Just typing the word gives me strength and courage and confidence, and a sense of community. Sadly, I’m sure that to the vast majority of this distracted globe the word does not conjure the same – or even similar– connotations. Instead, huge numbers of men — and even women – think only of weakness and ignorance.

And why? Because of a tale as old as time…about a garden, green and lush, and a tree, juicy with promise…

And ever since the forbidden fruit of that tantalizing tree first burst with splendor inside that eager soft palate (yes, the double-entendre is totally intended — because the Garden of Eden is synonymous with sex and shame), Eve and her sisters have been blamed — never mind that Adam was an equal offender in the whole scenario…

Which means that when spirit animals got passed around – we women got saddled with the Scapegoat. And the varieties and the breeds are numerous and all equally hellish:

  • We’ve been sin-eaters from that very first bite, consuming the guilt and bearing the afflictions for all.
  • We are witches, burned regularly — with malice and forethought — if it appears we’re regaining any small semblance of strength or of power.
  • We are sacrificial lambs, slaughtered on bloody altars by roughly hewn knives that penetrate our innocence and slather it with shame.
  • And we are the scapegoats sent into the wilderness with mankind’s sins projected onto our villainized, ostracized flesh.

Women have been relegated to the shavings and the shadows of the world since time immemorial. Which is a travesty.

Because we are strong. We are intelligent. We are powerful. We are creative and disciplined and industrious and capable. Oh, BOY are we capable. And we deserve some long overdue recognition and respect.

This year – the year 2018 — has been labeled the “Year of the Woman.” The moniker was spawned by the #metoo movement in the wake of all the sexual misconduct and abuse that has been revealed in recent months – and has been an ongoing patriarchal proclivity since the wheel first whetted the knife…

But, as Oprah says, “A new day is on the horizon.” So I say: Rise and Shine. Shine as bright – or brighter than — all those sons who’ve come before.

There are so many brilliant, capable, strong women in this universe of ours — and it is indeed ours, not just theirs.

And our stories need to be told. And some of us are famous – like Oprah, and Ashley, and Rose, and Meryl, and Nancy, and Elizabeth, and Hillary — and those stories are being heard. But some of us are not so famous. Some of us are ordinary brilliant, capable, strong women. And in this Year of the Woman, our stories should be heard, too.

I’ve been following an account on Instagram designed to highlight brilliant, capable, strong women operating (literally… it features female surgeons) in a male dominated world. But I recently learned that the whole venture was nothing but a catfishing scheme. The author telling these physicians’ stories was a man posing as a woman — for unknown and indubitably disturbing reasons.

This imposter reached out through emails and social media to a multitude of doctors, claiming to be a young female surgical resident forced to leave her program due to debilitating illness (the disease varied, depending on the target surgeon’s specialty). These doctors – due to the false history –were quite empathetic and opened their hearts and lives to the Him they thought was a Her. Hopefully nothing more than emotional betrayal took place. That still remains to be seen. The Instagram has since been closed.

The whole situation has me pissed off but has also got me thinking. The platform may have been a lie, but there were so many lights, rising big and shining bright out of the darkness of that lie.

And then I got to thinking about the many women in my personal life: sisters, besties, moms, daughters, students. Some of them are surgeons. Some of them are teachers. Some are business women, some stay-at-home moms, some retirees, some immigrants, some artists. Some are from the past. Most are from the present.

And none of them are famous. But all of them are inspiring.

And they help me feel strong and brave and connected daily. And they all help me believe that I can do this hard thing called life. And since I know that not every woman feels the same sense of strength and courage and community, I have decided to begin a new series featuring the extraordinary lives of ordinary women. Strong, brave, powerful, ordinary women. Who can encourage all of us to Rise and Shine…. and cast off the darkness and shadows and goatskins and blames of our past.

I will call it Shine a Life.