When I think about women who are leaders, I cannot help but think of those who are famous and get lots of attention and benefits from their work. This propels me toward the living and breathing women whom the public does not know and may undervalue. They are the invisible and unsung heroes among us.
As a woman and a leader, I am the young tenant next door who hears your cries while your husband yells and pounds you in the wee hours of the morning. I quietly call the Police for help, begging them not to say I called. They do it anyway. He yells at me through the walls now. “Report that!” I cower in bed at night with a knife under my pillow. At least, he is no longer hitting you.
As a woman and a leader, I am two steps from homelessness but nobody will hire me because of my arthritis and age. I volunteer many hours at a local hospice. Unless a patient wants to talk, I open and close blinds, warm cold hands, help patients with their food, or dole out extra pillow. Nothing makes me happier than when I can usher wheelchair-bound friends downstairs to a live music event. Their spirits relax over that hour.
As a woman and a leader, I write letters to save the environment, empathize with survivors on #sexabusechat, make time for friends on social media, share my warped sense of humor, and sometimes cry with friends. I know doing this is only a millisecond blip on the world’s computer screen. However, it keeps my energy flowing and depression at bay.
As a woman and a leader, I grew up in a very bigoted family. I married my love and we have mixed-race children. My husband and sons are beautiful and we will nurture each other all of our lives. He and I teach our boys that racism and hatred are ugly truths, but that they do not define our lives or the people we strive to become.
As a woman and a leader, I teach reading to adults at the library. It is for everyone who wants to enrich their lives with the many adventures and worlds that lie within book covers. We all enjoy ourselves and read vivid stories to each other. I am always amazed when I see an adult reader pick up a book with confidence, not shame.
As a woman and a leader, I love with ferocity. I hate and scream. I fight with words. I sit, watch and listen. I am tender, sexual and loving. I love my life and yours. I stand arm-in-arm with you from all continents around the globe. I bow and honor you. I help you raise your children; you help me raise mine. We are the quiet leaders of our evolving world.
*The original image (artist unknown) was published in Kinesis September 1993. Sexual abuse and the system: Fighting back. Written by Terry D. Gibson (under the pseudonym Marie Thompson).