Empowerment is a Journey, Not a Destination
The past two weekends, I’ve been at the Calgary and Edmonton Motorcycle Shows, (today I’m in Vancouver) promoting Crash Landing and Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment (WMRE). I love the opportunity to engage with readers face to face and hear their stories. These conversations also highlight myths and misconceptions about empowerment.
Men and women, familiar with my writing, walk up, and purchase, no questions asked. Others stop to ask what my books are about and often buy one or both books. They share heart-wrenching stories or their face lights up with joy when they tell me how they’ve overcome a life challenge, on or off the motorcycle.
Others glance at the titles, roll their eyes and keep walking. A small minority comments about why either book is not for them, without knowing what it’s about. WMRE gets the most eye-rolls or eye-contact avoidance. I hear, ”I ride. I’m already empowered.” Or a man will grab his female companion’s hand and say, “She doesn’t need your book. She’s empowered enough,” as he guides her away. Conversely, some men try to pressure their partners into buying it because they want them to learn how to ride.
I get that my stories aren’t for everyone and don’t take any comments (praise or criticism) personally. I’m simply the messenger, following my heart and trying to be of greatest service with my gifts.
When I respond to questions about WMRE, I explain that it weaves stories from a diverse group of women into a larger story. These women trusted me with personal experiences where they’ve pushed past their comfort zone, pulled from strengths they weren’t aware of, and shared what that’s opened up in other areas of their life.
Although the stories are told through women who ride, WMRE is about the possibilities that appear when you discover and exercise your strength in the face of formidable obstacles, not about motorcycles or women. Motorcycles just happen to be an outstanding way to push your comfort zone. But it’s not the only way, nor does riding a motorcycle automatically mean you’ve “become empowered” and there’s no more personal work to do.
Empowerment isn’t about trying to make something into what we want it to be or trying to control the outcome. There is no map. Our role in life is to show up for what’s needed in the moment, do our part, then surrender, trust, and let go of judgment or attachment to a particular result. We can’t make meaning for anyone else. We can facilitate, support, and lend a hand, but they have to find it on their own.
Often, it’s good to pause and listen to the words I’ve spoken with others, especially when I’ve repeated them frequently, like describing how WMRE is about pushing your comfort zone and opening up new possibilities. Those words apply to me. I’m also on a journey and need to make sure I don’t get complacent in familiar settings rather than pushing past my comfort zone.
One of Crash Landing’s major lessons is that I may not know the best way to the destination, but as long as I’m on the road, trusting and following my inner guidance, no matter how circuitous the journey, I’ll arrive. This internal journey is often uncomfortable.
All of us hold a reservoir of personal power, even if we don’t/can’t access it. It takes courage and trust to venture into the unknown. All these “empowering” experiences along our journey transform us into who we’re becoming.
How do you define empowerment? Tell us in the comments.
Photo on Visual Hunt