Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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From The Girl Who To A Broad View

Logo art by: Nicole M. Day

I've tried and failed to write this dozens of times over the past few months. How can I introduce A BROAD VIEW to you? I wanted to be smart and polished; A shrewd feminist who knows exactly what she's talking about. Someone who understands and can articulate the shades of gray, the complexities of being a woman in a post #metoo society in the 21st century. A woman who desperately wants to help forward this important and necessary conversation.

Essentially, I wanted to write a savvy, inspirational manifesto about women for women. But I couldn't do it. I simply could not articulate what it is I want to tell you about why I'm creating this podcast and how I envision the adventure unfolding. Then it hit me. That's what I need to write: The challenge of defining womanhood and what it means to be a woman in 2018. My struggle to articulate womanhood and my ever-evolving definition of feminism as I attempt this podcast are exactly what I should be sharing, not some polished version of feminism that I finesse until it sounds like I know what I'm talking about, because a lot of the time I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm stumbling across the potholed divide of my youth and middle-aged womanhood, same as everyone else, even the ones who pretend they have it made. I'll note here that I'm 41 (holy shit I've been writing here since I was in my twenties!) and still consider myself verging on womanhood, which should be an eye-opener to all the women behind me - chronologically speaking - because it aptly demonstrates that there is no magic age at which you feel like you're an accomplished, grown ass woman. At 25 I would've told you that certainly at 41 I will feel like a grown woman who has her shit together. And yet, here I am. This concept is something I'd very much like to confirm during interviews with women in their forties, fifties and older that will be featured on A BROAD VIEW. Do you ever feel as if you've arrived or are you constantly growing, even near the end?

At 41 I'm just now wandering into this wondrous place of realization, empowerment and learning how to actualize those things in my everyday life. There are now periodic, astonishing glimpses of how remarkable life can be if I am able to unlearn the disinformation society forced upon me about womanhood and fully come into my own. They don't come naturally, the glimpses. You have to actively do the work. Read, research, listen and if you're lucky, the glimpses happen more frequently.

What does coming into my own mean? I don't rightly know, but that's what I hope to spend the rest of my life figuring out. For now it means being a woman who fully understands she doesn't need to be validated by any man. Not strangers, bosses, co-workers, ex-lovers, lovers, brothers, not even my own father. A woman who recognizes she has spent her entire life living under arbitrary social rules, mostly created and enforced by men. A woman who no longer gives a fuck what men think. A woman who wants to spend the remainder of her days validating and inspiring other women to break the same mental chains of patriarchy and societal expectation they may or may not realize are keeping them from discovering who they really are in this blink-of-an-eye lifetime.

Times are strange. Confusing. Many of us are struggling to understand who we are now as opposed to who we were raised to be. Grappling with our personal definitions - many of them forced upon us - of what it means to be a woman, a successful woman, and what role feminism plays in that definition. Few of us are polished and savvy in our stance and we shouldn't be! We should always be asking questions, learning, redefining, leveling up and always, always bringing our sisters with us!

I grew up feeling jealous and competitive of other women. I judged myself against them and felt superior or inferior as a result. Now, I want to spend the rest of my days learning from and celebrating other women and teaching those behind me to do the same. That's where A BROAD VIEW comes in. I've spent the past 15 years writing about myself, mostly. I'm tired of me. Now, I want to write about you. About your mother, your grandmother, your aunt, your sister. I want to amplify the painfully beautiful stories every woman has about their very unique paths in life. Every episode a piece of art containing essays, interviews, music and more that will help depict the life arch of a woman; the mistakes she's made, the triumphs she's experienced, the heartbreak, the love, the loss, the events in her life that define who she is and the lessons learned. I want A BROAD VIEW to be unapologetically raw, brutally honest and as authentic as possible. Everyday women's stories shared by a forty-something woman trying to figure out what it all means while increasingly realizing it all means nothing if we don't shout our truths, learn from and uplift each other.

Success as a woman is difficult to define in 2018. Is success becoming the CEO of a huge corporation or is it choosing to be a stay-at-home mom guiding children into becoming enlightened citizens of Earth who can move us closer to true equality? Women who came before us fought hard to afford us the opportunity to choose. Paradoxically, having the choice makes it harder to feel successful. I'm a mother of three and I work full-time, which makes it nearly impossible to feel like I'm doing either thing adequately, let alone successfully. I know other women who work full-time who feel judged for not being home with their children, others who stay home with their children who feel as if society writes them off as "just a housewife" and others whose religions tell them being a housewife is their true glory and working outside the home is a husband's role.

Is success leaning in or leaning out? It's something I know so many of us are dealing with as we strive to be successful at work and home and end up suffering debilitating stress, anxiety and depression. I don't have answers except to say that feminism, to me, means that no one can or should define what success is for you except you. One woman's triumphant success is another woman's worst-case scenario. Stop listening to pundits making the TED talk/social media/talking head/website/blog rounds and carve out your own path. Lean in, lean out, lean sideways, lean down into bed and take a fucking nap. Whatever works for you.

It's a strange, cathartic, scary, magnificent, exciting time to be a woman. I feel a kinship and a responsibility to all of you like I never have before. We're here to love each other and learn from each other and then we're gone. So, then... Here is my effort to ask and answer questions all women grapple with, listen and learn from those whose knowledge can help us navigate strange times and level up. My love letter to womankind: A BROAD VIEW.

First episode coming soon-ish.

Reader Comments (8)

Dam, I love you Monica. Keep on keeping on. You inspire me with every post.

June 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarty

Excited for this one! You always keep it that about you!

June 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMama

Wow! Monica, Hooray for those little wheels in your head that never stop turning, the fire in your soul that never stops burning, and the love in your heart that can't stop learning. Very excited about A Broad View!

June 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGrammy

So you're a feminist now?

June 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Dear Monica!

I just found your blog through Another site and I´m really happy I did. I love this first inspirational post. I recognize Everything but especially what you write about female success. I grew up thinking, and I thought until I had a kid actually, that success was having a good post at an interesting company. Turns out I was wrong. It all changed for me now. Success for me is something personal. I decide if I´m successful or not. For me having a job where I can work for home is a real success and from thereon I only define my own goals. Much love, Linda.

July 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Mountainbeach

Thanks for saying you're still figuring out what your version of being a feminist looks like. I'm raising my two kids, going through a divorce i was NOT anticipating, and it's nice to hear that we are all still trying to figure shit out.

July 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

This is great. What was the inspiration behind this?

July 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNoDoz

Love this! I’m 42 and don’t have things anywhere near figured out. Well, except for the not giving as many fucks as when I was younger and thought I knew more than I do now. Totally on board with uniting with other women rather than being jealous or petty. We’re all in this together just trying our best to sort out these confusing yet exciting times. Can’t wait for the podcast - I’ll be listening for sure. Love you, Monica. xo

September 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChristine from Canada

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