I've read too many negative things lately. When you strip away the layers of wondering from our daily lives, and just leave the cold hard facts, the world seems such a dark place.
Once upon a time I was such an optimist.
I believe in the wonder of you. But that does nothing. I can not make you see your own wonderfulness. The only way that you bring forth wonder is to believe in yourself. I can change the atmosphere. People pay me a lot of money so that I can help them think positively again - and get others to see that potential too. But ultimately you have to do it for yourself.
I read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Attwood
. It made me militant for a short while. I remember the day I was made redundant
and felt sobs creeping upon me during the meeting. I stood up and said very calmly, "I'm going out for a breath of fresh air, I will be back in a moment." I went into the yard behind the building and hugged myself and gasped and gasped for air and cried and cried. Then I breathed hard, went to the ladies, fixed my makeup and returned to the meeting. I expressed my understanding for their business decision and I think I utterly floored them. They knew
I was shocked and devastated but I sat there refusing to look defeated.
That outburst of emotion as response to bad news was of course perfectly normal. Many many women experience anger with stabbing hot tears of frustration. But when we go to a male environment, and the workplace - historically male - still has that culture in place, we are not permitted to behave in ways that are more true to our nature. It is considered unprofessional. Instead we put on macho professional straight jackets. Reworking the work place to fit our own identities is discouraged and makes us look weak.
If I think about the hundred petty ways women must hide portions of themselves because it's not nice or convenient I get a touch of the red mists. If I consider the poor women of Saudi Arabia and a hundred other places, my heart begins to ache.
I used to be an idealist.
Where did she go? The me that believed in man's humanity towards man. The me that thought love was enough. I have caught the Cambridge cynicism and I hate hearing the grey words tumble out of my mouth. My utterances were so much more. I spoke of beauty and colour and opportunity and love and joy. It tasted much better.
My mum told me I used to look at the world through rose-tinted spectacles.
Was that wrong? To see the loveliness? I didn't ignore the horror, in fact I rose to meet it and spent much of my career working with others trying to reduce it. It's got worse since we had the internet, now we get peppered with outrages that we have to care about because our friends care about it. I can't switch off my friends like I used to switch off the News at Ten.
My Grandfather used to say that I had my feet firmly planted in mid-air, "The world needs Ingrids".
I've been trying to soar my whole life. Everywhere you go stuff pulls you back. Dare to dream? What an offence! Swear, curse, eff, blind and no one bats an eyelid. Declare a treasured hope or whisper a floating idea, watch it rise into the air like a seed from a dandelion clock and then grit your teeth as someone smacks it down.
The world may well need Ingrids, but I'm not sure it wants them.
I am a strong woman. I am strong because I love with abandon. I am strong because I can feel the seasons in my bones. I am strong because I dance when you're not watching and sing when I like. I am strong because I adore seeing you shine and will do whatever I can to make that happen. I am strong because I will rush to your defence and will fight your enemies. I am strong because I can push my hands into brown-dark soil and plant seeds and help things grow. I am strong because I cry when my heart breaks and I laugh when you wrinkle your nose.
I am strong because I dare to dream.