For November’s Woman Crush Wednesday and in honor of her birthday next week– I am so excited to bring to you an interview with “My #1 Lady” as she is called in my iPhone contacts. This woman has raised me into the person I am today and I couldn’t be more proud of her and how far she has come. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.
My momma. I usually explain how I met the person I’m interviewing but she’s been stuck with me since birth. This photo is my absolute favorite and how I could depict her spirit. My mother is an extremely impressive example of resilience, kindness and intellect. Growing up– every single person I met was so jealous that she was my mom. Her students worshiped the ground she walked on and she knew how to make everyone feel special. But as a teenager I was moody, my mom was exhausted, and we both struggled with mental health issues and normal mother-daughter growing pains. It was a rocky road at one point. And then I grew up and realized what incredible sacrifices this woman made for us. I saw her as a human being– not just my mother. I realized I needed to be there for her in her times of struggle and remind her all the good in her she lost sight of from time to time. It’s impossible to paint our story without the pain because my mother worked so hard to come back from a hard place. And to me that’s what makes her even more of a superhero.
But this story has a very happy ending. She is now a retired teacher and her mental health (and physical health) is on a steady incline. She is the happiest I’ve ever seen her! Not to mention she has recently gotten very serious about changing her diet and nutrition and with the help of her coach daughter’s suggestions has lost 31 pounds!!! I am over the moon excited to see her thriving in her retired life after going through such a tough period. She is a prime example of never giving up!
This woman has taught me how to be a cheerleader. She is the kindest, most supportive person I’ve ever met. She feels every up and down I have and listens to me without judgement. She has read more books than anyone I know and I’m still waiting for her to apply for Who Wants to be a Millionaire? She is the queen of random knowledge. She’s a great cook, loves to go out to eat at new restaurants and talk about food while eating food(like only the best kind of people do.) She is a pure genius (not kidding), eloquent, funny and always willing to help. I could gush for days but I’ll let her do the rest.
- What do you think makes a woman worth “crushing” over?
I find a woman “crush” worthy who exudes confidence and kindness. I love to see a woman who feels they can handle anything but also remembers to nurture those around her. These do not always go together. Interestingly, these women usually glow with inner beauty that makes them soooo attractive.
2.What did you do for a living? What was the most challenging part about it?
I did marketing for film and cable tv and then switched to High School English teacher. It was way more challenging to convince kids that learning is relevant and important to their own lives than promote movies. Actually I ended up using techniques from my first job to entice my reluctant learners.
3.Who are three women that you look up to and have inspired you the most in your career/life ?
I would have to say Eleanor Roosevelt,Hillary Clinton and my mother ( a speech professor and fantastic mother ).
Eleanor was such an amazing advocate for women’s and civil rights at a time when it was unheard of. She was also such an amazing writer and journalist. Her quotes have inspired me my whole life. Hillary was my hero for years before she ran for either the Senate or the White House. Her work for children and equal rights started when she was First Lady. She is a brilliant mind and I know she can continue her good works through her foundation. My mother , Joan Olsen Donovan was a speech professor and the most caring, loving mother ever. She got her masters at The University of Hawaii in the 1940s when very few women went to college , let alone left their family thousands of miles away. We feel she started our wanderlust which Susannah has taken to a whole new extreme. My mother made every person she met feel special because she really felt they were.
- What is one topic you wish more women knew about on a global scale? Why?
I wish I knew more about the crisis in educating women globally. Malala opened so many people’s eyes to the need to help cure this travesty in so many countries. We need to make sure that all girls are given a chance to get the chance to better their lives. Obviously food and health concerns are very essential, but with education they can begin to help solve their own problems as well.
- What advice do you give to women who feel that they are constantly surrounded by drama in their group of friends?
Walk away from the drama. Tell your friends… I’m out. This is destructive and negative behavior. I can be your friend but I can’t engage in this at all.
- Do you believe being a strong woman with a passion for her career takes away from a woman’s ability to be a loving partner/mother/friend/sister ?
I feel that having a meaningful career makes you able to time manage your priorities beautifully. You have to. You make more time for your loved ones instead of wasting time frivolously because time is more precious. You also feel great about yourself and that shows in all your relationships. Shout out to stay at home moms too. They are working full time as well.
- What is something you are really excited about currently in your own life?
I’m currently working on a project with three women to make my high school accountable for keeping a safe environment for staff and students. There has been a high rate of illness in the last 20 years and we are asking for cleaner air and safer construction practices. We have already made some differences. Don’t be afraid to speak up. It could save lives.
- Why is self love an important part of being a modern day woman?
I am constantly working on self love. The negative energy you waste on doubting yourself takes up so much valuable time. The world opens up new blessings for you and all around you if you can be proud of who you are and who you are constantly becoming.
- If you could have a lunch date with any woman on the planet, who would it be?
This will be corny but every mother will understand. My favorite lunch date would be my daughter. She is endlessly fascinating, funny ,insightful and I never can spend enough time with her.
10. How can women from my generation better understand women from your generation and vice versa?
The best way the younger generation can understand the older generation is to ask questions and then really listen. I used to love my grandparents stories. I never asked enough. I wish I had them back. Our stories tell so much if we listen and learn from the triumphs and the mistakes. And as an English teacher , I have to put a plug in for reading. Our books hold so many answers. Keeping an open mind and heart to each other’s wisdom will help both generations learn and profit immensely.
Bonus question: What is one question you have for me?
People accomplish many things in their time on earth. What is one thing you feel you must accomplish while gracing this planet?
I think you know the answer to this already, Mom. Readers you might if you’ve been following along for a while. But I must publish books. More than one but I will start with one. Before the time I’m 30 I want to have a published novel. This has been my dream since I was about 16 years old– maybe younger. I know will accomplish this. And I know you will help me edit it. Thanks in advance, Mom. (LOL)
Mom, I am so proud of you. I am so excited to see your zest for life shine brighter than ever. Thank you for teaching me how to be a woman worth crushing over from the inside out. If you are reading this and your mother is alive, please give them a call. Tell them you love them. No matter how often you say it– say it again. If your mother is no longer here, send those words out into the Universe. The bond of a mother and daughter is something that is irreplaceable. I know no matter where I am in the world, a part of Melinda Bell is always close to my heart. I love you Mom, you’ll always be my number one lady.