On this International Day of Women, I wanted to highlight those that have made an undeniable impact on my life and my journey to become someone who the world takes note of. I believe that strength, though innately acquired, is truly learned from those who posses a revered position in someones’ life. This strength, then passed down through the generations, create women who are strong, not as an afterthought, but as a cornerstone of their character. I am fortunate enough to have this quality in large part due to the people described below.
The Women in my Family. Specifically my mom and grandmothers. Both of my grandmothers were/are two of the strongest women that I know. Both college educated (which was unusual for their generation) and steadfast matriarchs. They perfected the balance of business and family. They are phenomenal cooks and while as a child I saw them as many perceived women in those days, in the kitchen, with an apron on, providing meals for their entire families, as an adult I am able to understand them from a much deeper perspective. Who they were as young women, what they were passionate about, how the war affected their relationships with my grandfathers and how they were able to beautiful excel at all of this while also raising four and five children respectively. While as mothers and grandmothers they were nurturing and caring, as women they are determined and, at times, outspoken. Never once did I see either of them back down from an argument or hold back their opinion–event when it wasn’t “proper” for women to have such ideas. They both raised two women who, as my mom and aunts, have also grown into strong women and the reason that I am who I am. My mom, following in my grandma’s footsteps, though overwhelmingly caring and thoughtful, will let you know when you’re wrong. She holds truth and accountability in the highest regard and will fight tooth and nail for what she believes in. Her resilience and dedication throughout her life has taught me to figure out what I believe and then follow it without allowing anything or anyone to deter me. Even when she didn’t necessarily agree with my choices in life, she supported me 100%–and never said, “I told you so,” when it turned out that she actually was right. I have been fortunate enough to have constant generational examples of what it looks like to be a woman who is, not only strong and independent, but also compassionate and caring.
My Best Friends. In today’s world where women are everything–my best friends embody that exact sentiment. They are daughters, sisters, mothers, friends, athletes, business women, wives, confidants, bosses, ..I could go on for days. These women spend their time building each other up, encouraging each other, providing support and accountability for one another. They have seen each other through the hardest and happiest times with love and understanding. They have celebrated the births of babies and mourned the loss of loved ones. They do all of this together. Side-by-side though separated by millions of miles. These women have been my backbone for over ten years. We came together as eight strangers, with eight VERY different personalities and backgrounds and quickly developed a bond that has stood the test of time and distance. There were many times and situations that attempted to disrupt this bond, but rather than break it just got stronger. These women are Queens raising strong women and men of their own and putting a forever mark on this world letting it know that they are here.
My Very First Boss. This was a woman who simply put, knew how to have fun while being a leader. When she walked into a room, everyone took note–not only because she was gorgeous, but because she commanded the attention. Her personality shone through in everything she did and she didn’t apologize for leading in her own quirky style. She valued a work-life balance and made sure that our daily work lives were filled with reason and meaning. She saw in me, the qualities of someone who would “get things done” as she once told me and pushed me outside of my comfort zone to really try and determine what those “things” were. She encouraged me, uplifted me, promoted me and ultimately led me to realize exactly what my calling was. She went on to become a spiritual leader–encouraging and helping hundreds of people really understand what their life’s purpose is.
Oprah. I know this might be a common person to choose, but I truly believe that she is one of the strongest and most powerful women who is teaching girls how to kick ass in life. The thing I admire most about her that I try to emulate in my own life, is the fact that she lives her truth. She doesn’t conform, she doesn’t follow, she leads and lives her life exactly how she wants. In the day and age of constant comparison, especially for women, she works outside the box, blazing trails and changing lives. I appreciate the fact that, though many thought she “should,” she never married. She has a partner, they love each other, they share their lives together, but she didn’t believe that marriage would work for her, so she didn’t. She didn’t try to conform to the social norm or try and make her life fit into some predetermined mold. She knows in her heart what fulfills her life, what gives her meaning and purpose and she chases after them–making it her life mission to share that journey with all of us. She allows us to have a different perspective, to know that there is another way. Her philanthropic efforts speak to me as well. The causes that she supports fall directly in line with her truth as a way to enhance her already incredible journey. It’s not for the fame and recognition that she gives, she does it because she witnessed a difficult life first hand and made a determined effort to change her stars. She is now the person that helps other children who faced a similar situation face their reality and attempt to rewrite their future.
These women, most who I know personally and others who I hope to one day know, shaped me over the years to know who I am and what I was made to do. I will along with the rest of the world today, recite the age old mantra of women: “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”
Honoring all women today and always.