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International Women’s Day: So Who Inspires You?


Today had something of an inauspicious start. We overslept, the driveway was iced over and bad weather closed a part of my route into the city.

I was so frazzled and fried it totally slipped my mind that today was International Women’s Day, a time to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women.  So I got to thinking about the women I look up to and admire and why.  There are really so many; politicians, musicians, actors, journalists, pioneers but I wanted to take a moment to name a few of my personal favorites.

Madame CJ Walker: Oh you know about me and hair so of course I have to pay homage to the woman who did so much for our tresses, Madame C. J. Walker.  Borne Sarah Breedlove in Owen, Louisiana in 1867, she moved to St. Louis after her first husband died. Now remember this was a time when a lot of people did not have indoor plumbing so they didn’t take a lot of baths or wash their hair frequently and Sarah, like a lot of women experienced problems with her scalp and hair loss. She began putting together her own potions made with things that were already on the market and ultimately came up with a remedy that contained sulfur which made for a healthier scalp. But Sarah was a businesswoman too. She opened a college to train hair stylists, opened a factory, taught other black women about business and became politically active. Upon her death at age 51, she was considered the richest African American woman and the first self-made female millionaire.

Nancy Brinker: I am so proud to be able to call this woman a personal friend. About three decades ago, her older sister Susan Komen was diagnosed with breast cancer. The word breast wasn’t even said in public at that time. Unfortunately Susan Komen died at age 36, but not before making her sister promise she would do everything in her power to find a cure. That’s exactly what Nancy Brinker does to this day. She took a shoebox full of names thirty years ago and turned it into a global movement. Today is the largest, grass roots movement in the world having donated 1.5 billion dollars to the fight since it’s inception in 1982. And you can buy Nancy’s amazing book, Promise Me, via the advert in our left hand sidebar…

Anne Syler: Yep, my mom. I know she drives me crazy at times, like I’m sure I did to her growing up. But the fact remains, my mom was the first, up close and personal look I got at a woman who worked outside the home and held it down inside as well. She taught me the value of an education, accepted me for my prickly self and continues to instill in me a belief that I can do anything I set my mind to.

Casey Parham: Yep, my baby girl – only she’s not much of a baby anymore.  This summer she outgrew me and it was the first time I really started to see her as someone other than, well, my baby girl. She’s a teenager now but I can see a woman in the making. The piercing eyes she’s had since birth, the beautiful Betty Boop lips and the hair, the hair, the hair! She’s been my own inspiration for wanting to chart a natural path for my hair and she continues to amaze me with her knowledge and sensitivity.

So here’s a Good Enough Mother salute to all these women and the many more I didn’t have the chance to list here.

But what about you? Who are the women who inspire you? Name your Top 5 – and tell us why…





  1. Irene

    March 8, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Well said G.e.m…..well said…

  2. Auntie Lisa

    March 8, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    CUTE photo of you and Casey. Looks like she’s almost as tall as you already. 🙂

    Great topic, wonderful thoughts.

    I already shared this on the happiness thread, but it applies here, too. One of the women who inspire me is my friend Debra:

    I have a Christian friend who has been blind since childhood. She is my favorite example of someone who skips through life, happy in spite of it all. She’s been hit by cars several times while crossing the street with her white cane. But no matter what happens, she NEVER seems to have a “poor me” attitude. Her favorite color is bright yellow, which says a lot about her sunny personality. Talking with her will ALWAYS brighten up my day. I admire her SO much, and hope that when I have crises in my life, I can face them the way she does.

    MY MOM: She didn’t have a career, per se, at least outside the home. She stayed home in order to be there for us, but utilized her gifts by teaching piano lessons and doing freelance writing. She faced breast cancer bravely (diagnosed at age 39, passed away at 42) and with humor.

    ESTHER (from the Bible): God placed her in a position of royalty but instead of being complacent she risked her life in order to save her people.

    JAEL (from the Bible): The enemy general, Sisera, has been defeated by the Israelites and fled from the battlefield, presumably deserting his army. Exhausted, he has taken shelter in the tent of Jael. He should have known better. Jael lulls him into a false sense of security, lets him fall asleep, then takes a tent peg and drives it through the side of his skull. Resourceful!

    MY MOTHER-IN-LAW: She oversees care for her 101-year-old mother and her brain-injured (for 30 years!), helpless daughter in her home, along with running a huge dancing school for the past 53 years. She still has so much energy at 83… I hope I can be like that!

  3. Ruth

    March 8, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    #1 Mrs Owens-4th grade teacher who prepared a sheltered little gir for life in an intergrated society
    #2 Carrie Person-My first “beautican” who boosted a young girl’s self esteem
    #3 My older sister Joyce who made sure her lil’ sis’ path was easier than her own
    #4 Good Enough Mother, Rene Syler who does her own thing on her own terms
    #5 Shirley Chism who was an uncompromising forward thinker and trailblazer

  4. Rene Syler

    March 8, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    @Ruth: wow, well, thank you. I am flattered to be in such great company!

  5. Auntie Lisa

    March 8, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    I want to add Ruth to my list…. for being so succinct! (Sorry if I rambled on…) 🙂

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