Strange title, you may be thinking…
With last Sunday being Mother's Day, it made me stop and think about all of the women along my path who have inspired me one way or another in my own “hero's journey” of life. Just as in the classic progression, the hero meets his/her mentor at some point, who guides, teaches, gives advice and wisdom. This enables the hero to have the skills or “tools” he or she needs to face the trials that occur on the rest of the journey.
In my own life, I have often found myself being powerfully drawn to certain female characters in movies, comics, TV shows and other media. I never really thought about what made me gravitate to these females, but I’ve started to realize that there is something about the essence of each one that has inspired me in some way.
What’s interesting to me about all of this is that I’ve never really had a lot of “girlfriends.” As the youngest of five, I had three older brothers (my sister being 18 years my senior). In general, I’ve just always felt more comfortable talking to males, being friends with guys, etc. Girls always intimidated me. Even today, I have VERY few women I would actually call my “friends.” So, why this focus on females in the media?
I’ve decided to metaphorically lay on the psychologist’s couch and see what’s helped make me tick all these years.
1. Princess Leia – Didn’t see that one coming, eh?! Seriously, I really do think she was my first woman role model. I was introduced to this spunky princess at the tender age of 7, and at the time I was feeling very awkward about myself. I remember feeling as though I always had a knot in my stomach. My brother constantly picked on me (as brothers do), and I never felt very confident. Leia helped give me that. Whenever I got into situations where I started feeling nervous, I would literally stop, take a deep breath and ask myself “what would Leia do?” It got me through a lot.
2. Wonder Woman – This breathtaking Amazon princess sure could kick some major butt! I can recall being so excited to see what sort of adventures she would have from week to week on the CBS TV series. Interestingly enough, the series aired from 1975-1979; pretty much the same time frame as when Leia came into my life. Diana Prince was not only strong in her powerful physical abilities, but she was also compassionate and empathetic. I admired her for her beauty, strength and character. I used to get into so much trouble because I would put on my Wonder Woman Underoos and my red rain boots, then proceed to go outside to play. Mom didn’t like me outside in my underwear, but I persisted to go out there and spin around, pretending to become that warrior princess and fight the evils of the world!
3. Laura Ingalls Wilder – I really believe this is who inspired me to become a teacher. I read every book in her “Little House” series several times over, and also enjoyed the TV show “Little House on the Prairie,” which aired from 1974-1982. It just always seemed to me that Laura had a quiet, yet powerful integrity about her. She was an upstanding member and contributor to her community, but she had ferocity for protecting her family. She could change from lamb to lion in a heartbeat if need be.
4. Laura Holt – The “Remington Steele” TV show aired from 1982-1987. Laura was a female private detective, but had to hire “Remington Steele”, a former thief to be the face of her business. As a female, Laura just wasn’t getting the respect and recognition she deserved for being so intelligent and cunning, so Steele accompanied her on all of her assignments, acting as though HE were the one to solve the crime. Although sometimes it made me angry that he was getting all the credit, it made me realize that you could contribute to something greater than yourself without having to be the one in the limelight. I feel as though I do that as a mom, wife, teacher and adviser of a community-based leadership organization at the high school where I teach. Thanks, Laura!
5. Mary Lou Retton – Wow. Who WASN’T mesmerized by this tiny little powerhouse in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games? To me, Mary Lou epitomized grace and power; flexibility and strength. I always wanted to be a gymnast, but circumstances growing up just didn’t allow for that to happen. I did end up becoming a cheerleader, and absolutely loved it. Mary Lou also taught me about being proud of my body. I was short (still am), and had the typical body issues of every 14-year-old girl. I hated my legs, especially. Always thought they were fat. What Mary Lou made me realize is that they were STRONG. I liked being what was called a “flyer” on the mounds in cheerleading, but I was best at being a base. I was strong and stable. I could hold the weight of others and be the better for it. Still can…
More recently in my life, I have been drawn to three females in particular:
1. Tahiri Veila: “I know something about pain you don't. Pain drowns other people. I just swim in it.”
Born to moisture farmers, raised by Tusken Raiders, tortured and remade by the Yuzhaan Vong. Jedi Knight…Sith Apprentice…redeemed by the Force. This girl has been through it all. I think I’m drawn to Tahiri because she’s been through so many trials and tribulations in her life, and although she wears visible scars on her head, she also wears them in her heart. Nevertheless, she is strong, and she is determined to protect those that she loves.
2. Alice Cullen: The Twilight Saga is second only to Star Wars in my heart. Haters just keep hatin’. Before becoming a vampire, Alice was a simple girl with an amazing gift of being able to have premonitions about the future. She was put into an insane asylum and forgotten, only to be turned into a vampire who could actually see the future. I’m not exactly sure why I’m drawn to Alice. Maybe it’s her amazing pitching arm? Maybe it’s her unwavering commitment to those she loves. Maybe its her spunkiness or fashion sense? Her ability to kick butt? I just love Alice. After seeing the first Twilight movie, I even got my hair cut like hers for the first and only time in many, many years.
3. Natasha Rominoff (Rominova), AKA Black Widow– Yes, another buttkicker in a seemingly long line of buttkickers here. My first introduction to her was in the movies, but I started reading and collecting the comics very soon after the second Iron Man was released. Her character is absolutely captivating. Orphaned after her parents were killed in a fire, she was “adopted”, brainwashed and trained by Soviet Intelligence to become a secret agent. Natasha was a ballerina to cover her true identity. I could go on and on about her biography, but what I find so interesting about her is that, despite the fact that she is a stone-cold assassin, she also has that undeniable…heart.
So, let’s re-cap:
As always, I am encouraged to hear from YOU. Who has been YOUR inspiration, male or female? Why? I would love to hear your stories. Give me your reply here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
May the Force Be With YouPowered by Sidelines