With this month celebrating International Women’s Day on 8th March, my mind turns to those women of substance I have known in my life.
I wonder who comes to mind when you think of great women? If you’re anything like me, you don’t have to travel too far from home. Although not with me anymore, I am so grateful to an incredible mother who inspired me with her inner beauty and grace, her fortitude and strength and her fierce loyalty for her family.
I am blessed to have 3 “international” girlfriends in my life now, all living in the UK, wise women who each are in their mid-eighties.
Audrey has been my spiritual mother for 35 years, she is a gorgeous human being who, living in a rural area realised she’d become housebound after her husband died, so learned to drive and get a car in her seventies! She’s currently in hospital, but not surprisingly, the staff and patients all love her for her love, light, and countenance and the positivity and faith that shines out of her.
June is my wonderful Australian friend and although a woman of influence in parliament and on a global arena, she is also an entrepreneur and is just starting a brand new business venture! Emilie my beautiful American friend who is one of the most lithe, flexible people I know, starts her day with prayer-affirmations and “whooshing” which she has devised to stretch up and flop down against a wall and dust off her mind, body and spirit, I love that.
I’ve been blessed to work for a lot of amazing business-women – Dr Jan Day founder of Jafra Cosmetics and Dame Anita Roddick founder of The Body Shop International, to name just a couple. I now also have the privilege to oversee several thousand women in TEMPLESPA who I seek to be a positive role model and influence over. I often challenge myself with the question, what legacy am I leaving and what legacy am I leading?
For sure, there will be a girl in your life you are leaving a legacy to. Maybe a daughter, niece, pupil, subordinate, friend…there’s always an opportunity to make a long-lasting influence. My absolute favourite teacher at school was Mrs Cooper and we are still in contact today, at the age of 90, she was my honoured guest at a spa opening in Suffolk a couple of years ago and she looked the most sparkling and glamorous in the room!
You just don’t forget the positive influence those kind of people have had on you. I left school at 16 and got married at 17 so others could have easily felt I hadn’t given myself the best start, but it’s people like Sheila Cooper whose kindness and confidence boosting led me to believe then and to this day you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
It's easy to think you might not be doing anything great, but remember the words of Mother Teresa who said “not many people can do big things, but a lot of people can do small things” and undoubtedly you are doing a LOT of small things and should absolutely celebrate that.
I do believe one of the greatest things you can do in life is to be an ENCOURAGER. It’s the one thing that all of the great women in my life, all through my life, have got in common and it inspires me to try to be the same.
So in closing, I have to give honour to my darling Aunt Rose who was the greatest women of influence in my life. Her favourite phrase to me was “you can do it darling” she herself wasn’t the most academic of students, but she went on to be a Head Teacher and leading voice in education and child psychology, it was her passion. When I was a little girl, I would say things like “my Aunt Rose has travelled half-way round the world” and she’d correct me with “all the way round the world darling” always there to make the world look bigger and to stop me from dreaming too small. The caption over the door of her school was ANCORA IMPARO – one never stops learning, a wonderful mantra to have in life.
Our TEMPLESPA philosophy statement is “YOUR BODY IS A LIVING TEMPLE. HONOUR IT, ENJOY YOUR LIFE AND LIVE IT TO THE FULL” this captures the very essence of our belief. Life is pretty short, you only get one, so ensure you are truly living it. Another wonderful quote from Mother Teresa -“yesterday is gone; tomorrow has not yet come; we only have today; let us begin” and one more from Dolly Parton “don’t get busy making a living that you forget to make a life” – these are all reminders to embrace TODAY and be faithful in the small things as well as the bigger things on our horizon.
As we celebrate the great women who have influenced the world and who have influenced your life, I challenge you like me, to reach out to those who you love and thank them for the part they’ve played in your journey so far and to reach in and realise the power within that you have to be a great woman of substance. Right now, it might be just the call, letter or virtual hug someone needs, so be generous with your love and encouragement.
I send my love and encouragement to you now you beautiful women