I am on a plane on the way home from West Palm Beach, Florida. I participated in a conference called, “Girl Power,” run by an organization called Girl Future. There was empowerment, excitement, joy and fun.
While there I received an email from my synagogue asking me to speak about my vision for the world at our upcoming holiday on Thursday. Because of the holiday, this trip to Florida, and some scheduling issues, I will not be in juvie this week.
My heart aches a little. I miss my girls. When I attend conferences and lead workshops like I did this week, I cannot but miss what my girls in juvie could be but never had the chance. I am angry for what has been taken away from them, without them even knowing: participating in a conference, going to a dance class, learning to play an instrument, having a Mom schlep them from place to place, being cared for.
I led two workshops at the conference. I had sweet, sweet girls in my group. Girls scouts, girls from the local Jewish school, as well girls from some inner city schools. Of course there were some moms hanging out on the sidelines pretending to read, but listening to every word of my session with their daughters. I wish my girls from juvie had moms hanging out on the sidelines. I smile to myself, hell, I wish my mom was hanging out in the sidelines right now.
My rabbi asked me what I want for the world.
I want opportunity. I want children to have a place to grow, to be, to be seen and heard. I do not want girls to be robbed of what they should be given. I want joy. Oh, how I want joy. Pure, simple, real, clean, joy.
My workshop's title was "Find Your Voice!" We danced, we created scenes, and we laughed a lot. I ended asking the girls to write 3 things they can use their voice for. They write:
Explaining to my parents what I want
Get my Aunt to buy me an iPhone 6
Telling my sister to be nice
Convincing my little brother to do my chores
Love. In 4th grade little girl’s hand writing, surrounded by hearts and some flowers, one girl wrote, “I want to use my voice to make people love, but really love - because even when they do, sometimes they don’t.”
As my session ended, a 10-year-old walks out and says to her friend, “This was fun! Now let’s go learn how to be leaders!! This day is awesome.”
They hold hands and walk off to conquer the world. I am happy and I think to myself, I want to use MY voice to remind us how important our voices are. Be aware. Do not take for granted, give chances.
I want us all to use our voice together, because together we are stronger. But most of all I want a world with sidelines - sidelines of people cheering, giving strength, holding when necessary, and being present even if that means you need to be transparent.
Use your voice. Make a difference simply because you can.
I close my eyes, I think of my mom who has been gone for a decade, and I know I am who I am today because of her voice, and because of her standing quietly on the sideline allowing me to fly.