International Women’s Day was yesterday, March is Women’s History Month, and I’ve been spending time for a while reflecting on women who have had an impact for me personally. The number is large. I’m taking the opportunity to share a few from my family over the rest of the month. Each of them represents something I strive towards, a richness I want to embody and pass forward – because that is a big hope with connecting to history: the learning, the embodying, the sharing forward of wisdom.
The fridge was covered with magnets when I was growing up, and one I remember best had flowers all over it and cheerily proclaimed “Bloom Where You are Planted!” in stems and buds. This is my mother, who has managed to make anywhere she’s been feel welcoming and safe for all who enter. She has worn a multitude of hats over the years and aside from tap dancing on a ladder, I’m not certain there is a single thing she cannot do. Textile artist, confectioner, pastry chef, gardener, ceramicist, painter, writer, hanger of perfectly aligned wallpaper (Plaid. In a bathroom, including on the ceiling) – in truth she’s a tad intimidating, but also immensely inspiring. At roughly 5 feet tall, she’s a petite powerhouse of creativity. Did I mention she’s also a Mom?
My mother holds a firm belief you can learn to do anything you choose – especially the things that scare you. She became a certified instructor for wilderness survival training because she woke up on a camping trip and realized she was terrified of the Great Outdoors. She went on to help numerous people build confidence and gain enjoyment from being outside.
Over the years, my mother created safe spaces for people of all walks. From a young college kid who ran out of gas and money (and phone battery and water and courage) to a grumpy elderly gentleman who never liked…anything, to caring for both parents when they had terminal illnesses, to a veritable parade of kids needing a place to sleep, a warm meal, and a gentle ear – my mother has repeatedly shone compassion on those she’s met.
“Why would you do this for me? You don’t even know me?” the college kid asked.
“Because I hope someone would do the same for my own babies if they were in this situation.”
“How can you be so patient with him? He makes me crazy!” A coworker asked her about a disabled man who frequented their shop.
“Because I hope that when I need it, people will be patient with me.”
My mother has definitely bloomed wherever she’s been planted, scattering seeds of kindness from her pot of compassion, and encouraging people to do the things that scare them so they can come out brighter on the other side.