It’s Women’s History Month and we want to shout out some of the women in our lives who have inspired us. While it is important to highlight women from history, it is often our own life histories that have the largest impact on our day-to-day lives. The women we’re featuring below are exemplars of style and beacons of light on very personal, everyday levels.
Aisha’s Mother – “My Mommy is the Best Mother of All Time”
The first person I want to recognize is my mommy. I know that everyone claims this, but my mommy is the best mother of all time. She has always been an inspiration to me and continues to inspire me every single day.
One of the main ways she has been an inspiration is by providing a blueprint for perseverance. When my father became a drug addict, my mother found herself raising three children on her own. In true mommy style, she not only raised us but also did a great job at it. Growing up she found a way to work two jobs and still be an extremely active parent. And she is still the number one supporter of my siblings and me; honestly, she is one of my best friends.
After I left for college and my sister left for the Navy, my mother decided to go back to school. Working two jobs, still, she started putting herself through school and moving toward a nursing degree. She has shown me that perseverance is key. Oftentimes when I feel down, she reminds me that bad times do not last forever – and she is right.
My mother’s style of doing things, of making a way out of seemingly no way, and of pushing that rock to get everyone out of a hard place is simply amazing. So often my mother stops to tell me how proud she is of me – but honestly, I owe everything I am, both literally and figuratively, to her. She brought me into this world and it is her determination and perseverance that have gotten me this far.
Aisha’s Sister – “Having a Little Sister to Play with was Pretty Awesome, Too!”
Most of my time during childhood was spent with my brother and sister. Because of this we are all very close. My sister, Jazmin, was born two years after me. Although I was initially my older brother’s partner in crime, having a little sister to play with was pretty awesome, too. Like all sisters who grow up sharing everything (toys, clothes, and a room) we also shared a pretty healthy mix of arguing and getting along. As we’ve grown older we have grown closer.
Jazmin joined the Navy on her 17th birthday. Because of this she ends up spending most of her time thousands of miles away from our family. This can feel rough at times because we miss her a lot, but when we talk on the phone or when she is stateside (and I get to visit her) we always have an amazing time. Sometimes it feels like Jazmin is my little-big sister because she seems to have her life so much more together than I do. She pushes me and our mother to take care of ourselves (even from oversees right now, Jazmin checks on me to make sure I am eating healthy – that is LOVE).
My sister is an inspiration to me because she exemplifies determination. She knew very early on what she wanted and she went for it. She wanted to join the Navy – and so she did. She wanted to make her life and our lives better – and so she has. Jazmin was determined to make an amazing life for herself and she has. One of the greatest pleasures of my life, thus far, has been being able to watch Jazmin grow up into the beautiful and smart woman that she is.
Simone’s Mother – “I Did Not Recognize My Mother’s Light Until She Passed Away”
First, I want to honor my mother who is my angel. Truthfully, I did not recognize my mother’s light until after she passed away in 2003. So much of it was blocked by her struggle against her insecurities. My mother’s solution, to undergo gastric-bypass surgery, eventually cost her her life; she died as a result of post-operative complications. Initially, after she passed, I did not see my mother as a strong woman because I thought she was always preoccupied with how others perceived her. She chose to have the operation because being called fat made her upset and also made her feel ugly. Sometimes she defended herself against the marks, and there were also moments where I could not tell that people’s remarks affected her. Reflecting on those moments, I realize that my mother did, in fact, love herself. No matter the pain (physical and mental) she was going through, she still laughed and smiled—oh, and took hundreds of pictures of herself (ha—if she had Facebook, we’d be competing with selfies!). I can still see her throwing her head back in laughter the day she had her left breast amputated.
I am honoring my mother for her simplicity. She was in and out of the hospital and had to take care of several children after being laid off. The struggle with her insecurities complicated her life in some ways; however, she never lost sight of peace and happiness. During her panic attacks, she just wanted me to lie with her. And during her stays in the hospital, she just wanted my grandmother to comb her hair. She was aware of the love in and around her, and though “too late,” I think she realized that she did not have to risk her life to be accepted/loved by the people who would never love her anyway. My mother taught me that pain is complicated and will attempt to eat away your happiness. Her journey continues to inspire me to live my life simply, especially in a way that keeps her light shining.
Simone’s Sister – “Brittani is One of My Best Friends”
Ah, my little button-nose lover! (She is probably cracking up reading this right now.) My younger sister, Brittani is one of my best friends, and I am honoring her for her love and positivity. I can always count on her to make me laugh, or laugh at my crazy jokes! And just like my mother, she always throws her head back in laughter.
And speaking of mothers—Brittani is the mother of two beautiful children, Breaker (Baby Breaker) and Brielle (Chunka Munka!). When she became a mother, she was as nervous as any first-time mom would be. She was also very happy and in love with her new role, though some people judged her for becoming a mother at the age of 16. When she had Chunka Munka at 21, people continued to judge her; however, Brittani loves her life and sees her children as on time and a part of the Creator’s plan for her. Sometimes she does call me because she is upset at people and their hurtful remarks. However, before I can tell her that I am on my way with Vaseline, she bounces back. She moves from being upset to “Well, anyway. Grey’s is coming on tonight!” And what’s most beautiful, I think, is her unwavering love. She continues to love and do good things for others despite the pain some have attempted to cause her.
Brittani does not always think she is this positive and loving person, but I want her to know that when she texts me things like, “Good morning, my sista!” or posts Facebook statuses about how much she loves her family, I melt on the inside. She is such a beacon of love and light. I want her to know how resilient she is, and how her resilience inspires me to bounce back and keep moving. And I know watching Netflix through a wine hangover is not the same struggle as changing diapers on 3 hours of sleep, but all that strength and happiness in her, encourages me to live in love and positivity. Mother Earth loves you, Sissy Button Love.
So, who are you honoring for Women’s History Month? How has she inspired you? What does her life mean to you? What does her style of doing things teach you?
Below we’ve compiled 10 simple ways to honor and celebrate the women in your own life:
- Have tea/coffee or a meal together (or cook a meal for her) – A home-cooked meal or hot beverage always warms the soul; it’s also a very inexpensive way to show someone how much you appreciate them.
- Plan a craft or cooking day – If she’s artsy/crafty, this will be right up her alley; not only will she love spending time working with her hands, she’ll enjoy doing it with you.
- Write her a letter or a poem – This is almost a lost art, especially in the days of social media. A letter or poem will provide an opportunity for you to carve out down-time to write and to be thoughtful with your words while writing. She’ll definitely know that it’s from your heart.
- Go on a hike or walk in the park – It’s great exercise and nature has a way of opening the imagination, making it a perfect time to share what’s on your mind.
- Make sugar scrub or a piece of jewelry for her – Self-care should always be at the top of the list, so selecting her favorite scents for a sugar scrub or the perfect stones for a necklace will make the gift even more special to her.
- Tell her that you love her everyday – Time is precious; let people know how you really feel about them.
- Work out/do yoga together – Having an accountability workout partner can provide that boost of energy to keep going! Why not make that partner someone you consider a phenomenal woman?
- Do a wine and movie night – It’s another great way to relax; in fact, let her choose the wine and her favorite movie.
- Send her an inspirational book – We all need inspiration to maintain resilience – even the women we’re inspired by, so send her a book that has empowered you.
- Make her laugh often – It’s definitely the best medicine, and nothing is more special (and hilarious) than hearing someone you love laugh!
Let us know how you honor the women in your life. Share your own life stories in the comments section—we want to continue to honor Women’s History Month with the stories we don’t read about everyday.
About the Contributing Writers:
Simone Savannah is an English instructor and contributing writer for the Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English-Creative Writing and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Her poetry is based on personal experiences she can’t let go—imagined or otherwise. Simone also enjoys making green smoothies, attending Bikram Yoga classes, and laughing uncontrollably. Simone is teaming with Aisha (read about her below) to bring you a unique take on Life + Style.
Aisha Upton is a second-year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her research interests include Black women in service organizations and violence against Black women. She is passionate about many things including community service, lipstick, baking, thrifting, knitting, and being a proud owner of a Cockapoo, Napoleon. At the intersection of being a diligent student, a fashionista, and an activist – you will find Aisha, attempting to find a balance. Be sure to read Aisha + Simone’s unique take on Life + Style and the importance of letting who you are shine through when defining your personal style.