Sometimes I look in the mirror and see lines and wrinkles. Sometimes I’m out in the world, as today at the cell phone store, and encounter products that I can’t even decipher. Sometimes the music my kids listen to makes me cringe for its sugar sweetness and “call me” lyrics. Sometimes I fret about the world my daughter is entering – a world with less access to birth control and with politicians breathing down women’s backs – not to mention other bodily parts.

But then…

There is Missy Franklin – winning and smiling and being thankful to her parents, her coaches, her teammates – 17-year’s old and already so at home in the world, such a force.

And there are Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, members of the Russian band Pussy Riot, on trial for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” bucking not only Putin but a country that “remain distinctly uncomfortable with activist women.”

And there are some amazing young women who I’ve had the privilege to watch grow up (even from a distance, they’ve made it look fun) who are going off to college this year – Sophie and Grace and Sage …. each a seed of hope; each a wellspring of creativity and resiliency.

I’m reading The Red Tent  – a book too long on my to-read list – and am thinking of ways to celebrate my daughter coming of age, to celebrate myself coming of age, to celebrate my mother and my grandmother – each a force of beauty, each still finding her way in the world. “I don’t want to stop growing,” Bella said to me the other night. She was referring to her height – she’s enjoyed all of the comments she’s gotten over the summer about “really sprouting up” and people oohing and ahhing over her stature, which is worthy of a beach volleyball player.

“Don’t worry,” I told her, “you’ll never stop growing. Maybe not the way you’re imagining – but you won’t ever stop.”

I’m told this is a clothing ad and it has some moments to raise a feminist’s eyebrows (I do kind of wish she’d slap that man at the bar, for instance…) – but it still knocks my socks off.  For any woman at any stage who needs to gather some courage: