Mandy HamuDirector of Services - YWCA Peterborough Haliburton
Mandy's Story :
You know, people have a very strong reaction to the word ‘feminism’, as if this is the worst F-word you can expect to hear me say on an average day. We feminists are a fascinating mix of argumentative realism and reckless hopefulness; I think it’s that last part that gets missed the most. We hope big, HUGE. We hope for the kind of social change that makes us sound bananas, and you know what? We are all pretty okay with that. Hope bursts out of us at every seam and we readily lend it to others when they need some to hold on to. I think this often-overlooked quality of ours is one of our biggest strengths, along with how we pull together to support each other.
I talk a lot about The Sisterhood, by which I mean the magnificent group of womxn and our allies who are almost singularly focused on lifting each other up. This Sisterhood has sustained me in my darkest moments and serves as a grounding concept that refocuses me on my goal, whether in my personal life or professionally. I want to lift others up. I want to see others succeed. I want to see every member of this community thriving and living the lives they wish for themselves. I am grateful to see so many members of this Sisterhood all around me, as I play at the park with my kids, sharing a smile on the street, and most certainly surrounding me in my workplace.
Like most other therapists, I went into this field because I wanted to help and thought I had something to offer. While I believe this is true, I have no doubt in my mind that I have received so much more from the people I’ve served than I could ever give. Watching people of all ages and backgrounds as they face and work through some of their biggest challenges and eventually move forward into something beyond that struggle has been an incredible privilege. Every single one of the individuals I’ve served courageously leaned into the discomfort of their vulnerability and came out the other side having accomplished something tremendous. These incredible humans have been one of my biggest sources of inspiration and I am grateful to them every day for trusting me to walk beside them on part of their journey.
Me? I’m not sure how inspirational I am. I’m just a woman who’s doing my best to juggle my vast array of responsibilities, from being the head of a household with two little girls who I’m trying to prepare for the realities of the world we live in, to trying to fulfill my professional responsibilities to my organization, our staff and the people we serve. It’s a tall order and I am most certainly not always hitting the mark. I admire the grace with which the other women in my life navigate the challenges before them, how beautifully resilient they are as life comes at them again and again with challenges so great you would expect them to break. These women are the stuff of legend and they are so often oblivious to their magnificence. I guess maybe that’s the key take-away from all of this reflection, that each of us are inspiring others all of the time, often when we least expect we’re doing it, often even when we’re just being our most genuine, vulnerable, imperfect selves.