Sunday, May 22, 2011

On Being Brave

How many times have you been asked to list people you admire most? Or perhaps, if you could trade lives with?  I can't even begin to tell you how many times that question stumps me. However, there are people I admire.. and when I have a moment to think about it - I can actually break it down. I decided that today I would list the women I admire most - STRONG, BRAVE, INTELLIGENT women, that if given the chance, I would have totally included in my inner circle. ;-) These women have the characteristics I admire in people.

Now.. let's get to my list.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, the Blessed Mother.
How can anyone not admire Mary? Regardless of what you believe about her, historically - we know she was the mother of Jesus. Any mother who stands by her son the way she did, watched him die, and continue to show great mercy to those who offended her - is an amazing woman. For me, anyone that God hand picked to give birth to his only son ~ says she is pretty incredible. Imagine, just a teenager - gets pregnant, and has to stand with her head high, proclaiming she has never been with a man. Mary gets the "perfect example" of loving kindness award from me. I would love to have her ability to LOVE unconditionally.

Amelia Earhart 1897 - 1937
Talk about a woman with guts! Amelia was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. She is the one that opened the skies to other women. In 1937 while attempting to become the first person to fly around the world, Earhart’s plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. Knowing her ability to say, "Yes, I am going to do it - and you are not going to stop me." is something I admire in a woman.

Cleopatra 69 - 30 BC
Beautiful, strong, well-educated before her time, and powerful.
She was the Queen of Egypt and the last pharaoh. She became queen when she was 17 or 18. She was a shrewd politician who spoke nine languages. During her reign, Egypt became closely aligned with the Roman Empire. I admire her intelligence and ability to take command of many men. Amazing -she had a strength to lead waaay before her time.

Her refusal to be summoned by her drunken, Persian King of a husband was right out of the "Nicole's Sticks it to the Man" book. She added new glory and inspiration for women back then - she stood up to the most powerful man, and said - "enough is enough." She had dignity and respect for herself, and at the end of the day, she said -"I am no one's puppet." (You can read more about Vashti in the Book of Esther in the Old Testament.)

Elizabeth Blackwell 1821 - 1910
Talk about paving the way for women to be educated - she was the first American woman awarded a medical degree by a college. She attended Geneva College in New York after she was rejected by all the major medical schools in the nation because of her sex. Elizabeth Blackwell later founded a women’s medical college to train other women physicians.  I admire her ability to not give up. So what if one door closed - she kept looking until she could find one that would open - and we can all thank her for that! She has taught me to never give up.


Esther became Queen of one of the most powerful empires in the world. She used her brain, not her beauty to win the heart of Xerses. Though she had to pretend to not be Jewish, eventually she took the bravest step she possibly could - she entered the court of the King, unsummoned (which was punishable by death) and told the truth. She was a Jew, and she was against the plot to kill all of the Jews by Hammon (one of the lead counsels to Xerxes.) Love overcame all - and Xerxes agreed with his wife. To this day, Persian Jews are known as "Esther's Children." I admire her bravery - how she stood for everything, knowing she could very well die. She protected an entire "nation" of people. We could all learn from her strength.

Harriet Tubman 1820 - 1913
This abolitionist was born a slave. She eventually became a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad — a system developed by a secret group of free blacks and sympathetic whites to help runaway slaves get to free northern states. Harriet Tubman led more than 300 slaves to freedom.  One - I love how she stood up and said, "This is not right," and helped abolish a human rights issue. She made a difference for so many people, and lead the way to freedom. I admire her bravery and her ability to strategically lead a group of people who had so little hope.

Jael was a brave but treacherous woman. In the way between the Canaanites and the Israelites, she proved her bravery and loyalty to God's people by giving false comfort to Sisera, the Canaanite. This guy willingly went to her tent, where she would give him milk to drink. This made him feel safe, so he fell asleep. While he was sleeping, Jael took a giant nail and drove it through his temple. Thus, she became a heroine of the Israelites.  What I like the most about her is - she used the gifts she had (the ability to charm, the coerce) to get what she needed done. She was ruthless.. and well.. from time to time.. you sort of have to be.

Eleanor Roosevelt 1884 - 1962
Besides being the wife of an amazing American President - she was a champion of Human Rights, and she worked hard to push Women's Rights to the forefront. Her other passions and movements dealt with the rights of the african americans (she wanted equality,) to help the poor and the unemployed. I have to admit - my Passions are EXACTLY the same. That's why I admire her so much.

Mary Magdalene
Mary was the one woman (outside of Mary the Mother) that was closest to Jesus. I do believe she loved him very much. I also believe she was a victim of historical defamation of character.  Mary plays an important role as a witness at three of the most important events in Jesus's life. She is the only one to witness all three: Jesus's Crucifixion, his burial, and to discover his tomb to be empty. In my faith, the Roman Catholic tradition, Mary  became a symbol of repentance for the vanities of the world to various sects. In 1969, the Catholic Church allegedly admitted what critics had been saying for centuries: Magdalene's standard image as a reformed prostitute is not supported by the text of the Bible. They  have revised the Roman Missal and the Roman Calendar, and now neither of those documents mention Mary Magdalene as a repentant sinner of ill repute.
I admire Mary's love for Jesus. I admire her ability to report the events. She was like the first official eyewitness reporter! ;-)

Joan of Arc 1412 - 1431
A national hero in France, Joan of Arc led the resistance to the English invasion of France in the Hundred Years War. She believed that it was her divine mission to free her country from the English. She cut her hair, dressed in a man's uniform, and led French troops to victory in the battle of Orleans in 1429.
She was brave, she had valor and she was a visionary! I totally admire that!

Sandra Day O'Conner 1930 -
As the first woman appointed to the position of U.S. Supreme Court justice, she carved a place for women at all levels of the legal profession. She is a pioneer, highly educated and intelligent - and has helped shape the laws of the land! How could I not admire her??

Helen Keller 1880 - 1968
A childhood disease left her deaf, mute, and blind. Helen Keller became an expert author and lecturer, educating nationally on behalf of others with similar disabilities.  Imagine - not being able to hear, see or speak! Everything that I believe makes me who I am.. though she was able to overcome the issue. It totally boggles the mind. She is definitely my hero for her determination!

Mother Theresa 1910 - 1997

Founder of a religious group of nuns in Calcutta, India, Mother Theresa devoted her life to aiding sick and poor people throughout the world.  She helped those that the rest of the world turned their back on. She radiated love.. and THAT is why I admire her.

Oprah Winfrey 1954 -

She has the most popular tv talk show, is an actress, an author, an entrepreneur - she is amazing! And she came from NOTHING! She has also been a spokesperson for women's health and family issues and for the prevention of child abuse. She has openly battled her weight and now just wants everyone to find their own balance. How could you not admire her accomplishments?!

Queen Elizabeth the 1st 1558 - 1603
Queen of England when England became a major European power in politics, commerce, and the arts. Smart, brave, and determined to link herself to her country’s fortunes, she cultivated the loyalty of her people and united the country against enemies. During her reign — the "Elizabethan Age" — England changed from being poor and isolated to being among the most important nations in Europe, with a powerful navy.
She epitomizes strength.

Sappho (Circa 625 BC)
This Greek poet is considered one of the most important in Western civilization. In addition to creating the "Sapphic stanza," which consists of three long lines of poetry coupled with one short line, she also invented an instrument — the 21-string lyre.

WAAAAY before her time - and just the perfect muse for creativity!
Susan B Anthony 1820 - 1906
The 19th century women’s movement’s most powerful organizer. Together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony fought for women’s right to vote. She was also very involved in the fight against slavery and the temperance campaign to limit the use of alcohol.
God Bless her for standing up for women!

Jane Austen 1775 - 1817
Austen's works brought her little personal renown because they were published anonymously. Although her novels quickly became fashionable among opinion-makers, such as Princess Charlotte Augusta, daughter of the Prince Regent, they received only a few published reviews. However, Austen had many admiring readers in the 19th century who considered themselves part of a literary elite: they viewed their appreciation of her works as a mark of their cultural taste. NOW her books are a part of our literary study! She was an amazing writer, with a limited worldview - that made the best out of her situation. :-)

Sylvia Plath 1932 - 1963
She was an American poet, novelist and short story writer. Now.. she may confuse you, as to why I picked her. Well... she lived out loud. One of my BIGGEST loves. Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry and is best known for her two collections The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel. In 1982, she became the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize posthumously for The Collected Poems. She also wrote The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death. Her death was a tragic one - where she died of carbon monoxide poisoning. She literally stuck her head in an oven, and sealed the room she was in. She was what we would recognize now as very depressed. She never apologized for her behavior - but was always brutally honest about it.
That - I can relate to.

Now.. this is not the end of my list - just some key individuals I could randomly think of off the top of my head.

Now - what about you? Who do you admire? .. and why?


Wendy said...

I love your list! Going to go total pop culture here and especially note Oprah. She is a kick ass example of a modern day STRONG, independent, self made woman.

High Heeled Life said...

Your list is fabulous!! You included a couple that are at the top of my list too.. Cleopatra and Oprah .... wonderful post ...thanks for bring such fabulous women to light...xo HHL

Anonymous said...

I would like to add Virginia Woolf, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Mary Shelley.

Great post.


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