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March is Women’s History Month, and within that month, we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #breakthebias, focusing on celebrating women’s achievement, raising awareness against bias, and taking action for equality.
We are very proud to have a number of amazing women as part of the Source Vitál brand. This year, we’ve asked some of these incredible women to share the stories and achievements of the women that continue to be a source of inspiration for them each day.
The world is full of inspiring women. They are everywhere, in all walks of life. For me, my biggest influences have been within my family- the women I grew up learning from and admiring. Today, I am speaking of my mother, my aunt, and first cousin. My mother and aunt’s maiden name is Gentle, so in our family, we have often call ourselves The Gentle Girls. My mother, Marjorie and her sister Helen (my aunt), and Helen’s daughter, Ramona (my cousin) have been tremendous examples of strength, creativity, and adaptability.
Marjorie, my mother, was born in 1934. As a child, I watched her raise 4 children, help put my father through pharmacy school, take care of my grandmother, and work a full-time job. She made all of her, my sister, and my clothes. All that and she always looked like she just walked out of Mad Men- pencil skirt and French twist, and high heels. She taught me my work ethic. She taught me to be independent, but feminine. She is loving, logical, and optimistic, even in really sad times. I love all the hours we spend together. Her determination and perseverance show me that one can do what one wants to do, if you work hard enough.
My Aunt Helen, with a limited education, became one of the most admired women in her home town. She did not graduate from high school. From my earliest memories, she was sewing like a tailor, cooking like a chef, and making it all look so easy. When I was in high school, she and my uncle divorced. Newly single, she opened a gift shop and hair salon. Through the years, her business morphed into a gift/antique shop and tearoom. She was regionally famous for her menu and was even on the Eyes of Texas television show. Our hometown, Pasadena, still mourns the closing of Helen’s Tearoom. People still speak of it fondly on Facebook. Behind the scenes, she would quietly help people in need. She was creative with her needle and along with my cousin, Ramona, designed many vintage lace and fabric pieces- from clothing to wall hangings to Santa Clauses. The two of them were stars at the Houston Quilt Show for years with their unique creations. I always found unconditional love and acceptance from her. I can still hear her say, “Kathy, of course, you can do that!”. She never doubted me, even when I did. She has been gone some years now, but she is always in my heart.
Ramona was about 10 years older than me. She was the ultimate artist. She could china paint, watercolor, oil paint, calligraph, sketch, silkscreen, and design fabric collages. She was an eclectic and personal interior designer, leaving a client’s home unique, homey, and their own personal haven. Her example taught me to believe in myself and my talents and to not be afraid to try something new. She was fearless. She hired me to work for her in my mid-20s and her influence made all the difference in the way I felt about myself and my place here on Earth. She also showed me how to die with courage and dignity. I will miss her always.
Lucky am I to be a Gentle Girl. This photo is from 1973.
The women in my life that inspire me are my go-to, for life girlfriends - Chandler, Tory, Lacy, Emily, and G. They have walked the good, bad and the ugly with me through multiple stages in my life. Each one has truly found their calling. They have inspired me to stay true to myself and lead confidently in my own path as I have learned them. Their passions are inspiring and refreshing - Chandler is a lawyer is the D.C. area whose hard work and dedication is fierce. Tory is a teacher in DFW. She has a passion for a better, stronger world through better education for our next generations with a heart of gold. Lacy is a speech pathologist in DFW whose kindness and patience is solid. Her ability to help individuals is second nature. Emily is a pediatric nurse practitioner in Houston. The care and empathy she provides to her patients everyday is driven from her heart. G is a wilderness leader for young teens in Houston. Her ability to live in the moment and soak up mother nature feeds her happy soul. I value their friendship and love that they are such a positive light in my life. Above all, their encouragement, love, and continued support has inspired me and helped me to be strong, feel the feelings, ask for help, and continue to strive to be the best version of myself.
When asked about the most influential woman in my life, three women come to mind. Lily Majors, who took me on an emotional journey that changed my life. Brea Gratia who is the most innovative, fearless, passionate woman I’ve ever met and blessed me with her knowledge. But the third and most important is my mother. My parents divorced when I was 5 years old, and she became single mother with two young children, one of them handicapped. Even through a child’s eyes, I watched her struggle to keep food on the table and a roof over our head, find a reliable babysitter who would take a handicapped child and find work in the 1950’s job market that was not friendly to housewives trying to enter the job market. It wasn’t until I was much older that all that became a conscious thought to me. When my brother was 9 years old, the babysitter was forced by the state healthcare agency to stop caring for my brother because it was not “healthy” to mix normal and handicapped children together. This event forced my mother to make the agonizing decision to place my brother in a state school for the retarded in Austin. Driving home from dropping him off was the last and only time I saw her cry. Over time, she became an advocate for other parents faced with the same decision and was an unpaid lobbyist for the rights of handicapped children and spent many hours and days walking the halls of the Texas capital talking to legislators on issues that affected the retarded. She and two other parents formed the Parents Association for the Retarded in Texas (PART) which is still in existence. She instilled in me a moral and work ethic that has shaped me into the adult human I am today, and I am eternally grateful to her for setting an example that I have been proud to follow. There have been other influential women along the way, but she laid the foundation.
I was asked who the most influential woman in my life was and the first person was who came to my mind was my Great Aunt Diddy. When I was little, I used to go over to her house for tea parties. She had a back room with a huge circle table, herbal books and dried herbs hanging from the bookshelves. In her backyard was a white gazebo surround by beautiful rows of lavender, paths lined with lavender and lavender hanging from baskets. I had no idea at the time of what she was accomplishing and how she was changing people’s lives. I was told later that she was the very first independent producer of Lavender oil to sell in any Houston grocery store. WOW, my great aunt working away in her back room distilling, bottling, and distributing to major chains! She instilled in me that if you have a passion for something, follow it. If it’s a little different from other people’s views, follow it. Because you never know where that passion will lead and what you can accomplish.
What women in your life inspire you? Let us know in the comments!