Yes, We Still Can

Yes, We Still Can

Michelle Obama's words are the empowerment we need.

After a rough political week, it’s nice to remember the more favorable role models the White House has given us.

On July 25th, former First Lady Michelle Obama made her largest appearance since the 2016 election, speaking at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado before an audience of over eight thousand. The Foundation seeks to empower and provide greater economic opportunities for women in Colorado. Their 30th fundraising anniversary was a more-than-appropriate platform for Mrs. Obama.

In conversation with President and CEO Lauren Y. Casteel, Mrs. Obama largely steered clear of politics, and instead provided her perspective on empowering women from a young age. She stressed constant reminders of worth and of capability: “It’s their mothers, teachers, siblings, and their fathers and the men around them who every day can lift them up. Don’t underestimate the power of day-to-day motivation and inspiration in a girl’s life.”

Many of the issues are personally important to her rise. She encourages equal opportunities for women in STEM fields, criticizes the idea of an education which values the speed of learning, and per her early days as First Lady, supports better nutrition and health systems for children.

Her most poignant words, however, surround her experiences as a black woman in a position of power. Casteel lauds her as having shattered a glass ceiling by being the first black woman to hold the First Lady title. But what of the falling glass shards?

Mrs. Obama states, “The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut.” She continues, “Knowing that after eight years of working really hard for this country, there are still people who won’t see me for what I am because of my skin color.”

The number of rude, racist, and sexist criticisms the former First Lady received are countless. She asks that women rise above; to wear their scars proudly and to own them, lest those who inflict them go blameless. She affirms that she is “a strong woman because of other strong women.” Togetherness is crucial to her message. She references the power of a message like “Yes We Can,” which encourages collectively fixing the issues that face us.

Resoundingly, she claims: “I want to live in a world that cares for its women. I hope that we can create a world where women are safe. At the core, I want girls to feel safety as they move about the world.”

This, given the past week, extends to any marginalized group. Mrs. Obama speaks on behalf of those that have encountered barriers, and to those whose barriers have yet to be broken. Her message comes at a time more important than ever before; when human rights are denied and discrimination is systematized, safety and care are the work of us all.

Cover Image Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

SEE ALSO: To My Closeted Self, I Have Something To Tell You

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Say "I Love You" More

Sometimes, people need the reminder.

You assume they already know.

You look at your best friend and think about how lucky you are that they are in your life, how much you appreciate their presence, how much you love having them there. How much you love having them. But they know that already, right? So you smile and shake the thought out of your head and carry on with what you were talking about.

Sure, they probably already know. But sometimes, people need the reminder. Think about the last bad day you had. The last time you laid in bed, stared at the ceiling, cried and felt totally unimportant. Wouldn't it have helped if you were told at that moment that you are loved? That someone cares about you? That you matter?

I've heard it said a lot that you can't love someone until you learn to love yourself. This is just nonsense. The amount that someone loves themselves does not reflect how open their heart is, how much they give to people. Many times, the ones who are struggling love the hardest, regardless of what they feel when they are all alone.

They need the reminder too.

Every time someone has shared with me how they feel about me, that moment has stayed on my mind for months. In fact, they still are. It's important for people to feel like they matter. It's necessary sometimes to remind them that they do.

What's the point in holding it in? What good does it do anyone to not share what you feel, to not share in the love and compassion you have inside of you?

I am a very emotional person. Not only that, but I am a very vocal person. This is because I once spent too long holding in my feelings, only to be burned by that. Now I share. Sometimes, I overshare how I feel. This includes telling people who are very aware of how I feel about them that I love having them in my life for the thirteenth time that week. I feel annoying sometimes, being compelled to do so. However, my friend told me once that through me, he is learning how to love better. How to love more.

That never left me. The idea that because I am loving someone, they can love more too shocked me. I didn't think I had anywhere near that power. But, it made me realize how important it is to make sure people know how much you care. Even if they already do. The reminder can do much more than you will ever realize.

Tell people you love them. Don't be afraid of being honest, real, true. We only have a limited time to live our lives. Don't waste time not spreading the love you can.

Cover Image Credit: Scott Web

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