Honoring the Women Who Empower and Embolden Us

“None of us gets here alone.”  "None of us makes it alone."

Sometimes, when I feel frustrated and lost, I remind myself of the challenges I have overcome and on Mother’s Day, I remember the women I come from and the women I have been honored to know. Their strength gives me hope and reminds me that so much is possible if we remember and claim our own power and right to be heard.

Mothers aren’t perfect and certainly some are better than others, but despite the very human flaws, I am honored and fortunate to come from some deeply strong and might I say, ‘kick ass’ women.  

My grandmother was not easily intimidated, if you could could intimidate her at all.  She wasn't easily impressed by the superficial or status.  She was more interested in what kind of person you were, deep down.  And apparently, even in her youth, she didn't take crap from anybody.

As a young woman in the rice fields of Vietnam working with a sickle in her hand, a young man came by and exposed himself to her.  Her Response?  Sickle in hand, she chased him through that rice field threatening to cut off his pride and joy.  

After the North Vietnamese won, and food became more scarce in the countryside, my grandmother secretly strapped supplies of rice and other goods to herself and travelled outside the Saigon to get food to her starving relatives and friends.  Had she been caught, the punishment would have been severe, but she did what she felt she had to do, no hesitation.

In April of 1975, as the North Vietnamese tanks rolled through Saigon, my mother (a single mother) made the heartbreaking decision to leave everyone and everything she knew to find a new life in the United States.  I was a mixed race baby (Vietnamese mother, Caucasian American father), and she knew I would be singled out and have no future in Vietnam.  So, she made that incredibly heartbreaking and brave decision to give me and her the opportunity for a better life in the United States and left everything she knew behind.  Against some pretty big odds, she made a success of herself and taught me the importance of education and determination.

These are the women on whose shoulders I stand.  And then, there are the women who have come into my life, some chosen, some by fortunate accident, who inspire me everyday and who have helped me use my voice and stand my ground.  

The women that help us find our voice, understand the importance of that voice, teach us to trust ourselves and that we are enough: they lift us up with them and we, in turn, lift up others, because, truly, "none of us makes it alone".

And yes, I cry at least twice at every episode of Supergirl, I cry when I read stories about people triumphing over impossible odds and I brought my own box of tissues (went through the entire box) to see the movie,  “Wonder” ( I am a crier).

But, never mistake our emotional depth and connection for weakness.  We can be soft, kind and emotional, but when pushed to the wall, I know the kind of women I come from.