International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day… A day to celebrate women and their contributions to the world. When I think about International Women’s Day, I think of the women who influenced my life – regardless of their level of fame (or infamy) or world-wide contribution. Here are a few of the women I believe heavily influenced who I was, who I am, and who I will be.

Anna with Me (the gypsy in the back) and my little sister (a bandit) and cousin
Marjorie and Me

The Grandmothers… They are Anna and Marjorie. Neither are alive today, but they both made a lasting influence on me while they were here. Both encouraged education, independence, and family. Neither tolerated complacency. And with all they had in common as grandmothers, as women they brought their unique self to the table. Marjorie was feminine and loved to sing and garden, while Anna was a tomboy (even as an adult) who loved to bake, play dominoes, and took no guff off anyone. While Marjorie taught me the power of a smile, Anna taught me silence equates to condoning.

Mum and Me

My mum… She is one of those people who other people gravitate around because she radiates this warm, loving, comfort. Complete strangers have literally asked her for a hug, while it takes her a matter of minutes before she knows the life story of everyone she comes in contact with. She doesn’t have to say a word, they simply share. I’ve seen shoulders ease and a sense of contentment settle upon people. For my little sister and I, she is our bedrock.

George Sand… I’m not sure when I first learned about George Sand (aka Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin), but I know that when I did – I knew I wanted to be her when I grew up. She lived life on her own terms – an independent writer in a time where a noble woman was meant to only marry, look pretty, and have plenty of children. She was smart, independent, wore men’s clothes (because they were more comfortable than all those skirts), cussed up a storm, and loved (and was loved) by brilliant men. While I’m not a fan of her writing (think romance novels from the 1800s) nor would I have made some of the decisions she made, I loved that she lived the life she wanted to live instead of living the life everyone else expected her to live.

Kate Chopin… Unlike George Sand, Kate Chopin is not someone I admire because of her life. Rather, I admire her because of her work. Well, one piece of work she wrote that literally changed my life forever… The Awakening. I first read this book when I was 12 or 13, and it created the weird, wonderful epiphany deep within me: it’s my life. The Awakening tells the profoundly sad story of a women who had two choices – to live the life she wanted or to live the life that society expected of her. She chose the later, and the consequences were profound. It is a story that is rich, textured, and sad. It is a story I’ve held up as my Geiger Counter for regrets.

What about you? What women have played a strong role in your life? What women do you appreciate for their role(s) in your life?

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