What defines a successful woman? I’ve always had my own thoughts on this and I’d have to say, they haven’t changed all that much over the years. I think at age 70 I define successful women much the same as I did at age 30.
But I admit I may not have tagged them with that title back then. I simply admired them. I looked up to them. And yes, maybe in some cases I hoped to be like them. And as I reflect back from this point in my life, I think I surprised myself when I came to understand that the first women in my life that I admired were my mother and her sister, my Aunt Marie. In all honesty, I’m not sure I ever gave this much thought until recently.
My mother only completed 8th grade and wasn’t an academic, but she was a very intelligent woman. In so many ways. She read a lot. She loved learning new things. And at age 16, she left the family farm in NH to join her sister, Marie, in Salem, Mass. Marie was 18 and determined to do something with her life. She waited tables in the private dining room for doctors at Salem Hospital to earn money and this money is what paid her tuition to attend Wilfred’s Beauty Academy in Boston to become a cosmetologist. My mother arrived in Salem and shared a room with her sister at a lovely boarding house in South Salem, run by a delightful French woman. (I grew up hearing these stories) My mom had worked at the Navy Yard in Portsmouth, NH and now had a job at Sylvania in Salem. Within two years, she would meet my father, have me and settle in Salem permanently. So why do I consider her successful? Because first and foremost……….she took a risk. Leaving her home town, relocating to a new area, marrying at age 18 to a man she’d only known 3 months. (I still marvel at that! And that marriage lasted till my dad passed away 57 years later) She was successful because she never, not once, spoiled her only child. Instead she taught that child the value of not always getting what you want when you want it. She taught that daughter that although she was never able to complete her own education, education was vitally important! She was successful because she shared her love of reading with that child and told her that if you have a good book…..you’ll never be alone. She was successful in so many other ways and I treasure all of them.
My aunt was successful in a similar way. She also married but was unable to have children. But she opened her own beauty salon in Salem, she traveled the world, like my mother she was an expert knitter, and also like my mother she was a giver. She gave because it was something she simply enjoyed doing.
So no, these two women didn’t solve a medical cure, or start up a Fortune 500 business, or become a celebrity……….but in their own right? They were successful.
And yes, I also consider many other women successful…….like Princess Diana, Jackie Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Meryl Streep and the list goes on. But what do all of these women have in common? Including my mother and my aunt? They have confidence. They speak up when a wrong is being done. They protect the underdog. They’re authentic.
With all of this said, I also believe it’s a fine line between successful and control freak. (Think: The Devil Wears Prada) Unfortunately, I feel many times the two blur together but when they don’t? It leads to success.
I heard a quote recently which ties in with my post title: Girls compete with each other…………Women empower each other! And THAT, to me, is the epitome of a truly successful woman.
See you here next time……………