To the Jilly-Bean

I have a former student, Jillian, who, sometimes, becomes a hero to me.  She is a woman who lives utterly and passionately, and, yet, her body likes to rebel against her and cause her excruciating pain.

So what does Jillian do? She continues to live despite the pain.  She donates hours of her time to various philanthropic organizations.  She gives without thought.  She adopts animals that no one else wants.  She volunteers at even more philanthropic organizations.

She is the sparrow.

This metaphor, hopefully, will make sense by the end of this post.  I’m not certain where that came from other than I had a moment of (hopefully) divine and not idiotic inspiration because I heard (NO!   I AM NOT HEARING VOICES!) a paraphrase of “I see the sparrow fall” or something like that.

So I researched and found the correct verses from Matthew 10:29-31 and I’m now going to copy and paste them from biblegateway.com (Good English teacher, here, giving credit back to the original resource):

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

 Now, I am not saying that Jillian is a fallen sparrow or is worthless…
What I am saying is that Jillian is amazing because she loves everyone, regardless of who they are or what they may or may not offer to the world.  She seeks, vigorously, avenues to offer love and compassion and healing.

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Note, I do not have any pictures of Jillian on my computer so I am using pictures of my children to show the purest form of love…which is what I see in Jillian.

And, yet, this incredible woman has been through so much of which I am not at liberty to speak or discuss.  Those are her stories to tell, not mine, and I will respect her privacy and confidentiality.  I’m hoping that she will forgive me for even writing about her and giving out some information about her without her permission.
But, you see, today, I was at the gym and learned from the news that today is International Woman’s Day.  Hey!  I’m a woman!  Love me!  Respect me!  Hear me roar!  Burp!.  Oops…excuse me.  Didn’t mean that.
And, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that women are being recognized for their achievements and their struggles to get past oppression and their non-stop work to ensure that all women will eventually be given equality, regardless of boundaries, beliefs, or societal standards.  I’m proud that my daughter, the first time she went to Disney World, begged the “Mayor of Main Street” for an autograph when, in reality, the woman was actually not allowed to give autographs.  The “Mayor of Main Street” is actually a 1910’s feminist wearing the “Votes for Women” sash (ala Mary Poppins).  I’m proud that my daughter and I gave directions to the Capital to two women who were speaking before Congress on women’s rights and women’s issues.  I’m proud that my daughter is independent and doesn’t want men or anyone to rescue her.

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The coolest Disney Princesses ever!

And that’s why I’m honored to have been Jillian’s teacher.  Not because I taught her much of anything.  But because I have been in this woman’s life for two amazing years and I just wish that I could spend more time with her.
But Jillian’s schedules and mine usually don’t mesh…but that’s beside the point.
Back to the point…must follow the point.
About a week ago, Jillian posted on Facebook about her concerns that feminism might have taken a turn in the wrong direction.  This was merely her opinion.  You are not allowed to flay her open and castigate her for her opinions.  Especially because, that is all they are…opinions.  She is and was not forcing anyone to agree or disagree with her.  And, from what I can tell, she was attacked because of her opinion….and when I read her opinion, I could tell that she was trying to be gentle and careful not to offend.
And, frankly, I think she’s right.  I understand that men have controlled the tide of history for aeons.  I understand and respect and am grateful for the fact that I have freedom to choose my spouse, choose my occupation, choose whether or not to have children, choose to wear pants, choose to cut my hair, choose to work out in a public setting, choose to go to a hospital and be seen by male and/or female medical practitioners,  and choose to live my life as I see fit.  I AM GRATEFUL!
But I don’t think that men are the absolute beasts of the world.  I don’t think that men sexually objectify me constantly because I have two mounds of flesh at the top of my chest that like to wobble when I walk.  I don’t feel oppressed mainly because I choose not to be oppressed and will stare you down (albeit a little shyly) as opposed to ducking my head because, damn it, you looked at me first and got my attention at how you are staring at me.
And I don’t need a day to celebrate my extra X chromosome because my dad gave that to me….ironically.  Between my birthday, my wedding anniversary, and Mother’s Day, I have enough special moments given to me.  And I feel like maybe I earned at least two of those.  In all honesty, I think mom’s should be given presents on birthdays, not the kids….but don’t tell my kids I said that.  The Boy would be super pissed since his birthday is tomorrow.
So, back to Jillian and her being the sparrow.  Jillian’s post was not about relinquishing the equal rights women have fought for.  Jillian’s post was not about returning to corsets or about donning burkhas.  It was about seeing that equal rights means just that..equality and not superiority which, sometimes, I think is the direction feminism could go if the wrong people got their hands on it.

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The Girl at the White House. Someday, I think she will be inside the White House…maybe behind a really cool desk..in an office shaped like an oval….

It bothers me that we have this whole thing about women’s heart awareness day (the red dress campaign on food labels) and not heart disease awareness day.  My father nearly died from heart problems; my mother (God bless her) resuscitated him.  Can’t we check out everyone’s hearts and not worry about what’s down below the waistline to determine if we need to think it’s important or not?
Or how about cancer awareness.  Bethany’s mother died from stomach cancer (I think) and unless you do the relay for life, I don’t think you’ll see too many stomach cancer runs or marathons.  Why does so much have to be tied to gender?  Can’t we just be human? I’ve stopped wearing pink or baby blue or rectal brown.  I wear lavender on cancer awareness days…because lavender is the color for cancer awareness.  Because no matter who you are, cancer sucks equally.
Back to Jillian.  Back to the sparrow metaphor.
Jillian watches how people fall and she does everything she can to lift them.  She gives away her own hat and gloves to homeless people.  She drives complete strangers home if they are walking around in the rain.  She volunteers for the Ronald McDonald House.  She does special co-splay panels either to raise awareness about bullying or co-splay runs for little kids who have terrible diseases.  She has dressed up as Vanellope Von Schweetz to make little children who were horribly illl happy.  Jillian is an introvert who forces herself out of her shell to make others happy.  She gives endlessly.
She constantly shows the love that is preached about in church, temple, the synagogue, the mosque, under the Bodhi Tree, at the Wailing Wall, or by the River Jordan.  She doesn’t think about what she’s going to get out of this.  She merely watches for her own sparrows and cups them in her hands and counts the feathers on their heads, ensures that everything is where it needs to be, and then sends them back out into the world while scooping up the next sparrow.

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The Boy sitting with kittens that are, maybe, 12 hours old.

She is love without thought, compassion without selfish design, and heroism on two skinny legs and with a tummy full of pain.
She is a hero.
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