My daughter is nine and has a scream that will make your ears bleed. She also can run so fast she will become a blur of elbows and knees in three seconds flat. "These are your super powers," I tell her.
My girl, who has a quick mind, says, "And they are good ones, too."
Indeed, they are. And she has plenty more; in fact, she has power to spare, but as my girl approaches adolescence and the mindboggling amount of social and cultural pressure to look and behave in very limiting ways, I am increasing my vigilance around this subject of her empowerment.
This is the era of feminine power. The Chinese calendar tells us so, as it makes a flip from a 5,000-year-long masculine cycle known as "Yang" to a new 5,000-year cycle known as "Yin." At the Vancouver Peace Summit in September 2009, the Dalai Lama announced that he is a feminist and opined that Western women will save the world. I do not disagree. Just look at our friend Oprah, leading the charge as number six on the Fortune 500 Most Powerful Women List, and Arianna Huffington, who has given voice to so many women via this medium..
Western woman are free, educated and have opportunities that most women around the world can only dream about.
The question becomes this: How do we western women, so often raised by unempowered mothers, make a necessary shift in our thinking and our actions in order to gift our daughters with a full inheritance of feminine power?
For me, the answer has been two-fold. One, I have gotten to know myself very well. Two, I have brought about change in my attitudes and actions.
For almost 20 years, I have investigated every nook of my conditioned history. This is the "getting to know myself" part. I am a daughter, born in the '60s, and while so many women of that era were burning their bras, experimenting with birth control, exploring mind altering drugs and getting higher educations, my adoptive mother -- a product of the '40s and '50s -- made a point to put her makeup on and do her hair just so, even as she was dying from a tumor lodged in her spine. "A woman doesn't make a fuss," she liked to say, taking copious quantities of aspirin to mask her pain. She died when I was seven, and I'm pretty sure that if she spoke up a little sooner she may have lived.
Further back, my original mother -- 17 when I was born -- had been forced to give me up for adoption, against what was legal and even moral. My original mother, a beautiful woman in her own right, allowed herself to be silenced for all of her life, too, because that is how she had been raised.
From my long personal investigation, I have deducted that being silent, compliant and merely beautiful are not traits I intend to pass down. And this leads to the "change" part. Only with consciousness can a person awaken to make new choices, and this awareness happens by looking at one's history very carefully. As it is Woman's History Month for all of March, I invite all my western sisters to study what we have inherited -- both good and bad -- from our mothers, our grandmothers and even our great-grandmothers.
In my own genetic history, I found that I hail from a line of silent and ineffective women, but these same women have also had moments of remarkable strength and accomplishment. My great-grandmother was one of the first women to graduate from the University of Nevada, and my grandmother ran her own businesses for years.
I pass this story, and many more, down to my daughter and make a point to show her where she is strong and capable in her own right -- thus our recent conversation about her super powers.
I want my daughter -- as a free, educated and powerful western woman -- to be strong, bold and to know she is a force of nature to be reckoned with. I want her to be a woman who loves well, touches others with care and knows how to do what is right -- for herself and for the world she lives in.
And I've come to realize that my super power is being a mother who gives her daughter these gifts.