18 Women Who Inspired Me in 2018

18 Women Who Inspired Me in 2018

Last year, one of my favorite posts that I wrote was 17 Women Who Inspired Me in 2017. I decided to keep the trend going this year. Once again, I listed only women who were publicly known for some reason. I also made things harder for myself by not including any women from last year’s list (I’m sorry, Nikki Haley). The 18 women listed below inspired and encouraged me last year, and continue to do so.

  1. Meghan Markle

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Let me be clear: I do not find Meghan Markle inspiring because she married a prince and had the greatest wedding ever. The Duchess of Sussex has inspired me because she has used her influence, both as an actress before her wedding, and now with her new status as a princess, to make a difference. She has spoken out about worthy causes, she has joined Prince Harry and his family in their charitable work, and she has broken royal protocol by wearing dark nail polish. That is what makes someone a true princess.

“Women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness.”

  1. Lauren Daigle

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I don’t know if you all noticed, but Lauren took over the music industry last year. She had an album that reached the top of the iTunes charts, and a song that came very close to doing the same. She has performed on multiple television shows, including The Tonight Show and Dancing with the Stars. Her music has been praised by everyone from Keith Urban to Selena Gomez. Oh, and she’s a Christian music artist. Yes, Lauren Daigle has been successful and won awards, but she’s done it while singing songs about her faith and keeping none of the glory for herself. She is, in my opinion, one of the best examples we could have in today’s world.

“I think the second we start drawing lines around which people are supposed to be approached and which aren’t, we’ve already completely missed the heart of God.”

  1. Aly Raisman

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Ally was one of multiple gymnasts abused by former USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar. She has not only been vocal in her condemnation of Nassar, but she has also spoken out against USAG and has become a strong advocate for survivors of sexual assault. Ally has inspired so many through her athletic abilities and strong representation of her country in competitions. Now she is taking on a new role, and people everywhere are taking notice.

“You can’t always be the best. You have to remember that everyone makes mistakes sometimes.”

  1. Keala Settle

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If you have not seen The Greatest Showman…your life must be really sad…just kidding. But, if you haven’t, then you probably don’t know that Keala played Lettie, the bearded lady, and sang the film’s breakout song, “This Is Me.” Keala has lifted so many through this song, all while fighting a dangerous neurological condition that almost ruined her Oscars performance. But, true to form, she fought through it. This song, and, by extension, Keala, have truly encouraged me.

“I love people that go the distance. I hate things that are lukewarm. They’ve got to be one way or the other and go all the way.”

  1. Abby Sams

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Abby was part of one of Aerie’s #AerieReal modeling campaigns, which put young women with disabilities in the spotlight. Among other medical conditions, Abby has POTS, which I have as well. Seeing someone like me model? That was a huge moment for me (that possibly involved some tears). I am forever grateful to both Aerie and Abby for showing the world that disabilities can’t stop you.

“We are made for change. Face it boldly and bravely. You’ve got this and God’s got you. There is nothing to fear in that.”

  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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“You can’t spell truth without Ruth.” I’ve been an admirer of RBG’s for a while now, but in 2018 I became a full-on fangirl (of a SCOTUS justice, yes) when I wrote a paper on the Lily Ledbetter case and the resulting Fair Pay Act, all of which Justice Ginsburg had a hand in. Throw in an amazing documentary, and I had a new hero. Quite simply, Ruth was fighting for my rights decades before I was born, and this country would be lightyears behind where it is today without her tireless fight for gender equality.

“When I’m sometimes asked ‘When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?’ and I say when there are nine, people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”

  1. Carrie Underwood

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I mean, Carrie Underwood is kind of a queen, if you hadn’t noticed. Last year, she opened up about her concerns about her ability to have more children as she got older, only to later reveal the fantastic news that she was pregnant again. Her vulnerability and honesty were remarkable. If that wasn’t enough, she released a new album, Cry Pretty, featuring the songs “Love Wins” and “The Bullet,” offering a sobering reminder to both sides of the aisle for the need for change and compassion.

“If I can convince [people] that there is a God and that they need to know Him, then I have done my job.”

  1. Michelle Obama

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I can’t explain it, I just love Mrs. Obama. Her rawness and honesty have been refreshing. She has brought humor and levity during a time when we are in desperate need of it. I was particularly inspired by her rejection of the concept of “leaning in” – that, in her opinion, it is simply not possible to have it all, all at once. She may be a former first lady, but I think she may just be one of us too.

“There is no magic to achievement. It’s really about hard work, choices, and persistence.”

9 & 10. Savannah Guthrie & Hoda Kotb

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Okay, this might technically be cheating, since I’m including two women together, but anyone who has seen the Today Show recently can’t deny that Savannah and Hoda are a packaged deal. After the firing of Matt Lauer, Hoda began filling in as co-anchor alongside Savannah, and it was clear they were the perfect team. So, NBC decided to make things permanent, making the Today Show the first morning show to be anchored by two women. Savannah and Hoda are fun, witty, and have a great connection that endears them to viewers. Yes, women definitely can win at broadcast journalism.

“I would never put my job before my family.” – Savannah

“If we all helped one person, wouldn’t the world be an unbelievable place?” – Hoda

  1. Taylor Swift

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Look what you made her do. I’ve been a fan of Taylor since I was, like…seven. Those are some pretty deep ties right there. But something about her latest album, reputation, just spoke to me. It was powerful. It was game-changing. It was a fifteen-song package of everything I needed to hear. In addition to her music, Taylor has continued to show that she is closely connected to her fans. She also released the greatest concert film of all time that had me screaming lyrics at the top of my lungs in my living room.

“No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.”

  1. Tori Foles

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Tori is married to former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Tori also has POTS. Since the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, she and her husband have spoken at several events to spread awareness for POTS. Nick has also been involved in raising money for Dysautonomia International. Seeing someone live with the same illness I have and work to help more people understand it has truly inspired me.

“I love that my body is unique and unlike any other. God made all of us as one of a kind and that is pretty cool.”

  1. Jenna Bush Hager

Build Presents Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush Discussing Their Book "Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life"

I have loved watching Jenna on the Today Show for several years now, but in 2018 she truly took center stage as her job forced her to work as somewhat of a media liaison for her family after the passing of both of her grandparents. Jenna showed grace and strength in the face of both of these tragedies, both as a public personality, and as a granddaughter. I continue to admire her and many members of her family.

“I hope to focus on what I’m passionate about because I think I’d do the best job on them – education, urban education, women and children’s issues and literacy.”

  1. Ava DuVernay

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Ava DuVernay is a director. And she’s kind of a big deal. In 2018, she directed the film adaption of A Wrinkle in Time. This film, along with Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler, gave the box office its first weekend with films by African American directors holding the top two spots. She also created the OWN series Queen Sugar, which has been completely directed by women. Aside from these huge accomplishments, Ava has shared nuggets of wisdom (and political opinions) across social media. She is certainly leading the charge for women, in more ways than one.

“If your dream is only about you, it’s too small.”

  1. Annie F. Downs

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Annie is a Christian writer and speaker. In 2018, I completed her 100 Days to Brave devotional. It had a huge impact on me, and affected me much more than I expected. Annie’s writing is beautiful and relatable, and she is a joy to follow on social media. I’m so glad that I let her be a part of my journey in 2018.

“Something about today is worth noticing and celebrating, because it won’t last forever. I hope you find it.”

  1. Hallie Jackson

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Hallie Jackson is NBC’s chief White House correspondent. Basically, she’s the one who stands near the White House reporting on the day’s events on the Nightly News. She’s also the one who shouts questions at the president during press briefings, and she doesn’t shy away from tough ones. (For example, she asked President Trump why his cabinet members were set to receive a raise while other federal government employees were still not being paid due to the recent government shutdown.) Although I may be interested in print journalism, I love Hallie and her reporting style, and she has certainly helped shape my opinions on journalism.

“Yes, I know I talk too fast.”

  1. Kacey Musgraves

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Kacey Musgraves is a country singer-songwriter. In 2018, she released her critically-acclaimed album Golden Hour, which ended up on many best-of-the-year lists (including my mental one, which is basically as important as NPR’s). She received a CMA Award for Album of the Year, as well as multiple Grammy wins, including for the competitive Album of the Year category. Golden Hour is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting country music albums to be released in quite some time, and shows that Kacey truly is unique in the best way.

“Just do something that makes you stand out. Even if not everyone likes it, just do it.”

  1. Jacinda Ardern

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Jacinda Ardern is the current Prime Minister of New Zealand. As if being a female world leader wasn’t enough, last year she became only the second sitting major world leader to give birth while in office. She has chosen to continue working, meaning the baby will stay at home with her daddy, who is happy to allow Prime Minister Ardern to continue running the world – or at least part of it.

“I never, ever grew up as a young woman believing that my gender would stand in the way of doing anything I wanted.”

{ quotes via UN Women on Instagram | Facebook | GoogleBrainyquote | Abby Sams on Instagram | Bret Baier on Instagram | Whiskey Riff | Google | Brainyquote | Brainyquote | Google | The Strong Movement |Google | Brainyqoute | Annie F. Downs on Instagram | Hallie Jackson on Twitter | Google | Brainyquote }
{ images via Time| Pinterest | Alexandra Raisman on Instsgram | Style Bistro | Abby Sams on Twitter | Elle | Pinterest | Refinery 29 | Parade | Pinterest | The Strong Movement | Time | Ava DuVernay on Instagram | Goodreads | Duke | NY Times | Pinterest | Forbes }
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17 Women Who Inspired Me in 2017

17 Women Who Inspired Me in 2017

2017 was the year of the woman. Ladies fought back. And they fought back hard. I’m proud to be a woman, and to have been inspired by these amazing, fierce women. It was so hard to narrow down this list, and there are so many others I wish I could have included. But, here, in no particular order, are seventeen women who inspired me this year…

{Note: This list is comprised of women that are in the spotlight and have some sphere of influence. There are certainly plenty of women I know personally who inspire me every day, but I felt that this would be a bit more relatable for us all.}

  1. Gal Gadot

Gal

I think I’ve told everyone and their mother how much I love Wonder Woman by now. It was the movie I never knew I needed. But it was more than that. She is the hero I never knew I needed. And Gal Gadot really is Wonder Woman. So, I guess that makes her the hero I never knew I needed. This Israeli actress not only slayed her role (she filmed part of Justice League while pregnant), but she has continuously reiterated the fact that Wonder Woman’s strength is based in her warmth and compassion. I couldn’t agree more. Bonus fun fact: She also served in the Israeli military. Yeah, she’s the real deal.

“I think women are amazing for being able to show what they feel. I admire women who do. I think it’s a mistake when women cover their emotions to look tough. I say let’s own who we are and use it as a strength.”

  1. Rachel Platten

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I honestly don’t know why I find Rachel Platten so inspiring. I just do. You know how you feel like some musicians are just there for you? That’s how I feel about Rachel. Her first single, “Fight Song,” is kind of my everything, and her first album blew me away. With lyrics like “I’m gonna dance on broken glass, and I’m gonna make that ceiling crash” and “You’re on the ground and I’m climbing mountains,” it’s safe to say I feel the same way about her second album. Her connection to and interaction with her fans is incredible, and by partnering with organizations like I Am That Girl and the Girl Scouts of America, she’s just spreading the girl power.

“Won’t change for you or no one else making me feel I’m not enough when I am.”

  1. Susan Collins

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Senator Susan Collins is one of my favorite people on the Hill. Her conservative-yet-moderate stance aligns perfectly with my own political views, and she has fought against some of the worst bills that the Senate has tried to pass this year (*cough*healthcare*cough*). I admire her courage and strength. She is certainly no longer just the obscure, unknown senator from Maine. This year, she has been strong and courageous, and has refused to back down under pressure.

“What I find is with all due deference to…our male colleagues, that women’s styles tend to be more collaborative.”

  1. Victoria Arlen

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I had never heard of Victoria Arlen before watching her on the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars. Now a commentator for ESPN, Arlen previously competed in the Paralympics. This was after she was diagnosed with a rare disorder that rendered her immobile and unable to function on her own. After being confined to a wheelchair for years, she was able to learn how to walk again. Because of the severe health challenges she experienced, she is still unable to feel her legs. That didn’t stop her from making it to fourth place on DWTS. Hearing her story and watching her dances, particularly from “Most Memorable Year” night, in which she came to grips with her relationship with her wheelchair, I was so encouraged, and reminded that my chronic illnesses can’t stop me.

“Rock your disability.”

  1. Ashley Graham

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Ashley Graham is a model. She is also not a size two. This has not stopped her from rising to prominence in the modeling industry, and she has inspired girls everywhere in the process. Ashley is real. She looks like me, or that girl down the street, or maybe even you. The best part is that she has embraced her size and the way it sets her apart from other models, and is constantly working to spread positivity and empower other women.

“I refuse to let others dictate how I live my life and what my body should look like for their own comfort. And neither should you.”

  1. Dana Loesch

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Dana is a former anchor for Glenn Beck’s network, The Blaze. She is currently a Fox News contributor and hosts her own radio show. Because of her conservative beliefs, she has been threatened multiple times on social media. Things escalated so badly that she and her family actually had to move for their safety. Through it all, she has refused to back down or allow her critics to silence her. The strength she has shown through all of this has been amazing, and I have found plenty of courage through her own.

“I pledge allegiance to God and country, not God and party.”

  1. Lady Gaga

gaga

Okay, I would not necessarily call Lady Gaga a good role model. However, I had to include her in this list for how she has spoken out about chronic illness this year. She has been open about her struggle with chronic pain, and has brought awareness to fibromyalgia, a condition that is often brushed off as being nothing and all in one’s head, despite the fact that I and millions of others can confirm it is very, very real. For that, I say hats off to Gaga.

“No matter how much success you have, no matter how many opportunities, fame, fortune, no matter how many accept you to your face, the person that really needs to accept you is you.”

  1. Al Fox Carraway

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If you don’t recognize Al’s name, perhaps you know her as the “Tattooed Mormon.” Al was living in New York when a pair of missionaries found her and began teaching her about the gospel. Despite severe opposition from her family, friends, and coworkers, she became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And she started blogging about it. Her blog basically exploded, making her a household name within the Church. I was so inspired by her book, More than the Tattooed Mormon, and her social media posts seem to always pop up right when I need them. Her blog was one of my biggest inspirations for starting my own. Al is considered by many to not be a “conventional” or “traditional” member of the Church because of her tattoos, and I like that. Because of my health, I have been unable to follow the same path as many other youth in the Church, but Al has shown me that being a little different is definitely okay.

“This exact second, God is mindful of you.”

  1. Emma Watson

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Truthfully, I think Emma Watson has always been Belle to me. Emma began her acting career portraying Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies. Although I have loved reading all of my life, Harry Potter changed everything for me, and so did Hermione. I truly feel that she was the first literary character I ever identified with, someone who taught me to be brave, but to be proud of my intelligence. That is where my love for Emma began. Since then, she has truly become one of my heroes, working as an ambassador for UN Women and speaking out for gender equality. This year, my dreams came true when my favorite fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, was released in a live-action version. Emma played Belle, but she was a new Belle, a defiant, intelligent Belle who earnestly sought more for herself. There’s nothing more that I could have asked for.

“Girls should never be afraid to be smart.”

  1. Selena Gomez

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I was first a Selena fan during her Disney days, but after those days were over, I kind of didn’t care anymore. But things started to change recently. Selena released better music, spoke out with the purpose of empowering young women, and shared her lupus diagnosis with the world. I was quite literally in awe of her courage; I don’t like to talk about my diagnoses with people I know. After having to cancel part of a tour, Selena got even more personal: she talked about the effect that physical health conditions have on your mental health. This year, all while releasing new songs, Selena found out her lupus had caused her to go into kidney failure. She was in desperate need of a transplant, but no one was a match – until her best friend, fellow actress, and roommate Francia Raisa was tested. She was a match, and agreed to the operation without hesitation. Selena has continually praised her friend for saving her life, and for being the real hero in this story.

“I would do anything to be able to have a good influence on this generation.”

  1. Nikki Haley

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I am so proud of our country’s first female president! (Just kidding…actually, no, I’m not.) After being one of the best governor’s South Carolina has ever had, Haley left the Palmetto State to become the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She has reminded the world of who the U.S. is and what we have done. Most recently, after a vote showing contempt against the United States for choosing to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, she gave a stirring speech condemning those who voted against us, threatening to revoke American funding of the UN, and assuring fellow member nations that we were indeed taking names. Ambassador Haley is the very definition of the term “girl boss.”

“There is no war on women. Women are doing well. But women are thoughtful. And what we in the Republican Party and across the country, Republican, Independents and Democrat women say is we’re more thoughtful than a label. We care about jobs and the economy and healthcare and education. We care about a lot of different things.”

  1. Lindsey Stirling

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Lindsey is a member of the LDS Church. She is also a world famous violinist, combining the sounds of EDM with an instrument meant for classical music. Her eclectic sound has taken her to the top of the charts and on world tours, but she has never lost her standards. She competed on the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars, coming in second with her pro partner Mark Ballas. During the show, she was careful to dress as modestly as possible and stay away from inappropriate dance moves. She was like a living example of being in the world, but not of the world. Watching her on the show was a true inspiration to me, as an LDS woman.

“Be kind to the people around you. You will never feel better about yourself as a result of demeaning, bullying, or dragging others down.”

  1. Manal al-Sharif

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I recently finished reading Manal’s book, Daring to Drive, and I have decided that she is an absolutely incredible person. Manal is Saudi Arabian. During her childhood, she suffered abuse from her parents and siblings, which is typical in Saudi households. However, her mother was insistent that she and her sister get a good education. So, Manal went to college and majored in computer science. She then got a job at Aramco, the largest Saudi oil company. Aramco employees live inside of the Aramco compound, where things are completely different from the rest of Saudi Arabia. She also spent time working for Aramco in the U.S., where she learned to drive and got a driver’s license. She began to question many Saudi beliefs, especially the ban on women driving. One day, a coworker informed her that a woman driving is not actually illegal, it just goes against tradition. Armed with this information, Manal helped plan an event for women to drive, spoke to the foreign press, and drove herself – and got arrested for it. She spent time in a women’s prison for doing something that was not actually illegal, and was not released until her father appealed to the king of Saudi Arabia in person. Now, women are “allowed” to drive in Saudi Arabia. But without pioneers like Manal, where would they be?

“The rain begins with a single drop.”

  1. Meghan McCain

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Meghan is a political commentator who worked for Fox News before quitting and becoming the token conservative host on The View. She is also the daughter of Senator John McCain from Arizona, who was diagnosed with brain cancer this year. Her bravery in the face of this trial has been incredible. She has become an advocate for brain cancer patients everywhere. She has also fired back when anyone, including the President, has said anything negative about her father, a POW during the Vietnam War. And, of course, she has kept her sassy conservative-mixed-with-libertarian political views through it all.

“Pain is real, so is hope…stay strong for me and I will stay strong for you.”

  1. Jordan Lee Dooley

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Jordan is a Christian blogger who has gained quite the following on social media. But she has made one thing very clear: her life is messy, just like yours. She also coined the phrase “Your brokenness is welcome here,” which has created somewhat of a movement on social media. Jordan was one of the first Christian bloggers I followed, and has been one of my biggest inspirations for blogging. Her sweet, spirit-filled words always seem to hold the perfect reminders, and her growing popularity has not changed her one bit.

“The struggle may be real, but the struggle is also redeemable.”

  1. Josie Thompson Solomon

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Josie is LDS, and an activist. She started the 444 Project, which works to spread the gospel in other countries. She also suffers from bipolar disorder. I have followed her story for a while now, and I have been so inspired by her persistence despite the fact that she admits it can be hard to feel happiness at all. However, her bipolar diagnosis never fully explained all of the symptoms she was experiencing. This year, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. As it had gone untreated for quite some time, it was bad, and she had to begin undergoing harsh, intense treatment that made her feel even worse. With the help of her husband and staff, the 444 Project has continued, and, of course, so has Josie.

“You don’t have to be healed to help.”

  1. The Women of the #MeToo Movement

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Whether you are famous (Rose McGowan leading the charge against Harvey Weinstein, or Taylor Swift countersuing a disgruntled deejay for $1) or not, whether you were harassed or assaulted, thank you. I cannot relate to your experiences, and I hope I never will, but I am endlessly inspired by you. There has always been an underlying tone of sexism and gender inequality in this country, but you have exposed that the problems go far deeper than men thinking they are better, or making offhand remarks to a woman about her inferiority. You are the heroes this year. Although there are men who tried to take it all from you, you have been the ones to emerge victorious. Thank you for speaking out. Thank you for enduring the doubters and the shamers. Thank you for being you.

“This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women.” – Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dokterman, and Haley Sweetland Edwards for Time Magazine

Bonus: My Mother & My Grandmother

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I know that I said that I wouldn’t put anyone on this list that I know personally, but I had to include these two very special women. I have always said that I come from a long line of strong women. Because of them, I have become the brave, independent woman I am today. Their compassion and strength have taught me more than any of these other women combined, and I am eternally grateful for them.

 

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