First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
By Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)
*source information below.
This weekend, I watched my Facebook feed blow up with the news of the Muslim Ban being signed in and that protests were in progress at JFK airport to help free unsuspecting Muslim travellers. They were banned from entry to the US because they were from a land on the new President’s order. WHAT! I’m an American living on the other side of the world, looking in horror that this has happened. My heart was comforted and tears fell when I saw those people at the gates of JFK chanting and representing who we really are! These citizens took action. They were so willing to do the right thing and stand up for those people locked inside the airport. That is LOVE! That is UNITY. It takes bravery because whenever you put your voice and actions together in a place where there are police, you might be asking for more than you bargained for! Look at The Standing Rock’s peaceful protest. Tear gas, raging dogs, and jail time the whole thing to protect a greedy corporation’s investment.
It got me thinking about my voice and my actions. Where have they been all these years? I subsequently let them die with my hope of a better place that was about equality and fairness to all. I, too, had become complacent. It happened when living in DC for 7 years with an administration that I absolutely did not agree with. I learned then my voice was not “appreciated” when it came to his policies. I realized year after year that this was happening and I couldn’t do much but vote for change. I was there when a plane flew over our heads to come crashing down on to the Pentagon. Colleagues and friends who worked nearby in potential harm’s way. Years following the Executive decision would come to go to war. I worked for a company that very much profited from the Iraqi war, in other words, the hunt for weapons of mass destruction. Still, not agreeing, nor speaking or writing any politician to stop the madness, I remained silent. I realized, we were now a country who fully handed over our good sense of thinking to FEAR. It was always there but now we had something to point to in justification, 9-11, Osama bin Laden. And most of us wanted to feel safe. So… complacency won.
Here we are in a time that seems like right out of all those lovely popular dystopia books; Divergent, Hunger Games, and I see a lot of people talking about the ever popular, 1984 by George Orwell. But I see the people coming together in beautiful ways to put an end to these awful heinous attempts to block out freedoms that many fought wars for and protested for, years before I was born. I realize now, it is time to say what I think and be brave. It is time to stop thinking that it is too late, that I am not important or not enough to stand UP for the rights, morals and values I believe in. If not me, then WHO? And what happens if NO ONE does anything. What then?
This is what the quote above speaks to so beautifully. I saw someone quote Martin Niemöller in the comments of a LIVE feed on the JFK Airport protest. A powerful quote that is a great wake-up call to remind us, that we are them. Incidentally, I am an immigrant in another country.
When power is put in the wrong hands, WE ALL ARE VULNERABLE! May we no longer be silent and may all our voices be heard.
January 27 was the International day of remembrance of the Holocaust. May we never forget.
*United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Accessed on [January 29, 2017], https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392
Have you ever felt conflicted about the identity you had before you arrived here in The Netherlands and your identity now? What about your identity before kids and your identity now? For those of us who are expats and mothers, all of this is mixed up into one very confusing bundle.
In my talk at Spark! this year, I talked about my entrepreneurial journey with my business, DailyOutfit – one that is inextricably tied to my journey here to The Netherlands and my journey as a mother. When Susan attended my talk, she was specifically struck by a portion of my talk regarding my anger and guilt. She asked me to expand on that for you.
Our second year here was arguably the most difficult year of my life. My first child was diagnosed with a chronic illness that required a special school, medication, numerous doctors’ visits and a great deal of adjustments at home. I put my business, DailyOutfit, on hold. Then, my mother died totally unexpectedly of a heart attack only four days after I brought the children home for their summer holiday. Yup. It was rough.
Given the ravages of life we see every day in the newspaper, I know I am blessed that that was the most difficult year of my life. I know it could be far, far worse. But, it was still challenging – and I learned a lot. One of the biggest gifts of that year was my anger – and guilt. It sounds strange to say so, but it is true.
The first thing I want to talk about is my anger. I was so angry at having to put my business on hold when my daughter was ill. I was pissed!!
Why was it my life that had to change? Why was it my business that had to take a hit? Why did I have to cancel my work trip when the school put my daughter on part-time? Why not my husband?
Honestly, it was a clear financial decision. I am not the breadwinner in my household. And that sucked. I have always been my husband’s equal. Even when I left my corporate life to care for our daughter, it was a calculated decision that saved us the cost of our hired help. I did the nanny’s job – and I did it better. Then, I built my business organically within three years and I started making a profit. I was paying my daughter’s school fees. It felt great!
I wanted to handle my daughter’s illness with grace and kindness. And I did, of course — in public.
But, I didn’t like what I saw of myself in private. When I was honest with myself, I talked about how much I had given up. I was resentful. My lovely therapist told me that guilt is appropriate when you’ve done something wrong.
In this case, I felt I had done something wrong. I had put myself above my daughter. I had put my needs and my desire to be successful above my daughter’s needs. What kind of mother does that?!
I thought many times about giving up my business. And, when the time was finally right to start my business again, I asked myself seriously – is it time to simply let this go? Is the universe telling me this is too much?
Moving Forward. It was my anger at having to cancel that work trip that made me realize – I love my business!! And it was my guilt over my anger that made me realize — I have to figure out how to handle this better!!
Because the truth is – life is not easy. You are going to go through some shit! And you need to have the bandwidth to handle it with grace. But, if you are like me, and have found your passion AND you can make a business out of it. Well, that is worth fighting for and figuring out.I had two goals: 1. To resurrect my business and to build it so I had the time and flexibility to be a great mother to BOTH of my kids, a fun wife, a great resource to my clients. AND therefore, 2. I could be a balanced and happy person.
Anger was my signifier. It signified my passion and my belief in what I was doing in my business. It signified how important it was to me. It signified how deep my purpose and commitment was (and is) to making it a success.
Guilt was my prime mover. It told me that what I was doing was not working. It clarified for me that I needed to find a better way. It encouraged me to think creatively about what I have, what I want and who I want to be – as a mother, a wife, an entrepreneur and a person.
Author Information: Allison Hamilton-Rohe is a Personal Style Coach from New York, currently living in Leiden. She created a unique formula to help you discover your personal style. Through her company, DailyOutfit, she coaches you to define your true beauty and translate it into a personal style you can inhabit with ease. She believes everyone can feel beautiful & confident every day. To learn more about Allison, check out her site www.dailyoutfit.com or follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
All photos of Allison: Cristina Stoian Portraits, http://cristinastoian.nl/