Friday, March 23, 2012

Women's History Month: Inspiring Women



When we talk about Women's History Month we think of Pocahontas and Sacajawea who helped the explorers of this country.  We think of Abigail Adams and Dolly Madison who were on the forefront of the beginning of this country.  We don't want to forget the great suffragists who worked for and won the right to vote for U.S. women.  

We are reminded of  "Rosie the Riveter" and all the brave women of America who took over the "men's positions" in the factories.  The production numbers of these women are still noteworthy to this day. We honor the women who took those brave first steps to serve and continue to serve in the military. The first scientists, teachers, humanitarians, politicians, the list continues as we look for role models to inspire and encourage us.  

Is there a scientist, teacher, or humanitarian who inspired you ?  Share these women with my followers, audience, and me. Share your thoughts about the inspirational women in your life. Who are the women who have inspired you? 

Busia (Grandmother Julia)
I can begin by saying that my grandmother (Julia) has inspired me not only because she came to this county by herself without knowing the language. She only had a third grade education, but spoke three languages. She became an American citizen, obtained a legal driver's license, and established and ran a profitable business for more than 60 years.  She was widowed at a young age with four daughters. She remarried another baker to insure that her business continued. 

She only is one of the many amazing women in my family. Her pearl of wisdom was "Wznuka (granddaughter) never depend on a man for your identity and livelihood." She believed in education. She was a task master.  She was tough on her daughters, but gentler on her grandchildren.

Mom (Mary)
 My mother (Mary) taught me all my domestic skills.  She was renown for her pies, cakes, and decorated specialty cakes for any occasion.  Her cooking was famous throughout the community. The coffee pot always was on and there was a meal that always could be heated up (pre-microwave days). She raised six children while supporting her husband (who held down two full-time jobs). 

She was the "go to" woman in the neighborhood. Mary always had an ear and the time to listen to their sorrows, worries, and joys. Her laughter was contagious. Her hospitality was legendary. We always could bring a friend or two, or three home and they would be fed. 

The city of Chicago honored her for her contributions. This is a much-abbreviated vita about Mary.  She transferred her love of reading to me. My childhood was surrounded with books and about books. She inspired me to read. She also taught me a sense of style, not only personally, but also environmentally. She had very little financial means, but her imagination and creativity always expanded her environment.


Aunt Cecilia
My Aunt Cecilia gave me my yearning to learn  and to perform musical works.  She supported my music endeavors. Encouraged my desire to explore music and drama by attending all my recitals and performances.

She was awarded a scholarship to the Chicago Conservatory of Music. At 18, she won a singing contest and was asked to travel with a USO show, but her mother (my grandmother) would not allow it. 

She married. Raised nine children as she would say, "by the grace of God." She retired from her church after being the choir director and organist for more than 50 years. She also obtained her bachelor's degree, (course by course), while on her motherhood journey. Even after her retirement she continues to explore new avenues of creativity as a writer. 

Sr. Cherubim (Lillian)
My Aunt Lillian, better known, as Sister Cherubim is my spiritual touchstone. She seems to have an aura of serenity that makes me feel that she is an angel.  She is our "direct line to God." She keeps us all in her heart and prayers. 


She also inspired me to serve. Her life long dedication to hospital work and education was contagious in every community she was assigned. 

She was a pharmacist, hospital administrator, and a religious education director. She maintained a career way past retirement age. She taught me that an education can opens doors and expand your universe. She has a Bachelors degree in Pharmacy, a Masters in Hospital Administration, and a Masters in Religious Education. 

Aunt Janet
If you want to know how life has really changed for women, my Aunt Janet's story demonstrates how resilient and flexible women can be in tight situations with little available options. Think about your mother telling you can't accept a full ride scholarship to a private college because she doesn't want you to be a nurse.  My Aunt Janet was 16 years old, just graduated from high school, and it’s the 1940s.  She did not want to stay at home after being told she could not go to college to be a nurse. A goal she always wished to achieve.

She went to beauty school, married a man who offered financial stability. She opened a small beauty shop in her home. Children arrived.  While the pregnant with her fourth child, her husband dies of an aggressive brain tumor.  It's the 1950's, what did she do? She worked nights (11 p.m. - 
7 a.m.), arrived home just in time to get her children off to school. She catches sleep with help of family. After her children finished high school, she starts college, changes jobs, and gets both a bachelor's and a master's degree. 

Janet never remarried, but she certainly didn't let any grass grow under her feet. She was a contributing member of her local church for more than 50 years. She held several positions in Toast Master's International. She volunteered to do taxes for Seniors for more than 20 years. She even organized Scrabble games and meets at her Senior Housing.  She taught me that "anything is possible." She would counsel that if you wanted something just go get it. If you think there is a barrier, figure out how to eliminate it.

 My sisters, cousins, and in-laws  are included in my list of inspirational women.  It  would take volumes to write about them so I will leave that task to some other musing. Then there are the women that I worked with that made a difference and continue to change the world. Again, that is another blog.

I invite you to share your thoughts about the inspirational women in your life. We still have time for Women's History Month. Better still, if you are shy, write them a letter and tell them how observing them has helped you to be a better woman, son, husband, father, wife, etc.  
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