International Women’s Day is March 8. It’s an annual day that recognizes women around the world for their social achievements and political and economic contributions.
For me, it’s not just about national or international notables receiving accolades. It’s also about celebrating and recognizing the day-to-day accomplishments of regular women—women we work with, play with, and visit with every day.
Ironically, it’s often how these women face and deal with individual challenges that, when added up, tip the scales from impossible to possible, from commonplace to exceptional, and from limiting to liberating. These women proudly and quietly live their lives the best way they know how, with little fanfare, recognition, or expected payback. Still, it’s their very actions that inspire and challenge other women to live their lives with courage and promise.
My neighbor, Kay Harris, has macular degeneration, limited mobility, and several other physical challenges that kept her housebound for more than a year.
Increasing health problems forced Kay to significantly adjust her lifestyle. Over the last several years, worsening eyesight meant giving up some enjoyable hobbies, including working on puzzles and coloring with pencils. Watching television is often a challenge and is dependent upon the type of programming offered. Golf cart or car rides with her husband Larry are too painful for her to endure and are now out of the question. Then there is the other kind of challenges—several years ago one of Kay’s four sons committed suicide.
When I asked Kay if I could write about her in my column, the 86-year-old said she wasn’t worthy of any special recognition; after all, she just lives the life she has been dealt, leaning heavily on her spirituality and her God. What she doesn’t tell you is how she chooses to live that life—with grace, good humor, and gratitude for what she does have rather than ruminating on what she doesn’t have.
She mentors other women, not by preaching or teaching, but by example. I enjoy my visits with Kay because I always walk away with at least one new insight, often as the result of listening to one of her real-life stories.
Thank you, Kay, for being you and for living your life with gusto, honesty, and a spirit that transcends circumstance.