This morning, when I got to Pearson airport, things were a bit grim. The day before there was the big Air Canada debacle and then today the Nor’easter so flights were delayed, bumped or cancelled all together and this is March Break. You can imagine….right?
But a baggage guy, full of joy with a big toothy smile, wasn’t having any of it. Instead of droning on like his co-workers, he sang all of the instructions to me to a Reggae beat and ended with “have a beautiful day” and then erupted into a hearty laugh. He was filled with joy and some spilled over onto me.
I needed every bit of it. Three hour delay to get out of Toronto, flight diverted to Milwaukee because of bad weather in Chicago, ready to take off again for Chicago after fuelling up (in time for me to make my connection to San Diego) and the crew timed out and we were stuck in Milwaukee. We had been on the tarmac for over an hour. Most of us had been up early to catch the flight. And then it took over an hour to get our bags off the plane. No food, no sleep, no way to get to my destination could have turned me into full-on bitch.
Instead, I thought of the baggage guy and how he helped me in the morning. So, I became the passenger advocate, getting information, talking a poor girl off the ledge who has a major speech to give tomorrow with lots riding on it and she wasn’t sure if she would make it, or helping others get hotel and food vouchers.
There was a man on my flight that was, let’s say crotchety before we even got on the plane because it was late. When he came down to get his bag in Milwaukee, he was complaining for all to hear. I told him that in the big scheme of things this isn’t so bad. We started talking and he asked me how I could be happy about this. I said I am not really happy but I am trying to make joy my default. He said, and I am not making this up, that aggravated is his natural state and he likes it. Then we both laughed. And the people around us started laughing. And then we all started to share the few good things that came out of it all. That area of the airport became joy full.
And it all started with that baggage handler in the morning.
You have a choice every day, regardless of what happens to you (I’m in Milwaukee instead of San Diego for goodness sake…no offence Milwaukee but you are no San Diego) whether you are aggravated or joy full. You think it is complicated, but it is not.
You also have a choice whether to share joy with others so they can be joy full too!
Can you imagine if we all had joy as our default?
It is International Women’s Day today! I want to celebrate all of the women who came before me and paved the way so that I can choose any career I want, that I have every right that a man does, including voting, owning property, and being able to wear pants, and that I have dignity and respect for who I am, not based on what chromosomes I am born with.
I also want to honour all of the women who have impacted me directly. All of my great, great grandmothers who moved to a foreign place called Canada, often with children in tow, with nothing but what they could carry, to allow me to be born in this great country.
I want to thank my Grandma Gudrie for being such a strong and stubborn women in a 4′ 11″ body that was such an example for me of not being afraid to voice her opinion or choose the life she wanted.
My Mom had seven children…seven…with six of us being girls!!! And, when we ranged in age from 5 to 18, my father passed away. This woman, who battled horrible rheumatoid arthritis since her thirties and had a grade three education did not fall apart because she was left alone. No, this woman kept it together and raised seven children that are strong, successful, educated, kind, caring, compassionate, and loving and who still all love to hang out with each other. Now THAT is heroic.
And my sisters. I think of my sister Deb and her strength and faith she displayed with her battle with cancer. Cancer took her body but her spirit remains and continues to inspire anyone who knew her. And my four other sisters exemplify what a great woman is. Each chose their own path and have been such a positive impact on their families and communities. Being second youngest, I learned so much of what it means to be a great woman from my sisters and sister-in-law.
Then there are all of my soul sisters out there, who are too many to name but you know who you are, who are just kicking ass in their world, as well as supporting their community, and being great moms, sisters, aunts, daughters, and friends. I see all of you and am inspired to do better each and every day. because of you.
I also want to mention the two men in my life who made me a better woman. My father believed in education, whether you were male or female, and in a time when a high school education was enough to get a pretty good job and there was pressure for women to just find a husband as soon as possible and start having children, he pushed us girls to go to post secondary school and be more. His expectation that there was more in me turned into my own.
And, my husband is my greatest source of support and encouragement. His, “you do what you got to do and I will be right behind you” attitude has been the wind beneath my wings for over 35 years. I’m a better woman because of him.
And last, but not least, I want you all to know that the next generation of women coming up has got this covered! My daughters make me proud to be their mom and proud to be a woman. They are both strong, talented, beautiful, heart-centred people and I know the world is already a better place because they are in it. And my nieces, who I have watched grow from children into independent, smart, and amazing women, makes me honoured to be their Auntie.
We have been given one day to celebrate all of the women in our life and in this world. What if we do it every day? What if we start stretching out our hand to women in need? What if we collaborate instead of compete with other women? What if we support rather than judge? What if we stand up for women who are being marginalized rather than worry it might affect us negatively so we shrink away? I would like to start a new movement, a #wegotthistogether movement that spurs us on to help one woman every day get a little bit further on her journey.
Don’t let midnight be the end of this celebration!
Every single one of you have the ability to change the life of a woman, let’s do it!