American Money

This post has taken a while to write #life. Events described are from the dates 2/2 – 2/9. This is also admittedly a selfish post, I need to add more about Elizabeth but this woman is so intense and full of content I’m having trouble penning it. Hoping the next post comes more easily. Thanks for reading as always.

It’s quite possible I felt every emotion ever experienced by a human since Thursday. It’s been a roller coaster of peaks and valleys, laughter and tears. In personal news, it was my birthday last weekend and two of my very best friends flew in & it was the first time we were together in 2 years (what?!) and as a Patriots football fan the Super Bowl was a tumultuous but ultimately joyous experience to say the least. Then in USA news, the Muslim ban was temporarily lifted, Betsy Devos & Jeff Sessions were confirmed, and Dodd-Frank is under attack – more on that later. My brain and heart are genuinely confused how to proceed, so I guess I’ll just write my way out (hey, Lin Manuel).

Through all of the ups and downs, last weekend was a great reminder that having a group of supportive friends with diverse backgrounds is one of the most wonderful and necessary things in life. From snuggling when I was sad to laughing when I was ridiculously excited about the Super Bowl, from new friends to old friends, from friends nearby to friends afar, all were with me and I am grateful for each one.

Now let’s talk about A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren, what great timing! If this is the first post of mine you’re reading here’s what you need to know: I’m reading one non-fiction book by a female author each month and writing along the way relating lessons and themes from the books to my life and current events. And if this is a subject you haven’t been following Senator Warren was  BARRED FROM SPEAKING against a repugnant attorney general this week after sharing the words of civil rights leader Coretta Scott King. “Nevertheless she persisted” and this post is coincidentally quite aptly timed.

When I started reading A Fighting Chance, all I knew about Elizabeth Warren was she is a Democrat Senator from Massachusetts, a vocal supporter of Hillary during the election, and rumored to run for president in 2020. That’s all. Within the first few pages of the book I could tell her story was much deeper than politics. As the title of this post alludes, Senator Warren’s biggest impact has been on the American financial system, fighting for families and the middle class, work that’s currently under attack by the Trump administration.

If we were to play a word association game now, the first word that comes to mind when I think of Senator Warren is fighter. Reading through the book and watching current events this is the best word to sum up everything that Elizabeth Warren is and I plan to break it down into a few categories. I’m sure other women I read about will also have tenacious tendencies and I look forward to comparing and contrasting their perspectives.

Fighting For Yourself

The first thing that struck me was Elizabeth never let her circumstances define her path. Her parents were unable to send her to college after a the loss of a job and illness, but instead of taking no for an answer, Elizabeth noticed she was excelling at the debate team and researched schools with scholarships for their teams. She was admitted to George Washington with a full scholarship. Win. She then dropped out to marry her first husband at age 19, but try as she may, she was not meant to be a homemaker. So she figured out a way to go back to school. And then to law school, as a new mother no less. Then she went through a divorce and became a working mother of two in a time where women were truly taught their life fulfillment should come from a man. She didn’t let her personal circumstances or the world’s expectations stop her from getting where she wanted to go.

These experiences shaped Elizabeth into the woman we now know as relentless and served a her foundation as a fighter in the professional world.

Fighting For Others 

Elizabeth had very little to gain personally fighting for financial reform. However, she gave numerous examples of people she met along the way that motivated her to keep going. From people at campaign events to the train platform, Elizabeth listened to their struggles and made them her own.

Fighting With Focus

For over the majority of Elizabeth’s life her goal was the same. Through multiple administrations and multiple roles she always had the one goal in mind – regulate the banks so they couldn’t take advantage of people. As I read, all I could think was “wow, she still hasn’t given up.” Her family was attacked, she was attacked, she battled a congress stacked against her. Year after year, she relentlessly fought.

This is the biggest takeaway from reading about her and simultaneously watching her fight for the American people to be represented in the best way. Her focus is and always has been to make America fair for everyone. It started with financial reform as a law professor and led to her becoming a Senator at age 63, just two years before more people RETIRE she started an entirely new career.

Personal Reflection 

Fighting for myself is something I’ve done my entire life. If I set a goal I achieve it. This isn’t to sound cocky, but to say that if I want something I find a way to make it happen. From sports, to jobs, to grades, to new cities I will always go the extra mile when faced with a challenge. It’s just how my brain works. I hate few things more than feeling like I held back and things could have ended differently if I tried harder. I related to Elizabeth the most learning how she approaches big picture end goals.

Fighting for others is my new years resolution. This administration is threatening so many groups we all have to suit up and get in the battle .I haven’t done the best job so far because I’ve been overwhelmed and not sure where to look. But Elizabeth shared many anecdotes of moments that inspired her and I am going to make a conscious decision to actually hear more of what’s going on around me and to understand what tangible struggles I can help. Watching my 13 year old pal get cat-called is one of these moments that put a fire in me. Rape culture is something I am passionate about fighting for many reasons and taking notice of this specific instance has inspired me to want to speak up in a bigger way.

Focus is the only way to get where you want to go and something I’ve struggled to find recently. I want to help so many causes but know stretching myself thin will end up backfiring. I’ve had success being focused, a year of dedicated research and planning allowed me to make it to NYC and I’ve never been more sure I made the right decision. Learning from Elizabeth and reflecting on times my focus was fearless and fruitful, I know my next step is take my passion to serve, choose a cause, and fight relentlessly until there is change. Is it women’s rights, children’s education, fighting systematic racism? I’m not sure but I know I’ll find the path and opportunities where I can use my skills most effectively to help those around me.

Thank you Elizabeth for your words in A Fighting Chance, thank you for your years of service, thank you for persisting, thank you for inspiring me to fight.

**American Money – BORNS

It all began with a burst

A burst of inspiration that is. The infamous day was November 8th, 2016 (technically November 9th by the time the votes were in) when the “impossible” happened. For many reasons, it is a day I won’t ever forget. As I prepare to watch President Obama’s farewell speech tonight, I’m recognizing that it is a day that has left me in a state of disbelief for the past two months….has it only been two months? Are we not nearing the 4 year mark yet?

Just to name it and face my fear that if I write it down it makes it real: November 8th, 2016 was the day Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become President-elect of the United States.

The entire election season was enlightening to say the least. I spoke more candidly about my beliefs, read more commentary than I ever had, and realized my vote isn’t my only source of political power. After a tumultuous buildup, the results of the election shook me to the core.

These past few months I’ve been looking for ways both formally and informally to be more active in the community and in projects I’m passionate about protecting. New Year’s came along and an active resolution came to me. In my first year in New York, I read more for pleasure than I have possibly since middle school. So I decided to turn this hobby into something more, something I could learn from, something I could pay forward.

It’s simple really. Each month I am reading at least one autobiography or non-fiction/non-fiction inspired piece written by a woman throughout 2017. I took to Facebook for suggestions and was overwhelmed by the response. There are so many amazing women I can learn from.

I started with Elizabeth Warren’s “A Fighting Chance” and after only a few pages I became emotional reading her story. After getting through a large portion of the book, I decided I wanted to share my journey moving through my readings. So here we are. I plan to document at least my overall thoughts on each book, but I also want to share my thoughts on specific anecdotes and life lessons from the books through the lens of a young woman currently figuring out how to navigate this thing called life.

Even though we can’t herald this as the year of the woman because we’re being led by one, women have been a part of history since the first chapter and we can still use this year to grow, to be active, and to learn just what women can do (spoiler: the answer is women can do anything.) I hope to start conversations. I hope to share different perspectives. And most of all I hope to remind those who read my thoughts that no matter where we come from we all have a unique story worth being told.

 

*It All Began With a Burst  – Kishi Bashi