It’s that time of year again: Self-Recrimination Time. You may better know it as New Year’s Resolution Time, but it’s the same thing. It’s that couple of weeks where we assess our progress as human beings to-date, then set ourselves obscenely lofty goals that, through their implementation, imply our accomplishments thus far are not quite good enough.
Women, especially, are excellent at setting newer, higher, and loftier goals, without taking the time to reflect and celebrate the successes we’ve already achieved. This is a trait that I, for my 30th year on Earth, am committing to changing within myself: I want to become fantastic at celebrating my endeavours, my wins, and the bruises I get along the journey. I’ve been pondering this goal for a while now, so when I learned about the organization called Celebrate HER, I jumped right on board.
Celebrate HER is a non-profit organization developed to make spaces where women can be recognized and celebrated for their achievements. The idea is to “facilitate greater social responsibility within our community” by honouring the work of women who have risen above and beyond. The org is in its second year, and the team is planning a week-long arts-based fete that will span several neighbourhoods of Ottawa Central, while communicating nationally with women (and supporters of all genders) via social media channels. From March 3rd to 10th, there will be art performances, an installation, and a special wrap-up party where women, nominated by the public, will be recognized for their achievements in the fields of arts, business, media, and politics. Funds will be raised throughout the week’s festivities and will be donated to women’s initiatives within the city.
Amanda Cottreau—musician, singer, and songsmith—is the spark that ignited this special project. Amanda herself is an incredible musician: her voice has a childlike quality, soft and vulnerable, while her lyrics and instrumentals tell the story of an old soul. When I met Amanda, I could tell right away that Celebrate HER is her passion. A woman who has overcome adversity, walked a winding path, and found her salvation through music, she truly believes in the message of the organization: honour, empower, and rally women and their supporters.
Last year, Celebrate HER festivities raised over $2500 for women’s programming in the Ottawa area. This year, with more community involvement and an expansion on the number of activities through the week, Amanda hopes that the fundraising increases exponentially. But it all sort of begins with nominations, by the public, of women to be recognized. Celebrate HER relies on your word-of-mouth to let them know about special women in your community. For the purpose of the week’s main events, the focus is on Ottawa-based women’s achievements, but Amanda encourages nominations of women from across the country: they will recognize these national nominations through Facebook, Twitter, and other social mediachannels.
This is where you all come in, and this is where you gently shove those New Year’s resolutions off the table for a moment. Let’s pause briefly, at this poignant time of the year, and reflect on our accomplishments. Never mind the usual measures of achievement…a loss of weight, an increase in income, a lack of dirty socks left around the bedroom…let’s look at ourselves (boys, you can do this, too) and give ourselves some credit. There are many ways to be inspirational, successful, and wonderful. Maybe we rallied our neighbours to petition a local city councillor to clean up a neighbourhood park…or maybe we are marking twenty years as an MPP who has worked to advance the wellbeing of our constituents over those many years. Maybe we started crafting macaroni angels to raise money for a local homeless shelter…or maybe we completed Phase I of our business plan and began franchising our cupcake business in other neighbourhoods. Big or small, many women out there have made a difference in the past year (and perhaps many years previous), and these women not only need to acknowledge their own hard work, but they deserve to be recognized by the people around them. So take some time and consider if you may know a woman that you would like to nominate for recognition by Celebrate HER. When you have someone in mind, email Amanda and her team to find out more about how to nominate.
And for those of us out there who maybe spent the last year pursuing less lofty goals: celebrate yourself, too, girl. I can tell you from personal experience, I absolutely deserve a solid gold Oscar for thriving in a year where my little family suffered job loss, serious illness, a death, and even a condemned, mouldy apartment. No, I didn’t manage to lose my saddle bags, and noooo, I didn’t lead a rally to ensure free milk for every middle school student in Canada…but that’s okay. I got married without becoming homicidal in the process, I managed to survive being the sole breadwinner in the house, and I didn’t cry the last time the dentist put a needle in my mouth. Celebrate your personal victories this January, ladies. Set new goals, but not at the expense of acknowledging your successes to-date. And if you do know someone who has achieved something pretty fantastic, nominate her for Celebrate HER recognition this month. Chances are, she sees her victories as commonplace as you see your own; sometimes, we need a reminder from the people around us that our achievements were recognized, valuable, and valued.
I and my husband, Brian, will be blogging about the Celebrate HER festivities from the NEST, as we have the incredible honour of being the official bloggers of Celebrate HER 2012. I wanna see nominations for women from all of you! And if you want, send me an email about your own achievements this past year, even if they’re tiny. I promise I’ll write you back and genuinely give you a virtual back-pat.
Let your New Year’s resolution this year be a simple one: celebrate yourself. Celebrate each other.