Why I Celebrate International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day.

I often talk about my beliefs of the equal rights for women. I keep it no secret that while I have chosen what many consider a “traditional” role for a woman (stay-at-home mom, household manager, chauffeur…take your pick of the many of things I do), it is exactly that…A CHOICE.

A choice that I realize is a privilege.

And a choice, at varying moments over the years, with which I have struggled.

Why I Celebrate.

The question becomes… why do I celebrate?

I have spoken on reasons why this day is important to me. You can find my thoughts in 2017 hereand in 2016 here.

But perhaps to fully understand why I celebrate International Women’s Day, my own background may help, lest you think I only speak from a place of current privilege.

My background.

Many of you know that I just finished reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I found that I could relate in so many ways even though there were plenty of ways in which I couldn’t.

I recognized my dad in her father. Not in the erratic, alcoholic side of Rex Walls. My parents drink once a year, if that. It was the genius and nonconformist side of Rex. It was also his belief in his daughter.

My dad once told me that in the world there are leaders and that there are followers and that I was a leader

…and I believed him.

My parents never once told me that there was something that I couldn’t achieve.

I don’t know if I had lofty expectations.

Surely, I didn’t dream that someday I’d be sitting, in the middle of an optical illusion, on a bridge in Paris, with my own daughter.

I just did what I was good at…doing well in school.

Education.

I never assumed that I wouldn’t go to college. It felt like a given that I would. And so I did. I graduated high school in 1994, I was sixteen and the thought of heading away seemed overwhelming. I decided that I would attend community college and maybe by the time  I finished I’d know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

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College.

I was the first person in my immediate family to attend college. Actually, I was the first to graduate high school in a traditional manner. I graduated sixth in my class and since the local community college awarded a full tuition scholarship for 60 credit hours to the highest academics in the school…and everyone else ranking above me was heading off somewhere else…I received the award.

In the past, I mentioned that I also received a scholarship from a local Women’s Club, which I used to pay for my books. I was also awarded enough financial aid, that it took care of all my other costs.

Due to the fact that I am extremely uncomfortable with new situations, I never met with an academic advisor. I just moved through the list of requirements for an Associates of the Arts degree.

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Graduation.

I remember wanting to quit college. I remember telling my dad that I wanted to quit. And he told me “just quit then”. Now I’m sure most of you are thinking this is bad advice. However, my dad knew me, and he knew that I didn’t give up once I set my mind to something. Through tears, I told him that I couldn’t quit. He told me that I could and that the reality was that I didn’t WANT to quit.

He was right.

I was on the Dean’s List and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa (not the first time I was asked because…again…uncomfortable).

After checking off boxes, I finished up in the fall of 1995, after a year and half, and put in for graduation for my A.A. I was barely 18.

Take Your Daughter To Work.

The spring before that graduation, my aunt had taken me with her for Take Your Daughter To Work Day. She worked for a Dermatologist. I spent the day there and I loved it. He had a transition happening, so he hired me part time on a temporary basis. I mostly worked the front desk, but I did get to be an assistant in a hair transplant surgery!

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First Real Job.

I had always loved math and science, but then I knew that I loved the medical field. The temporary basis came to an end. I didn’t know what I wanted to study. Plus, I still wasn’t prepared to leave home so I got a job at the hospital, working in a Rehab unit. I was fascinated by the Physical Therapists and talked with them about the schooling. Dissecting cadavers and the burn unit made me nervous. I know now that I would have been able to handle things, but hindsight is 20/20.

Back to College.

I decided I would become a Pharmacist. So I got a part-time job (along with maintaining my full-time job) at a 24 hour pharmacy and worked two 10 hour shifts over the weekend as a pharmacy tech. Then, I put in my notice at the hospital and re-enrolled at the community college in 1997.

However, what I didn’t know and hadn’t been told, was that once you put in for graduation at the community college, you aren’t eligible for financial aid at the community college level any longer. A person in my life at the time helped me scrape together the money for that semester, but I had to withdraw from Biology because of the schedule and I needed to get another job to pay for life. I finished out my Chemistry and Trigonometry classes, but by the end had decided I was not going to become a Pharmacist.

I did not like the automation of the medicine.I would have loved it back in mortar and pestle days. As it was my favorite part was learning how to read the meniscus.

Work.

The second part-time job I got during that semester in college turned into a full-time job. It was at a MRI facility. I thought about going back to school to be a MRI tech, but then life happened along. I switched jobs. Met my husband. Came back to that job when the day shift opened. Then I had my first child in 2000.

You might think that I easily went into being a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t. I wanted to be one, but I’d also never had a point in life where I wasn’t earning my own money. I’d been working since I was 14. When my son was 6 or 7 months old, I took a job in the nursery at the local YMCA because I could bring him with me.

Stay At Home Mom.

And then I got pregnant with my second son. I had complications in the beginning of my first pregnancy. Pains that made them check to make sure it wasn’t ectopic. It obviously wasn’t, but I was told to take it easy to avoid a miscarriage. When the pains started with the second pregnancy, the doctor advocated that I even avoid carrying around the oldest too much. He was 9 months old, so complete avoidance wasn’t going to happen. Since I couldn’t pick up any kids in the nursery and the diaper changes of other people’s kids were doing a number on my morning sickness, I resigned.

We would add our youngest, Miss Sunshine, in 2003. I sometimes thought about going back to school, but I also loved being home with my children. In 2010, the nearby community college changed to a state college and added some Bachelor’s programs.

Back to School.

That was how we found ourselves moving over to Stuart, Florida. I had many reasons for wanting to go back to school. But if I’m honest, one of them was because I wanted my children to realize that I was intelligent. It may seem silly, but that means something to me. It was my one claim to success in my formative years. I also wanted them to know that different choices are always possible. I enrolled for the Bachelor of Biology with a concentration on Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (I don’t know if that’s still offered), but even with 68 credit hours, I still was missing some lower level classes. So after 13+ years of being out of college, I took Chemistry and Statistics. When I aced them, I felt a real sense of pride.

At the time my dream was to go to work for some of the local biomedical facilities. They were touting the Treasure Coast as the Research Coast. If you don’t know…I love research. However, I came to realize that it’s mostly interns in many of those places. I thought I’d supplement the Biology degree with a way to actually earn income. Even though I wanted to work in a medical laboratory, the pay for that degree isn’t that well. I started considering a Physician’s Assistant or Nurse Practitioner, so I thought I’d get a nursing degree. After taking Anatomy and Physiology I & II, Nutrition, and some Psychology based classes, I changed my mind. I believe nursing is a calling…and I have not been called. About that time, life changed. We moved to Virginia. I wasn’t about to pay out of state tuition.

After a year, I sent for my transcript papers. Where they still sit in the filing cabinet. Unopened. I decided not to return to school because I found other passions and we also have three teenagers to put through college. Sometimes I worry that people think less of me because of my educational background.

I have learned to live with that.

Mostly.

I don’t know exactly how many credit hours I have. Probably over 90. I think less than 100.

I’m not sure because I haven’t broken the seal.

They sit there…waiting…in case I change my mind.

Being a Woman.

That is one of the reasons I celebrate International Women’s Day.

Because nowhere in that story was the decision not mine. Nothing about being a woman changed my options.

It is because of the way paved by other women that I had the freedom to make each of those choices. There wasn’t any choice which was prevented by the mere fact that I am a woman.

I’m sure there are many out there who would have made different choices. And that is okay.

Isn’t it wonderful to have that option?

Not everyone does.

Which is why women will keep fighting to be seen as equal.

Having a Daughter.

I also celebrate because I have a daughter. I often use her as a muse in my photography. Whether its captured unbeknownst to her as in the shots of her in Paris or when she willingly helps me create my vision like in the canal shot in Amsterdam, I am always in awe of her.

Miss Sunshine has dreams and visions and goals.

She heartily pursues them without any regard to her gender.

She is even stronger than I consider myself to be.

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Soccer.

Most of my regular readers know that Miss Sunshine plays soccer. She has played since the age of seven. We went through a hard transition when she was 13 and the U.S. Youth Soccer changed the age guidelines. She went from being the oldest on the team to being one of the youngest.

The transition also made her miss the first year that the field transitions from being 8v8 to 11v11. She found herself moved from a forward to a defender and she worked hard to learn the role. I live the behind the scenes. I know all the dynamics of the shift. But she did what she does, she persevered.

I love this shot of her during warm-ups. They were playing one of their league competitors and decided to put on war paint.

It reminds me of the quote:

Fate whispers to the warrior, “you cannot withstand the storm”

The warrior whispers back, “I am the storm”. -unknown

Self Assured.

I have taught my daughter that if she finds a glass ceiling, she should break it.

She should pursue her dreams with no regard to the naysayers.

I have spoken in the past about the fact that at this time she wants to be an Engineer. She’s 14 and that may change many times before she decides on a path. It may even change many times while on a path.

There is great freedom in that reality.

Locally we have some part-time specialty high schools. She has applied to two and while she is waiting to hear from one, she has been accepted into the Engineering Based one.

Part of application process was to come up with an invention that could be patented and describe the materials, cost, building process, and usage.

While I’m not sharing her invention…I have to say…I love how her mind works.

So today I celebrate all those women before me who fought and all those women who continue to fight to be acknowledged as equals.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Let your light shine!

Amy

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16 thoughts on “Why I Celebrate International Women’s Day

  1. I loved this blog and it really shared what strength young woman have today. That we need to make sure our daughters know there is no limits to the choices they have, and
    what they can accomplish. Very well written!!

  2. I can relate to this post. So much support when you were growing up. I had just the opposite. My father often said, “Why? You’re just going to grow up and get married and have babies.” That was the response for whatever I wanted to do. I proved him wrong.

    I did get my Bachelor of Science in Business Management. I did become a sheriff’s deputy. That was a mans world back in my day. I did break the glass ceiling and more than once. I graduated high school in 1969. Lots of ceiling that needed breaking back then.

    When I retired my title was lieutenant. It was a most wonderful career. I’m most happy to be a woman.

    Have a fabulous day. ♥

    • I was very lucky in my educational support. While they didn’t comment on education one way or the other, they were proud of the dedication that I found for school.

      You sure did break a lot of glass ceilings! And I’m sure your dedication to doing what you loved helped pave the way for many women to know that it was possible to climb the ladder of their dreams as well! <3

  3. Yours is a story all your own just as each of ours is. Choice is the most important gift any of us have, and staying home to raise your children is one of the most meaningful things you can do. It will not be the last choice you make.

    • Choice is a wonderful opportunity to have. Thank you for your kind words about the pathway that I chose. I know that my path still has many twists and turns as I move into navigating these years as my teens being to fly the nest.

    • While I am always honest, I tend to be reserved about the more vulnerable aspects of my life. I touched on that fact in some in my IG story after writing this post. While I explained it as best as I could, I don’t know that I still conveyed what I meant. There are certain posts that I have written which are more like peeks into my inner sanctuary. I dole them out carefully and see how they land before deciding if I’m willing to share more. This post was one of those peeks. 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing your story Amy. Turns out we have a lot in common. I was also the first to go to college, and was the only one to graduate high school. My sister never finished. My mother was the one to tell me to quit college, once when I only had a semester of undergrad left (since I was getting married, what was the point of finishing), then again when I was pregnant with my first child and working toward my PhD. I didn’t quit and had our second child before my defense. Since college was not encouraged there was no money-had to work to put myself through all of it.
    We are stronger today, and our daughters “get it”. Our daughter graduated with a degree in biochemistry and is applying to medical school. Women run it all, we always have, the men just didn’t know it 💕

    • Thanks so much DeeDee!

      I was very proud to be the first to do it.

      I don’t know if it’s the nonconformist in my dad, but he didn’t want me to feel “pressured” into doing something that I truly didn’t want to do. He helped me see that I wasn’t being “forced” into going and that nobody would be disappointed in me if I chose a different option (I’m a classic people pleaser). In the end, I did it for me.

      Your story is one of amazing dedication! I do think we are stronger today and know we will continue to be so. <3

  5. I believe in education. I’d never questioned whether or not you’d had an official one, but I fersure knew you’d read and studied either way. Not everyone is cut out for academia, the same way I am not cut out for biochemical engineering. It sounds like science is definitely a big area of possibility for you. When you’re ready to go back, it’ll be there. Maybe more healthcare, maybe research — I know many people who sort of filtered through health sciences until they found the perfect fit. Every experience gave them something useful along the way. I even know a woman who got four completely unrelated degrees, or so it seemed, until she found a job testing water. Seems that takes a very specialized person with three of those degrees. She had no idea it was her dream job, but it is.

    I believe in the journey, the path that takes us through life. Most interesting people are interesting because they’ve had an interesting path. The paths women can take have no limit.

    • I love education. I loved almost every class I took. There were many factors in my path and I’m encouraging my children toward the standard University, dorm life, path.

      When I was in college the first go round, senior citizens could sit in classes for free. I don’t know if that still exists, but I’d definitely be one of those people at that age.

      I believe that the path will continue to evolve. I came to a point where I felt like I couldn’t justify (to myself) paying for what classes cost when I’ll have children in college for the next 7 or so years and we’d like for them to have as few loans as at possible. However, I know it’ll be there waiting should that become the next piece of my journey. 🙂

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