I spent an hour and half this breezy morning at Starbucks in the company of an intelligent young woman and her inquisitive two year old daughter who was fascinated with my watch and lipstick.
Deirdre Eberhart is a licensed clinical social worker dedicated to advocacy for the transgender community. She asked me to talk with her about how I became an advocate for women and to help her achieve impact in her own community.
As her beautiful little Indi dribbled warm oatmeal over her belly and then found endless entertainment in my bag of lip-gloss, we shared our backgrounds and our desires to help those who are marginalized and need their voices amplified.
Deirdre is young mother and career woman, her life is a dance of tradeoffs. As many wise young women today have become entrepreneurs creating new spaces for flexible working hours while raising children, Deirdre is hoping that as she builds her business she can keep her balance between mother, wife, and entrepreneur. It’s hard; we can feel guilty for not being fully present in our home or workspace because we feel torn.
As Deirdre was starting her practice, she began counselling patients with gender dysphoria. She found that this area of her practice was growing, and she reached out to people in her community to create ways to educate the public on the issues trans-gender people face. She will soon be speaking at a church with her community activist friends. She is laying the foundation for creating safer spaces of tolerance and respect for humanity through her actions. I told her that she is paving the way for progress.
I have always said that every person is capable of becoming an agent of change to better our world. It takes a willing heart and collaboration. Like-minded people will be drawn to each other when they see authentic passion for helping others or solving real problems.
Our conversation then travelled to how our self-confidence must be bolstered because much of it has been framed through patriarchal values. Deirdre is discovering through a business coach that she should purse success more than she has; taking bolder steps and not fearing money.
Money is something many women were raised to think was taboo to talk about or pursue. There is still a cultural message that persists in which women with ambition are seen as greedy or selfish. How ridiculous! Women are the most financially vulnerable for many reasons such as earning less than men over a lifetime, gender bias, and we carry the brunt of family care responsibilities which include caring for aging parents.
I was encouraged to hear how quickly Deirdre began shifting her thinking about financial success because of the coaching she was receiving. That’s progress.
As we talked, I was keenly aware of what a beautiful hour this was, in a sense, a Power Hour. Two new friends whose stories are interwoven because of similar experiences as women even though we are a generation apart. I offered Deirdre help in connecting her, promoting her work, and encouraging her. That is what I can do; I can leverage life learned wisdom, my experiences, and my close network of supporters.
I pay it forward because I want Deirdre to thrive and succeed. Her work and values are meaningful, and I want other woman to achieve her goals. Each time one woman succeeds, it creates more opportunities for others to succeed. And her success story will build a new legacy for Indi, whom I introduced to lipstick this morning. She was fascinated by how the tubes twisted and snapped together, as well as how the colors added artful design to her oatmeal crusted belly.
When we pay it forward, blessings come full circle.