SARAH VERBIEST

Looking Forward , Sarah Verbiest, founder of Every Woman Southeast, reflects on the new year and what it holds.
119 Posts
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I’m a “resolutioner”. A reflector. A list maker. An organizer. All traits that pair well with the end of the year. As a girl I would make time on New Year’s Eve to write my goals for the next year on a small piece of paper. I’d then put them in a special box that held my thoughts from the years before. It was always interesting to look back at the girl I was and dream about who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. The words on the paper didn’t change a whole lot over time – I wanted to pray more, to be a better friend, to lose weight, exercise more, to have a boyfriend…to change the world. Yep – every year my most ardent wish was to be an instrument for the greater good and to make a difference with the time I was given on earth. I was a geeky, preacher’s kid with social work DNA – what can I say? And so the years have rolled on.

While 2016 was a solid, unremarkable year for my family (just regular life – thank goodness), it was an upending year for us – all of us – collectively as we witnessed mass shootings, a difficult election, protests, HB2 (in North Carolina) and were forced to look directly at our country, naked – not pretty. I can’t deny my deep disappointment in seeing a glass ceiling unbroken, worrying about what is to come in 2017 and wondering how I can guide my white children in a society where our unearned privilege causes so much pain. Recent politics in my state have even made my optimism in democracy waver. Frankly, 2016 made me weary.

But as ritual demands, tis the season to think forward and lean into the work ahead. I still want to eat healthier, be a better friend, take better care of the guy I finally got and save the world. What I’ve learned over time, however, is that I am not powerful enough to save the whole world. If that is my benchmark I will fail. So this year I want to use my voice effectively, bravely and often. I will focus. I will not worry what people think about me. I will not hide behind my privilege, I will call myself on it time and time again. I will do a better job of refreshing my spirit. I will open my heart to exploring new ways of seeing and understanding. I may join a drum circle? I will speak truth to power.  I WILL NOT GIVE UP on my belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all beings and our shared right to happiness, safety and love.

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Solstice by Kylie Verbies

To be of use

By MARGE PIERCY

The people I love the best

jump into work head first

without dallying in the shallows

and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element,

the black sleek heads of seals

bouncing like half-submerged balls.

 

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,

who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,

who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,

who do what has to be done, again and again.

 

I want to be with people who submerge

in the task, who go into the fields to harvest

and work in a row and pass the bags along,

who are not parlor generals and field deserters

but move in a common rhythm

when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

 

The work of the world is common as mud.

Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.

But the thing worth doing well done

has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.

Greek amphoras for wine or oil,

Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums

but you know they were made to be used.

The pitcher cries for water to carry

and a person for work that is real.

audre-lorde

This seismic election has left our natiaudre-lordeon on a spectrum of emotions ranging from anger to jubilation and everywhere in-between. No matter where you might personally fall on the spectrum, let us continue to do the work that this coalition has set out to do together because you matter and the work you do matters!

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Smithsonian American History Museum and the Suffragette Carriage.

The 2016 Presidential Campaign has been a historic event for many reasons. Shocking, stressful, upending – this campaign has exposed the under belly of America and it isn’t pretty. Racism, classism, religious intolerance, economic uncertainty, xenophobia, the political establishment and misogyny – something to make everyone upset. Democracy is messy. It may be tempting to many to just stay home this year.

If you are contemplating taking a pass on your vote, I hope you’ll pause for a moment and remember the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention – the first women’s right convention that passed a resolution in favor of women’s suffrage. Do the names Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt ring a bell? For decades women filed lawsuits, marched, went on hunger strikes, picketed the White House, raised money and fought state by state for the right to cast a ballot.More Link

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It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

I spend a good portion of my professional life educating health professionals about “reproductive life planning,” or, basically, helping someone articulate whether or not they want any (or any more) kids and the steps they need to take to achieve their desired number of children. As a recurrent miscarrier – 7 pregnancies, but only 1 live birth – the irony is not lost on me.

I’ve always been a planner. I used to have every facet of my life planned out with such precision it would put a 5-star general to shame. When my husband and I decided to start trying for a baby, I knew exactly when I should get pregnant to interfere least with my master’s program’s comp exams and summer internship. Then the first miscarriage happened. I had to tinker with my plans, but I decided I could still make it work. Then came miscarriages two, three, and four. My plans were in shambles.

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We’ve all had it, the message from our email server fussing to let us know our account is 99.9% full. First response? Sort emails by size, save and delete a few of the largest offenders, then continue on with the day. Sound familiar? A few days ago, I took a look at the actual number of messages I had. Like a BMI reality check. It was a wake up call: Inbox = 12,543 messages, Outbox = 13,203 messages. And people wonder why I don’t take vacation!More Link

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I am a die-hard optimist. I am not only a “glass half full” kind of gal, I am a “glass is half full with half the calories OR I’m already partially hydrated”. I have always had a sunny outlook on life – to the point of being referred to as Pollyanna during a Fellowship interview (which felt insulting but hey I landed a spot). For many years I thought this positive attitude was genetic. In our family on my dad’s side there is the “happy” gene that can be traced across the generations. My grandmother Ethel had it as does my Aunt Mary, my cousin Marla and I, and Elaina in the newest cohort. This is the Monty Pythonesque “my arm is cut off but not the one holding my sword…how lucky” gene. This has been my truth for many years.More Link

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Vacations are good for us. They enhance our productivity, happiness and health.

I have an awkward relationship with vacations. I think about them – wish for them – have plenty of days to take them – and yet it’s July 27th and I’ve taken not taken more than one day off here and there this year. I’ve heard the recent stories on NPR about how
Vacations are good for us. They enhance our productivity, happiness and health.

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Green sprouts in the rain

Green sprouts in the rain

Green sprouts in the rain

It is time for white people to wake up from “the Dream,” recognize the pain our privilege causes, and begin to make amends.

There has been so much said on social media since the seven murders last week and now today. Some powerful words have been shared. Some people have remained silent because they don’t feel they have to comment while others have been silent because they just don’t know what to say. Each time I think I’m ready to put my thoughts out in the world there is a Huffington Post article or a blog that either encapsulates it all – much better than I could – or just shuts my mouth and forces me to think. As a human relations fellow and a social worker who has endeavored to learn about and discuss power and privilege, the readings I share below made me realize what a beginner I am in this essential work. Here is some of what I’ve been reflecting on recently.More Link

Smiling Mother Playing With Baby Son At Home

Black women and their babies have suffered centuries of injustice. Black women’s voices are co-opted, but not heard. Change must happen.

Facts are facts, Black women living in the South face historic, ongoing challenges to their health and wellbeing. While we can argue that all women in the South could have better health outcomes, the reality is that Black women and their babies have suffered centuries of neglect and injustice. Further, Black women’s voices are often co-opted, paraphrased, summarized but not heard. There are insightful and important solutions, strategies, and stories out there that most of us never take the time to hear. Change must happen.More Link

Start sign on the road

Accepting messy and the need to apologize sometimes for inadvertent mistakes are better than silence.

No matter how frustrating life was the day before, or how long the night, out of the dark each morning rays of light emerge. Dawn is a cosmic reset button. I’ve always loved the idea of new beginnings – I am a fearless “resolutioner” every January. I start each day with a fresh “to do” list. I believe in second chances. And so, here we are, months after allowing this blog to lay fallow, a post.More Link

  • January 2017
  • December 2016
  • November 2016
  • October 2016
  • August 2016
  • July 2016
  • September 2015
  • May 2015
  • April 2015
  • March 2015
  • January 2015
  • December 2014