Over the past couple of weeks, a delicious part of my wellbeing sabbatical, was reading two novels about women that I just could not put down. One was Isabelle Allende’s new book, Violeta (2022), set in South America, and the other was Lisa See’s historical fiction novel, The Island of Sea Women(2020), set in Korea.
Like Isabelle Allendes previous books, Violeta includes themes of political injustice, gender inequities, the resilience and strength of women through extreme difficulties and heartbreaks and their capacity to give and receive love. Violeta tells her story, spanning 100 years, born in the time of the pandemic 1920 and now in current pandemic.
The Island of Sea Women, is a story of female friendship that spans 80 years, within the fascinating ancient collective of free-diving women, called haenyeo, of South Korea’s Jeju Island. This world is led and dominated by women who courageously engage in dangerous physical work, while their men are in charge of caring for the children. They are caught between modernization and ancient tradition and similar themes of political injustice, gender inequities and resilience and strength through extreme heartbreak.
Both novels are deeply emotional and give me pause to reflect and acknowledge what I deeply know to be true: the absolute strength of women through the ages and all cultures. And at this moment, reflecting on the heartbreaking challenges for women in Ukraine, praying and sending love.
I further reflect on my own heritage, Immigrants crossing the ocean to eastern Canada first, and then homesteading in the late 1800’s to western Manitoba. I reflect, on my own life, I am of the generation of pioneering women in leadership and breaking the corporate glass ceilings in the 1980’s onward. Currently, I am healing and leading myself through health challenges and being a new widow. I am reminded once again of Helen Reddy’s #1 song “ I am Woman” that headed the women’s movement in 1971. I was starting University. It promised me a possibility of my life as a pioneer woman leader. Now 51 years later, this song still speaks to me of the promise of new life going forward “Oh yes, I am wise, but its wisdom born of pain. Yes, I have paid the price but look at what I’ve gained. If I have to, I can face anything. I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman.”
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