Just Believe

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The first time I heard the name Mary Wollstonecraft was back in college during a women’s studies history class.  I admired her right from the start for not only having a strong voice, but the courage to use it at a time when women were largely expected to be silent.  Her writings have an air of elegance, but they are also among the first to advocate equality between genders, which made her one of the first feminists in history. She had guts, intelligence, and fortitude when the whole world told her women had no right to any of those things. Still, she believed.

Wollstonecraft died well before the women’s rights movement took off in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, so she never got to see the ideals she supported take shape.  Seneca Falls, the suffrage movement in Europe and America, and a slew of other gender related battles took place long after her words. Long after there was any hope of them coming true.  She still believed, when all seemed impossible.

There are, of course, many individuals who contributed to the long journey of women’s rights, but I have a soft spot for Wollstonecraft.  She understood the importance of believing in something even when it seems so far out of reach.  While an incredibly difficult thing to do, it is well within our grasp if we make the choice to believe.

For the last two years, I’ve chosen “believe” to be my word of the year.  It appears throughout my home – on the refrigerator, end table, dream board, as well as several hidden places where I’ll unexpectedly happen upon it one day – to help keep me focused.  A couple of months ago I made a necklace with a “believe” charm to wear on days when doubt threatens to steal my determination.

"Believe" Beaded Necklace, created by c.b.w.

Each strand of the pendant has charms that I chose for both meaning and sparkle.  I’ve always loved leaves and their ability to bloom even after a cold winter, while dragonflies are the epitome of strength and grace.  On the third strand is the all important “believe” ring, an infinite tribute to the idea of believing without fail.  Just as Wollstonecraft kept writing, so will I.

My goals for this year are daunting and the propensity for rejection is immense.  How easy it would be to give up, but . . . I won’t.  I must believe.

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Factoid: Wollstonecraft’s daughter is Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame.

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c.b. 2012

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32 thoughts on “Just Believe

  1. I have “believe” prominently displayed in my practice space. The word “believe” reminds me that even when what I am trying to do on the harp seems so beyond me and so out of reach, by keeping alive the possibility of getting there, my goals stay within reach. Your necklace is beautiful – a wonderful reminder of the power of believing.

  2. I just love this!

    I think we all have to be like Wollstonecraft, The Bronte sisters, and a lot like Jo March. We need to summon and invoke these creative, trailblazing women in our hearts, and then move forward. Thank you for this reminder!!!

    • The Bronte sister are also heroes of mine. I love how they kept writing, even after multiple rejections. The believed so ardently and with so much courage. :-)

      Women, men, everyone has something to learn from these amazing people! May we all keep believing!

  3. I loved this post so much! I appreciate you writing this, because I think we all need that reminder every once in awhile, no matter what paths we’re trying to take in life.

    As for me, I look a little further back for my inspiration. I spent college studying medieval history, and most of my research focused on women – so I idolize people like Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, Aethelflaed, and Christine de Pizan (who I think you would like, if you haven’t read any of her writings already).

    The necklace is a wonderful idea! I have a bracelet I wear sometimes, with the words “love yourself” on it. I think we all need those little reminders sometimes =)

    • Eleanor of Aquitaine is amazing! She is one of my favorite people to focus on when I’m teaching Medieval History to my students. :-)

      I’m definitely going to check out Christine de Pizan – the name is ringing a bell, but can pin down whether I’ve read her or not. Thanks for putting her on the list!

      Love your bracelet! That is a great reminder and one we could all definitely use!

      Thanks so much for reading!

  4. I do not wish for women to have power over men,but power over themselves. -Mary Wollstonecraft.

    Great post. It seems people have be told not to believe in themselves so much as believe that if they change this or that, they will be perfect. At least that is the message I see from the mass media. I say believe in yourself, listen to your intuition and keep moving forward.

    • That quote is a favorite of mine. I love how Wollstonecraft emphasized the importance of women having power over themselves. It wasn’t about which gender is best or who should be all-powerful. It was about giving women a choice.

      The art of believing is rooted in trusting in both your strengths and weaknesses. Perfection is non-existent and its about time we start embracing that as our ultimate strength. :-)

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you around again.

  5. This one word is soooo important! The famous people who said, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it” knew what they were talking about. In the absence of belief, so many negative emotions arise, and the ego (inner critic) proclaims itself king. Without belief, so many things would be impossible, and life would be downright miserable. Of course, it depends on what we believe. Our ego is good at feeding us beliefs that don’t serve us. A vigilant practice, belief is. Here’s hoping we have more of these beliefs that brings us our dreams than those that keep us stuck.

    • Wow – so true on so many levels. I think so much of our confidence hinges on what we deem as successful. Do I want to see my work published? Yes. But I’m not going to believe that’s the only way I can call myself successful. As long as I’m writing and I believe in the words, I know I’m serving my purpose. I’ll work hard and believe its possible, but I can’t let it be the only avenue.

      Believing is probably the best weapon we have against that nasty inner critic! She has no voice against a spirit that believes! :-)

  6. My friends call me a feminist but I deny it because I always say ‘liberation is total and inclusive’. Nevertheless I greatly admire emerging realisation, emerging challenge, emerging courage in confronting power and privilege. I greatly appreciate Mary W.

    Do not give up an inch of ground CB, but if you do then remember that there is virtue and satisfaction in the struggle.

    M

    • I’m always amazed at how the word “feminist” sometimes incites a negative response or a smirk. It isn’t just about women, its about everyone! I love your response that ” liberation is total and inclusive.” Wollstonecraft truly believed a better society was one based on both men and women being free to speak and have a choice. I’m grateful to her for having the guts to say that and hold her ground. :-)

      In a sense, the concept of believing is a lot like that old saying, “it’s not the destination but the journey.” I’ll savor the struggle as that’s where I will learn the most. :-)

  7. What one person can do another can do….daunting tasks but not impossible. Others had to believe when their task seemed impossible. Believe, I thinks its part of the journey. Best wishes.

  8. Rebekah

    The necklace is simply gorgeous. ‘Believe’ is a good word to have …almost like a mantra. ‘Hope’ would be mine and those words pretty much go hand in hand..

  9. What a wonderful post. I’m going to have to learn more about Mary W. I am reading “Triangle” about women who lost their lives in a horrible fire in New York in 1911. I feel so inadequate compared to the strength of these women.
    I love your necklace. Very inspiring.
    Keep on watching the crowd.

    • I linked Mary’s name to a great Wikipedia article (really, its good ;-)) that gives some wonderful information about her life and writings. :-)

      Strength is inside of each of us. We only know its there when we need it. You’re tougher than you give yourself credit. :-)

  10. Thank you for enlightening me about Mary Wollstonecraft. I had not heard of her before and was amazed to read exactly WHEN she was so vocal about the rights of women. I’ve always been proud to announce that Manitoba was the first province in Canada to give the right to vote to women, mainly because of Nellie McClung who was also vocal about women’s rights. The only sad part is that we didn’t get the vote for a hundred and twenty years AFTER Mary wrote ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women’.

    It is inspiring to read about women such as this and I like that it gives us hope that we can bring about change and their words makes us believe we can do things we never thought possible. Never stop believing in yourself! :)

    • I’ll be googling Nellie McClung later today. I’m always looking for new names to add to my catalog of voices in women’s history. :-)

      Wollstonecrat really was ahead of her time and I often wonder how much longer it would have taken to get the vote and so many other rights without her.

      Frances Willard is another fascinating voice worth reading about. ;-)

  11. The stone that Rita gave me says Believe and I was suppose to leave it somewhere and I haven’t been able to bring myself to do so. Belief in ourseleves is so important. The necklace you made is gorgeous. Keep Believing!!!

  12. Christy Farmer

    Beautiful post, C.B.! The necklace is beautiful too. Believing in yourself is so important and I believe you will have a great year :-)

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