My family is full of strong independent women. I like to think that I possess some of their power – that it’s my inheritance – something I can pass onto my future daughters. You most likely have people like this in your life, the people who deserve recognition for shaping who you are today. Here are the women who influence me the most.
My Great Grandmother
Nanna Lil, the woman who started it all. A mother, a worker, a creator, a comedian – she was fearless, a true survivor, prepared to do whatever it took and making do where she had to. If you gave her wool, she’d make jumpers. She did whatever was needed, even if it meant being a bit dodgy. Never being ashamed of her actions, she had no airs or graces. Lil was proud of who she was and everything that she did because she never did something she didn’t want to. She did life properly, because she did it her way. Not that I condone dodgy behaviour…much.
I used to sit with her for hours doing puzzles – she always said that you needed to keep your mind active “it stops you getting Alzheimer’s you see” – not a medically proven fact but it worked for her. I still do puzzles, and I hate cheating at them because “you’re only cheating yourself” and “the answer will come to you eventually”. Those hours slogging away at puzzles taught me perseverance and patience, if you don’t know – ask, but most importantly that working hard is fun and it comes with it’s own rewards.
Just Nan to me. Everyone loved my Nan – and she loved everyone in return. She was what you might call a people person. Talking and listening to others for hours because she found everyone had something interesting to say. She taught me to never underestimate the value of people, the value of friends and especially the value of family. More than anything my Nan loved her family, she went above and beyond the call of duty. She cared for them when they needed it, she defended them when they needed it and she made sacrifices for them. But being needed made her happy, so anything she gave up never felt like a sacrifice at all.
Everyday after school for four years – we watched Grease. To this day it saddens me that people don’t just break out into a song and dance. My Nan loved music, she’d flood the house with it – turning the radio up so loud you could hear nothing else. She wasn’t limited to a genre, she loved all music just as she loved all people. My Nan was never hard pushed to find beauty in the smallest of things. Whether that be a single flower in a bush, or a single line of a song – she always surrounded herself with beautiful things. If you are surrounded by things that make you happy, you can’t fail to smile everyday.
Mum as I like to call her – my biggest female role model. Part of the generation who were told they could have it all – a high flying career and a family. She has both – not that she expected either. She never pushed herself to succeed, she merely worked hard and loved a lot – the lessons her mother and grandmother taught her coming to fruition perfectly. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exact lessons that your mum has taught you, because mum’s teach you so much. My Mum taught me the delicate ability to compromise. Inevitably, to have it all some things have to fall at the wayside – these are often things that have little importance, like ironing, hoovering, dusting…let’s just say she’s no domestic goddess.
Everything seemingly comes naturally to Mum, she has this ability to make things look effortless. I think it’s because she does everything with an air of knowledge and confidence, it says I’m in control and I know what I’m doing, even when she admits she hasn’t got a clue. That’s possibly the most important lesson she has taught me. That if you are confident in yourself and your own abilities, you can and will succeed. Being confident often silences the fears of failure, and it allows you to go after the things that make you happy.
These women are obviously not faultless, I have learnt as much from their mistakes as I have my own. But the most important life lesson anyone needs to know is: as long as you are happy, you’re doing nothing wrong.