I *finally* laced up my sneakers a few mornings ago and went for a walk. I have been promising to get back into the walking habit this year, and while I have gone on 2 hikes so far for the year - the first since my ankle fracture, this is the first time I have followed through when the little voice in my head tells me to go for a walk. It was really enjoyable! And the icing on the cake - I saw one of my favourite secondary school teachers working out. (I need to look that good when I am her age - lifegoals!!) Seeing her also sparked the inspiration for this post! She reminded me of all of the inspirational women who I have had in my life to date.
Those who know me well, know that my mother passed away when I was around the age of 10. I don’t remember much about that time, except that it was a rough time for our family. Deaths are difficult to deal with, and I have always credited my sisters, dad, family and community in helping us navigate that time. Whether I was aware of it or not, I wanted guidance about how to navigate teenage life and become a woman. And now that I am looking back at that time, I realize how fortunate I was to have wonderful women in my life, who gave me that guidance and care. These were the women on whom I modelled many of my values, who inspired me to do more and who would not allow me to wallow in my excuses. They taught me to be kind through their words and their actions, and I learned some of my best lessons in their presence - and not just because some of them were my teachers. Some of my favourites included showing kindness and compassion without enabling my excuses, the importance of practical support as well as moral support, and math tastes better with chocolate cake (this was my all time favourite - and chocolate cake does cure a multitude of ills and build bridges in the most unlikely places). They were kind and supportive, and they kicked my butt when I needed it. They believed in me - even when I didn’t believe in myself. I really credit them for a great deal of the success I achieved in life - they were the women that I desperately needed - even though I didn’t realize it at the time.
These ladies probably have no idea how much they impacted me then and continue to impact me. They are the framework for my best memories of teen life, and I have the immense pleasure of seeing many of them up to today! Teachers, aunts, grandmothers, friend’s parents, neighbours - the women in my community helped me grow up at a time when I could just as easily have gone off track. And even as an adult I have been fortunate to have great women around me in work and in play - and I would not change any of them for the world.
So for this Women’s Day what is the most important lesson of all that I learned from these experiences? How interconnected we are in the community. How much more we can do together. How we can do our jobs and go about our daily lives while supporting and caring for those around us, and touch them in ways that we may not be aware of. How those young people around us are influenced by how we work and play, by what we say and do, to them and around them, and by the intention in our actions. I learned how to touch the lives of those around me, with a kind word or gesture (and often a slice of chocolate cake). I wrote a post about the impact this can have - you can read about it here. So much of the person I am today comes from the belief in myself I developed by being around these women. By seeing their example in working with creativity and compassion and raising great families, I believed that there was so much possible for me too. I learned my own way to be a woman. And it is a big part of why I do many of the things that I do. Why I am passionate about community service, why I volunteer. Why I believe so strongly in the power of community. Why I have overcome the fear or being visible so that young people around me can believe enough to start before they are ready - no matter where they are. Because they did it for me, and now as adults, we are those women to those who are around us.
I encourage us all to remember those women who have inspired and challenged us, and to celebrate them today. I also encourage us to remember that we are now the women who the young women in society see and experience, and to remember that how we speak to them will become their inner voice (paraphrased from Peggy O’Mara).
Thank you all for being a part of my life.
And I would love to hear your stories of the women that made an impact in your life over the years!
And as always - I send you big love from a small island.
PS I used the above photo for my last post on women’s day, but I use it again as I never tire of seeing the faces of the beautiful women in my life!!