Celebrating Inspirational Women: Dr.Maya Angelou

By: Cinthya Rubio, Marketing and Communications Director @ Our Hands For Hope

On May 28th 2014, at the age of 86, Dr. Maya Angelou became “a rainbow in the clouds“. Like most beloved leaders, her passing has created a movement of sorrow but has made us remember the many lessons she shared with the world through her beautiful smile, unforgettable voice, and wise words.

Maya Angelou

Most see her as a celebrated poet, novelist, educator, producer, actress, dramatist, filmmaker, historian, and civil right activist; amazingly enough she was also San Francisco’s first African-American female car conductor, single teen mother, waitress, and cook. She traveled the world and mastered languages such as Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish and West African Fanti. She emerged from struggle and bloomed to become a beautiful, strong, wise and confident woman. It is exemplary people like her that give humanity hope, hope to transform ourselves and bloom as well.

Maya Angelou

Her words and teachings went beyond race, gender, age, sexual preference, and religion. Her desire for humanity to unveil itself to show compassion, tolerance, and love broke barriers in the minds of many and freed us from hate and ignorance.

“I am human being, nothing human can be alien to me”. We need to remember this at all times, we need to empathize with those around us, care about the well being of all people and not only of those we know.

To me, Maya Angelou was one of the most inspiring figures that crossed many generational gaps. When reading her poems, and listening to her words, it almost seemed as if she knew who I was, as if she could feel the inner struggles I fight with. The resonance with which each syllable is written was strong enough to create a change within me, and I thank her for that.

Her love for humanity was amazing, but even more so was her love for being a woman. She did not hide behind stereotypes, she did not shame her body, she embraced every inch of her womanhood and the power bestowed upon her. I end this tribute for the woman I wish I had met, the woman I look up to, the woman I will never forget.

Phenomenal Woman
By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou

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Celebrating Inspirational Women: The Men That Inspire Me…

By: Cinthya Rubio, Marketing and Communications Director @ Our Hands For Hope

When we started this adventure of Celebrating #InspirationalWomen I immediately knew which women in my life have had a strong influence on the kind of woman I have become today. Being such an easy task to identify them does not remove the merit and acknowledgment they should receive, but easy has never been my profile. So how about honoring the men that stand beside, support, cheer on, challenge and inspire women? Yeah that sounds more like it.

To my demise when  I googled things like “men that stand beside women, men that support their strong woman, men that cheer on their woman, men that challenge and inspire women” everything had a “sentimental relationship” connotation!  Here are just a few of the many things that I found:

Yup, that’s just a small taste of what I found on the surface… then I saw this article on Forbes titled: “Suzanne Venker: Men Aren’t Mad At Women’s Success–They Just Don’t Want To Help”. I must say it still wasn’t what I was looking for and it touched the evidently inevitable sentimental relationship aspects between men and women but it did have a more professional setting sprinkled here and there throughout the article.  There was a quote on there that did get me thinking:

“One of the reasons men are less successful today is because women have been insisting for decades [that] they don’t need a man!” she says. “So men stopped reaching as high as they used to.” But as women continue to reach higher and higher towards success, will men reach lower and lower? Will they even be able to lift a finger? –Excerpt from Meghan Casserly’s  Forbes article.

WOW really?!? Maybe this general feeling is why the search for stories of women honoring the supportive men in their lives has been hard to find! Do I feel like this? Should I? HECK NO!

I might be one of the select few to have great men that are inspiring and have been influential in who I am today, or maybe “Strong, successful, inspiring” women just aren’t as willing to share the platform with men. Now I am definitely more eager to share!

No doubt that my father has played a big role… He’s not your typical “Mexican Macho Man” but does have cultural characteristics of a Mexican Gent. I’m certain that my Grandmother played a big role in him not doubting the strength of a woman…  He also found a woman that was not your typical housewife, the interaction between my mother and him has always portrayed a feeling of “we are in this together, we will both push forward”- so clearly I am looking for the future man in my life to have that mentality as well.

Father with baby daughter

Dad with baby girl #3 (me)

What surely made my father become a supportive man was the fact that he had three daughters.  He could have taken the easy route and let girls be girls, but he challenged us to help fix things at home- not just clean, to explain sports and invite us to watch games with him- not just shoo us away to play with our dolls so we wouldn’t interrupt, to learn basics of car maintenance should we ever get stranded- not just rely on AAA.  He went that extra mile to make sure that the girls he would send out to the world would not only be caring but independent should a man not be present, knowledgeable beyond caregiving and cooking, and strong should they have to face adversity in life.

Because of the things dad exposed me to, it has always been easy for me to have guy friends. These friends have always told me that my lack of an extremely “girly attitude” helps them be able to talk and share more openly what they think. The simplicity and ease of these friendships with men have taught me how to avoid talking behind the backs of others and simply say what roams in my mind without sentiment getting in the way- and that has helped me in the business environment. Curiously, when I have had doubts regarding big steps in life, it has been my guy friends telling me that I am more than capable, worthy and strong enough to do it, whereas most of my girl friends have instated doubt and at times fear to move forward, always with the idea of helping me avoid grief of possible failure and safeguard my feelings. Without a doubt I have studied, traveled, loved and even jumped out of planes because I am more than capable, worthy and strong enough to do it… but I know failure and have felt the sting of broken feelings, but I too am more than capable, worthy and strong enough to endure those.

The best friends a girl can ask for!

The best friends a girl can ask for!

Last but not least, the amazing men that have served as mentors while in college and during my career must be mentioned. I have been blessed to have professors that bluntly expressed that my worth as a professional would be undermined simply for being a woman; therefore mediocre efforts in their classroom would not be tolerated in order to prepare me for the real world. Their words of encouragement, not sugarcoating what to expect in the jungle, and even that one professor that flunked me and made me retake his class because he felt I did average instead of exceptional, have opened many doors in my professional life, giving me the opportunity to venture into many fields of work and “mostly” enjoy every moment of it… I have learned to gain respect of my coworkers, and have received advice from businessmen, that in my mind will forever be priceless.

So to all the  men out there, go beyond the feelings that Suzanne Venker mentions in that Forbes article, please don’t stop reaching as high as you used to… because girls, and women like me, need challenges! Let’s both continue to reach higher and higher towards success to inspire generations of both girls and boys to come.

The James Brown “It’s A Man’s World” became the soundtrack to the writing of this post.

Celebrating Inspirational Women: Who inspires you?

We have been collecting stories and celebrating the #InpirationalWomen in our lives. We’ve received great stories and would love to receive more!

Send yours toinfo@OurHandsForHope.com
Please keep your story to around 300 words or less.
You’re welcome to post directly onto our Facebook page at:https://www.facebook.com/OurHandsForHope
Instagram: www.instagram.com/ourhandsforhope @ourhandsforhope
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ourhandsforhope @ourhandsforhope
Hashtag: #InspirationalWomen

celebrate the woman in your life send story to info@ourhandsforhope.com

celebrate the woman in your life send story to info@ourhandsforhope.com

celebrate the woman in your life send story to info@ourhandsforhope.com

celebrate the woman in your life send story to info@ourhandsforhope.com

Celebrating Inspirational Women: Cheryl Murray

 

 “My Mom is the Definition of Selfless…”

By: Shayla Newman 

My mother and I have always been close. She’s my everything. But I am not writing to talk about our relationship but what an amazing woman she is.

My mom was unable to have children and I was made possible by her friend carrying me for her. Since the first day I was born I have never seen so much love come from one person. My mom is the definition of selfless. Not only has she always done for me, she is always doing for others.

My mom has owned her family daycare for over 30 years. She is not only good at her job, she has an outpouring of love for each and every child that comes through her door. I truly believe it was Gods plan for her to have only one child so she could love all the other children she has helped raise throughout the years.

celebrating inspirational women cheryl murray mom grandmotherPhoto of Cheryl and her granddaughter, Addison.

It has only been since I have had my daughter that I have truly come face to face with what an amazing woman she is. She is so patient, so kind, and so caring with my daughter and with others. She works with 12 children everyday, keeps her house in order, prepares meals for the children and my father, and does it all with a smile on her face. She finds true joy in helping others.

She is truly an amazing woman.

Shayla too, is a creative and inspirational woman. Not only does she use her creative expression in her daughters wardrobe (as seen above) she is  a young and successful entrepreneur. She owns and operates her own styling salon, Chandelier, in Napa, California. 

                                                                                                                                                          Terisa co-founder/owner @ Our Hands For Hope

Celebrating Inspirational Women: Jeannie Zimmerman

This journey of working with women in Peru has lead me into so many new relationships and rekindled old ones. Dr. Rhea Zimmerman, now Komarek, was someone I met years ago when she was still in high school. I had not seen her in well over 15 years, but was reunited when we found out, through Facebook, we held a mutual love for the people of Peru. Rhea has just completed a movie titled, Love Bomb. We will be featuring more about it later, but for now, I could not be more excited she sent this wonderful article about her mom, Jeannie.

Terisa Co-founder/Owner @Our Hands For Hope

” The heart of the relationship, love and support.”

By: Dr Rhea Zimmerman Komarek (daughter of Jeannie)

celebrating inspirational women our hands for hope jeannie zimmerman mother wife cancer survivor strenght

Photo Credit: Weddings by Scott & Dana

This photograph of my mom was taken last fall as she watched me walk down the aisle. The look of love on her face reveals the heart of the relationship of love and support I have received from her for as long as I can remember.

About one week before our engagement my mom was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, the breast cancer from five years prior had spread. Still, there she was, sitting with me, mid-chemotherapy, as I tried on my first wedding dress.

Last year this time as we drove to spend mothers day together she was facing all brain radiation. We did not know what was going to happen as we had heart to heart conversations about life, death, and choosing life again.

She has shown me courage and immense fortitude. She has shown me what it means to be a mom. The love, heartbreak, worry, joy, all of it. I am grateful for each new memory we get to share, so precious, and feel utterly blessed by her presence in my life. I’ll be treasuring this mothers day with her!

Celebrating Inspirational Women: Lynna Roberts

Two weeks ago we launched Celebrating Inspirational Women for Mother’s Day. We sent word-out through cyberland requesting stories and quotes of #InspirationalWomen. I have been touched by the love, honor, and gratitude in the words we receive each day. The following story is from Kelly Bilco, a woman whom I regard as an #InspirationalWoman. She has opened her heart and home to Our Hands For Hope as we embarked on the quest of moving into Washington area stores. Kelly wrote this beautiful and heartfelt story about her mom.

Terisa Co-Founder/Owner@ Our Hands For Hope

 “A woman of beauty, style, substance  and strength.”

By: Kelly Roberts Bilco (daughter of Lynna)

Lynna Roberts … A woman of beauty, style, substance  and strength. As a child bride of a soldier in the US Army, a young mom with three small children at the age of 22, Lynna found herself parenting much of the time alone and away from her own Mother and family members. Her rise to the challenge was just the beginning of shaping who she is today. Life wasn’t always easy and she was a rock and a constant in the midst of a lot of change. It took a great deal of skill to make a home beautiful with the little money they had.  Her home has always been her castle and it shows!  Her children were always dressed fashionably because of her amazing style and flair for flash and her knack for bargain shopping. At the beautiful age of almost 70, her  children grown with children of their own, (and a new great grandmother of two) Lynna continues to pour into the lives of everyone she comes in contact with. Always lighting up the room with her infectious laughter, offering a word of encouragement and hope. She continues to help others in so many ways. Decorating their homes, helping them with their fashion and beauty, and more importantly, always loving people and giving them what they need.  Her generosity is off the charts. After battling breast cancer this last year – she has been an inspiration and example to many. Always reaching out to the hurting and showing compassion and giving hope to the many people that have come forward with cancer stories of their own. She is such a light to all who come in contact with her. As the pastors wife of a church in Northern VA, she has the platform to mentor, teach and encourage women all around her. She has blessed so many with her beauty, light and love.

70 year old bride, blushing bride, bridal gown

Lynna Roberts exemplifying grace, compassion, style, beauty and substance…

Celebrating 50 years of marriage this past  January 31st,  you will see a glimpse of the beauty she exemplifies in this photo, as she lights up when the doors open and she sees a sanctuary of people who love and honor her! All there to  surprise her! She never had a real wedding or a wedding dress! Ready to walk down the aisle to celebrate 50 years of love and life… She exemplifies grace, compassion, style, beauty and substance… in every sense of these words.

Celebrating Inspirational Women: Heartfelt Quotes

We are collecting stories from people that want to celebrate the #InpirationalWomen in their lives. We have received some really great stories and hope to get more.

Send yours toinfo@OurHandsForHope.com
Please keep your story to around 300 words or less.
You’re welcome to post directly onto our Facebook page at:https://www.facebook.com/OurHandsForHope
Instagram: www.instagram.com/ourhandsforhope @ourhandsforhope
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ourhandsforhope @ourhandsforhope
Hashtag: #InspirationalWomen

To commemorate the awesome women in our lives Our Hands For Hope is offering a #giveaway of a beautiful handknit "Felicity" wrap. Click on this link to enter: http://goo.gl/dTL4Sw

To commemorate the awesome women in our lives Our Hands For Hope is offering a #giveaway of a beautiful handknit "Felicity" wrap. Click on this link to enter: http://goo.gl/dTL4Sw

To commemorate the awesome women in our lives Our Hands For Hope is offering a #giveaway of a beautiful handknit "Felicity" wrap. Click on this link to enter: http://goo.gl/dTL4Sw

To commemorate the awesome women in our lives Our Hands For Hope is offering a #giveaway of a beautiful handknit "Felicity" wrap. Click on this link to enter: http://goo.gl/dTL4Sw

 

 

Celebrating Inspirational Women: Jade Beall and her Beautiful Body Project

By: Michael Garcia Davila, Operations Manager @ Our Hands For Hope
Featuring: Jade Beall’s Beautiful Body Project Volume 1:Mothers

Just because it isn't the 1800's doesn't mean I can't be a bathing beauty

Just because it isn’t the 1800’s doesn’t mean I can’t be a bathing beauty

Growing up I remember watching my sisters fuss with outfits, makeup, hair and more outfits, before leaving the house. It was because of this long production of getting ready to just go to the video rental store to pick a movie to watch at home, that I decided to hang out with the boys, more so than girls.

When I was much younger I loved girlie things; like cutting my hair, painting my face, singing to the flowers, as if my life were a Disney musical.

As I neared sixth grade I began to realize it was ok to have a  bad hair day and wear clothes that I was comfortable in.

I was still self-conscious about my appearance. I had Napoleon Complex and when time came I even lied about my height on my driver’s license to make the 5′ mark. I was well aware of the perception others imposed about wearing certain items for certain body types, but I was rarely one to think that way.

I wasn’t immune to bad wardrobe blunders and hairstyles that were unattractive to my face shape, but I was glad to experiment and made it a rule to not stand in front of a mirror for more than a minute.

As an adult this has not changed. Society, media, and even some people I hung out with were constantly telling me I needed to lose weight, hang out in certain circles or go after certain jobs. Eventually, those people came and went, I stopped listening to the media, and I went after jobs that were interesting to me.

I’ve dealt with severe depression over the years but have used it as my  journey to rediscovering my own self-worth. So whenever I hear women like Jennifer Lawrence telling young girls to love their bodies, or Ellen DeGenres pointing out how photoshoping models has gone too far, I can’t help but smile and feel better about who I am as a woman.

photo: Jade Beall

photo: Jade Beall

When I came across Jade Beall’s work I got goose bumps and couldn’t help but be happy. I felt the same exhilaration when I jumped out a plane for the first time; l felt liberated. It was the approval and appreciation for my own journey as a woman. My genetics were no longer something to be ashamed of, but celebrated. I believe men and women, need to feel that same liberation and know that their journey is worth being acknowledged. Our bodies are not problems to be fixed with diet pills and unrealistic surgeries. It is because of this that I would like to recognize Jade Beall and all of her models as #InspirationalWomen.

Many women from all backgrounds joined Jade Beall’s movement to create a stunning book of photographs and life stories acknowledging and celebrating the journey of: motherhood, aging, cancer, still-births, miscarriages, weight-gain, weight-loss, dysmorphia, and more. Jade hasn’t stopped there; her next project features “Wise Women Over 50”.

You can buy a copy of the Beautiful Body Project, Volume 1: Mothers by clicking here

Please visit her site www.abeautifulbodyproject.com to see what other amazing projects she has planned for subsequent volumes and how you can be a part of her movement.