We women can be anything we want to be. “The fairer sex” can still be “fair” and be strong, intelligent – great. We can be doctors, astronauts, mothers, writers, scientists, teachers, artists, etc. The list is endless. We have to be determined, willing to work and enthusiastic.
We can be strong, physically and emotionally. I see women who have gone though hell and back who are survivors, no matter what. I see women who are strong in whatever sport they train in, or just being strong enough to get out of bed in the morning when just taking that first step hard. One foot in front of the other, actually or metaphorically. I see women who have worked damn hard to reach the top of their profession.
Earlier this year I attended a college Commencement and heard one of the most inspiring speeches of my life. Ruth Johnson Colvin, founder of Literacy Volunteers of America (now ProLiteracy Worldwide), born in 1916. Yes – that’s 1916. She’s still active in the organization, has many honors and awards, and received an honorary Doctorate at the ceremony. I can’t even imagine… She had a fantastic message for the graduates and the audience. First, she gave a lesson to us about being illiterate, holding up a sign with letters on it that gave us the feeling of what it’s like to be unable to read. She told them to never stop learning and to put down their cellphones and live. She spoke of the exercise regimen she does because she wants a good quality of life. I think a lot of us, adults and students alike, have forgotten about some of these concepts.
Young people received their degrees in areas of study I didn’t even know existed. Some will go on to pursue higher degrees before they can start their careers. They can have life experiences out in the world that I can’t imagine and make a difference in our world. Some may not have the most exciting careers, but I hope they find satisfaction working in an area that serves them well. They will all make mistakes along the way. I hope life teaches them lessons not learned in a classroom, without too much hardship. Few will make it to the moon, but they can reach for the stars. Many of the guys are likely learning about what it takes to strive, overcome and achieve from the example set by their mothers and other strong women in their lives.
I’ve challenged myself to learn new creative skills over the past few years. I returned to college to earn a degree in a completely different area from my decades-long career. Being the oldest kid in class was a bit different from my past college experience. Learning has allowed me to write, illustrate and self-publish three children’s books — so far. I recently put my third one on Amazon, called “Rylie’s Grand Mouse Ballet.” My other two are “Bird Shoes” and “Sheep?!” I couldn’t create these books if I hadn’t made the effort to learn some new skills. I haven’t learned rocket science yet, but you never know. As inspiring Ruth Johnson Colvin says, “Never stop learning!”