Transitions are the perfect combination of possibility and anxiety. When you are age 3, they can be terrifying. When you are 13, they can be bitter. When you are 30, they can be cringe-worthy. I know I will face incredible transitions as I age. Transitions are when the world, the day, or a trajectory, is becoming something else.
I should be used to transition by now, but I am thinking no one ever is.
Solo female transitions have their own mighty challenges. I have left good jobs and friendships with the slim window of opportunity to be an artist in the world. I have travelled to live in places where I knew no one. In Thailand, Kenya, Israel/Palestine and Egypt, I went despite new or urgent travel warnings and limited savings. I have twice flown over 8 hours on the trust that an associate waiting at the airport had my ticket for the next leg of the journey.
Yet, it has always been hard. Just had to pray and leap, with the willingness to sleep in a sleeping bag or a generous friend’s couch. The current transition in my life is the first time it is a shared transition: a husband, a wife, and a special needs kitty all moving in one direction on their own legs. While packed with goodness, there is way too much unknown and undefined for it to be easy. This includes the timing and destination. It is a different kind of transition. When you share your life and have separate careers, you share the transitions.
Last month, I received a post card from a friend. She is a woman. And wow, some women are badass. This simple postcard arrived to our apartment in Cairo from a place in California. In it, I read of how a friend I haven’t spoken to in some time was thinking of me. She is going through her own difficult transition professionally, and she thought of me. She is a treasure and a self-made woman. Her postcard reminded me about the importance of staying on your own legs, especially as a woman. We can “lean in” and lean towards our partners and provide our shoulder in return, but remain on our own legs.
There is someone else I want to speak about quickly for IWD. Our kitty Lamara taught herself to walk despite her Cerebellar Hypoplasia and being found near death at one-week old back in July. She is a self-made kitty. She found her own legs depite constant tremors and spastic coordination.
One of the boldest females I know.
When it comes to inspiring women with strong voices, you don’t have to look far in Egypt. My in-laws are no exception. If you want to learn more about the women in this country, I suggest for you the following resource. “Who is She in Egypt” is a free database of distinguished Egyptian women experts. It provides Arabic and English profiles on outstanding Egyptian Women in their particular field. The database aims at raising awareness among the society that there are expert and competent Egyptian women in all fields of life. It is designed to be a reference to organizations, researchers, activists, media practitioners and all the users who want to find an Egyptian woman expert in a particular field. Similar databases were established in Jordan “Who is She in Jordan” and in Lebanon “Who is She in Lebanon.”
Things I am celebrating this International Women’s Day:
- I am self-made.
- Our marriage is awesome especially when it is difficult.
- I am surrounded in this world by amazing females.
- My work and ideas are worth much compensation.
- I refuse for my gender to be the base of differential treatment, even when living in the Middle East.