2021 BLOG SERIES- WOMAN, MOTHER, WOMEN IN HISTORY

First off, I want to talk about Women’s History Month. How many women of influence can you think of from your own life? I feel fortunate to have more than I can count. Admittedly though, my mind went to those powerful women making a BIG splash publicly in the world both now and in history.

I love following Sara Blakely, for instance. So inspirational and oh yeah, just happens to be the youngest woman self-made billionaire and founder of Spanx. She’s pretty amazing! 

How about Serena Williams or Dawn Staley in sports? Inspiring and strong figures for young women to admire.

Then switching gears to powerful women as authors and public speakers… Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle, and Coach Dar. Check, check, check. In fact, I love their impact and encouraging messages! 

Recently though, a post on LinkedIn caused a shift in me. Marcie Wibright shared the story of her daughter working up the ranks within FedEx and into a management role. Furthermore, she is the youngest and first female manager in this space. Shattering her own ceiling. However, likely not something you are going to see on the nightly news. In contrast, definitely something to be celebrated! 

This post was a bit like a smack over the head… I thought to myself: 

Don’t forget to celebrate the powerful women who may not be making headlines but are still taking little steps every day to their own big dreams. And in fact, inspiring you.

In turn, this made me reflect on one very particular powerful woman in my history. My mom.

G-I-R-L, would I give anything to be able to interview her for this blog post.

The interview unfortunately can’t happen since she passed in 2007. Even so, I decided for this month, I would do my best to share some of the advice I feel like she passed on to me in the 28 years I was able to have her HERE as my Mom.

POWERFUL WOMEN

My sister and I often talk about this first point. Empowered women empower women.

It’s never dawned on us that we COULDN’T do or be something. In fact, it’s kind of a little disturbing when women (or men for that matter) say they can’t do something. WHAT?!

Feeling empowered is a quality so engrained in our DNA, it’s actually quite shocking when someone says otherwise.

On International Women’s Day, I saw a lot of inspirational posts with the quote:

Here’s to strong women: May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

Wow! I am so very fortunate to feel I was raised as one, by one. 

For the record, I am not saying this without acknowledging I have heaps of self-doubt sometimes I have to work through. Above all though, I KNOW within my heart of hearts I can do whatever I put my mind to. Even with trembling knees and a shaky voice.

This empowerment came from my mom. Why? Because she never doubted. Externally that is. Yes, there were expectations of being a lady (said with an eyeroll and sarcastic tone) and manners, etc. However, the confines of what “women should do” both personally and professionally were not present.

After college, I set off into the world of sports as an occupation. My mom admittedly did not understand WHAT the role was, but that didn’t matter. She was excited for me to dive into a new adventure. Even empowered me to feel I could achieve whatever I set out to do.

I have no doubt she was cheering me on from the pearly gates as I made the leap from an almost two decade corporate career into entrepreneurship. “Yep, you can do this if you put your mind to it Heather. I have no doubts.” 

I don’t remember a time in my life ever NOT feeling empowered to figure it out.

In short, empowerment led to being empowered.

POWERFUL WOMEN- CHOOSE TO CHALLENGE

Last week, I attended the Indiana Sports Corp celebration for International Women’s Day with the theme Choose to Challenge. Throughout the entire presentation, I couldn’t help but think of my mom.

While this goes along with feeling empowered, Choose to Challenge simultaneously feels like its own topic. We can be complacent about our circumstances. On the other hand, we can do something about it.

Bi***ing for the sake of bi***ing has no place. Absolutely, you can vent sometimes, but at the end of the day if you aren’t going to take action… your venting is just noise.

If you don’t like it, take action.

I can think of so many examples where mom didn’t like how a situation was playing out. Never once do I remember complacency. Maybe she instinctively knew her life on this earth would be cut short so there was no time to stand still.

On the other hand, maybe this was also engrained in her deeply as well. Whatever the reason, make a move. Take action.

This wasn’t just through talk either. She walked the walk. Being of service to others. If something needed done, she wasn’t known for just standing around while people discussed it. She MOVED. Constantly.

In my mind, choosing to challenge can come in a lot of forms. Whether it comes to challenging the status quo of women, standing up against racism, serving others through community support, or whatever drives you as a human, Choose to Challenge.

Don’t just gripe to gripe. DO something.

You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.

– C.G. Jung

POWERFUL WOMEN SUPPORT OTHERS

Additionally, my mom had great friends. In fact, from all walks of life and all different periods too. This was way more influential than I realized in the moment.

Modeling a behavior of supportive women surrounding themselves with supportive women.

Because of the support they showed each other it became something I sought out in my own friendships without even realizing it.

Someone once told me, “never trust a girl with no girlfriend or a guy with no guy friends. There’s a reason no one is surrounding them.”

I’ve yet to find a scenario to disprove this statement.

When you support others, they support you in return. Find your people. And don’t be afraid to keep finding your people. Some are there for a particular season while others are lifers.  Without a doubt, both necessary.

In addition, encouraging other women doesn’t take away from you and your success. Seeing someone else succeed and being truly happy for them is energy that feeds you. This, I learned from my mom. Jealousy and bitterness have no place in our heart.

“Get over that shit.” 

My mom had a potty mouth at times. It was entertaining.

POWERFUL WOMEN HAVE FUN

“Don’t take yourself so seriously.”

While I didn’t grow up in a particularly monetary wealthy family, we certainly always had a wealth of fun. This I attribute to my mom’s steadfast belief in always greeting someone with a smile. As well as this… life is short, have fun.

When she passed, the newsletter write-up about her for the Purdue History department where she worked read, “we in the department will always remember her infectious sense of humor, vivacious personality, and welcoming smile.” 

She loved everyone until there became a reason not to. And then she still loved them but from a distance.

She was known to write funny scripts for everything from Share-The-Fun 4-H skits to athletic banquet entertainment sketches. Poking fun at everyone and always turning a gathering into a festive occasion. Her welcoming spirit was a true testament to her love of people and fun.

SUMMARY- POWERFUL WOMEN

My mom didn’t pass away with a bunch of accolades or making the news about her impact to women in history. However, reading Marcie’s LinkedIn post last week was a great reminder of my own mom’s influence as a powerful woman.

There are amazing figures both currently and in history making a significant mark in our world. Even so, don’t forget about the ones you may not read about in the news but are nonetheless having an impact on you. 

I’ll leave you with some key take-aways from my mom. 

First, empowered women empower other women.

Second, find your huddle. Choose to challenge when it’s important to you. And don’t take yourself so seriously.

Finally, you get to choose what your legacy will be. Don’t take this responsibility lightly.

Thank the women in your own history who have influenced you. It’s time to celebrate all of those accomplishments whether they make the history books or not. And then, go take action towards something you believe in.

 

The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.

– Tony Robbins

 

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