My Grandmother the Bad*ss and 6 Other Women I Admire
Recently, and for the first time in my life, I heard myself referred as a “strong person.” I guess they were referring to the fact that I haven’t had a total nervous breakdown, but those people haven’t seen me run into a spider in our basement or watch our dog nearly kill a rabbit in the backyard. But here’s the thing about strength: you don’t know you have it until you have no choice but to have it. When the only option besides strength is letting the icy cold hand of Fear grab you by the throat, you hitch up your skirt and get on with your life.
And while there really, truly are moments that reduce me to a weird emotional puddle (sorry, yoga teacher who watched me cry during savasana) the strength that people are commenting on is really the culmination of a life spent soaking up the strength of other women.
Even though the history books (Wikipedia) will try to tell you that Girl Power is defined by that '90s girl band, make no mistake: it was invented by my family and perfected by a series of kick-ass women who shaped me into the woman I am now.
My grandmother (left)
Shortly after this picture was taken, this hot babe raised 9 kids, saw over 30 grandchildren and great-children brought into this world and honed her skills as a potter and artist and graduated from college at age 80. She was a lady who could grow anything, make anything and cook nothing at all.
My mother (top right)
Look at this lady. You think she takes crap from anybody? Of course she doesn’t. When I found out Aaron was in an ambulance, she drove me to the hospital so fast we beat him there. And as I opened the car door to walk toward the giant EMERGENCY ROOM sign, she grabbed my arm and said, “Calm down. Walk in there and be a WOMAN.” And that’s what I did. Besides Instagramming the hell out of that hospital stay.
My sister (bottom right)
When I was in grade school, my sister was a wild college dropout with pink hair who smoked cigarettes, had a tattoo and didn’t give a darn what my parents had to say about it. Now, she’s an awesome mom, a business lady who I swear to God is on the news every single time I watch it, and still doesn’t give a darn what you think of her.
Anne of Green Gables
Fact: I chose my confirmation name not for St. Anne, but for this spunky little orphan. Yep, I’m the worst Catholic ever. To be fair, the priest spelled my name wrong on the certificate so we’ll call it even.
Not just because we shared a face and a haircut for many years, but because her imagination and impatience inspired me to new heights of irrational behavior throughout my childhood, like the time I took my skirt off in kindergarten because tights are basically just stretchy pants.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Sure, Buffy is hot enough to be the popular girl. But she doesn’t use her midriff and dramatic but neutral smokey eye makeup for evil. No, she showed teenage girls at the turn of the century that when life hands you the impending apocalypse, you put on your chunky-heeled boots, grab a sharp wooden object and start stabbing vampires until life goes back to normal. Warning: watching this show can actually fill you with too much confidence. Please remind yourself that watching Sarah Michelle Gellar fight bad guys does not actually give you the skills to physically fight anybody.
She’s only been a part of my life for a few months and yes, YES I CAN HEAR THE EYES OF EVERY MAN IN THE WORLD ROLLING AT THIS but for the 5 whole hours it took me to read that book, I was Katniss, Aaron was Peeta and cancer was the Hunger Games. I don’t care whose butt I have to kick or how hard it is to shoot a bow and arrow, we’re both getting out of this mess alive. Oops. Sorry for the spoiler.
Who are your Girl Power role models, your spiritual strengtheners, the ladies who make you feel like your life is a Kelly Clarkson song? It’s totally fine if you say the Spice Girls. I know my sister will.
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I had fun reading this!
There's a woman in my life who forgave the guy who sexually abused her from age 6 to 16. He sincerely apologized, she accepted his apology, and she FORGAVE HIM. Blows my mind. I continue to learn about strength, resilience, and real forgiveness from her.
My Grandmother, who I called 'Nanny' was the most BA woman I have ever
Aside from the obvious of my mom and sister whom I love dearly and are pretty amazing people, I'd have to say another woman who inspires me to be stronger (& more badass!) is this girl named Nora, my husband's BFF. She's pretty effin' awesome.
My mom is the toughest woman I know and the closest person to sainthood I've ever met. Madge is pretty bad ass as well. My grandma, who we called Nanny, was pretty BA too. She moved from Queens after she and grandpa got married to small town rural Illinois. The town is named Sandwich, no joke. She saw an ad in the paper for a great deal on chicken. Called, ordered, had them delivered. TO her surprise, they were all LIVE. As a resident NY bad ass, Nanny grabbed a knife, butchered and cleaned them, and made fried chicken for dinner. AMAZING.
Chicks--this is the BEST COMMENT CHAIN EVER. Your moms and grandmothers are amazing.
I'll just second your picks above and add in Alma Ellsworth from Deadwood. Yes, I'm currently obsessed with the show, but she's one hell of a woman.
Great article!! A lot of us get inspired by the strong ladies in our lives! For me, my mom is the most badass woman I know. Lotsa examples, like the time her big toe nail flipped clean off her toe, she flipped it right back, pressed it into her nail bed, cleaned up the pools of blood, disinfected and bandaged herself. Or the time she was cooking and a chunk of something which was simmering in hot oil flew from the skillet and right into her eye. She didn't rub her eye, she stayed like that until the next evening (ladies, all day, all night, most of the next day, and then the evening came around) and then went to the emergency (lets not get into why she took that long to go), the Dr there saw her immediately and washed her eyes out, then told her off for waiting so long (duh). Lots of other examples of her treating herself or curing herself. She's a lioness when it comes to protecting her family and just extraordinary with the way she deals with life in general. The hardest times in my life when I thought I'd rather give up then try to make it, I looked at her (and my dad) for strength. Definitely my role model and inspiration.
A few years a go, my grandmother (who lives in the country, on a large, rural property) decided to snowblow her property herself. A stick got caught in the snowblower so she went to remove it, only, she hadn't turned it off first. I won't get into the gory details but basically, she cut off the top of finger. She decided to drive herself to the hospital, so she did and then she went back home like it was no big deal. So, yah, she's pretty badass haha. My mom is definitely my number one female role model, I am always in awe of how strong she is!
My grandma is a little bit bad*ss too, wearing her lacey collars while "taking care" of a rascally garden rrrrabbit (it's important to roll the "r" or it doesn't count) and setting him out as an example to other woodland creatures with designs on her immaculate vegetable garden. She escaped Europe during WW2, losing siblings and parents along the way, and while she's the toughest ol' bird I ever met, her breads and cakes are the lightest, fluffiest, and frilliest confections you've ever tasted.
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