Today is International Women's Day and it got me thinking. Not about how men hold us back, thats not my style, but more about how the women in my life help shape the person that I am today, influencing me and supporting me on life's journey of dreams.
I've been really lucky to have strong women surrounding me throughout my life. My grandmother taught me lots of life skills from baking (very important) to spelling. She nurtured my creativity and love of theatre and without that I wouldn't be in a dream job heading up arts marketing campaigns. Mum battles with ill health every day but it hasn't stopped her setting herself challenges. My auntie is my confidant, and my mother-in-law is the heart of the family and her boy's comfort blanket. That's just the tip of the iceberg - my friends are all special and unique. I swell with pride evey time one of them achieves something.
On the flip side we're also a force to be reckoned with. This year I've watched my best friend go through personal experiences that no woman (or man) should face but she has come out the other side stronger and more confident than before. Sure, she has some emotional scars which won't go away overnight but that is what shapes us and makes us who we are. This experience made me realise my own strength. I'm a self doubter, I always worry what other people think, but in her darkest hour I heard myself giving sound advice. Things I should probably take on board myself! All I wanted to do was cry with her, as watching her suffer broke my heart but I didn't - I kept strong, for her. We love, we lose, we laugh, we cry but one thing is for sure we don't give up on each other.
It's not just the women that I know. When I started Shopafrolics I was overwhelmed by the support I received from other women in business. It is genuine encouragement with no hidden agenda (most of the time!) which is a breath of fresh air. There are is many networks which are simply about women helping each other success, and I've made genuine friends off the back of these communities. It's funny because I remember mentioning it to my husband when I started out, and him saying that he bet there weren't the same level of men's networks. He's right, plus the ones that do exist are often run by women! I think I never really appreciated just how much women support each other. I guess I always took it for granted as it is often offered unconditionally and naturally that it is just part of my world.
Now don't get me wrong I'm not saying women are perfect. I've dealt with enough mean girls and bullies in my time not to be naive. I'm also very self aware of my won faults and personality quirks. Nor am I disregarding the impact men have on my life. even if my husband does frustrate me when he conforms to stereotypes and avoids the household chores (as I write this he is having a lie in!), he's still my best friend and love of my life. I have a few amazing male friends who I wouldn't swap for chocolate or even shoes, and of course my dad will always be my hero!
But it doesn't hurt to appreciate the women in our lives, or celebrate our successes. After all mother's day was only a few days ago. So ladies, on International Women's Day, I thank you for being fabulous, beautiful and compassionate. Let's all remember that it really doesn't matter how many times you fall over as long as you keep getting back up again - and I'll be stood right beside you (laughing) to help you up!