She Sailed Under the Radar… and She Can Help You Too

I’m actually a little surprised I’m not trembling right now.
Playing a high-stakes game with the Royal French Navy wasn’t exactly one of my aspirations. Neither was going to sea at all! I was perfectly content being the village herb woman.
But when your passion and giftings call you into new waters… you go.
The bags hefted over my shoulder are heavy and the gangway moves a bit underfoot. My sea legs are going to have to get here soon. I’ll need them in order to blend in... Strange, the way I can actually SEE my legs now. They’re no longer draped in a long skirt, completely hidden from view. These ‘pants’ are incredibly freeing!
My partner glances over his shoulder at me. There’s a sparkle in his eye and I know he’s enjoying our little secret. How we’ll ever be able to play our chosen parts I don’t know.

How can we act like boss/subordinate when we’re actually the reverse of that and also lovers?

We’ll manage, I suppose… After all, we’ve done well in taking on unusual roles before. Not many men would stoop to allowing a woman to teach them. And not many self-taught women would have the nerve to rise to the occasion.
Yet, here we are… My pupil playing the leader and I, his assistant, thanks to the ``No Women Allowed” rule of the French Navy!
Will I be able to handle the work involved?
The secrecy of my sex?
The crudeness of the crew?
The wild ways of the sea?

How can a woman excel in a man’s role?

My entire culture and societal upbringing bombards my mind with doubts and questions. “There’s no way I can manage this,” I think. “I should turn back now!”
But as my feet leave the gangway and arrive on board the Etoile, the cold, salty wind acts as a slap in the face and dashes my doubts to the rocks below.
All of a sudden, I recognize the answer to all of my fears.

I will excel because of who I am.

Herbal healer.
Skilled worker.
Master botanist.
Eager learner.
Experienced teacher...
If disaster strikes and I must continue to explore without him; I will rise to that occasion as well and lead other men as I did him.
If the unthinkable happens and I am discovered, abused, even raped; I will rise above that tragedy and continue my journey.
If no one knows my name or remembers my contributions, it won’t matter; I will learn because the earth is calling me and I must respond.
My mind wants to understand what it can not. Time restricts its ability to know what lies ahead.
But my heart… in my heart I know the answers.
I will excel because of who I am.
And so much more.
But most of all, I will excel because this woman is Freedom.
Freedom from so many things that seek to keep me down and hold me back.
Yes. I, Jeanne Baret, am Freedom.
I am Elira Woman.
Jeanne Baret
(This writing is dedicated to the memory of Jeanne Baret, the namesake for Elira Apparel’s Baret pant.)