Hungry for inspiration

Dear President Trump,

Yesterday I told you about the conversation we had with the tiny girl running around like a jackrabbit in rain boots and how her “it’s only girls” comment about her new soccer team left me feeling deflated after the US team’s World Cup win. I see the exchange as a bit of a barometer on the gender equality weather among the critical 5 year old sect, but I neglected to tell you some other things I noticed after the match.

It’s fairly easy to focus on a child and all the hopes/dreams for children stuff that follows when adult role models set shiny examples. What’s harder to talk about is how watching those powerful young women do their thing (both teams) impacted me, a later middle-aged woman. When I put my knitting away (I made a lot of progress since I knit faster when I’m nervous), got up from my comfy chair, and prepared for the dog walk chapter of the day, I found my posture was better and that my walk had the tiniest bit of a swagger. Mind you, I was completely clear that I had absolutely nothing to do with those teams’ incredible play or the ultimate US win so it’s not as though I was borrowing pride that wasn’t mine. It was more of a sense that a bunch of people who are like me in some fundamental ways just did some really strong, cool things and was being celebrated in a big way for doing those cool things.

Plus, if you watched the postgame show (it was on Fox, so maybe you accidentally caught some of it), you would have seen that one of the ex-pro-soccer-player analysts in the scrum was visibly pregnant. All six of the analysts were standing in a semi-circle and there she was, second from the left, looking like she’s probably seven months into her pregnancy. I have no idea whether there was a conscious decision to have them all standing rather than sitting behind desks, but it was a pretty cool non-verbal to have included in the celebration of women’s strength and power.

This morning when I woke up it was raining pretty heavily and I seriously thought about skipping my run and sleeping in. After some mental hemming and hawing, I ended up deciding to go ahead and get it done rather than taking an off-day so early in the week (my goal is to run 4 days a week and walk the other days so I do have a little play in the schedule). Halfway through the planned route I realized it felt too short so I tagged on another couple of blocks and when I got home I added push-ups (modified, knee ones – for now at least) back into my routine. I wasn’t aware of the soccer match influencing me during my workout, so maybe I just randomly felt like pushing myself a little harder this morning than usual. But realistically, honestly, I think watching Rapinoe, Lavelle, Naeher, Morgan, Dunn, Heath and friends doing their thing was inspiring and got me to push myself harder than usual this morning.

What must it be like to be a boy or a man with countless role models sending the message that power, greatness, acclaim, and attention are in one’s grasp because thousands of people just like you are visibly celebrated for doing those things day in and day out? No doubt it’s stressful in lots of ways since there’s probably a lot of pressure to measure up, but on balance having examples of so many boundless possibilities right there in front of you all the time must be empowering.

The rest of us got a taste of some of that yesterday. I know I’m hungry for more and I don’t think I’m alone.

May we all be safe to dream dreams of something more for, and from, ourselves.
May we be willing to celebrate both extraordinary and ordinary accomplishments.
May we all, no matter our ages or abilities, have role models who inspire us.
May those who need to make peace with gender equality and equity, hurry up and get with the program.

Tracy Simpson

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