I would like to celebrate all the women that have guided me and those near to me, over the years. For these women and the men that support these women, and all the women across the world doing the same, I thank you, embrace you, and, will follow you. YOU have guided me.
For my father's mother, who raised her sons alone, and eventually had to split up her sons when she couldn't afford to raise both of them. She managed her life with grace and beauty. Always, always holding her head high. She showed me how to remain strong and poised.
For my mother, a mother of nine children. A woman who worked the 11pm to 7am shift as a nurse, then came home and ran the house during the day. For a mother who lost a daughter to a drunk driver. For a mother who raised rebellious, yet headstrong children. For a mother who taught us that we can do anything. For a mother, herself, who proved she could do anything. A mother who went back to school, was promoted over and over again. A mother who knew how to embrace her marriage throughout the cycles of life. And to a mother who to this day, is as youthful as her own grandkids. She rocks. She is the rock of my life.
For my sisters, all seven of them, who have stood by me growing up and into adulthood. For being there when I left home, got married, had children, had illnesses, and became divorced. For helping me continue to grow and remain confident. You are a network of strength.
For my daughter, who while I may have initially guided, started guiding me on day one and continues leading from far out front. Thank you, my north star. For sharing your life, your whimsy, your magical and artful soul, your passions, your dreams and your essence. I love being guided and surrounded by your waves of life. You have believed in me and encouraged me to be me. You have stood tall in your belief of me. The very fabric of my being has been colored by you. You are my spirited soul.
For the women leaders in my career, thank you, for seeing something and taking a risk on me. Thank you for teaching me, letting me fall, picking me up gently, and pushing me along. Thank you for always being honest with me. Thank you for sensing when I lost it after my sister died. You took care of me and let me heal. Thank you for sending me all over the world. I became more of me because of you and the risks you took with me. You didn't stop with me; you showed support and guidance for me and my family. And you're still doing it. Thank you for caring for us like your own family. You are my mirror for self and courage.
For my friends, who have listened to the stories, struggles and hopes. Who have responded with laughter, guidance, and hugs. Who have continued to say 'keep going.' You are a lovely and playful trampoline in life.
For the women leaders broadening my witness to women leaders across the world. You are amazing. I am inspired and lifted daily by your own courage and actions. I am with you in your spirit and moves. You encourage me to continue. To continue making a difference for others every day. Small and large. You are my confident next step.
For the men that have supported women. For my Father, who was first to say 'go get 'em', 'atta girl', and kept our sights high. For my brothers, who pushed us to make something of ourselves, and who still act as guardians throughout life. For the men in my life, who let me stretch in new ways. You are my voices of encouragement.
For my son, who has absorbed the trials of a mother's journeying, For his understanding and support. For being there even though he has a single mom who can't always be there. For his mature, quiet, patient, articulate, steadfastness, standing tall through the journey with me. For his belief in me. For a steady loving. You are my grounding.
For these women, men and all of you, I thank you, embrace you, and, will follow you. YOU have guided me.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to International Women's Day 2012.