Encouragement Gives Life!

Karen QuiƱones-Axalan
Posted June 7, 2018 from Philippines

After calculating the risks, and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to leave my adventurous world in the development work to become a fulltime mother. I felt it is the best decision to make given the circumstances we had as a family.

So just as I said goodbye to the dynamic, impactful, and exciting job, I said hello to the routinary yet demanding, mundane, albeit fulfilling, world of childcare and housework.

Being a stay-at-home mother can be rewarding, but along with it are the unspoken difficulty of being with the children for 24/7. It sometimes felt like being trapped inside a house while my adventure-seeking self seemed deprived of creating impact to society.

There were times I missed the community visits where I trekked mountain trails, crossed rivers, rode different types of motorcycles along life-threatening terrains. I also missed facilating trainings, conducting community meetings, participating in social issues and discussions, and so on. 

Now I am changing diapers, preparing meals, deciphering different types of cries,  cleaning after my boys' mess and so on.

These are not a big deal if I live in the place where we have a support system. But since we transferred to a new city with a dialect I am slow to learn, it can be downright isolating. 

The only adult conversation I can engage with is my husband.

Joining World Pulse changed it all. 

It was my friend Dyan Mabunga, a human rights activist and a gifted writer, who encouraged me to join. We communicate through social media. I asked her what topics do women write about, she said, " A spectrum of topics".

 I created an account in World Pulse on December last year. I began to explore the site. I was intimidated at first as I scanned the stories of women and their contributions to their communities. I thought this isn't a place for a nonworking mother like me. I pondered there isn't much I can contribute to this online community for I already left the development world.

While browsing on my newly set up profile, I  saw the "Become an Encourager" button. I was curious on what were the requirements, then I thought I can do this. I love to encourage people! 

As a World Pulse encourager, I set aside time to check my assignments. I was new to this so I would comment a sentence or two. I was unsure if I was doing it right.

When I wrote my first post on World Pulse about surviving a storm, I did not expect to receive such love and comfort from women all over the world. It brought so much joy and affirmation. 

When I got awarded as a Featured Storyteller, I received more support. I treasure every word. They all felt great. I realized my story matters after all. I received empathy, encouragement and empowerment. I felt validated, vindicated even.

Those encouragements empower me, from then on I took my role as an encourager seriously. I began to read more stories, more than the assignments given to me, because just as I felt LOVED when I was heard and accepted, I wanted my sisters, especially the new ones, to experience the same.    

The irony is that as I read our sisters' stories from all over the world, I am encouraged and inspired as well. ALWAYS!

Each story brings value to me. I learn something new about a place, a family, a culture, a community, an organization, and a sister herself. It makes me reflect on my personal journey, and how I can turn my personal traumas and wounds into life-giving ones, and how can I make use of my skills and resources to help my own community. It makes me admire what a woman can achieve to bring about societal change. Surely, there is nothing a World Pulse sister can't do.

And although my husband seems silent in this online space, he checks World Pulse regularly, read stories ahead of me, then tells me, 

" Dear, this post has only one (or two or few) encouragement/s. Encourage her." OR

"Dear, this post has no encouragement at all. Encourage her." I would then gladly oblige!

From being an encourager, I have form connections with other World Pulse sisters where we send regular updates in private messages and emails. I feel alive and doing something worthwhile in the small corners of my temporary home.

In my mundane stay-at-home-mom world, I found a purpose by being an online support to women. I may not be able to give much, but being an "online listener" or confidante can ease a burden of two. I am learning from their experiences, too. This season while I'm "stuck" at home I get to reflect on what advocacy or social change I want to pursue when my sons are independent enough, and when I can finally go back to serve communities.

In World Pulse I found a space to be relevant and create positive impact just by giving encouragement, sending love, and sharing stories.

Life is hard. Every woman -- single or married, menstruating or menopausal, stay-at-home or working mom, young or old, rich or poor, sick or healthy, schooled or uneducated --  face challenges. 

Sometimes, we have bad moments that at the end of the day, we feel beaten up. It is in those moments we need a tap on the shoulder, a hand to hold, a heart who loves, and words that say, 

" I see you", 

"You got this", 

"I believe in you",

"I am proud of you!",

"Congratulations!"

"I've been there, too".

"I'm so sorry you are going through this",

"You inspire me!"

" I'm praying for you!"

"Let me hug you!"

Or even, 

" I'm in tears...I don't know what to say."

These words give life. 

There are so many factors that could pull us down. But words of encouragement go a long way. It did to me.

Thank you to every World Pulse sister who took time to give me encouragements. It is because of you that I found confidence in telling more stories and, to be honest, pursue writing.

Allow me to give a shoutout to two of the regular encouragers I come across with, Olutusin and Jill (Jlanghus). I aspire to be a regular encourager like the two of you. Thank you for being great examples!

To the rest of the WP encouragers, I honor you, too. I know you have your own personal struggles to deal with, but you take time to encourage and become online cheerleaders!

To the rest of the WP sisters, you can be encouragers, too. We may not be physically helping one another, but we can bring support to one another through our empathy, encouragement and empowerment. We may not know how many women's live can change with our words, or how many projects will blossom through our support. Encouraging words give life!

World Pulse is a safe space where  digital technology strengthens and even immortalizes the women legacy.

Let us encourage women! Let us be, as Olutusin says, our sisters' keepers! 

This story was submitted in response to Transmitting Change.

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