This week I realized that the blog I kept in Bolivia is still up and running. I enjoyed reading it, reminiscing, and noticing the ways I (and my writing style) have changed over time. For example, I used to write about specific events and things related to my work. With this blog, I often have heard people saying, “even though I read your blog, I don’t necessarily understand what you do.” I have shifted from writing about events to writing about my own, internal, vulnerable experience. My blog over the last few years has been a companion for me, a space where I can share, take courage in the fact that someone will read it, know that I have given voice to it, and let it go as I continue to grow.
In the world of development, no matter what model we use, so often we require vulnerability on the part of our beneficiaries. In some cases, we show up with a huge truck full of goods and ask people to put on the face of the “poor and needy” person. In other cases, we ask farmers to risk a portion of their harvest by dedicating a piece of land to organic-only methods. Or we ask participants to resist the temptation to sell their land for top dollar, and instead to stay and organize their community. But in all cases, we demand vulnerability. The irony is, in my personal experience, as MCC and other development organizations grow and change, they continually demand less vulnerability on the part of their workers with the communities they accompany.
To some extent, my writing has become my own effort to show up and do the work that so often I ask of others through my development work.
One of the most important things I have learned about vulnerability over the last few years is that there are moments to tend to it, moments to protect it, and moments to reveal it, both individually and communally. And these moments overlap and intertwine like a dance. And, like a dance, it depends critically on timing.
Pulling all these threads together, there’s a part of my work that I want the world to know about but I haven’t written much about yet, in part because it scares me. Here at the Institute, we train people that when something feels scary, you either need to bite it off in smaller pieces, or you need more people to surround you. So, in this case, I’m going the smaller pieces route.
The next few blog entries will feature my work with women around reclaiming menstruation as a sacred cycle. It hasn’t been a huge focus in the grand scheme of what I do; it has developed with a colleague over time with ebbs and flows. But it has been the most naturally evolving part of my work that connects to my own life in deep and transforming ways.
Ways that need to be named, in this space at this time…