There was palpable determination etched in her eyes, her mouth set to “go”, shoulders hunched with the effort. An “ I will not let this beat me” attitude permeated the way she gripped the handle. I could hear the gravel fight against the wheels as she heaved forward. The young toddler sitting on one side of the stroller is staring straight ahead with intensity as if glimpsing the future. His special needs baby sister is next to him- her precious face linked to the breathing tube in her nose-her oxygen tank stuck in the back, with diapers in two sizes, creams, wipes, and the myriad of tools it takes to transport little ones from one place to another. The children seem oblivious to the long fight it takes to get where they are going, but their mother knows. As I watched that mom keep pushing up the road, through the days, over the years… pushing with all her might for her family, she becomes one of the pictures in my mind that exclaim, “Wow! She is incredible!”
Once I started looking, I saw “incredible” everywhere. I watched another young mother repeatedly rearrange her exhaustion into intentional joy at the end of a long day. This transformation to joy is a gift to her rambunctious sons as they greet her. They wrestle through the evening, and after she puts them to bed, she heads to her home office. These work time hours feel like a secret she shares with only herself night after night. Sleep is invaded with “to-do’s”. After the ritual breakfast hustle, she heads to the daily corporate ladder climb, one rung at a time, impressively higher. She gives… at work, at home, at the expense… She gives. Incredible!
A gentle-spirited woman at church passes around worn pictures of the 7 year old and 16 year old she is in the process of adopting from Haiti. She also runs a charity to help poverty challenged families in foreign countries stay together and survive, has a dog-sitting business, supports a husband, and raises teenagers. Her perseverance and dedication to serving is nothing short of…you guessed it…incredible!
The professor spends a lifetime learning and sharing, coaching and encouraging. Her life is a song of love for others. She returns the care for her mother that was given to her as a child and supports an ill sister she adores. She spends hours teaching students to write, helping military families transition to civilian life, presenting at speaking engagements, and taking sign language classes in her “spare time”. Incredible!
The novice teacher gives her all to a classroom of children not her own.
A neighbor goes out of her way week after week to push garbage cans back and forth on trash day as a simple kindness.
A grandmother drives long distances well past her retirement age to continue earning money to help support the grandchild she did not expect to help take care of until adulthood.
Story after story comes to mind about women I meet, work with, know, women I call friends or family who can easily be described as “incredible” It is deep in their story that I am often awestruck by the strength of women. It isn’t just women, of course, and they aren’t all incredible in the same way or with the same attributes. My point is simply that if you truly “see” the women around you, it is hard to miss remarkable examples of tenacity, compassion, self-sacrifice, gentleness, generosity, patience, and strength, strength, strength.
It is easy to see the “incredible” …unless, of course, it is recognizing the “incredible” within yourself. I have found that I could squelch the idea of me having any part of incredible every day. I could apply the destructive filter of comparison to every chapter of my story. I was raised in a dysfunctional home, dropped out of school at 14 and married that same year, had my first child at 16, struggled with jobs that provided little satisfaction and even less money, owned a restaurant for a while and failed, and much more.
However, if I remove the filter of comparison and open a place for “incredible” to shine, I see a different tale. The story becomes one of a woman who: went back to school 14 years later to receive a teaching degree, go on to earn a Master’s degree in counseling, invest her heart into a 26 year successful career in education, was a mother who helped teach 3 amazing kids lessons of compassion, love, and integrity. and much more. And now, rather than slowing down and taking a well deserved rest, I’m diving into an abyss of unknown challenges and possibilities to serve women. Yes, women are incredible. Even Me!
This is why I chose to work with Olive Founders. I believe in the “incredible” in all women. I believe the spark of a dream, the desire to do something that makes a difference in our world, that courage to build an idea to fruition, is incredible. I want to be part (in some small way) of helping the warrior, founder, change maker in women entrepreneurs shine. I want to teach, coach, mentor, and encourage the ‘incredible” in women who want to start businesses. I want to give back in honor of the incredible people who nourished the “incredible” in me-especially when I did not have an inkling that I possessed even a drop of it. I want to watch their stories grow, see the impact, spotlight that incredible. I am proud of the work Olive Founders is doing. Incredible!
That’s my “why”. What is yours?