For Aleisha Christensen, there is nothing more rewarding than being a stay at home mom to her two boys, a five-year-old named Kai and an almost 3-year-old named Jess. But she is also driven—driven to explore, to create, and to change the world around her in positive, generative ways. She does this with her boys, as a dedicated mom, educator, and advocate for her children, both of whom have autism. But she also does this for Big Ocean Women as a member of the communication team, using words and experiences to advocate for the change she wants to see in the world.
Aleisha grew up in South Jordan, Utah and has been married to her husband for ten years. One of their favorite things to do together is to visit family in southern Utah, hiking, and exploring the red rock, helping with the large garden, getting outside and getting dirty. She also loves to read—she loves self help and personal development books, and is drawn to those texts that are spiritual in nature and talk about creating change and becoming the person we want to be (although she did admit to an affection for fun Regency romances as well). One of her favorite books is called Understood Betsy, a 1916 novel by Dorothy Fisher about a nine-year-old orphan who goes to live with family. The book focuses on building strong family bonds through shared experiences and work, creating confident children with the ability to learn important life skills and be an important and contributing part of a family. And these qualities are what Aleisha is trying to envision for her own family.
Aleisha also loves art and loves to create—she is drawn to mixed media and art journaling, which is one of the things that first drew her to writing—the ability to take the words running through her head, explore them on paper, and use them to discuss her ideas and thoughts with others. She has always enjoyed journaling and writing narratives, and loves exploring ways to use those skills to create social change. She loves her community, and being able to find connections with other people. Aleisha has been the driving force behind several Big Ocean activities this year, including a get together to attend the Certain Women art exhibit. She believes in sharing your talents and your voice with others, and encourages others to be brave in sharing as well.
Aleisha joined Big Ocean in September, after a chance meeting at the United Nations meetings in Salt Lake City. You can read about her experience here. What drew her to Big Ocean Women were the attitudes of the members surrounding family and balance. Big Ocean Women don’t just talk about family, and about making family integral to their lives, they live it. They attend UN meetings with babies on their hips, they push strollers through the state capitol to attend meetings and advocate for change. They teach their children while advocating for others—they talk and serve and live the principles of the maternal economy—we are stronger together than apart, and stronger with our families than we are without them. She explained:
“Erica Komisar, one of Big Ocean Women’s partners, says motherhood and family come first before advocacy. I believe this, and that is another reason why I love working with Big Ocean Women. They make it so easy to balance my volunteer work and my family. I feel like I have permission to have my children be involved in this advocacy work with me–the women of Big Ocean Women are not trying to hide that part of their life, but working within the family. They also focus on small change. We are able to be one drop of change instead of an entire wave all by ourselves—we have family responsibilities and caretaking that comes first. We need to feel free to make our families an integral part of our advocacy work—motherhood and the maternal economy and an awareness that our families are strengths, not weaknesses.”
Aleisha went on to explain how much she loved Big Ocean’s vision of the maternal economy.
“Big Ocean Women defines the maternal economy as a social network based on attachment, giving, and nurturing. They emphasize lending of skills, time, talents, love and respect anchored in a system of mutual partnership. Aleisha was inspired by the idea of a nurturing network of women. She said, “I created my own maternal economy in my community called Women Need Women. I, and many others, have found rich friendships, new skills, safety and support through our own social protection system.”