To the Women in My Life,
This is for the women in my life: my mother, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, mother-figures, family members, friends, leaders, teachers, and neighbors. But it is also for the women I don’t know personally, but admire and take great inspiration from, who have in some way touched my life and shaped who I am and who I am becoming.
Thank you for the late nights, for nursing me through sickness, for providing safety, nourishment, and a home.
Thank you for teaching me to walk, run, and climb, so that I could help others to do the same.
Thank you for teaching me to read, for fighting for me to learn, for encouraging me to be passionate about education and about learning.
Thank you for teaching me that I can do anything and love anything the boys do.
Thank you for teaching me that faith and obedience aren’t about being enslaved to an invisible god, but freed and empowered and motivated by someone more eternal than myself
Thank you for making your voice heard, so I knew to raise my voice, and so that I have the chance.
Thank you for teaching me valuable lessons about life, the home, the world, and about humanity.
Thank you for standing up for my generation, so that we could fight beside you.
Thank you for teaching me what feminism is, and isn’t, and for teaching me to fight for my brothers, as well as my sisters.
Thank you for teaching me that compassion isn’t a weakness, but a strength, and for teaching me that nurturing doesn’t mean you’re not a fighter, too.
Thank you for teaching me to get back up when I stumble, to tackle life’s challenges, and that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Thank you for teaching me how to overcome, to not be defined by your past, your circumstances, or your struggles.
Thank you for being my comrade, my friend, my sister, no matter the difference in age or background.
Thank you for breaking down barriers and stereotypes, for defying the odds, and for shattering the glass ceiling over and over again, even when it reappeared again and again.
Thank you for teaching me that I am no better than anyone else, but in the same hand, that I am no less than anyone else.
Thank you for teaching me to put down roots, but to be flexible, and to draw on the past as I pushed branches into the future.
Thank you for teaching me that it’s not what society thinks, it’s what I think, and the people who respect think.
Thank you for teaching me to be a protector, a contributor, a person who will do the right thing, not the easy thing.
Thank you for teaching me to pursue my passions, whether it’s baking or learning to shoot, and for pushing me to dream bigger.
Thank you for leading a life, as rough or as elegant as it is, that I can learn from and saying things that ring in my heart and mind and shape who I am.
Thank you for being you. For being a woman.
There aren’t enough expressions of gratitude and admiration to express my appreciation and respect for you having collectively taught me what it means to be a woman, for teaching me not only right from wrong, but how to do the right thing and to help forge the future as we build on the past that our mothers and sisters built.