MEGAN EATON GRISWOLD Author of The Book of Help, acupuncturist, wilderness first responder, shiatsu practitioner, designer, and yoga instructor who lives in a yurt in Wyoming.
Downtown: Name three women that inspire you, and why.
Megan Eaton Griswold: Famous or not-famous? Here’s 3 of one and 2 of the other.
My two best girlfriends inspire me everyday. My friend Michelle Escudero makes a tremendous difference in her community. She just ran (and won) her first election. She’s the person her community turns to make innovative things happen, in the arts, science, community building and education. She is also the person who friends rely on to plan a great gathering, the best trips, and things that facilitate a bulk food order to get organic groceries to a tiny town. Not to mention, she makes all the best (serious) wedding cakes for her friends. She could run her own country.
And my friend Pam DeVore, Coco, who in the face of going blind, is president of Toastmasters, watercolors, and runs an acupuncture practice and edits like a wiz kid on the side.
My friend Lavinia Chong, a stellar surgeon, who has all the talent of the best with zero ego.
RBG all the way, baby. She is my superhero. I want a whole outfit of RBG swag head-to-toe.
Tracy Anderson: she stays true to her mission of helping women be their best selves and takes that mission seriously, far beyond the stunning pictures of her or any idealized versions of our bodies. There’s so much more to what she’s up to.
DT: What has been the secret of your success?
MG: Hmmm. My Dad likes to repeat that old phrase a lot lately, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” I think that’s true. I also think a large part of that work is to figure yourself out well enough to know where your best intelligence is, and how and where to apply it. When you are in a vein you think you should be in, that’s not the same feeling as knowing in your gut that you are in your life’s work. That’s the best feeling, that feeling of having your professional life align so pleasantly with your personal sense of self.
DT: If you were going to pass on one piece of advice to a young woman looking for success, what would it be?
MG: See yourself as your own prince charming — or in this case Princess Charming. Your own white knight. Be your own happily ever after. The best things in my life happened when I dropped the attachment to fairy tale “endings” and rolled up my sleeves and got to work on what I wanted most, craved most, would be nourished by most. And part of that is putting time into one’s own gifts, one’s own light. And shining it does not make you self-involved. You will become a beacon, a lantern if you will, for others.
DT: In the fight for women’s equality what area do you think needs the most attention?
MG: I remember when I was learning to lead rock climb (placing protection and gear to ascend a rock face) I did it with an all women’s group. Before and after that, I climbed a lot with men. And I was struck by — as a group of women — how careful, and double-checking we were of our safety decisions. The anchors we built could have supported a mac truck. I was struck by how much we second guess ourselves, when our work was quite obviously an A+ job. In contrast, when climbing with men with a similar level of experience, I noticed they were generally far more confident with less. There’s a lesson there. Lower the bar for yourself sometimes in what you think “isn’t quite ready.” It likely is ready far earlier than you think. So to fight for what’s fair, get in there gals, get climbin’ — earlier than you think you are ready for.
DT: What are you most proud of in your career?
MG: I’m most proud and excited to have made a book that contributes to something crucial: strengthening the larger collective of women’s voices. It’s all hands on deck, to help each other in whatever way we can: to keep pushing ourselves out of the wings and onto the main stage. The world is a better place politically, socially, familial-y, every time a woman steps into the ring, the spotlight, the conversation. We are all the better for every (and not necessarily easy) time we push ourselves a little harder, speak up more, and stand firmly for what we want — which in return encourages others to both stand up a little more forcefully and offer a hand to another woman. So I guess I could say, I’m proud of the way I’m committed to stepping into the ring.
I’m also so proud of getting a piece of art into the world. Navigating well enough to get something out of my head and into the collective.