Today is International Women’s Day. Rachelle, over at Notes from a Truth-Seeker initiated a Grid Blog for International Women’s Day. Since I already posted about a similar topic a couple of posts ago, I wasn’t going to bother joining. But after reading several of the blogs she links to, I was inspired, so here’s my contribution.

Instead of writing about some of the challenges I’ve faced as a woman in a male-dominated world (and faith tradition), I’m going to choose instead to celebrate the people – women AND men – who have inspired me, encouraged me, prodded me, affirmed me, mentored me, trusted me, and lit the path for me in my journey as a woman trying to live out my giftedness. I am thankful for the roles all of these people have played in my life. Here they are, in no particular order…

Doreen, drama and music teacher in college – Doreen was unique, quirky, bold, fun, creative and non-traditional. She lived life on her own terms, took risks, didn’t worry about what other people thought of her, dared to be different, and lived life out loud. She taught me to trust my own creativity and let the world see my uniqueness.

Gisele, boss, mentor, friend – Gisele was the first person who gave me a shot at leadership. She believed I could do it even before I believed it myself. She gave me a shot and then stood by cheering me on while I fumbled my way through. She celebrated me, challenged me, coached me, and taught me that the old style of management didn’t have to be the only way.

Other amazing mentor/bosses/friends I’ve had – Ellen, Cathy, Susan, Diane – They’ve all influenced my style of leadership. They’ve taught me that the greatest leaders learn to serve. They’ve made me want to strive for excellence.

My sister – I don’t think anyone has shared the journey as much as ccap. She came through life with the same baggage, and along the way we supported each other, encouraged each other, taught each other, and challenged each other. When we hear a sexist comment, a simple glance between us is enough to affirm that we both “get it”.

My dad – it’s a bit of a surprise that he made the list, since, in many ways, he epitomized the traditional, patriarchal male. Yes, he made some mistakes along the way, and I could choose to resent him for them. BUT he did some things right too. He wasn’t afraid to admit that he had great respect for smart women (eg. Barbara Frum) and he never doubted that I WAS one. AND when I wanted to learn to drive the tractor like my older brothers, he let me. It may seem like a small thing, but in a strange way, it affirmed me.

My brothers – They have always loved me, trusted me, set a good example for me, and treated me like an equal. They affirm me and let me know it when they’re proud of me. What more could I ask for?

Some of the strong women I watched while I was growing up – Eleanor, Marlene, Mrs. Rainka, Irene (to name just a few) – They eached showed incredible strength in unique and profound ways.

My powerful and compassionate friends – Michele, Linda, Yvonne, Suzanne, Jayne, Julie, Laurel, Sue, Lorna, Kari, Diana, Lenora, Eveline (to name just a few) – They have been no end of inspiration to me. They’ve shown me what women are capable of, they’ve challenged me when I went off track, they’ve taught me that boldness needs to be balanced with compassion, they’ve shared creative moments with me, and they’ve made life a heck of a lot of fun along the way.

The incredible men I’ve had the opportunity to co-lead with – Rob, Wes, Jim, Dan, Larry, Ron, Bob (to name just a few) They’ve never assumed they had any more right to power than me. They’ve dared to be different – to build a new model for a godly man. They’ve been vulnerable, shown compassion and honesty, and fought for truth, respect and honour – for ALL of us.

The woman I met at Act II restaurant back in 1988 (or thereabouts) – She was the first woman pastor (from a Mennonite church) I ever met. She opened a door for me and showed me that a different way is possible.

The incredible 70ish woman ccap and I met hiking in the Alps – She epitomized the woman I want to be in 30 or so years – adventurous, bold, and still excited about looking around the next corner.

My mom – She taught me compassion. She showed me what it means to be a servant. She didn’t always understand my goals, but she didn’t stand in the way of me reaching them. She believes in me and loves to brag to her friends whenever I get something published.

My daughters – They make me want to be bold – to make the world a better place for them. They make me believe in possibilities.

My husband – What can I say? I saved him for last, because in some ways, he’s had the most profound influence. He never ONCE assumed that he was the only head of the household. He approached our relationship as a partnership right from the start and defied anyone who suggested he should do otherwise. He trusted me and believed in me and pushed me to be all that I could be. He never batted an eye at some of my ideas that could have been dismissed as “silly” (like getting him an engagement ring, or keeping my own name). He took a risk and chose to become the primary caregiver, even though it wasn’t the trendy thing to do. He affirms our daughters and teaches them that they are capable of anything.

I am woman, hear me roar! But not just roar, I hum too. 🙂

Thank you to all those who’ve been a part of my incredible life.

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