In the past, I've celebrated International Women's Day with big fundraisers for the women and girls of Nepal and awareness campaigns for women's health and hygiene challenges across the globe. My career path has led me into nonprofits, businesses, and professional environments whose sole existence was to serve women. Every day.
And yet, no big fundraiser this year. No nonprofit of choice or awareness campaign to run. Nothing BIG.
Maybe I should've done a special themed Women Taking Leaps interview episode to epitomize the occasion. Maybe I should've raised funds on Facebook for my favorite charity. For most of the day, I belittled myself for not doing something more impactful.
Instead of feeling small because I didn't do something big, I'm going to do something personal.
Today, I celebrate the women in my life and share with them the immense gratitude I feel for their presence.
These are the women of my world.
My mom, the epitome of grace.
My mother is the smartest woman I have ever met. She can solve any problem, create anything from scratch, and can connect with any person with her smile. She did not have an easy road rearing me, and through years of difficulty, she only grew more graceful with time.
No matter what path I have forged, she has been there to cheer me on.
I now have the joy of watch her chase her dreams of owning her own business, living on a beautiful piece of land with the love of her life.
My inspiration, my guide, my mother.
My best friend, Kindall.
We are a circle - where she ends, I begin, and vice versa. Our time spent together is a creative, empathetic, mystical explosion of each tiny world we keep for ourselves, only to mash them together and see what we find.
We stand by each other through thick, thin, stupid, and stupendous.
Watching her create herself anew each day reminds me that anything is possible.
Miles apart, we are two halves of a boundless heart.
My confidant, Mari.
Our friendship is unlikely, but our connection is unbreakable. Mari knows me better than I know myself, but always stands back to be a gentle guide while I figure lessons out for myself. We can spend a whole day in Manhattan and a whole day in the kitchen and still have just as much fun, and still feel just as nurtured.
My greatest luck in life may be that our paths crossed.
Each time you share with me, I only wish I could give you more.
My mentor, Angela.
Angela took a chance on me when I was still just a child, with no professional experience and no real shoes. She told me she saw potential and she wanted me on her team. Our years together, building her company, serving thousands of women through her nonprofit, learning priceless lessons through her unwavering trust.
My future is brighter, my heart stronger, and my soul deeper with the imprint of your guidance.
You saw the light in me I could not see.
My sister from another mister, Jes.
We used to say that when we were kids, because we spent every waking minute together doing aboslutely nothing most of the time. You taught me to laugh at myself, to take charge when I was scared, to own up when I was wrong, and to have fun no matter what.
Miles and ideologies separate us now, and I am sad we are so distant.
I love you too much to lose you over something so trivial as life's hardships.
My soul sister, Annike
There is something deep inside me that fears being feminine. Fears motherhood, nurturing, and softness. Annike's gentle, eternal femininity is undeniable, and through her I've learned the beauty in surrendering to the nature of our sex. It is not in my nature to miss people, but our distance weighs on me every day.
You unearthed tenderness beneath my years of hoarded grit.
May our paths cross again when we least expect but need it most.
More than a few tears came forth in the making of this post. It's bittersweet to celebrate those you love, but are also so distant from. Miles stand between me and each of these women - hundreds of miles.