Saturday, January 14, 2017

Day 4 of 10 Days of Great Women

In the final days leading up to the Women's Marches across the nation, I'll be highlighting the GREAT Americans I know who have fought for our progress as a nation. I'll specifically be looking toward the women in my life that have impacted my ability to see progress, women who have inspired me, women who have pushed me to be better.

I know I need to do this and that we all need this march because when I searched for an image for this post, all the images of "Triumphant Women" were in bras. What on earth? That's what you think, google? We have work to do.

Today is Day 4 of 10 Days of Great Women and it is dedicated to those who have triumphed over great challenges in their early lives.

I have worked with a lot of children who faced adversity. I spent several years working with abused children both teaching and working as a caseworker for Social Services. Along with my colleagues, we put our hearts and souls into the hopes of children finding their path to success despite the adversity they'd faced.

Sadly, many, many of the kids I worked with are in jail today.

Since I've worked with these kids, I've spent a lot of time thinking about those who thrive despite great obstacles in their early lives. It's hard to put your heart and hope out as a line to children, desperately hoping that they'll grab tight with both hands promising that you'll pull them in but worrying, it's hard to do that, unless you can think of some you have seen "make it."

I know many such women and today is for them.

I think of the woman I know who had a meth lab blow up in her house and still no one thought to talk to her as a child about this. I was once at a rest stop with her as she explained she used to live there. "Where?" I asked. She had lived at the rest stop when her family was homeless. She'd been abused and sometimes stole glassware from a local college to sell to those who cooked meth at her house so she could use the money to go buy food. She is a successful, well-adjusted professional woman today and a fantastic mother.

I think of the woman I know who had both parents with serious addiction problems and despite that, has spent her life helping others and fostering love and belonging for animals, children, strangers, stragglers. She's the sort who gives away groceries to strangers who she can see needs it. She'll show up to help a stranger from the internet by bringing them diapers.

I think of the woman I know who left her problem-ridden home to raise herself starting in middle school, who managed to rent a storage space and live in it until she graduated from high school. She works hard for her community and is always the first to say yes and help in a crisis. She's the one I can call and I always know she'll help; I can tell her anything no matter how long since we last talked.

I think of the woman I know who has been in dangerously violent relationships twice and has managed to get out, risking everything to move on and smile wide, laugh full-throated. She saved her children and got her degree. I think of how hard she had to work to raise her kids and to get her degree and how hard she continues to work, hoping to help incarcerated youth one day.

When I think of these women, I think,

"There is so much hope."

There is hope in the world and I know it because I've seen them make it happen. There is a chance for every child, for every person, no matter how hard their circumstances today. I think of how they have managed to raised well-bonded children, in loving homes. I think of the sense of love and belonging I feel when I'm near them. And these are among the things that make them great.

So today is for you, The Overcomers, The Triumphants! May you know your worth and continue to generously share it with those of us who need to see how women can thrive, no matter where they started.