Thursday brought more reflection. I kept reminding them to add any practice or idea that seemed to fit into our "tool kits" for their future use. Claire Marie, the performance director for Seed Performance Art in Winona, spent the rest of the afternoon leading the girls through dialogue and giving them scripts to read that were based on empowering scenes. I took this time to leave because my poor daughter has been at camp with me in the wings. It hasn't been bad, but I really wanted to give her some time to be without me and so I did.
Erica and I left the last day as a sort of reflection and celebration of sticking with us and really trying. We had the chance to ask them what tools seem easily accessible to them and the laughing yoga, breathing, journaling, and movement came up. Three cheers for tools!
Finally, we presented them with gifts. I gave each of them a pen and a small notebook and a few of my favorite empowering quotes. Erica presented a hand-written note, a rock with their word on it (a word that reflects what they revealed to us about who they are at this time in their life), and a bead that represents the power of being female. Erica and I hugged each girl and had a private message for them. After every girl received her own round of applause, they immediately dug into their notes and quotations.
Erica and I collapsed and laughed and wished Annika were here and the girls simply enjoyed being in such a safe place.
On Friday evening after camp was finished, my daughter wanted to talk to me. She is struggling mightily with her own issues, and she felt overwhelmed. I let her talk though I have to confess, I was tapped from the week which is exactly what it means to be a parent. I knew I had to rise above the exhaustion and do this work. So she talked and I listened and after she was all finished, I only had this left to offer.
"You know, babe. You have all the tools. At some point you are going to have to make the decision to fight for it. Fight for what you know and believe to be true."
And there I was confronting every single minute I have ever had in my own dark place.
And to me, that is what empowerment is-- the choice to turn what you believe in your gut into active truth. Our struggles may vary wildly, but we all have choices. My baby has the tools and I do, too.
The real work, the dig-deep-and-get-messy-and-fight-for-it work, is using them.