it was dead already. I don't know. Grief was the only thing that was constant.

But now something different is happening.
I am reminded.
I am awakened.
I am ignited.

I feel like something new is growing. A new chapter is beginning and I am ready. I feel like these last couple of years, when I thought I was dying inside, I was actually being prepared for What Comes Next. When I thought I was being buried and left for dead, I was actually being planted and nurtured. When I thought I was forgotten, I was actually being held and protected. I know this now. And I am ready.

I am Dangerous. I'm not sure what exactly comes next but I know Idelette and Nellie have come to me at this time for a reason. I am learning volumes from both of these courageous hearts, from these dangerous women. And I pledge to share what I am learning from them with you, Dear Reader. Let us be dangerous together!


Be dangerous with me. Sign up at http://dangerouswomentribe.com and be part of the tribe!

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