Women of Valor: Erin


Yesterday I shared a story from my friend, Ana. Today I want to share a story from another friend, Erin McManness. Let me start with a quick introduction.

Sketchbook portrait of Erin

Erin is fellow artist and illustrator. I met her while she was studying for her graduate degree, and I was getting my undergrad. Everyone I know who meets Erin talks about what an awesome person she is. How kind, friendly and willing to help. And she's an amazingly talented artist. I fell in love with her illustrations when she painting a stunning portrait series of inspiring women. They still inspire (and intimidate!) me today.

On top of that, Erin is a business woman. She started her own illustration company, Paper Raven Co., and now exceeds her full time salary. Which is another inspiring thing about Erin. When working full time and running my own business gets tough and discouraging, she's one of the people I think of to remind myself that it's possible.

Now that you have some context, I want to share Erin's story.

On Tuesday, November 8th, Election Day, I got up with a sense of excitement. I pulled on my white blouse that I had been saving, and put it on with the hopes and dreams of the Suffragettes echoing in my mind. I put on lipstick and I proudly voted for the First Woman President.

 

Tuesday night, I was devastated by a shocking loss - a huge blow to my dreams, to my hopes, and to my firmly-held belief that all people are equal, regardless of sex, skin color, religion or creed.

 

On Wednesday morning I laid in bed, trying to stall waking up in Trump's America for as long as I could. All day on Wednesday, I read the posts telling us to "Embrace Trump!!", to "get over it, you lost!!". I cried as I moved throughout my day, knowing that, even if you were the most qualified woman for the job, it still wasn't enough. I saw the posts about the hate crimes, and the ugly messages in spray paint take over my Facebook feed. On Wednesday night, I went to bed with a sense of hopelessness and grief.

 

On Thursday morning, I had an encounter I never would have expected, and it changed my grief to intense fear, and then anger. I took the dog out for a walk in my sweats. I looked like a mess, but I guess it didn't matter.

 

Two guys sitting in the bed of a pick-up truck with a Trump sticker on the back cat-called me as I walked by. After walking down the road a bit, I had to pick up my dog's waste, and they yelled,

 

"Yeaaaaa!! YEA bend over!!!" and started laughing.

 

I was shaking with anger and humiliation as I keep walking. When I circled back, the guys got up out of their pick-up and then yelled "Trump! Trump! Trump!" in my face as I approached and ducked down the stairs to go back to my apartment. My dog was going insane, barking, growling. She was protecting me. They laughed at us.

 

I remember the look on their faces; I was nothing to them. I was a joke. I was a high-five and a story at the bar later on.

 

As I ran up the stairs to my apartment on legs made of jello, I just thought, "Get inside, get inside." When I closed the dog behind me, I burst into tears. My adrenaline was spiked so high that my fingers were so shaky I couldn't unhook my dog's leash from her collar. I sat in my hallway for awhile, and cried quietly, afraid that they would come up to my apartment if they heard me. I couldn't function for the rest of the day; I couldn't go outside to run my errands. I had to wait for my boyfriend to get home from work before I could walk the dog again.

 

All I could think for the rest of the day was, what if my dog hadn't been there?

In case you missed my last post, I'm sharing these stories because they aren't the only ones I've heard. Not just from strangers, but from people I know and care for. I'm sharing this story because I want to ask you, my readers, to take action.

In yesterday's post I asked you to look for opportunities to be kind, and stand up against harassment. Today I want to add another call to action, inspired by Erin, who is using her business to give back to her community. 

This week, consider donating your time, talent or money to a cause you believe in. Look around you and see where your community is hurting, where they are lacking, and see what you can give back. Create a piece of art, volunteer at your local women's shelter or give to a charity you believe in. 

Portrait of Erin with ravens in background

I'll end again on a note about this portrait. When painting these portraits I thought I lot about how I wanted to portray these women. I wanted to show them as the women of strength they are, and one of the ways I felt I could do that was by showing them looking forward. So this Erin, looking forward to a brighter future.

2 comments

  • Addie

    I love these stories so much, thank you for sharing!

  • Harpreet

    Beautifully written so inspired by this story.

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