“Has anyone ever told you that you look like a young Lynda Carter?” an older man asked me in a park. I was in my 20s at the time.
“Yes, actually,” I replied. “Thank you.”
I smiled and walked on. It wasn’t the first time I heard that comment. A few people likened me to the actress who played Wonder Woman in the mid-late 1970s on television. Though she started to portray Wonder Woman the year before I was born, people would mention her name as my apparent doppelganger from an early age. I guess it was the dark hair and eyes.
I’ve always had a thing for Wonder Woman. I wasn’t really ever into comic books or superheroes, in particular. But I had Wonder Woman underoos and a felt a connection to her character. Maybe because she had similar features as me. It could also have been that she was a strong, badass female. What girl doesn’t want to be like Wonder Woman?
I dressed as Wonder Woman two Halloweens ago. I hadn’t dressed up for Halloween in decades, but my gym was having a fun outdoor workout that encouraged Halloween costumes. I bought a costume in a local store. I knew exactly who I wanted to be. When my ex-husband came to my house to pick my boys up for the night, I was outside dressed in my full Wonder Woman costume. He didn’t say a word. I posted something on Facebook about the encounter, thinking it was a funny/awkward little encounter. I left my phone for a bit, worked out, dragged a tire a few times and found over 200 likes to my funny little post.
I felt pretty badass that night and have been told that the Wonder Woman character fits me well.
It wasn’t until I saw the most recent Wonder Woman movie that I truly understood why I’ve felt a connection to the character for so long. Watching her story unfold reminded me of my own. It’s hard to explain, but I saw a girl who grew into a woman that, despite being told “No” a whole lot, fought for what she believed in. She appreciated life, truth, babies, ice cream, didn’t have a need for the acceptance of men (and pointed out that besides procreation weren’t really needed at all) and rocked a tiara. She was kind, funny, had a need to defend the world from bad and was ready to fight if the need arose.
When every man on the screen told her not to cross No Man’s Land, Diana Prince became Wonder Woman. She took her coat off to reveal her true self, raised her shield and walked straight there, deflecting bullets with her bracelets. The men followed. Like others, I may have teared up a little during this scene.
But it wasn’t about winning a war. It was about love.
As Diana said, “It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.”
I write this here because I think most moms feel the same way. As a single mom, my kids see me mow the lawn, lift weight, cook dinner, watch their sporting events, go to work, among other things, every single week. They’ve seen me at my highest and lowest points and love me no matter what. They roll their eyes at me, tell me I’m mean and still give the biggest, most loving hugs I’ve ever received.
As moms, we are all wonder women. We persist when we’re told no. We seek truth and justice. We keep going because we are out to protect our kids and our love. Nothing will stop us.
Have you seen the Wonder Woman movie? Did you feel a connection to Diana?
Photo Credit: WolfPack Fitness
“No hate. No fear. Everyone is welcome here.”
The words were chanted by women, men and children around me as I marched past the Washington Monument with 499,999 other people on Saturday in Washington D.C. A band played ahead of us, giving me a little extra pep in my step despite a churning stomach and a feeling of overwhelm from being in such a large crowd. Thousands of colorful signs – literally and figuratively – brightened the otherwise gray day.
I was with my good friend, Beth. The day after the American presidential election we declared that if we had the opportunity to raise our voices in Washington for women and girls, we would. We didn’t realize the time would come so quickly.
On Friday morning, we hopped in a car in Maine and drove to Delaware, where we stayed with Beth’s friend, spotting fellow marchers along our route. On Saturday morning we drove to a Maryland Metro station and waited two hours to get onto a train. We wore “pussyhats” and soaked every moment in, including a Metro transit policeman asking to try on a fellow marcher’s hat. There were photo opportunities and conversations and lots of anticipation. No one complained.
Once on the platform, a woman with a megaphone gave us the ground rules for the train to ensure our safety. Though she was working and dealing with an amazing amount of people, she smiled and thanked us for coming. Before the train arrived she asked us, “Who run the world?” We replied, “We do!” And we were off.
The train was full, but the Metro station in D.C. was even more packed. Wall to wall people, mostly women, were patiently waiting to exit the station onto the streets.
Chants of “keep hope alive” and “this is what democracy looks like” enveloped the station.
A rendition of “This Land is Your Land” spontaneously broke out. We were crammed like sardines with no place to go and happy as could be. When we passed a Metro worker, we made sure to thank him.
The “march” started well before anyone walked towards the White House. When we peacefully made our way out of the station, the chants continued as we made our way to Independence Avenue. Signs and pink hats were everywhere. People walked the streets while others lined them simply observing. There were people as far as the eye could see. People of all ages, genders, colors and ethnicities. It was incredible.
Beth and I made our way to Independence Avenue in a sea of people. When we stopped, we could barely move. But the energy was positive and the crowd peaceful. We found an alcove and listened to some of the speakers. We heard Alicia Keys and smiled as a little girl peaked around the wall to see the big screen behind the crowd, standing close to her mom.
When we started to collectively march towards the White House, I began to feel the importance of the day. It was historic and powerful and filled me with hope.
Though the movement was slow, it gave us time to read signs, chant some of our beliefs and soak it all in. Beth and I took a selfie by the Washington Monument with a “We the People” sign in the background.
After the election, I had talked to my sons about how we would use our voice and stand up for our fundamental beliefs if we felt the need. That even if we don’t agree with our new president, we should allow him to lead while also making sure he understands what is important to us. Like I’ve said here in the past, “As moms, it’s our job to show our kids how to be kind and tolerant of others while also knowing when to use our voice to stand up for what we believe in.”
Saturday wasn’t about protesting. Not for me and Beth. It was about making our voice heard for women and girls everywhere. For my boys, who I hope will be feminists in their own rights. It was about making sure women’s rights are seen as human rights. With so many marches for women around America and the world, I hope our leaders are listening.
What message do you hope we sent with the Women’s Marches?
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Jennifer Iacovelli the author of Simple Giving.
I could write about the creative and challenging workouts, the hike up the mountain for lunch or the sunrise yoga.
I could tell you about the nutrition seminar or the cooking demonstration or the morning trip through the perimeter of the grocery store.
I could share details of the lobster and ribs on the island or the delicious mountaintop nachos or the farm to table feast on the actual farm.
But that’s not the story of Strong is Beautiful, the weekend health and wellness retreat for women I attended this past weekend. It’s so much more than that.
Life is only as good as the people you get to share it with.
My weekend was full of love, laughter and lifting.
It was full of sweat, tears and sheer joy.
It was full of beautiful women of all ages, sizes, backgrounds and personalities.
It was full of hugs and kisses and encouragement.
It was about strength and having the courage to put yourself first. Because as women we forget to make ourselves a priority, even though we are better mothers, partners and friends when we are happy and whole.
Find your tribe. Love them hard.
My weekend was spent at my gym, my happy place. The place where I feel most connected to myself and to nature. Where I am in most in tune to my body and what it needs to flourish physically and mentally. It is my therapy when my crazy world of single motherhood and writing and nonprofit management just get to be too overwhelming.
What made my weekend so unique and indescribable was the company I was fortunate enough to keep. Forty-five other women who made memories in three days together that will last a lifetime.
What was my weekend really all about?
It was about relaxing pontoon boat rides, swimming and floating on the river.
It was about sharing an outdoor shower with a group of women while listening to silly water-themed music.
It was about suppressing fits of giggles over a loud cricket in the middle of the night.
It was about late nights around the bonfire talking and dancing to loud music and early mornings to gather and learn.
It was about sunset walks and adventure at every turn.
It was about women baring their soul so that others could show them they are not alone in their fight.
It was about holding hands when fear arose.
It was about dirty feet and pine needles in my bra and feeling completely content with the world.
Where there is love there is light.
We all need a place to go when we need to recharge and reconnect with ourselves. A place where we can find and be our true authentic self. Mine happens to be in a wooded setting overlooking a river in central Maine.
Have you found yours yet? What is it like?
Photo Credit: WolfPack Fitness
Photo Credit: WolfPack Fitness
Today (March 22) is a big deal to me because it is World Water Day.
Actually, access to clean water and sanitation is a big deal to me year round.
The seed was planted a few years back when I was first connected to WaterAid America as a member of the Global Team of 200, an offshoot of Mom Bloggers for Social Good. My first water-related post was published on my blog, another jennifer, in January of 2013. I was struck by the statistics around how women and girls in particular were affected by the water crisis, not to mention just how many people still lacked access to clean water and sanitation.
Since then, I’ve written many more posts on the topic, donated to WaterAid America, visited classrooms to talk about the importance of water and toilets and had the opportunity to visit Nicaragua to see WaterAid’s work on the ground firsthand.
The Author in Nicaragua. Photo Credit: Alanna Imbach/WaterAid
Why is water so important to me?
I start my day with a hot shower that is only 10 steps from my king-sized comfy bed.
I brush my teeth, often leaving the water running while I do so, and don’t worry about swallowing the water from the faucet.
I fill a water bottle directly from my kitchen sink without any additional filtration.
I have all the water I need to cook, water my plants or wash my car in the driveway.
I pay less than $0.60 per day for easy access to clean, safe water in the home I own, an extremely low percentage of my personal income.
This privilege is not lost on me and is particularly poignant when I read through WaterAid America’s State of the World’s Water 2016 report.
While it’s easy to assume that the poorest people don’t have water access because they can’t afford to pay the bills that come along with it, the report actually shows us that the poorest are often paying significantly more than citizens who are lucky or wealthy enough to have an “official” water point.
Here are some of the key findings of the report:
- Papua New Guinea, Equatorial Guinea and Angola are the nations in the world with the lowest percentage of households with access to clean water.
- In Papua New Guinea, an average person living in poverty will spend 54% of their salary to access the World Health Organization-recommended minimum of 50 water liters per day to meet basic needs. The average use in the US is about 370 liters per person, per day.
- India, China and Nigeria have the highest numbers of people waiting for access to clean water.
- Cambodia, Mali, Laos and Ethiopia have made more progress than any other nations on improving access to water for their populations.
- There remain 16 countries in the world where 40% or more of their population does not have access to clean water – due to lack of government prioritization, lack of dedicated funding, shortages in human resources and/or the exacerbating effects of climate change on water availability and quality combined.
I was particularly struck by the fact that the United States of America was not included in the list of 42 countries with 100% access to safe water (0.8% of the population is without access; 63 countries are listed ahead of the USA).
Download: Water: At What Cost? The State of the World’s Water 2016
Everything I do for WaterAid America or for the cause of clean water and sanitation is on a completely volunteer basis. I make the time to write, give, talk and act. This past Sunday, I got my gym, WolfPack Fitness, involved with a water-themed outdoor workout for the second year in a row. We wore #blue4water while raising awareness, weight and funds for WaterAid America. It is my way of being part of a global conversation that needs to be had to ensure that marginalized communities are not left without a resource that is a basic human need.
Photo Credit: WorlfPack Fitness
What will you do to celebrate World Water Day?
This is an original post written by Author and Blogger Jennifer Iacovelli for World Moms Blog.
When’s the last time you took the time to be grateful for you toilet?
Unless you’ve just renovated a bathroom or just really need to go, if you live in a developed country you probably don’t put much thought into how amazing it is to have a running toilet in your home.
Today, November 19th, is World Toilet Day. It’s a United Nations-recognized day about global sanitation, an issue that affects 1 in 3 people worldwide.
WaterAid, with whom I traveled to Nicaragua last year to see their work on the ground, is commemorating the day with their State of the World’s Toilets report. The report reveals the most difficult place in the world to find a toilet (South Sudan), what country has the most people waiting for a toilet (India), and which developed nations are facing their own struggles in ensuring toilets for all (Russian Federation).
WaterAid also released the #GiveAShit smartphone app in the United States and Canada. The fun app allows users to create and share their own customized poop emojis, learn sanitation facts, and take a stand on behalf of the 2.3 billion people today who live without access to a basic toilet.
Here’s the poop emoji I created:
Potty talk and poop emoji are fun ways to bring up a very serious topic. The lack of clean water and sanitation around the world come with dire consequences. Here are some facts from WaterAid:
- Around 860 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation
- 1 out of every 3 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa drops out of school once she starts menstruating, because there are no toilets at her school
- Women and girls living without any toilets spend 97 billion hours each year looking for a place to go to the bathroom
- The lack of access to sanitation costs the world’s poorest countries $260 billion each year
The State of the World’s Toilets report is an eye-opening read. While I am somewhat well-versed on the topic of global clean water and sanitation, I learned a lot from its findings. I was most surprised that only 17 countries in the world have reported that just about every single household in the country has a safe, private toilet, and the United States wasn’t one of them.
The report also went beyond the health consequences of poor sanitation and addressed gender equality, education and economic development. Without access to a clean, safe toilet, women and girls are more vulnerable to harassment or assault, kids can’t attend school because they are sick and hospital beds are filled with people who have preventable diseases.
The good news is that the United Nations member states have adopted new Global Goals on sustainable development back in September. Goal 6 aims to deliver access to water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone everywhere by 2030. (I wrote about why this goal was the most important one to me on my blog.)
The 17 global goals may seem lofty, they are certainly attainable. It’s important for us as global citizens to be aware of these issues and to use our voices to keep world leaders accountable, making sure they keep to their promises to reach everyone including the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized people in our world.
How will you celebrate World Toilet Day?
This is an original post written by Jennifer Iacovelli of annotherjennifer.com and Author of Simple Giving.
In a little over four months, my book will be out in the public in paperback and electronic forms. It gives me chills to think about this fact.
It is a lifelong dream to publish a book, and I’m excited to accomplish this goal before I turn 40. (I’ll even have a few months to spare!) While I am a co-author in the book The Mother of All Meltdowns, this will be my first solo book. It will also be my first traditionally published book.
I honestly don’t remember when I initially came up with the idea for Simple Giving. Let’s just say it was a few years back. I know that I wanted to take what I was writing about philanthropy on my blog, another jennifer, and expand on it. I know I felt a constant pull to give more and to share all the stories I was finding through the Philanthropy Friday series on my blog in a bigger way. I know I found a community of world changers that spanned the globe who inspired me to push myself further.
I finally got the nerve to ask my then father-in-law and seasoned literary agent if he thought I should pursue my idea. He not only liked the idea, he offered to represent me.
You never know what will happen with your goals and dreams if you don’t pursue them.
It took me a long time to finish my proposal, never mind the actual writing of the book. When you work on something so close to you personally, fear can often rear its ugly head and get in the way of your progress. Other priorities – like work that actually pays, writing, parenting and attempting to have a social life – push the big scary stuff to the back burner. I wrote a post back in March of 2013 about fear and writing.
There were a couple of times that I just had to get away and write without distraction. I was fortunate enough to have my parents take my kids for days at a time so I could retreat from the world and immerse myself in my book. Those were the times I got the most research and organizations done, along with some much needed free writing.
And then I came to the realization that my marriage was ending. After one Sunday evening conversation, reality set in. I woke up the next morning feeling a shell-shocked. I remember getting my boys off to school and sitting down at the desk in my home office. I started the computer and stared at the screen wondering what I would do next. A million things were running through my head.
I opened my email and there, waiting for me in my inbox, was a draft contract from my publisher. I had known it would be coming for a few weeks, but the contracts department was backed up. It came at a time when I needed the reassurance that everything was going to be alright. Just a few weeks later I traveled to Nicaragua with WaterAid America. I was nervous about leaving my kids so soon after telling them that their father and I were separating, but that trip came at a time when I needed to get away and get back to basics.
While I can’t say that everything went as planned in the writing of this book, I can say that it all worked out for the best. Simple Giving is much better because of the extra time it took and the experiences I had along the way. In fact, the story that brings the entire book together is about a wonderful community I joined after divorce – that also happens to be my gym – that allowed me to bring my passion for global issues into an outdoor water-themed workout based on my experience in Nicaragua for World Water Day in Maine.
Maybe there was a plan after all.
Simple Giving is available for pre-sale on Amazon, B&N, Books-A-Million and Indiebound.
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Jennifer Iacovelli, of anotherjennifer and author of Simple Giving.
Is there a dream that you have but are afraid to pursue?