Angela Silva told me how much she loves a good story, and although she is soft spoken, and talks about herself with great reluctance, it was immediately clear that she has some wonderful stories to share; stories that can inspire and motivate others to focus on what is going on in the world around them with the desire to change and improve their communities.
Originally from upstate New York, Angela went to high school in Wisconsin, and now lives in Spanish Fork, Utah with her husband and 8 boys, ranging in age from 2-22. She told me this is her way of balancing her world after coming from a family of 6 girls and one boy. Her parents also raised 2 of her cousins, adopted two foster daughters, and are working toward custody of one of those girls’ baby. When I asked her to tell me how she tries to impact her community she replied with humor that with 8 crazy, active, energetic, curious boys, it is sometimes more of an effort to limit the impact her family has on the world.
Angela went on to say that although she doesn’t consider her impact too amazing in the day to day, she has come to realize that, “whenever you serve those around you, you are really the one who is benefited. For example, I have a dear friend who died last year. I met her when I was 24, and she was 74. I had been asked by a leader at my church to give this elderly lady a ride to a meeting. Little did I know that Rena would become a mentor, friend, and grandmother to my kids. She taught me so much about plants, mothering, lifelong learning, and compassion and love. I was supposed to be serving her, but she really was the one serving me.”
Although Angela is modest about the ways she influences her community, as she went on to talk about the ways she tries to serve others, I was immediately inspired by the breadth of ways she attempts to have an impact on the world around her. She said, “I am usually involved in one volunteer position or another. I help out in my church, my neighborhood, my kids’ schools, when they have been in school, and in our homeschool group. Signing up to drive kids for sports teams, etc. There are so many small and quiet ways that we can make a difference. My mother was and is always doing good. It was a family thing, so I suppose I just can’t help serving. I grew up caroling to elderly neighbors at Christmas, visiting rest homes on Halloween, having my mother stop to help strangers on the street, stopping what we were doing when my mother announced that she had signed us up to do Meals on Wheels in an hour, and doing all kinds of other things in the community. It’s what we did, so I suppose that is what makes me feel like I am mothering well. When I teach my kids how to serve, and that it isn’t always convenient, I feel like I am raising them to be good men.”
It was during a teen homeschool group that she met Carolina Allen and first became aware of Big Ocean Women. “I met Carolina in our homeschool group briefly, then I saw her at the World Congress of Families. After going to a few cottage meetings, and hearing about her experiences, I was intrigued. The philosophy of Maternal Feminism, when I heard about it, felt like I had come home. I had always felt that women were strong, capable, divine, and powerful, but I had some cognitive dissonance with what I felt in my heart about women and the voices of feminists around the world. Big Ocean’s tenets and culture articulated exactly what feminism meant to me.”
Angela told me that she majored in philosophy, because she loves ideas, and had intended to go to law school. “I never intended to be a stay at home mom, but sometimes we realize our mission after our choices land us in a specific place.” And although she does devote most of her time to her family, she is still interested in ideas that impact her neighborhood and community. “I have found over the last 6 or so years that in politics, every voice matters. I am not too involved, because I have to be mindful of my first duty to my family, but each year during the legislative session there is usually an issue that I can add my voice to. Writing to legislators and letting friends and family know how I feel and why is valuable. I really like going to committee meetings and hearing the different viewpoints, because it helps me to understand others, and articulate the whys behind my opinions. I love seeing the political process in action.”
Angela is vocal about the importance of her family, about spending time watching her children grow, and about getting to know people, and learning from others. She said, “I am passionate about parental rights, and the need for us to give women the choice to be mothers and to feel like that is an honorable choice, not a choice to settle.”
“Big Ocean has given me a freedom and peace that I have been looking for over the last 25 years. Maternal Feminism reminds me of truths that my heart has always known. That has helped me to stop trying to prove my worth, and recognize that I am inherently worthy and powerful. When you don’t have to prove yourself, you can love people more freely. We all are ultimately here to learn how to love each other. I haven’t figured it all out, but Big Ocean helps me on that journey.”
Angela is incredibly focused on strengthening her relationships with those around her—she loves to listen to others share about their lives and often finds herself in the position of listening, even to complete strangers talk about their lives. “I could be standing in line at a fair ticket booth, and the stranger in the booth will tell me all about their kids’ struggles, their illnesses, job loss, or any number of details about their lives. I’m not sure why, because I don’t usually have the wisdom to help, but I can listen. I think I just am so interested in other people, that it shows.”
Angela also told me that one of the things that helps her serve those around her is her faith. “My faith helps me to get up each day and try to do a little better. No mother is perfect–at least I don’t know any. We all have our weaknesses and blind spots, but my faith gives me perspective. It helps me to see that I am in this for the long haul and tomorrow is a new day. I have learned that when I serve others, I feel happier.”
In Big Ocean Angela has found a sisterhood in the ideas that she holds dear; motherhood, serving others, and loving others. “Maybe it’s because I have so many boys in my life, or maybe God just knows I have a need, but throughout my adult life, I have been lucky to have amazing women who help me along at the exact time I need them in my life. That has been the case with Big Ocean Women. My heart is so full of happiness when I am around women who are making a difference, who love family, have faith and value motherhood. Sometimes, I wonder why I have been so lucky to have met such amazing women who inspire me, and give me courage.”
One of Angela’s sons wrote this article for Young Voices of Big Ocean about Religious Freedom.
Written by ShelliRae Spotts