How Strong Women Become Strong
‘Beautiful people always have a beautiful story,’
It was the Fall of 2013 and my first year teaching. I was the kind of awkward you feel when you’ve just started your career. Overly excited, a bit insecure. Like a newborn chick waddling out of the nest for the very first time.
I had become close with the teacher next door. Seasoned, spunky, no-nonsense. The kind of teacher you never forget.
After sharing a bit of my life story with her, she turned to me and said, “When I met you, I knew you were beautiful. Now I know why. Beautiful people always have a beautiful story.”
It was the first time I remember someone calling me beautiful. It was the first time ‘beautiful’ had less to do with my outward appearance and more to do with my inner constitution. It spoke of integrity and grit. Her comment warmed up my insides. It was both a validation and an invitation to be greater. It made me stand taller.
To this day, ‘beautiful’ is still my favorite compliment.
When you see a beautiful woman, she has something about her. A quality you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s something like resilience and grace and freedom all rolled into one.
The closest I can get to its essence is strength.
At the base of beauty is feminine strength. A strong soul.
We enjoy the beautiful woman's presence. It both refreshes and inspires. But we rarely ask: How did she get this way? Where did her beauty come from?
We reap the benefits without knowing the source or understanding the journey.
In celebration of women everywhere, I lift the curtain...
Reading a book while all the other kids are playing: a profile in courage.
Choosing good friends, not popular ones: a profile in courage.
Spending more time at the library than at the mall: a profile in courage.
An 18 year old, backpacking abroad with a best friend: a profile in courage.
Pursuing the career of her dreams: a profile in courage.
Taking a job that wasn’t the career of her dreams: a profile in courage.
Admitting she LOVES the job that wasn’t the career of her dreams: a profile in courage.
Communicating her standards to someone she’s attracted to: a profile in courage.
Choosing to be vulnerable while the pain of her recent loss is still fresh: a profile in courage.
Wearing bright red lipstick to work: a profile in courage.
Starting something new: a profile in courage.
Believing the best in others, even when she’s been taken advantage of: a profile in courage.
Saying no: a profile in courage.
Saying yes: a profile in courage.
Not speaking ill of others unless they are present: a profile in courage.
Saying ‘I’m not picking that up’ when people drop their emotional baggage at her door: a profile in courage.
Speaking kindness to anger: a profile in courage.
Making peace, not keeping peace: a profile in courage.
Entering an interaction with the desire to give, not take: a profile in courage.
Holding out for a partner that will fight for her: a profile in courage.
Being as kind to herself as she is to others: a profile in courage.
Speaking unpopular opinions to an unforgiving audience: a profile in courage.
‘I don’t know’: a profile in courage.
Knowing she is responsible for her own happiness, no one can complete her: a profile in courage.
Choosing to stay gentle in a world that can be so cruel: a profile in courage.
Believing the opportunity is bigger than the potential shame: a profile in courage.
Believing her looks are the least interesting thing about her: a profile in courage.
‘Show me how I can do this better’: a profile in courage.
Making mosaics out of broken pieces: a profile in courage.
Trying something new when there is a high probability she will suck at it: a profile in courage.
Embracing the ‘not yet.’ Not waiting till something is tied in a pretty bow to share it with others: a profile in courage.
Responsibility over excuses: a profile in courage.
Wearing heels on a date with someone shorter than her: a profile in courage.
Cracking a joke in a room full of very powerful, very serious looking people: a profile in courage.
Choosing to re-enter a situation she flopped in previously: a profile in courage.
Walking across the room and introducing herself to a very handsome man she does not know: a profile in courage.
Being perfectly content watching Perry Mason by herself on a Friday night in her pajamas: a profile in courage.
Forgiving someone who isn't even sorry: a profile in courage.
Forgiving someone because she knows it doesn’t let them off the hook, it lets her off the hook: a profile in courage.
Forgiving herself: a profile in courage.
Keeping her word, even when it looks to be to her disadvantage: a profile in courage.
Saying no to distractions veiled as opportunities: a profile in courage.
Stepping up to the plate and leading: a profile in courage.
Letting others lead: a profile in courage.
Choosing class over revenge: a profile in courage.
Refusing to timestamp people, looking at others with fresh eyes every day: a profile in courage.
Respecting, treasuring, and honoring men. Celebrating masculinity when the world is intent on defacing it: a profile in courage.
Initiating: a profile in courage.
Waking up with chronic pain, everyday, and choosing still to be joyful: a profile in courage.
Believing someone’s actions not their words: a profile in courage.
Going all in, when she knows the last time she did this she got burned: a profile in courage.
Moving to a new city where she has no friends (yet): a profile in courage.
Staring deeply into someone’s eyes and knowing there’s a possibility they have no idea what they are holding: a profile in courage.
Caring: a profile in courage.
Lifting others up with no strings attached: a profile in courage.
‘This stumble is an opportunity to grow’: a profile in courage.
Laughing in the face of uncertainty: a profile in courage.
Not holding on to that which wants to leave: a profile in courage.
‘Thank you, next’: a profile in courage.
Getting the car moving: a profile in courage.
Making space for someone new: a profile in courage.
Being equally comfortable lighting up a room and flying under the radar: a profile in courage.
Turning down a flashy job offer because where she is feels like home: a profile in courage.
Karaoke singing in public: a profile in courage.
Letting someone hold her in his arms and make her feel safe: a profile in courage.
Blessing those who curse her: a profile in courage.
Blessing those who ignore her: a profile in courage.
Admitting it’s time to change course when her idea isn’t working: a profile in courage.
Wearing a cocktail dress to your run-of-the-mill pub: a profile in courage.
‘I was wrong’: a profile in courage.
Telling someone what she wants: a profile in courage.
Trusting someone at their word, & continuing to honor herself even when the trust was misplaced: a profile in courage.
Cherishing scars. They remind her of what she’s overcome. They remind her that she is a victor: a profile in courage.
And, then -
It’s no longer courage, but the air she breathes.
Like she stopped renting and finally bought real estate in her own skin.
'This is my home, can I help you?’
Embracing life, loving all of it.
The good, the bad, it’s all hers.
Suddenly, she stands before you: resilient, feminine, breathtaking.
A legacy unfolding.
Nothing is wasted. The strong woman knows that no pain is too deep, no dream too far-fetched, no encounter too unredeemable. Every experience - whether good or bad - enriches her. The world is her classroom. Like a gazelle, she grazes in the open field. The good leaves and the prickly thorns both benefit her. She roams freely fearing nothing.
She’s not clutching a megaphone on the street corner, angrily-shouting. She is not callous. All is well with her soul. To be in her presence is to be seen, known, cherished. Like exhaling completely after a tense day.
She is gentle and kind in a world that is harsh. She is the adjudicator of contests, but enters none herself. She radiates confidence, not because she hasn’t been mishandled, but because her identity is not up for negotiation. Topple her you cannot, because the ground on which she stands is not built on human opinion. She communes with life on her own terms.
She’s going from one degree of glory to the next, and whispers ‘come fly with me.’ Those who join her are in for an incredible ride.
“Even to see her walk across the room is a liberal education” (C.S. Lewis)
Like a cool drink of water that both satisfies and leaves you wanting more.
Woman: wild, beautiful, free. An old soul that’s just getting started.
Dedicated to my amazing mom! The strongest woman I know.
In honor of International Women’s Day & Women’s History Month <3
3/10/2019 10:04:15 am
Dear Marybeth, this post touched me deeply. I have been watching you from the sidelines as you have blossomed into the strong and beautiful woman that you are. It fills my heart with deep joy to read your words of self affirmation. I know what a long and hard journey you have traveled to reach the destination where you can now roam free and be unafraid. This inner peace you feel was achieved thru many years of toil and anguish. I am so very proud of you Beautiful daughter! I am overjoyed that you have arrived at this good and safe harbor. I wish you happiness always! Yours always, Mom
3/10/2019 02:17:54 pm
thank you!! so 👏 much 👏 love! xM
3/13/2019 10:56:58 am
I agree, Mom... Sis, you had some really hard years and a lot of pain and soul searching... it warms my heart to see you happy with yourself and learning from everything and still being open🌟 Keep it up, babe!
9/1/2019 08:03:47 pm
Thank you very much for sharing your wonderful story. I remember what my teacher once told me that teaching is more of a passion rather that being a profession. In our country, the salary of a teacher is not high compared to those profession found inside the offices or computer related. Still, there are a lot of teachers in our country who are still willingly doing their jobs. Another thing is that, there are different kinds of students and most of them are not as good as we thought especially when it comes to their behavior. Now, imagine the sacrifices and patience of our teachers.
9/6/2019 08:57:34 pm
You're absolutely right - teaching is so hard and so underpaid. You're talking to a former teacher, here :)
3/11/2019 05:14:03 am
3/11/2019 10:24:10 pm
Thanks so much Annie! Appreciate your kind words Xx
This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want? Ha-ha). You definitely put a new spin on a topic that’s been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!
9/15/2019 02:32:02 pm
Thanks for such a sweet and thoughtful compliment! Glad you are enjoying the articles :) xx
4/3/2020 10:36:15 am
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