I used to be a real tomboy.
When I was little, I hated wearing skirts. I was happiest in jeans, swinging on the monkey bars with all the boys.
As I grew older, this didn't change much.
I shaved my head for 10 years and wore ripped clothes and stuck two fingers up at the world. "You want to judge me, f*ckers?" My look said, "Then do it!"
And they did.
I was called an "angry dyke," a freak. I was too loud, too brash.
Not many people could see the softness underneath. The vulnerability of a little girl told to grow up too fast. I hung out in graffiti worlds and in the music industry and surrounded myself with men. I was even called "one of the boys" -- and it crushed me.
But I had a couple of great lovers who gave me a safe space to let my guard down and allow me to find out more about the woman I am. To see how wild and intuitive and complex she was -- and is.
I got tired of being stereotyped and standing out so much. The more tattoos and experiences I collected, the more I realized that real people could recognize me for me, no matter how I dressed.
In recent years, I've begun to blend in a bit more. I'm not wearing torn overalls. In fact, I only wear skirts and never wear jeans, and my hair is long and feminine. I have become comfortable with my femaleness. I am not a tomboy, and I'm not angry anymore. I am me and I respect me, both past and future. I still have things to prove to the world, but I care less about the judgements about me based on other's fantasies and assumptions.
Where I used to live with men, date men and work with mainly men... now there are a growing number of strong women in my family and life that weren't there before.
I know a blonde goddess who fixes things other men have faltered at while being effortlessly beautiful.
I know a tall, well-traveled brunette who is compassionate and has an awareness of others and the world I hope to someday achieve.
I know another loyal-as-fuck powerhouse of a woman who grabs what she wants and makes something of it. She's also a mother, and I'm in awe of her every day.
I have many more women who inspire me who I only really know through the Internet. One of them I have never met, but I've known her for nearly 20 years. She lives on the other side of the planet, and though some of our values are opposite, she is a sister I have laughed and cried with on forums, on Facebook and through her divorce, remarriage and the birth of her child. I love her dearly.
I know a woman who is a powerful priestess -- a guardian angel, perhaps -- and even though we have hung out in person only a handful of times, we talk often and I watch her from afar and I am empowered by how she lives her life.
I know a strong and determined lady who has lots of hair who travels the whole world, fulfilling her creative dreams and even when she is busy, remembers to look after herself.
I know women who have moved around the world for love, who have moved mountains for their children, who have selflessly, again and again, sacrificed so that others may see. So that others may love.
I am well aware that I have manifested these goddesses around me.
It's my power that they are drawn to also.
It is my love and my femininity and my drive and determination and optimism and honesty that they admire, that helps them show up and do what's important in their lives.
For maybe the first time ever, I feel a multitude of generations of women behind me, around me, supporting me now.
And the scars we collect, these stories and tattoos, these wrinkles and grey hairs... they all have a reason.
These are the stars reflected, our history that make us the wise women that we are.
I'm so glad that my female friendships do not live in a place of jealousy, competition, resentment and feelings of inadequacy.
These women allow me to feel exalted when I am in their company. They demand that I value myself as much as they value me.
It's a feedback loop of effortless love, encouraging and inspiring self-love that ripples outwards and reflects off everything.
For me, friendship is for life.
I am loyal and honest and I will say the tough things from a place of love if I really care about you.
But the sisters, the sisterhood, is even stronger than that.
It's actually timeless ancient knowledge that we are perpetuating in our regular suburban lives.
I feel very lucky to live in a society where women can meet and talk freely about what it means to be strong, as well as vulnerable, and how we can heal each other.
Whoever is reading this, don't take the amazing women in your life for granted.
They might bring chaos and confusion and tears but they are real.
Their hearts are actually open and just waiting to be recognized.
I see you amazing goddesses everywhere.
Riding your bikes in polka dot dresses; making your art in the night when everyone sleeps; pumping iron at dawn to feel better about your curves, which are actually intended and beautiful; buying your groceries in green bags; staring at your mess of hair and feeling overwhelmed; feeding your kids on a street corner and hoping for some sleep soon.
This is a gentle, loving reminder that you have all the knowledge and all the strength that you need right now.
Throughout time, so many things have tried to squish us but still, we prevail. All around, we are prevailing!
All the lies, the abuse and violence, the prejudice and all the slut-shaming and inequality in the world cannot break us.
Will not break us.
We are powerful and we will continue to roar.