by Sandra Sealy
These are clearly different times, yet in a way, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose “. In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
For this International Women’s Day as always, there’s a theme. UN Women designated #IWD2021’s focus as #GenderEquality, which to my mind has always been at the core but, there’s also “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world“.
I think that means the struggle is continuous for all of us. I believe all women take leadership positions – whether it be at the helm of a nation, in the centre chair in a boardroom, in a small office of a community space, at a kitchen table ably figuring out family finances or these days, keeping order online from your laptop in a Zoom meeting.
"Women have always had to be creative about making limited resources work to sustain themselves and their families. They understand what it means to make the hard decisions and to just get on with it. That is why it is imperative for women not just to be the ones dusting off the table but, crafting its legs for our world to stand on." -Sandra Sealy - Author & Caribbean Writer on Goodreads.com
Whatever the size of the role, there’s one sure thing we all have in common; we have to keep pushing forward, we have to make it work, despite COVID19 or anything else which will come our way.
If you’re rolling your eyes about now thinking this woman is just being an armchair Pollyanna, you might be right and you might be wrong.
For me personally, 2020 and (now 2020.2) there have been blessings I appreciate more in hindsight. But there has also been pain, drama and loss.
Just one of the biggest instances was the recent passing of my Dad last month on February 12th 2021, during the maelstrom of the pandemic – almost a week before my birthday. Hardly had time to catch my breath but I know that I am not alone.
I take comfort in the love of my family members who came together as best we could. In Barbados during this period as part of the protocols, only 10 mourners are allowed. In Caribbean culture B.C. (Before COVID), that would hardly happen, especially for my Pops who reached so many in his life with even just his community work. Caribbean people will attend and support you at a funeral, even if they don’t even know you or the deceased. So it has now become common to post the obituary after the funeral to avoid crowds and risking further spread. For those who prefer it (we did), arrangements can be made to have a live stream on the day of with access to the video afterwards for those who may miss it.
There will always be a searing gash left from the absence of the support and laughter from Pops, one of my biggest cheerleaders. But, I am also comforted – by the tons of memories and life lessons Dad shared and by the fact that I am aware that he knew he was loved.
So how does this relate to this year’s International Women’s Day? It means we have to pull up our big girl panties a little higher and turn adversity into opportunity. Or as I expressed in my poem “Haitian Water Bearer”:
She rises- hips rippling to a silent merengue bearing sloshing vessels homeward, a little water breaking the relief of dust on her feet- reflecting how women seem to grip the secret of wringing the blue cloth of sorrow dry to make wine. Excerpt from Sandra's "Haitian Water Bearer" - Chronicles Of A Seawoman: A Collection Of Poems
As a cultural practitioner in a leadership role in our region’s literary community, I choose to renew my desire to encourage other artists and solopreneurs to find platforms for their creative self expression while discovering sustainable ways to monetize that passion. And I choose this journey for myself, particularly in this, the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.
I’ve decided again to get inspired; to process pain in writing. And to go further, move a challenging moment from bitter to sweet, in order to honour my imagined Haitian sista’s example; by showing just what we women are capable of, as I’ve tried to capture in the poem snippet, my “Seawoman #poetrygasm”.
Where my work is concerned, I know I need to pace myself. I need to be gentle with me. And I need to embrace joy. Surely with this, my cup of wine will be filled, if even slowly drop by drop.
© 2021 Sandra Sealy
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
*Sandra Sealy is Principal Consultant & Writer for Seawoman Creative Media, a blogger, an award-winning literary artist and author. She is Founder of Seawoman’s Caribbean Writing and Caribbean Writers on Facebook.
Sandra’s quote about being creative with limited resources, can be shared from Goodreads.com.
“Haitian Water Bearer” is a NIFCA award-winning ekphrasis poem first published (and fittingly) in‘WomanSpeak: A Journal of Writing and Art by Caribbean Women | Vol 7 2014 (Bahamas) | Editor: Lynn Sweeting. It also can be enjoyed in its entirety in her book Chronicles Of A Seawoman: A Collection Of Poems available on Amazon. The poem excerpt can be also shared from Goodreads.com
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