According to ancient Irish lore, the oak tree is a symbol of strength, grace, and wisdom. It has roots that run deep and limbs that reach high. If cut down, an oak tree can regenerate.
Like the enduring oak, a strong woman embodies strength, grace, and wisdom. She nourishes her spirit, heart, mind, and body so that her roots run deep. Even if struck down, a strong woman will rise again and stand tall.
This Week’s Blog Post:
No Longer Silenced: Empowered to Speak
Like so many young girls, I learned very early not to speak up. I learned it was safest to become almost invisible. Eventually, I couldn’t find words at all when I wanted to voice my thoughts and experiences.
When I became an adult, I had developed an almost paralyzing fear of speaking. My fear was so great that when I tried to make a doctor’s appointment for my children on the phone, I would have to rehearse a written script before making a call and talking with a receptionist. I realized my fear could not only affect my ability to be a parent and my ability to eventually find a job, it was also affecting my children. What I modeled by my actions spoke louder than anything I could have told them.
Fortunately, I found a supportive community group and joined Toastmasters to gain some initial confidence. Eventually I had the courage to take college level speech courses. Once I started gaining confidence as a speaker, my whole life changed. I had confidence in myself for the first time in my life. I finished a college degree and put myself through graduate school.
Today I teach public speaking at a community college. I am passionate about what I do. I know that most of the students in my class have some fear of public speaking, which is normal. I also know that everyone can learn how to effectively speak and to find their voices. For women, I believe there is no skill more important than that of public speaking. Every woman needs to claim her voice and have the power to advocate for things she believes in. Anyone can learn to speak in public, believe me!
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We are the daughters, the sisters, the mothers, the grandmothers, the aunts, the mentors, the teachers, or the elder women in our communities. We have a world of opportunities to make a lasting impact on the lives of others within our spheres of influence. Yet many of us have had our voices silenced at some point in our lives. It is time for us to take back our power and show the world we are indeed strong women.
Strong women take care of themselves. They speak up when they have concerns. They do not allow others to tell them what they think or what they believe.
It takes discipline to become a strong woman. I invite you to join me as we explore and practice the disciplines of strong women together.
No Longer Silenced but Strong
I suspect most women know what it means to be silenced. Some women are silenced simply because they are female; in some settings, ideas coming from women are often not given as much weight as those coming from men. Being female may mean our voices are discounted.
More often than not, women who have experienced some kind of abuse or violence have been threatened into silence or shamed into silence.
Women who have been silenced often lose confidence in their own voices. Sometimes they can no longer even find their own words.
As a communication educator, I have had a lot of women students over the years who experienced so much silencing in their lives that they simply didn’t think they had any words of their own.
As a woman who grew up in a time when gendered roles were very strongly defined, I understand how silencing works. I know how threats can silence and how shame can silence. I know what it is like to almost completely lose my own words and thoughts – to be at a point where others would speak for me because I could no longer speak for myself.
Today I am a strong woman. I refuse to be silenced. I know that my voice needs to be heard if I am going to make a difference within my sphere of influence.
I believe your voice needs to be heard as well. Let us show the world that we are strong women!
Two Inspirational Women
Two women in particular have served as the inspiration for this site. One of those women was my own grandmother who lived a full and vibrant life. She made sure her voice was heard. The other woman, Susan B. Anthony, is someone whose life I have studied for the past few years. In spite of the fact that many people tried to suppress her, Ms. Anthony made sure her voice was heard. She continued to speak for women’s rights right up until her last days. My grandmother was 97 when she passed this life. Ms. Anthony was 86.
Though both women I mentioned faced their share of challenges in life, they were strong women. As strong women, they were also prudent with their finances, planned for the future, made wise choices with regard to their health and well-being, surrounded themselves with others, had a relationship with a higher power, and found something they were passionate about that they pursued in a purposeful way. These women knew the importance of living a disciplined life.
Together, let’s explore disciplines that we need to practice so that the best of life is yet to be!
Please share your comments on this site. If you want to reach me personally about my book, about speaking to a group or about presenting a workshop to a group, you can contact me at: email@example.com. Please note: Spam will be filtered out.
Paula Marie Usrey