Every girl and every woman, has the potential to make this world a better place, and that potential lies in the act of thinking higher thoughts and feeling deeper things. When women and girls, everywhere, begin to see themselves as more than inanimate objects; but as beautiful beings capable of deep feelings and high thoughts, this has the capacity to create change all around. The kind of change that is for the better.”
~ C. JoyBell C.
International Women’s Day
Today is International Women’s Day. What does that mean to me? How does that reflect on my life and the people in it? I am a woman, yes there’s that, but how does that define me? And what other women do I look to for advice, solace, or inspiration? What is it that makes being a woman special and worth celebrating?
Women are strong beings. Traditionally our tears have been construed as a weakness, but in reality, I think they are a strength. We feel our pain, sorrow, joys, and allow them to touch us, carve us up, and gut us. And then we suck it up and move on to the next challenge.
My mother had two children before her husband became ill with cancer and died. She was left with a 5-year-old, a 2-year-old, a high school education, and little direction for where to go from there. She was of the generation who were supposed to go to school, find a man, get married, and raise his family while she stayed home to tend to domestic duties. When her husband died, she had to toss those ideals out the window, since no one was there to pick up the pieces and take care of her. Not only take care of her, but raise two children on top of that.
So what did she do? She took a year to grieve. She cried, found solace in her sister’s embrace overseas for several months, and started to make a plan. As her strength returned, a path emerged. She enrolled in university and went on to work in the insurance business for several decades. By the time she retired, she was a manager with many people reporting to her. She also had a new husband, two daughters who had made their way into the world, and three step-children who had done likewise. She had power and it all came from her.
Find Your Power
We all have power though. I always admired my mother for being a strong woman and raising two children with little support. That left me in good stead when my own husband became ill with cancer and died. I too had two young children to raise on my own and no one to do the job for me. Grief threatened to own me, but I let the tears fall and wash my hurting soul. And despite my doubt that life would go on, I eventually found a path of my own.
That path is in all of us. We all have challenges to overcome, but also gifts to offer along the way. Sometimes it is born from the searing throes of desperation. I know women who have suffered through years of abuse, of emotional neglect, and through way too much confusion and doubt. The women whom I admire the most though are the ones who have taken the time to feel that sorrow, to analyze those woes, and to make the choice to pick a better path. Whether the choice was for their children, or strictly for themselves, the choosing is often one of the hardest decisions they must face in their lives. But we deserve it.
I talk to these strong women and become inspired. They don’t always pick traditional jobs; my sister works for a home improvement store, a domain often thought of as a male enclave. Another strong woman I know works in the landscaping industry and raises her voice as an intelligent individual fighting for what’s right for the environment and for the clients she serves. A beautiful woman who always served to raise me up on dark days and declare her awe in me, was a powerhouse in the banking industry and did the work of several individuals before she retired. And the principal at my children’s school not only has the respect of her teachers, staff and parents at the school, but she also volunteers heavily in the community and pushes all women to dream bigger for themselves and our world.
If I were to look further, there would be so many other reasons to be proud of the women who surround me. I know single parents who work more than one job to put food on their table. I applaud women who found the strength to leave relationships which no longer served them or their families. I know artists who stand firm in their creativity and the worth that it brings to the world. I admire women for not bending to society’s mores and having children, just because that’s what people expect of them. And I feel the struggle of women who do everything in their power to make the world a better place for their children, their society, their country, and the world, whether with a partner at their side or going it solo.
All Women. All Powerful…
All women. All powerful, not despite, but because of the cracks that mold us. Our flaws make us unique. Our voices make us stronger. Our spirit paves the way for the girls who follow us. We are the role models for a generation of women who can embrace male-dominated industries without fear. Who might raise families of their own some day, or not, depending upon their dreams. We need to own our voices and roles, so that our girls have no fear of doing likewise. We have always been strong. Today, we need to let the world hear us say it for ourselves and everyone around us.
I am a woman. I have flaws, weaknesses, and doubts, but I also have the strength to make my way in the world. My sisters bear me up. My mothers share the load when I break. I turn to you when I need the strength to take on more and do it gladly knowing others are there along my path. I add my voice to our collective. We are women. Strong…