Friday 22 June 2012

My Name is Donna Thomson and I am an Expert...

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop for women in leadership positions who want to learn the ins and outs of writing Op-Eds for national newspapers.  Shari Graydon is the founder of "Informed Opinions", the organization that offers this service as part of its social enterprise.  Shari is a crackerjack journalist who believes that women should be heard more often in public discourse.  And she put her money where her mouth is by nudging women like me to write for newspaper Op-Eds in order to address the scarcity of women writing opinion pieces in print media, but also to champion our voices on any number of issues where we are expert, but largely silent in the public sphere.

The first exercise that we did was to introduce ourselves by saying "My name is....  I am an expert in.... Because ...... "  For women (including me), it is surprising difficult to get my tongue around calling myself an expert in anything.  But I had a go and finished the sentences like this: "My name is Donna Thomson and I am an expert in the ethics and economics of caregiving because I am the mother of a young man with severe disabilities, I am an author and have been a disability activist for 23 years."

"Wow", I thought, "that doesn't sound bad!"  I encourage anyone reading this to try this exercise - it is simple, but surprisingly empowering.

By the end of our workshop, I felt ready to write an Op-Ed piece on the cost of loneliness.  That's what I'll be doing this weekend - writing as I think of myself as an expert for the first time.

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