Raise Up Extraordinary Women: Rosa del Duca

Rosa del Duca and her family

For the month of December, I’ll be shining light each day on some extraordinary women I know. They represent various fields and backgrounds, and I admire each for their passion and strength. These are bold, beautiful, brave women — artists, businesswomen, union organizers, nurses, writers, teachers, movie makers, designers, reporters, and all-around badasses.

Rosa del Duca is a writer, journalist, and musician. She grew up a tomboy in rural Montana, where she joined the Army National Guard at seventeen. During her six-year contract, she became not only a conscientious objector, but a feminist and unlikely rebel. That tumultuous time is the focus of her memoir, Breaking Cadence: One Woman’s War Against the War, from Ooligan Press, and her companion podcast, Breaking Cadence: Insights From a Modern-Day Conscientious Objector. Rosa earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California. Her shorter creative work has been published in CALYX, River Teeth, Cutbank, Grain, the Los Angeles Review, and other literary magazines. When she’s not writing creatively, Rosa is writing cold hard facts as a journalist, leading peer writers’ groups, or playing music.

1. What did you want to be “when you grew up?” From a very young age, I wanted to be a writer. I remember making my first book at seven years old. My 2nd-grade class wrote stories and drew pictures to go along. My book had three chapters about a rabbit and an elf who were best friends. I was so proud of that thing. It was the beginning of a hobby that turned into a serious pursuit as an adult.

2. What makes you the most proud of yourself? This may sound strange, but at the moment, I’m proud of myself for putting personal pursuits like writing and making music and landing a better journalism gig on the back burner to be there for my kids. I have two toddlers who can never get enough of Mommy and I am trying my damndest to fill their cups with love and confidence and growth every day. They have a lot to teach me about patience and being in the moment and celebrating the little things. Chilling out enough to really enjoy them instead of “passing the time” or obsessing about how I should be doing other things is incredibly rewarding (when I can pull it off.)

Rosa del Duca

3. What darkness have you overcome? How did you find strength? When I was 17 years old I made what I consider the biggest mistake of my life. I signed a six-year contract with the Army National Guard, largely to pay for college. Then 9/11 happened. I understood the mission in Afghanistan. But as the illegal and unjust war in Iraq unfolded, I grew increasingly disturbed about my role in uniform. Eventually, I found out there was a term for what I had become: conscientious objector. And there was a term for what I was doing to myself because I was so torn up: self-mutilation. I found strength in action. Once I finally decided to apply for a conscientious objector discharge, despite such discharges being rare, I started to feel better, even though I was treated worse. The Army and the general public might see me as a mercenary scumbag, but at least I wouldn’t have blood on my hands. As I waged my little battle to try to get out of the military, I found comfort in playing music, reading, and a few good friends, one of whom became my husband.

4. Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.? If I’m not at home attending to the near-disastrous antics of my 4-year-old and 2-year-old, I’m playing guitar and singing at a farmer’s market somewhere in the Bay Area.

5. What makes you smile the most? My toddlers excel at cute and funny moments. Just thinking about them triggers a big smile. Close seconds are good music, playing in the ocean, and chocolate.

Bonus: What advice would you give your younger self? I have thought about this one a lot. I would tell my younger self she doesn’t need to sell her soul to pay for college at a very affordable school. Loans can be paid off. Moral injury from participating in a dirty war can last a lifetime. And I would tell her to be nicer to herself.

Today’s #OneGoodThing is sharing this extraordinary woman and my former colleague, Rosa del Duca, with all of you! We are stronger together, so let’s shine a light on our extraordinary sisters! If you’d like to participate or nominate a woman to participate, please send me a note or leave a comment! What was your #OneGoodThing today? Please share in the comments! Kindness is Everything.

Day 349 of 365. And Day 1,445 in a row (here’s the first 366, & the following 365, & the third year of 365 good things)!

1 year ago today: Chicken waffle sandwiches & beignets

2 years ago today: Kick ass Chanukah place cards

3 years ago today: A mesmerizing snapshot

5 years ago today: Easy Peppermint Bark Fudge

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