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I’m going to say “Happy Wednesday,” but honestly, it’s been a hard few days for me. The hashtag #Metoo has triggered a few painful memories for me, as I’m sure it has for so many of my strong and amazing female friends. The hardest thing of all, I think, is coping with the fact that nearly all of my female friends posted the hashtag and that even the ones who didn't have still also experienced some form of sexual harassment and/or assault.

I believe that people can grow and that people can change due to that growth. Change is the only constant we have during our time on earth, but growth is hard. It requires people to look inward at themselves and will cause people to see some things they don’t like. Growth is difficult, confusing, and usually involves a lot of tears. But, to quote a very wise woman I know, those tears are your soul washing away the dirt.

I’ve cried more sad tears than usual the past few days because I felt myself feeling shame and embarrassment again. I cry happy tears a lot because I really think life is beautiful, but the sad tears catch me off guard and knock the wind out of me. I felt my stomach start to churn, and I felt nausea kick in. But most of that shame is shame that was put on me by others - or by me due to the fear of what others might think. But I’m not ashamed anymore. And I haven’t been for awhile. So much of what happens to us is due to other people's perspectives of the world (and a lot of the time those perspectives do more harm than good). So I coped as I usually do when I find myself needing an outlet: I listened to my favorite soothing music, I went to musical improv practice with Garage Band, I played with my puppy Archy, I went to the gym, and I found myself watching “Moana.”

“Moana” gets better each time I watch it. It sounds silly, but hear me out. I started doing Young Storytellers a few weeks ago where I get to act as a one-on-one mentor to an amazing young girl. Over the course of our time together, she will write her own five page story that will get acted out at a performance at the end of the session. Our first day in the group, I told everyone my favorite age-appropriate movie was currently “Moana.” I was the only person in the room (including the kids) who actually picked a children’s movie. But one of my fellow mentors and I got into a pretty great conversation about it later since she had seen it and loved it, too.

The most beautiful thing about “Moana” is that she is a young girl who goes on a heroine’s journey full of obstacles - both internal and external. Torn between staying behind on her island and taking to the sea, the ocean chooses her to save her people (and the world) by returning Te Fiti’s heart to its rightful spot. Moana takes to sea, and while on her adventure to restore Te Fiti's heart, Moana also finds herself.

Te Fiti was once a beautiful light for the world until others who wanted her light tried to steal it from her, instead of letting her share it with the world as she chose. Once her heart was stolen, Te Fiti turned into a dark and dangerous monster, lashing out at anyone who got close.

The most beautiful scene of the film is when Moana returns Te Fiti’s heart to her. Moana had undergone her own transformation, discovering who she was meant to be in the world, and once she did that, she recognized that what Te Fiti needed was to remember who she was, as well. It was not only Moana’s innate femininity but also her empathy and recognition of Te Fiti’s pain and confusion that brought Te Fiti back to life.

It’s amazing how quickly some things can trigger past pain and hurt. But we are not what happens to us. We are our empathy, our strength, and our inner-beauty that helps us overcome the painful things that happen to us. But the thing that can heal us the most is to recognize the beauty and the good in another person who is hurting and to help that person. Love begets love. Growth is difficult, but it starts with soul-searching, empathy, and self-love.

To all my beautiful female friends who have experienced anything they wish they hadn’t had to experience at the hands of someone else's faults, I know who you are. I see your beauty and your strength, and I won’t ever let you forget the amazing things that make you who you are. I love you.

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