International Women’s Day
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Who inspired me? This International Women’s Day it seemed appropriate to share.
If you were to make their acquaintance, you couldn’t meet two more opposite people on the planet. My namesake, one was a statuesque Danish woman whose family escaped religious persecution. She said it like it was; never sugarcoating anything. She had a stubborn streak like a mule was as strong as an ox. She was a Rosie the Riveter and insisted on working until the day she turned 90. NO ONE was going to tell her otherwise. Suggest her moving to Florida to be close to the family and you’d get an earful. She was staying where my grandfather was buried and that was the end of that. In her late 80’s she volunteered in a nursing home, visiting patients younger than she was!
And then there’s my abuela (Spanish for grandmother). Now, she was demure and stood maybe five feet tall. Quiet. Silently strong. With six children in tow she immigrated to the United States from Colombia. She worked, but her first duties were as wife and mother. She showed me how to reconcile pursuing education and a career, but still wanting to cook and clean for my husband without compromising my strength, independence and femininity. That saying about one person being the glue that stuck the family together? That was her. Of course we’d come from near and far for her amazing meals.
For everything they didn’t have in common, what they did share influenced who I am : they loved me fiercely and they were totally bad-ass. They believed in me and they told me not to take BS from anyone. And when I got sick I know those women who had gone through so much in their own lives felt scared for me.
I miss them.
International Women’s Day
I write about them for International Women’s Day because they lived in a time when women had just barely gotten the right to vote. They were seen as weaker. They taught me otherwise. Today I’d tell you that I’m a survivor. I’ve kicked cancer’s butt three times. I survived a near fatal car accident and when an Alarm 2 fire tried to take me down, with a short stint in the ICU, I rocked my recovery.
Then there was the career. There were many times I was told I shouldn’t pursue a certain path because I am a woman. I headed continuing medical education conferences for a number of years. It was two-fold: Women aren’t supposed to be as good as men when it comes to science and the majority of my clients and conference attendees were men. Moving further along in my career, somehow I chose the areas that were male dominated. While I was constantly given positive feedback for my performance, I was also sexually harassed. It was blatant. When discussed with senior execs, it was also ignored. I was scared to stir the pot, but I addressed it with a dash of abuela; quietly and a bit of grandma; this won’t go on anymore. And while I was met with some resistance, my message was delivered.
This International Women’s Day Brawny® has stepped up and reminded us that while we love Eric Solie (aka the Brawny Man), long before he yielded his ax women like my grandmother were rolling up their sleeves. Rosie the Riveters stepped up to the plate to remind the country that Strength Has No Gender™. And today that message is shining brighter and stronger than ever.
The Strength Has No Gender™ campaign highlights the inspirational stories of everyday women in cities across America who have been breaking down barriers in traditionally male-dominated industries and empowering others.
Exclusive to Walmart, limited-edition Strength Has No Gender™ pack:
Of course they’re still the brand you know and love. Brawny® Paper towels offer more sheets on every roll (vs. leading national brand comparable roll and sheet size) and help you clean up whatever life throws down.
Just Being Myself
This International Women’s Day I am going to spend time doing some things I love the most: baking in my kitchen because it’s cathartic, maybe hulling the shells from the walnuts out back (I want to make a walnut pie), loving on my husband and hiking the beautiful trails in my area remembering my grandmothers’ strength in all they did in hopes they help me to inspire my stepdaughters in their futures. Who’s inspiring you today?