My grandmother doubled her landscaping goals once I showed up. After being neglected and abused by my mother, part of my healing came from deep within my grandma’s heart, but the other part came from hard physical labor. The fact that I was a girl was, as my grandma would have said, “immaterial.” There was lots of work for me to do, from moving and stacking entire cords of wood and dragging fallen branches deep into the woods to digging holes through packed earth and shoveling the driveway out from under a foot of snow. By the time I was 10, I was doing small engine repair on our old mower, which sometimes cut out as we chugged up a steep hill, leaving me to dig my feet and legs deep to keep it from rolling backwards over my bare feet.
This is the kind of thing I continue to thank my long dead Dad for- I grew up on a farm, and had to do precisely the same labor intensive chores as my brother. I’ve been lifting for years, and this past year at 65 I picked up, by myself, and moved, a sleeper couch into the garage. That took considerable strength as well as sorting out the problems of how to get it through the house door into the garage. I did. Alone. At 65. And I am also very much a girl. I just have found that endurance sports, dealing with extreme pain,(a broken back, a smashed pelvis etc) didn’t stop me from climbing stairs to find help, or making jokes about it in the ambulance. We have no idea how powerful we are. And men- the bad ones- want to keep it that way. Great article.