By Judith Meyers-Thomas
When I gave birth to my first child I had no idea that it would be a lesson in empowerment. Haleigh Jane, who is just about to turn 18, was born with Otahara Syndrome. In the simplest terms, her brain will never develop past that of an infant. We were told she would never live to six months. Two and a half years later, my second daughter was born with the same condition. The doctors who had initially told us it was not a genetic condition, apologetically informed us they were wrong.
For years I accepted the opinions of the almost constant parade of doctors, therapists and counselors as they attempted to tell me what was best for my daughters. It is difficult for me to admit that I went along with many of those suggestions because I did not trust that I might actually understand more about my precious girls than they did. After all, they were the “professionals”. When I finally found the courage to stand up and say “no”, the sense of empowerment that I experienced was life altering.
Websters dictionary would have you believe that empowerment is something that is bestowed upon us. I think they are wrong. Empowerment comes from within. When you accept who you are at this moment in your life; when you can be true to yourself, you will find that the power you are looking for is right there inside of you. Look, for example, at Mother Theresa. She lived and worked within the confines of a male dominated bureaucracy that is certainly not known for empowering women and yet she followed her heart and found strength and comfort in helping those most in need. She made a difference.
In the Eden Alternative and Green House models we set the stage for people to grow. We encourage the many women (and men) who live and work there to be engaged; to be empowered. Principle 8 states:
“An Elder-centered community honors it’s Elders by de-emphasizing top-down bureaucratic authority, seeking instead to place the maximum possible decision-making authority into the hands of the Elders or the hands closest to them.”
The message is clear. The table is set. Accept where you are in life. Find joy in the people who surround you and you will find the strength to do what needs to be done. The power you are looking for is right there inside you!
“Anything you want to ask a teacher, ask yourself and wait for the answer in silence.” – Byron Katie –