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Women of Courage and Vision

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By Karen Rowinsky, health care consultant
Special to

March is National Women’s History Month. My generation, and the ones that went before me, did not learn much in our history classes about women’s contributions. The National Women’s History Project has sought to remedy that. As a result, our daughters and granddaughters now have an opportunity to learn about the many women who have made this a better world.

When we identify the women from the past who have touched our lives, we can actually see a timeline of our own development. I’m thankful to have the accomplishments of Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bella Abzug and Barbara Jordan, among others, as an example of what a woman could do if she set her mind to it. These were women of courage and vision.

What about the women who have actually played a role in who we are? It’s an enjoyable exercise to think about them. Why not take some time to reflect on the women of courage and vision in your life. Just as your genes gave you the characteristics of who you are physically (having your mom’s eyes, or your dad’s nose, etc.), these women have helped you develop the characteristics of who you are as a person: your values, personality, strengths and beliefs. Which women acted as role models for you? Which ones showed you, by their examples, what the future could hold?

To help you remember, divide your life into segments. You might choose to think about the women who influenced you during your school years—teachers, neighbors, youth group leaders, family, or friends. You might want to then think about the women who inhabited the different decades of your life—supervisors, fellow nurses, friends or in-laws.

Once these women come to mind, ask yourself how each woman affected your development. Why did you connect with, admire, relate to and care about each one? How did these women demonstrate their courage and vision? Why did they make themselves available to you?

You can take this exercise one step further. Have you ever told the women who had such a strong influence on you how grateful you are for what they gave you? This might be the time for a phone call, a lunch date, a letter or even an e-mail. These women gave you incredible gifts. Can you imagine how wonderful they would feel if you were to share with them what an impact they had on you? If the woman has passed on or if you’ve lost touch, there is no reason why you can’t write a letter anyhow. Just by writing down the words, you are honoring them.

There is another way you can honor these women of courage and vision: be one yourself and share your gifts with others! Have you acted as a role model, mentored or given of yourself to a younger woman? Even though you are busy, you may want to make time to do your part to influence these women of the future. Is there a young woman in your family, neighborhood, or place of worship who can use some encouraging words, support or just a sounding board? If not, you can speak to the counselor of your local school, youth agency, or Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization to find a young woman in need.

I am glad there were and are women of courage and vision, in my life. I will do my best to continue their legacy. How about you?

Karen Rowinsky, professional speaker, author and consultant, works with health care organizations that want to be recognized as "caregiver friendly” by the family and professional caregivers in their community. Check out her book, “Come Alive! 50 Easy Ways to Have More Energy Now” and her other publications at www.rowinsky.com.