Yeah! Women are Great! or are they?
As Germaine Greer so amusingly noted the Pie got a whole WEEK of celebrations, so maybe pies are better than women – or men…
I do find celebratory days like this a bit odd. I love that it’s an opportunity for everyone to discuss, investigate, learn and lift up women – to celebrate their contributions in all areas of life and throughout time. That is a good thing. What I’m not so keen on is the need for constant defining and separating of the sexes, because frankly some women are horrid. Some men are horrid too, and some are amazing and inspirational. I’ve found over time that none of these personality traits – humour, kindness, empathy, compassion, learning, teaching, strength etc come from gender, but from the individual. Maybe I’m reading too much into this.
What I do love about this particular day is the chance to reclaim lost history – as an historian this is one of my favourite things to do. Outside of The Frugal Family I do a number of talks to groups in my area on women’s history, military history and some frugal and environmental ones too x Because men have written most accounts until very recently, there is so much of women’s history that has been lost and I feel that loss. I could write a whole post on some of the amazing women I have ‘discovered’ and share, which would be like writing an essay (which I love!) and probably a bit niche!
Instead I’ve decided to share some of the women that have inspired me personally – my ‘go to’ people when I need something I can’t always define…
If you have been following our daily theme Wonderful Women you will already know my admiration for this selfless woman. I find I can just look at our painting of her and feel myself calming down, her quiet and peaceful compassion was so profound. I’ve always been quite annoyed that she died the same day as Princess Di as I don’t feel she ever got the full recognition that her life deserved.
This is one of the women from my talk – she disguised herself as a man to join the Army. I doubt you have heard of her, but she lived to be 108! and had the most extraordinary life, sadly it is a very distressing story – but I admire her incredible spirit and determination. When I have a feeling that I can’t go on in a situation – I think of Hannah and remember I can do anything I choose.
Yes, I also do a talk about Ms Hill! Another extraordinary woman, working for change and supporting women during a lifetime of compassionate and considerate change-making.
It’s no surprise really that a young girl with an activist nature who loves to read and is introspective should fall in love with Maya Angelou, and I’m not alone in my joy at her writing and her legacy. What I always found so compelling about her was that she continued to move forwards as she had a genuine desire to learn and teach, rather than a need to be successful in a specific way. I admire the energy required to be a truly inquisitive person, and I aspire to always be interested in the world around me and keep up with changes and movements rather than just settling in a comfort zone.
We are actually quite different people, and of course your mum always drives you to distraction more than anyone else! My mother is a woman of enormous generosity, who is the most creative person I know and has given me so many of her skills and passions (as well as her toes and voice…) not forgetting of course that she gave me life itself – and there is no greater gift. I love her heaps – and now I’m a mum of determined and wilful girls I have come to have an even greater respect for her. When I was 11 my mum went back to college, to study for her degree. It was hard, and stressful and I have always been so proud of how she overcame all of the obstacles to become a teacher a little later than planned. It’s such a shame that teaching has lost so much respect as a profession and she retired earlier than she would really have liked as the role became over worked and under appreciated. When I decided to lecture I was sure it would be to adults! We are not a very demonstrative family, so I have probably never told her any to this…
Of all the things I worried about while I was pregnant I never really considered the pressure of being a role model – of leading by example and being your best self at all times. I’m not very good at it. My kids often see me cry, hear my frustrations and I’m sorry for that, however, I hope as they mature (as I have done in my understanding of my childhood) they will see that everything I do is in the hope of being better, of doing more, of teaching them all they need to know, that they will see the depth of my love and awe as I watch them grow and change and fill me with such wonder. The challenge to be a great mum, to show the value we place on education, love, compassion, understanding, the environment and conscious living – as well as attempting to ‘do’ and not just ‘say’ is the most exhausting thing. Of all the challenges in my life parenthood is by far the most difficult! But I love that when I get a moment to reflect on it, I can see that is has also given me a million opportunities a day to be my best self, the honour of raising these incredible (and infuriating) four people is quite breath-taking. I look at the strong and independent women that my girls have to look to in their family, the stories they will hear of the extraordinary and everyday achievements from both sides of their great grandmothers and beyond and I know with those genes they really could take on anything.
Who are the women that have shaped you? And who are the women you hope to influence?