Action is Empowerment

Women and the GR1 Curved Straps

Action is empowerment, the more the better and never stop. The women I love and admire most have lived that life: my 18 year old mom who brought me with her to college, my grandmother who flew with Pan Am and fought the whole “it’s a man’s world” thing till her dying breath, Emily and her colleagues in the Foreign Service who never backed down from the most dangerous postings America asked of them. “Send Me” they said, no different than the guys I worked with in Special Forces. No. Different.

The world needs more shining examples of active, empowered women. At GORUCK, I’ve seen it in spades. It’s 4am, spirit animals are swarming with vultures circling – the young rattlesnakes full of pride long ago lost all their venom on those perfect push-ups – and a girl half the size of the smallest guy volunteers to be the next team leader, when the class is at its lowest point. At 4am, everyone’s an underdog and everyone loves to root for the underdog and I’m no different. Before too long, the log rotations are smoother, casualties become group efforts, and her words of encouragement focus everyone on each other instead of on feeling sorry for themselves. Passing around that package of Peanut M&M’s didn’t hurt, either.

Small victories lead to bigger dreams for those doing, and those watching. More so if there’s a stereotype to overcome, another sandbag to toss, a glass ceiling to shatter.

But winning doesn’t happen on accident. In the trenches of hard work is where our dreams will trace their foothold.

If you’re training for something awesome, it probably looks something like this:

Today’s was a good morning and all the hours of our lives and where do they go? Are we fighting for the causes we hold dear, are we leading lives worth living?

God I hope so. I refuse to accept what you’ll read these days, that America is full of hate, that discrimination is the norm, that our Golden Age has passed. My grandmother was fired from Pan Am in 1954 because she married my grandfather. Her rage at the injustice was palpable, though far beneath her gratitude for the extraordinary opportunity she had – pioneer style – to see the world a free, American woman. Catch Me If You Can story time and she’s mixing herself a gin and tonic and I’m all ears on a bar stool in her kitchen in Kettering, Ohio, USA. She’d tell me, again, about her corkscrew landing into Wake Island and how she thought she was “a goner for sure.” A short sip right off the top, through the lime, and a twinkle in her eye and I could feel her traveling back in time, all those 40 years disappearing to Midway and Tokyo and Hong Kong and everywhere else. Somehow she made it, no doubt with plenty of other stories too daring for a boy’s ears. And thankfully she was a huge influence upon my life. America was her home and she fought to make it better and she loved it here, without apologies. I miss that sentiment from more of us, and we need to get it back.

The good ol’ days weren’t perfect and neither are these ol’ days and neither is America, but there’s no time I’d rather be alive than right now, no place I’d rather call home. What we do and who we do it with will define us, nobody but us can hold us back, and action is empowerment. Your loved ones and mine need examples of active, empowered women, and I believe this generation is doing it right – dreaming big and working hard and fighting the right fights and living life to its fullest. My grandmother and so many more, who sacrificed so much, would be so proud.


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