By Katherine Scott
From my short but valuable time on this earth I have come to see that giving and receiving acknowledgement is an important piece (or peace) for us humans to feeling whole. Meaning that when someone listens to what we have to say or recognizes the actions we have taken, we feel more connected to ourselves and others (the greater web of life really) and are given a space for emotional and spiritual growth both personally and as a global community.
Acknowledgement (from the Oxford Dictionary)
- The action of showing that one has noticed someone or something
- Acceptance of the truth or existence of something
Though trip planning is not new to me, as I have previously worked as a canoe guide, it is emotionally and intellectually fulfilling planning a canoe trip with a group of women who take the time to understand their own needs and those needs of the other women in the group. It is validating as a woman and as a person to have three people from different walks of life with varying lived experiences applaud me for my strengths and work to understand my vulnerabilities. There is something sacred about another spiritual being also having a human experience recognizing my journey. And I feel honoured to do the same. This acknowledgement of each other’s place in the world, at this current place in time allows me to feel like my life isn’t being lived in vain.
In my experience one of the darkest places to inhabit is in the belief or the reality of having little to no genuine recognition from another living being as to who we are or consideration regarding what we’re going through. Animals can be wonderful company and reduce this burden greatly, but we still need other humans.
Some of the most connected times in my life have happened sitting around a campfire drinking boxed wine or feeling full on camp smoked food while letting all inhibitions down. Laughter feels full and authentic, stories feel intimate and the circle feels close. Campfires are especially sacred to me as they represent a pursuit we share with every other generation before us since humans connected with flame.
With this group of women I have been able to speak openly about my expectations of the trip, my frustrations as a women in previous times spent in the wilderness and my excitement about what is to come, without it feeling forced and all the while having each facet acknowledged. And the point is that this process is open and encouraged to and by all. This practice allows us to work through stresses and confusions in a way where we can each grow, become closer and use our findings and continued support of one another to increase confidence, worldliness and trust.
Women, more so now then ever before, are a saving grace in a busy world with limited genuine connection. But throughout time I think we have always been. Margaret Thatcher said, “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.” I believe this is because it has often been a woman’s duty to make sure everyone is cared for, physically and emotionally and to see all the connecting threads. It has become one of our greatest strengths and something we are associated with.
And so throughout all this trip planning I have thought to myself, why don’t more women take the lead on canoe trips like ours, or in the workplace, or with relationships, as by our means of communication we lift people up. We acknowledge their presence and humanity and through that we motivate others and ourselves to keep going. By nature and nurture, women have been strengthening their ability to listen to all sides, to see multiple perspectives and to engage respectfully with other beings in a way that shows understanding.
Recently I read in the Harvard Business Review that “According to a study conducted at the University of California women’s brains have nearly 10 times more white matter than men’s…and white matter facilitates the connections among [processing] centers. What’s more, the cord connecting the left and right lobes is 10% thicker, on average, in female brains. And women have wider peripheral vision than men do.” Benko, C. & Pelster, B. (2013, September) “How Women Decide”. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/09/how-women-decide .
This lead me down the rabbit hole and I continued looking. In the text “Women in Business: Theory and Cases,” Martha Reeves writes, “..researchers note that early socialization processes affect how men and women employ communication later in life. Women frequently communicate to establish connection and intimacy, while men use communication to establish dominance, independence, status, and control over their environment (Tannen, 1990).” Reeves, Martha. (2016) Women in Business: Theory and Cases. USA. Taylor & Francis.
She also goes on to say that, “Finally, women themselves can and should begin to change the way people communicate in organizations, especially if they find themselves in an environment where communication is hostile or uncollaborative. When women are in positions of leadership, they can begin to change the nature of communication. Consider a female manager who supervises a group of people, both men and women. She can model communication behaviors that are collaborative and helpful, rather than ones that show disrespect for others.” (Chapter 7).
I see acknowledgement and communication going hand in hand here, with acknowledgement as a powerful form of communication that can greatly affect another being. There is such power in the way women engage in relationships, and this has been very apparent in the planning of this trip.
So here at this place in the text and this place in time I want us to recognize that it’s important more women acknowledge their own amazing qualities when it comes to bringing people together and creating space for all voices. I think it is imperative we acknowledge that women have the capabilities needed to work through environmental and social grief that our world is experiencing. I think we we can’t wait to acknowledge that something isn’t right in the way we see others as “outsiders,” “foreigners,” or different and that the patriarchal way we are going about dealing with life’s events is creating more havoc. Connecting with the feminine, our vulnerability and the gentleness that allows us to see another person for who they are, where they are at and who they want to be are the traits we need at this time in history. Women are skilled and thoughtful teachers in this realm and these are the gifts we need to bring forward.