Chapter 1 / Chapter Notes

Powerfully soft. A love letter to the women in our lives.

Words: Courtney Chew 
Image: Kimberly Ronning and Valerie


This year's International Women's day seems to come at another incredibly pivotal moment in time. It’s 2023, 175 years from the first wave of the movement pushing for equal rights for women, and yet, there’s still so much work we have ahead of us. In business, women still earn on average 17% less than men for the same roles, the percentage of female senior executives across the workforce is less than a third of that of men, and female entrepreneurs receiving funding is less than 3% of all venture capital investments. There is also the rise of anti-abortion and anti-trans bills threatening that of female and female-identifying persons fundamental right to choose. Research and knowledge specifically around women’s health is incredibly under-financed, yet has the potential to impact in such great ways in preventing unnecessary deaths, unnecessary pain, and unlocking understanding and significance around the complexities of women’s bodies that inevitably create life. To this day, women around the world are still seen as undervalued compared to men in some cultures with basic needs like access to health, education, work opportunities, and even entertainment, being taken away or withheld from them, and in many parts of the world, immigrant women and women of colour are also seen as lesser in society as a whole.  

The world unfortunately was not designed to support women and those that identify as one. Even Mother Nature and the one planet that is Home to us all, is not treated with the respect and appreciation that it deserves from us.

In a world that is hard, it’s tough to not react in the same way. To survive. To persist. To grow. To live. To be seen. 

To be a woman is to be brave and tough. To be self-aware and aware of the world around them. To learn and keep learning. To stand on her own feet. To be ambitious and constantly adapt. To know when to push and fight. To be incredible multitaskers. But, to be a women is to also put others first. To make sacrifices with grace and generosity. To know when to let go. To listen and be vulnerable. To connect with herself. To be honest and kind. To find strength in humility and in the softness. A powerful softness that so often is forgotten. A softness that comes when we listen and get in touch with our feminine energies; an energy that can guide us to do what’s right and human. 

Through the softness is where understanding can happen. With understanding comes dialogue. With dialogue can come change and action; the potential to improve for the better, for all. 

As I look at the kind of woman and person I wish to be, for myself, for my peers, my community, my friends and family, my future kids, and my mighty female OCIN team, i'm inspired by all those before me and alongside me that are pushing for change, selflessly and unconditionally. I'm inspired by the youth who are relentlessly standing up for who they are, what they believe in and for respect for one another, advocating not just for themselves but for the future. I'm inspired by Mother Nature that takes care of us and provides us with beauty and a home, regardless of how we may treat her. I hope to be one that keeps fighting for myself, for others, and for hope for the next generation. And in that fight, I hope to remain soft yet powerful, through it all.

I wanted to share some notes that I wrote the last few IWD, as a reflection of where we’ve come, and an inspiration to keep going. And, whether you identify as a woman or not, we need you. We need each other. Change happens together. 

Celebrate and care for yourself. Celebrate and care for each other. Celebrate and care for all Women. 

To our community of powerfully soft and badass women - thank you for being you and for all that you do. 

To all the women in the world that have led and are leading. Who have been hurt and scared and have sacrificed, but overcome. Who have lived with strength and courage and unwavering bravery. Who have loved with vulnerability and compassion while balance resilience and independence. 

To all the women who show us that it means to truly give without any expectation, who birth ys, provide of bus, raise us to be strong, like them. Who fascinate and teach and inspire every day, even without an audience. 

For all the power-full women behind and beside us that have forged paths and paved the way “firsts but never last,” redefining boundaries, breaking ceilings, being who they are and showing the world what we can do. 

IWD is a celebration of all this and more. It’s a celebration of the female form and the incredible feminine energy. A showcase of what it means to uplift and empower with grace and generosity. It’s a recognition of our past and a driver for our future. For all women and those who identify as women, from all backgrounds, stories and ages, you are brilliant; we celebrate you today and everyday.

Don’t ever dim your light.


There's power in the feminine energy. A strength that comes with embracing the softness that we have. 

But the softness does not mean weak.

It takes more resilience, awareness, and commitment to be connected to this side of ourselves. 

It takes a deep-rooted trust. A surrendering and a letting go. A practice and a balance of empowering truth, wisdom, selflessness, and humility to get in touch with our most egoless self. 

The self that leads with openness in heart and mind. That loves all with gentleness. That sees the world through compassion, respect, and an appreciation for the unique being that we all are. 

It takes patience to receive and give through an awareness of understanding. Understanding that we each are made up of our own experiences, trauma, hardship, and stories that can actually connect us and inspire new perspectives, new learnings, new dialogue, and action for positive change rather than diving us. 

The feminine energy has the ability to impact in the most deep and profound ways that can change the word. But, it takes courage to tap into it, to learn from it, and to engage it.

“The Way is in the heart” — one that we all have. An offering that weaves us together, connected as one celestial body. One human race. 

There’s strength in the feminine energy — Mother and Nature are the most fascinating examples we have of what can come from softness. From complete love and sacrifice comes life and existence. 

So if life can be born from the softness, think what else we can create. 

Creating today for all our tomorrows. To think of the world we have, the one we will leave behind and how we each impact through the choices we take every day. To care, to be kind, to evolve as a unit. 

Peace. Love. Togetherness.

We just have to see it.

We just have to want it.

For us, for you, for me, for them, for all. 

Together we are better. Together we are limitless. 

“We’re all water from different rivers, that’s why it’s so easy to meet; we’re all water in this vast, vast ocean, someday we’ll evaporate together.” – Yoko Ono

“Tolerance and compassion are active, not passive states, born of the capacity to listen, to observe and to respect others.” – Indira Gandhi

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.” –Malala Yousafzai

"The extent to which we allow ourselves to be vulnerable is the extent to which we open ourselves to wonder." - Willow Defebaugh