• Maggie McReynolds

"I am saving my life, and I'm taking a bunch of women with me."

I've been saving my life, in one way or another, for almost ten years now. I've actually gotten pretty good at it.

Women struggle with championing themselves. Most of us were trained specifically not to. We were Brownies and Candy Stripers, future working moms and PTO committee chairs. We learned to advocate for our children, but not for ourselves - no one gave us a model for what it would look like to do so.

And so we settled, often in many of the ways we watched our mothers do: taking the burnt pancake, the smaller serving, the lower pay, the disrespect of men - including, sometimes, that of husbands or partners. Deferring dreams. Did our mothers have dreams?

I got lucky when I got seriously, horribly, and mysteriously sick. Doctors shrugged. Friends and family felt helpless. I did, too, but I was clear that if someone was going to save my life, it was going to have to be me. So I did, by measures both traditional and alternative, in actions both big and small. I had to champion myself because I was maybe going to die if I did not.

We all would stop settling in a heartbeat if we knew that if we didn't, we were going to die. We don't take into account the incalculable loss of soul, of self, and consider it a different kind of death. Settling robs us of passion, of confidence and exuberance and forward momentum.

I chose to be what I call an Un-Settling Woman when I refused to accept the hand I'd been dealt, and began the process of creating life on my own terms. I like the way Un-Settling feels inside me, and I like the hopefulness and energy it brings to my world.

Un-Settling raises an eyebrow at the status quo, puts all the cards on the table and asks, "What else is possible?" Un-Settling is knowing there will only be one of each of us for all time, and that above all else, it is necessary to fiercely be and celebrate ourselves.

We are the champions, my friends. It's never to late to become what we might have been. Let's get on with it. Let's all save our own lives.

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