The Story of My Red Pants
Where are the places and memories that have brought you great wounds and great suffering and how can you turn them into communion, what Jean Vanier calls, ‘the to and fro movement of love’?
These are a pair of red pants that I received as one of the perks of being a vice principal. Believe me, there were not alot of them. John Oliver was the last school that I worked at before I stepped down from administration.
This is me at University Hill High School in my first year as a VP. I am already beyond overwhelmed, stressed, working long hours, feeling under threat by staff and well past my threshold of too much. I found myself in a hostile environment where a group of men sought to undermine my work at every turn. It was a very painful lesson for someone who worked hard at being liked and who was terrified that somebody would discover that I was both incompetent and unlikable.
This is a picture of my nails that were done by students at John Oliver. Every couple of months on a Friday I would bring cookies and some of the girls would come and do my nails and we would hang out and chat. It was a warm memory in an otherwise very difficult experience. This is the only photo I posted of my time at JO.
This picture was taken at the after grad set up in my final year as a VP. I was exhausted and I wanted to get a chance at riding a bull. This picture comes to me from my nephew who is now staring at me across from my kitchen table. We have had a meal together and he is asking me about this photo. A former JO grad took this photo and showed him. I tell him the context and I tell him that it’s a very painful picture for me.
Why Zia Emi? Why the red pants?
I say, “They’re the school pants, why not?”
They’re red? And he pauses because he is maybe trying to spare my feelings.
I see that he cannot understand why I would choose such a horrendous colour and such unflattering attire. I hadn’t worn my red pants in years. They were folded in my closet, hidden. Not because they were ugly but because they were a memory of what I saw as failure. They have sat in my drawer for years.
It wasn’t until I joined CrossFit and needed a baggy pair of pants to go over my shorts that I pulled them out. They are warm, loose, and very convenient.
This is me at a competition. This is a picture of incredible joy because what I see is me doing something that terrified me, that I thought I couldn’t possibly do. It is a photo that shows courage, strength and power because I chose to show up and meet my fear.
And to my delight with my lovely friend we actually hit the podium. It was an incredibly feeling.
These red pants no longer belong to that woman who was scared and didn’t belong. These red pants now sit inside a community that honours me and sees more than my pants. They see my strength, my silly and my courage.
This is the photo that I should put on all my corporate and business material, because it shows you who I really am.
What are your red pants? What is the story that needs a new message a new connection? Where are the places and memories that have brought you great wounds and great suffering and how can you turn them into communion what Jean Vanier calls, ‘the to and fro movement of love’?
I wish for you a pair of bright red pants where you are seen and where you are valued for who you are.