Celebrating Influential Women

It’s Women’s History Month – a time to celebrate influential women! Every year since 1987, during the month of March, we celebrate Women’s History Month. It is a time to remember women’s contributions to culture and society over the course of history. 

We live in a time when many things compete for our attention, like the latest news headlines and day-to-day family needs. Can you take a pause in the flurry of your day to honor a special woman in your life? A woman who inspired you to act, think, or feel differently. A woman you respect and admire. Someone who made you feel safe and protected. Someone who pioneered new pathways for the rest of us.

The practice below will guide you.

The Inspiration

I believe that all women are influential in one way or another. Some are literal heroes who have made sacrifices to save lives and stand up for the rights of many. Some are heroic in other ways, like those who have raised their families despite nearly insurmountable odds. Some are from present day life, and others are from the past. We admire and respect these women for their immense courage, perseverance, and determination. 

When I think of an influential woman in my life, my great-aunt Nome comes to mind. A pioneer in her own right, she was one of few women allowed to hold jobs after WWII when most jobs were reserved for men. Later in her career, she focused on developing products that were innovative and revolutionary for the time, like box cake mixes and spray starch. She demonstrated that strong women can succeed in male-dominated industries through hard work and leadership.

Nome also made a mean pie. In my family, saying something was “mean” meant that it was outstanding. Pumpkin was my favorite, but she also baked blueberry, apple, rhubarb and other delectable types. When she offered it for dessert, she would say with a twinkle in her eye: “Take pie when pie is passed.” 

This meant two things. First, the literal meaning is that you should get a piece of pie when it’s passed, because it disappears quickly. Secondly, it implied we should be grateful for and pursue good opportunities when they present themselves. It became somewhat of a family motto.

At family get-togethers in her home, I always admired the beautiful dinner tables she would set with fresh cut flowers, a meal with delicious new recipes that she created, and her ability to bring family and friends close together around a table. 

I could go on about Nome, but suffice it to say that she was influential in my life. I continued many of her examples, like working in a male-dominated industry for many years, setting beautiful dinner tables, and experimenting with different recipes. 

Possibly the most important lesson I learned from Nome was that quiet patience can be as effective as, or more effective than, confrontation. This was a lesson I still try to apply in my relationships, on my teams, and anywhere there is conflict or disagreement. 

When looking at Nome through a lens of character strengths, I can identify many examples of her love, kindness, honesty, appreciation of excellence, gratitude, humility, and probably all 24 strengths. The strengths I admire the most are her bravery, creativity, and leadership as she lived her life. 

Who are the influential women in your life? What better time is there to celebrate them than during Women’s History Month?  The practice and reflection below will help guide you.

The Practice

Reflect
Think about all the women who have influenced you in positive ways, including historical figures and relatives, acquaintances, teachers, club leaders, coaches, or others. They can be alive today or passed on. Choose one to celebrate. Write down her name and the reasons you admire her.  

Remember 
Think of a few character strengths that portray what you admire about her. Why did you choose these strengths? Bring to mind one or two examples of how she demonstrated these. How did she influence your thinking, feelings, or actions? 

Share
Celebrate and honor the woman you chose. If you chose someone from history or someone who passed on, perhaps share your examples with a daughter or granddaughter, a mentee, or a friend. If you chose someone living today, why not share your thoughts with her? Below are a few ideas for how to share:

  1. If possible, pay her a visit or set up a phone call or Zoom meeting
  2. Send a note through snail mail or email
  3. Post something on social media

The idea is to create a memorable experience for both of you.

The Reflection

Sharing inspiring stories of influential women feels ________________________. 

This reflection is probably self-explanatory. Just fill in the blank as you reflect on taking a pause to share about an influential woman in your life. 

Bringing back memories of my great-aunt and sharing them with you puts a smile on my face. She is easy to remember and deserves to be celebrated, as do so many others. I feel certain she can appreciate this, somehow, in the afterlife. 

If you feel inspired by this activity, continue it as a daily or weekly practice during Women’s History Month to honor all the influential women in your life!

With immense gratitude for influential women,
Jane