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Being Proud of our Differences

For four appointments I drove through LA traffic

To meet with a specialist who designed

A wig for me to hide my thinning hair

she helps celebrities who have the same problem

She has a heart of gold and a skill set

Using yak and human hair to create

The illusion of a genuine head of hair

it was my solution for my fight to belong

I could recount a list of many more

Traits I wish I could have a do over on

As I’m sure we all can.

Where did we lose the way of viewing

Our individuality as a gift rather than a curse?

I bought into the judgment

And condemned myself into action

I believe we’re creating a tipping point

For standing up with our differences

And speaking up for what is right

And using our voice for the oppression

I want to share this poem by Laura Hershey who is nationally recognized for her activism and advocacy on a wide range of disability rights and social justice issues.


If you are not proud

For who you are, for what you say, for how you look;

If every time you stop

To think of yourself, you do not see yourself glowing

With golden light; do not, therefore, give up on yourself,

You can get proud.

You do not need

A better body, a purer spirit or a Ph.D.

To be proud.

You do not need

A lot of money, a handsome boyfriend or a nice car.

You do not need

To be able to walk or see or hear

Or use big, complicated words

Or do any of those things that you just can’t do

To be proud. A caseworker

Cannot make you proud

Or a doctor.

You only need more practice.

You get proud by practicing.

There are many many ways to get proud

You can try riding a horse, or skiing on one leg

Or playing guitar,

And do well or not so well,

And be glad you tried

Either way.

You can show

Something you’ve made

To someone you respect

And be happy with it no matter

What they say.

You can say

What you think, though you know

Other people do not think the same way, and you can

Keep saying it, even if they tell you

You are crazy.

You can add your voice

All night to the voices

Of a hundred and fifty others

In a circle

Around a jailhouse

Where your brothers and sisters are being held

For blocking buses with no lifts

Or you can be one of the ones

Inside the jailhouse

Knowing of the circle outside.

You can speak your love

To a friend

Without fear.

You can find someone who will listen to you

Without judging you or doubting you or being

Afraid of you.

And let you hear yourself perhaps

For the very first time.

These are all ways

Of getting proud.

None of them

Are easy, but all of them

Are possible. You can do all of these things

Or just one of them again and again

You get proud

By practicing.

Power makes you proud, and power

Comes in many fine forms

Supple and rich as butterfly wings.

It is music

When you practice opening your mouth

And liking what you hear

Because it is the sound of your own

True voice.

It is sunlight

When you practice seeing

Strength and beauty in everyone

Including yourself.

It is dance

When you practice knowing

That what you do

And the way you do it

Is the right way for you

And cannot be called wrong.

All these hold

More power than weapons or money

Or lies.

All these practices bring power, and power

Makes you proud.

You get proud

By practicing.

Remember, you weren’t the one

Who made you ashamed,

But you are the one

Who can make you proud.

Just practice,

Practice until you get proud, and once you are proud,

Keep practicing so you won’t forget.

You get proud

By practicing.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • I have a soul collage card that speaks to power and self compassion. One woman is hugging herself, the other is in a power pose. I am proud giving myself compassion and self-care. These thoughts all fell into place.

  • As I read the Laura Hershey poem, I felt myself sitting up straighter and my voice getting stronger. That’s the power of words.

  • I learned I was dyslexic in my 40s. After a while, I learned to embrace it and was okay with it and could share easily about it. Embracing that part of me was a struggle but it helped me to do so.

  • That was a wonderful poem. As I grew up, I don’t remember anyone saying they were proud of me. If I have pride in something, am I taking too much credit? One day, I came home after a hard, exhausting day. I saw an earthworm, barely alive. I tried to help it, and finally was able to dig a small hole for it and put water in it. I wouldn't want to be in that situation that that earthworm was in. I could be proud of that.

  • That was a good reading. I had a situation yesterday where another person had lots of bulldozer energy. I was uncomfortable and I asked myself what is that person doing to trigger me. During the meditation, I was proud that I had that awareness and can now think of choices.

  • I’m in many situations where I feel that I don’t fit in, because others are smarter or faster or more profound. Comparing is normal. Maybe because I have a twin sister who was good at drawing. No one wanted to look at my accomplishments. Good to hear everyone. It’s good to stay in the positive, even if I am uncomfortable.

  • I learned to not put myself in the audience. When I shared something personal recently and worried about the reaction, I put myself in the audience, sitting on their laps, listening for murmurs of judgement. When I realized it, I got myself out of the audience. It takes energy, it’s not fun.

  • I grew up in a fundamentalist church where pride is a sin. Practicing pride is novel for me. It confused me the difference between being proud vs personal pride

  • Confusion is good. Confusion comes when we are up against core beliefs, learning that some core beliefs need to change.

  • Bragging vs being proud. It’s in the intention

  • I said to my sons “I'm proud of you, I’m proud with you.”

  • Changing one word is a whole other feeling

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