A HANDLE ON THE FUTURE
This past month a group of dedicated ladies and I have been working our tails off to open a center for girls in downtown Weatherford, Texas. Our center – the Gracefully Strong Center – will be used as a place for girls to gather, be accepted and learn acceptance, take a stand and break stereotypes. We have great plans and, although the renovations have been hard and at times trying, the work is rewarding and we all sleep well at night. And yes, with the exception of the odd husband or two, it has been females that have done the majority of the work.
Our center is an old house built in 1881. Our lease agreement specifies we are to leave the door handles, which are original to the house. Those handles are classic; we gladly left them alone. As I was looking at them today a thought hit me and I started getting ridiculously emotional.
These door handles are witnesses to the plight of women. This house, built so long ago, was cared for by a woman who did not have the right to vote, who – should her husband pass away – never would inherit her home. Society told her how to dress and act in public. She did not have a voice in the affairs of household finances, nor was she seen as an equal to men.
How many times did she touch these door handles as she moved from room to room? What did these handles encounter in their history? As the home’s original mistress moved on and another family moved in, there would be many changes to come. The Roaring ’20s would bring women the right to vote and, as the 1960s passed by, women started finding their voices and the women’s-liberation movement gained momentum. Skip ahead to the 1980s, when more women started entering the workforce. Blink once, twice, and now we’re in 2016 – a time where a woman is running for president and there are female executives, pilots and soldiers.
Now, when the handles of this house are turned, its doors will open to a place for girls to stand tall and be proud – a place to use their grace and their grit to change the world for the better. These door handles have seen 135 years in the liberation of women. They have witnessed cumbersome dresses with bustles giving way to skirts, then pants and shorts. They have seen quiet daughters blossom into curious young ladies who are determined to ask questions and find answers. Today, as the key turns and the door is opened for perhaps the millionth time, they observe a business run by women to benefit and inspire other females.
This is classic. This is history. We still have a long path to travel in regard to women’s empowerment, but it is pretty cool being in a place that has experienced such growth of the female spirit. It’s also kind of ironic that these door handles open up more than just doors to a room; they access portals to the past and, now, to a very bright future.