‘Why look at women’s lives who changed history’ is my million dollar question for today, following a dark night of insomnia. That is why I am tapping away at my computer at 5 a.m. I was lying in bed listening to the early morning birds twittering in the dawn of a new day. I knew the computer was calling me. So here I am.
Yesterday was a day of one challenge after another. Early in the morning, I dropped my second computer screen on the floor. I can testify that computer screens do not approve of being dropped like a hot potato. Next, I had to do battle with turning a pdf document into edit mode. My new manuscript had been returned from the publishers for a second round of proof reading. Believe me when I say proof reading is tedious, to put it mildly.
Then came the cherry on top for a disastrous day that led to a dark night of insomnia. My personal mentor took time out from her very busy schedule to let me know that I had lost sight of my original vision for Whispering Encouragement. My whispers of encouragement had become blurred and indistinct. And I needed to revisit every article I have posted, all 80+ of them, and tweak a blatant error.
The value of a dark night of insomnia is that as the noise of the day dies away, life-changing truths start to percolate and slowly rise to the surface. It is a time to recharge and restart, hopefully in a better direction.
Lives of Obscurity
We all live our lives in obscurity. Our friends and family never get to know the real ‘me’ that is hidden deep inside each of us. The seed that produces the diamond we become, with all its flaws and endless possibilities.
Here is a direct quote from a fellow blogger: “One of the things that many of us struggle with is to live contentedly in a state of being unknown and hidden. Somehow, the ego that is often weak and insecure, strives for that proverbial fifteen seconds of fame and erroneously thinks once that is achieved, we can live with more satisfaction, with the knowledge that we are no longer unknown and nobodies.” Those with star status prove this theory wrong, as star status has a very high price tag.
The honest ‘me’ that we may not always like, is the ‘me’ that is sum of all our experiences, remembered or forgotten. They produce the person we project to others. We are all very complex in that we have numerous personas, from being a wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, aunty, niece, friend, customer, provider, sister, neighbour, carer, etc.
Each relationship requires a different aspect of who we are and what we are to one, is not what we are to others. Yet in that incredible mix there is the constant ‘me’ that hides in obscurity. Often it is a ‘me’ we take great pains to hide, for fear of unkind, or ignorant criticism, which most of us have experienced.
Learning from Women’s Lives who Changed History
So why look at women’s lives who changed history while we have the privilege of living our lives in obscurity? Many women have their lives laid bare, because they influenced others. There is no crueller judge than the opinion of others. However, through the modern phenomena of media, we can explore and discover worlds we never even thought about and learn lessons from women of all walks of life.
Marie Curie influenced medicine in a way few others have. We have Florence Nightingale to thank for her selfless work which influenced all aspects of nursing today. These women achieved this at a time when limitations on women were severe. Women could not have their own passport as they were only to travel with their husband, they were not allowed to own property once they were married and could not have a bank account.
Barbra Streisand reveals that behind the ‘Funny Face’ there was a woman in tears. She said, “You have to discover you, what you do, and trust it. You don’t need to mimic anyone.” Who can forget Helen Reddy, the original singer of “I am Woman”?
Princesses like Grace Kelly and Diana tell us that life as a princess is not a fairy tale at all and the life we live can be richer than the life of any princess. Unnamed Mrs Noah has a story to tell, that displays the inordinate strength that comes with being a woman in trying circumstances.
We may not approve of the lifestyle of gunslinging Pearl Hart or Belle Starr, but their lives show that women should not be bound by the limitations of society, circumstances and other people. Jezebel teaches us how important is the influence of a powerful voice, for good or for bad, that lasts long after the physical body is gone.
Queen Elizabeth II shows us what it is to be dedicated to not only duty, but to be ourselves, through thick or thin. When you consider Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II, you discover some amazing similarities. You wonder if Elizabeth II took some pages out of the first Elizabeth’s life, just as Grace Kelly’s poise and style influenced countless other women.
Women’s lives who changes history matter. They whisper encouragement to us.
Pioneers and Women’s Lives who Changed History
In Australia and New Zealand we are only two or three generations away from our pioneering ancestors. My grandfather was a small boy when his family travelled on the last sailing boat from England to New Zealand. It was a devastating three-month journey. When they arrived, they had to have EVERY thing they needed for survival.
My grandmother was born on board the first steamer from England to New Zealand. It was the same deal for her family. Their first challenge on arrival in New Zealand was a long trek over the Port Hills from Lyttleton, then traversing mountain rivers, and build their own dwelling on arrival at a patch of land.
Without these great-grandparents my life would have been written on a totally different page.
When my children were preteens, I left my family in New Zealand and moved to Australia. It was only a couple of years following my first husband’s death. Was is a mistake to leave my own family behind and go somewhere I had no family at all? Ask my children and they instantly answer “They are proud to be Australians.”
Sometimes we need to reach out and take a brave step. It might not always be the right one, but with perseverance you can come out on the other side, hopefully a better and richer (not necessarily financial) person. People may not always agree with what you are about to do, but that doesn’t mean they are right. People told me what I was doing was nothing short of crazy. My elderly parents were devastated.
But then, I am a lover of jigsaw puzzles. I enjoy the challenge. Not that I have much time for jigsaw puzzles these days, with too many other exciting puzzles to unravel. I do my writing by asking questions and putting the pieces together.
Lost the Way
However, from time to time we need to stop and do a retrospective audit on what we are doing. What was our original goal in a project? Have we met that goal? Have we become lost on the way? Do we need to regroup, and do some tweaking?
I am so grateful for my mentor, who manages to pull me back to my original dream for Whispering Encouragement. Correction is usually painful in the first instant, but it always gets the best out of my work and pushes me to give of my best. It stretches me to reach for a higher bar. It is of inestimable value.
Thank you for joining me in this project of discovering ourselves and allowing whispering encouragement to help you in day-to-day living. We all have more potential than we are using, so let us reach beyond ourselves. If we aim for the stars, we are guaranteed to reach the mountain tops.
I discovered something else in my night of insomnia. In the early morning hours it was impossible to get an Internet signal. It was as if the entire system was being drained, or hadn’t been ‘switched on’. In the ten years we lived in Vanuatu, we had the same problem.
At first, this was frustrating. I had things I needed to do and the lack of Internet was hindering my progress. I was forced to stop and began remembering a time when our lives didn’t revolve around the Internet. A time when we had more time to be still and contemplate, and smell the roses, which is a skill that is often missing in our busy lives today. May each of each find time in our days to be still and give ourselves time to breathe and relax, even for a little time. We not only deserve such a mini-break but we need it! Particularly if you have a dark night of insomnia. See you next time.