We Are Not in the Same Boat

“We’re all in the same boat”, has the very best of intentions, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Trying to bring everyone together, suggesting our struggle is the same actually misses the boat all together. While we may be floating down the same river or riding the same waves, our boats are built completely different.

I may be in a pontoon that doesn’t go very fasts but has a canopy to protect me from the sun. You may have a speed boat that slices through the giant waves to keep you moving with life preservers as a backup plan. We may both float by a canoe without a paddle only left to ride out the storm and land wherever the water takes it. Same body of water during the same storm, but very different boats with very different experiences.

Can we stop suggesting we are all in the same boat? Our resources and our choices are not the same. How you manage in your speed boat with your life preservers looks really different than what I need to do in my pontoon to find calm water. And that is okay – it should look different! I can’t be judged for finding a place to hold up while I ride out the storm as you keep going through the crashing waves because we are in fact in two different boats with different circumstances.

Same storm. Different choices.

And let’s not forget the canoe. If you have an extra life preserver and I have some extra space, shouldn’t we help the canoe if we can? Why? Because I’ve been in the canoe – I’ve struggled through the waves. I’ve watched others float on by without an issue. I’ve had to rely on someone else’s kindness to toss me a life jacket and share their space. And that is okay too!

That doesn’t make me weak. That doesn’t make less than. It makes me human and vulnerable and worthy of kindness.

My struggles aren’t worse-than or better-than yours. My struggles are simply different from yours. There is no need to compare. It’s not a competition to see who has toughest path. We are all struggling in uncharted waters these days-all of us in the same crazy storm holding on until we find a safe place to land.

However, our boats make our battles feel different.

Remember that fact.

Honor it.

We are not in the same boat.

This too shall pass

Eleven years ago today, I rolled myself out of bed and landed on my tree-trunk-sized ankles as I waddled myself out the door to a home visit where I sat on the edge of the couch while I provided in-home therapy to a family struggling to take care of their baby. Before the sunset that day, I gave birth to my daughters. They were a little early-arriving on their own time, but bringing with them the most all-consuming joy I have ever experienced.

Eleven months prior to that day, I was told there were no heartbeats for the babies I carried inside me. Those babies who I already loved, would never be in my arms. The overwhelming darkness of the ultrasound room broke me. That day I felt the devastation and pain of loss.

Joy and loss are not competing for power, rather one cannot exist without the other. As a mother, I love my children. However, the loss of my first two babies, gave way for another range of experiencing joy. That day in the darkness, I could not imagine what was waiting for me. I wasn’t sure I would ever find a reason to smile again.

Today, I know, it was because of that day I not only know true joy, I treasure it. Our pain right now may just be planting the seeds that open us up to joy.

I share this post from Scary Mommy again as a reminder for me as well, that today is only temporary. Joy or pain, this too shall pass. Let’s learn the lessons & treasure the joy.

Happy 11th Birthday to my joyous girls who teach me every single day!

Scary Mommy

Oprah Winfrey

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

Oprah Gail Winfrey, born Orpah Gail Winfrey
(January 29, 1954)
An American talk show host, actress, television producer, media executive and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast from Chicago, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and ran in national syndication for 25 years from 1986-2011. Dubbed the “Queen of All Media” she was the richest African American of the 20th century and North American’s first black multi-billionaire, and she has been ranked the greatest black philanthropist in American history. By 2007, she was sometimes ranked as the most influential woman in the world.

Tina Turner

“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything…whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

Tina Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock
(November 26, 1939)
An American-born Swiss singer and actress. Turner rose to prominence as part of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue before launching a successful career as a solo performer. Having sold over 100 million records, she is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time and has been referred to as The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Turner is noted for her energetic state presence, powerful vocals and career longevity.

Maya Angelou

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place – You belong every place – No place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”

Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Annie Johnson
(April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)
An American poet, singer, memoirist and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays and movies and television shows spanning over 50 years.
(source: Wikipedia)

Kamala Harris

“If you are fortunate to have opportunity, it is your duty to make sure other people have those opportunities as well.”

Kamala Devi Harris (October 20, 1964)
An American lawyer and politician serving as the junior United States Senator from California since 2017. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Previously, she served as the 32nd Attorney General of California from 2011 to 2017.
She is a graduate of Howard University and University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Audre Lorde

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are different from my own.”

Audre Lorde/Gamba Adisa
(February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992)
An American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian and civil rights activist. She was a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” who dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism and homophobia.
(source: Wikipedia)

Michelle Obama

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (January 17, 1964)
An American lawyer and author who was the first lady of the United States from 2009-2017. She is married to the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama. She is the first African-American First Lady of the United States.
Mrs. Obama is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
(source: Wikipedia)

“We have to improve life, not just for those who have the most skills and those who know how to manipulate the system. But also for those who often have so much to give but never get the opportunity.”

Dorothy Height (March 24, 1912 – April 20, 2010)
American civil rights and woman’s rights activist. Height specifically focused on the issues of African-American women, including unemployment, illiteracy, and voter awareness. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for forty years.
(source: Wikipedia)