I’m blessed to have so many women in my life who inspire me, from my mom to my first-grade teacher to my former boss Robin to Sandra Day O’Connor. How cool is it that we have all these amazing women in the world, and every March we celebrate them and learn more about their lives during National Women’s History Month? And on Tuesday, March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day.
Incredible women are all around us, whether they are famous or not. Whether it’s Sandra Day O’Connor becoming the first female Supreme Court justice or my first-grade teacher Mrs. Frank who patiently taught me to tie my shoes in a way I could understand. I bet if you look around you right now, you will see a woman who has inspired you in some way, taught you something, took a risk, did something exceptionally kind, helped someone, spoke up when no one else would, pushed herself and worked hard, did her best and strove for excellence, made you laugh, made you cry, made you care, and went for something that matters to her.
Growing up, Cher was a big inspiration for me. Here was this woman on TV who looked like me, who sang and joked, who was different and talented, and who didn’t seem shy about who she was (at least on television). Later in life, when I wanted to become a journalist and newscaster, Jane Pauley and Barbara Walters were my role models. They were women who made it in a male-dominated field.
But it’s not just famous women who inspire me. My mother is incredibly resourceful and resilient. She came to this country with two small kids on her own. (My father was already here in the United States.) She knew no one, didn’t speak the language, had never been outside her home country, and left behind her family, friends, and support system. Was she afraid? Yes, but she did it. And she did it with class, grace, and determination.
I have friends who inspire me on a daily basis. I look at my friend Ali and am in awe. She has a demanding, successful career she loves. She worked on her PhD while juggling her career and motherhood. She has a wonderful partner in her husband who has his own demanding, successful career. She and her husband have two smart, funny, active, lovable girls (who I happen to adore). And she also finds time for herself. I love that she doesn’t make it look easy; that is, she shares the whole picture, all of it –the joys, the struggles, the frustration, the love.
This month (or really any time), think about the women who have inspired you. Then, tell them thank you, tell your friend how much she has meant to you, share with your mentor how she has inspired you, post a comment online about someone who has done something you thought was pretty awesome. And then read about the women being honored this March during National Women’s History Month.
(Image of my mom by Ela Aktay.)