Monday, January 5, 2009

Woman of Substance

When I told a few friends and members of my family that I was going to do a blog series "Women Rule the World" I was met with resounding chants of "Right! Women do rule the world!" (Obviously, I'd spoken mainly with women. LOL)

When we think of the word "rule" we think of a king, president or even a CEO or the head of the local VFW Post. And if you continue in that line of thinking, it's not a leap to realize we all "rule" our own kingdoms: our homes, the purview of our jobs, maybe our friend group. But there's more to it than that.

We also rule through example. We teach our children habits (good and bad) by the way we live our lives. We can bring calm to a stormy situation simply by remaining calm. We guide our children, our friends, our co-workers, and many others with advice. And we also guide them when we don't offer advice. Even more important, we guide through example. What others see when they look at us, watch us, wait and see how we handle a good or bad situation.

Most of us don't think of that. We don't pay enough attention to the ripple effect of our lives. As a result many of us go through life in a rather haphazard way. Before you think I'm being critical or judgmental, just let me say I came upon the material for this blog series because I got sick and had an opportunity to really look at my own life and I suddenly saw a lot of wasted space.

The funny part of this is I work hard. I work a lot. So when I say we live our lives haphazardly, I'm not accusing us of being lazy. I'm saying we focus so much on making a living that we don't make a life. Or better said, we focus so much on doing what needs to be done that we don't see that the people around us might not need clean dishes as much as they need a few minutes of our time.

But there's even more to it than that. I got into trouble physically because I had (I am convinced) the world's worst eating habits. I rarely exercised. If you're going to rule your world, and by example impact the lives/health of your children, then you have to start by ruling your own appetite.

If you want to rule your world, teach and mentor your children, impact the bigger world around you, you have to take a long hard look at yourself on several different fronts. So that the message you teach is the message you want to teach!

When I really boiled it all down, wrote and wrote and wrote about what was wrong in my life, then wrote out the opposite... what I wanted to replace what I had, I saw the real bottom line. In order to impact my world the way I wanted to impact it, I was going to have to become a woman of substance.

Wow. Chew on that for a minute. Actually chew on that for a few days. LOL Because that’s lesson 1...What is a woman of substance?

Woman of Substance

Because I write, lots of people assume that I loved to teach lessons in my stories - - or even in workshops like this one. They're right. I have a passion for imparting knowledge. I love to teach so much that at least once a year I teach for free through this blog or through posting a workshop on my website.

But does that make me a woman of substance? Maybe a little, but not completely.

To me, a woman of substance is a woman whose life means something, who's gone through adversity and even if she didn't "win" comes out on the other end stronger, smarter; a woman who supports others and/or out-and-out leads -- despite the cost. A woman who "uses" her life. . .she isn't a spectator. She's part of the solution, albeit only for her own small world of family and friends.

My older sister, Helen, is a woman of substance. She has a passion for people, especially her grandkids, all the nieces and nephews in our family, her brothers and sisters and her friends. She remembers birthdays, asks about college, asks about career choices, remembers the names of boyfriends...No easy feat in a family with nearly 30 nieces and nephews.

My mother is a woman of substance. Not only did she raise eleven kids, many times sacrificing her own needs for the needs of her kids, but also she is active in her church. She makes pizza crusts (and then pizza) for the youth group and helps cook for dinners after funerals. She has friends who have been with her since childhood, because, I believe, I true woman of substance works to keep the important relationships in her life. In spite of her limited income, she gives to charities and friends in need.

If you think about it, giving -- either to friends in need or charities -- is one of the easiest ways to be part of the solution to a lot of people's problems.

So today, I leave you some questions. Do you make a difference? Are you a woman of substance? Do you recognize that others are watching you, looking for an example? Do you realize that this means that sometimes even little things you do impact the world? The future?

Are you ready to take a look at your life, not questioning whether or not you're successful, but trying to ascertain the level of impact you have on those around you?

Can you name a woman of substance or two in your life?



Mike Arnzen said...

Great post! I enjoyed reading this. The 'women of substance' in my life are too many to list! ... This is a great tribute to them. -- Mike Arnzen, Seton Hill U

Susan said...

Thanks, Mike!

And I'm sure the women of substance in your life thank you too!


Navam!. said...

Dear Madam,
I'm in great confusion on the sentence " A WOMAN of SUBSTANCE ".. if someone says that she is a women of substance, all I want to know is, whether she is trying to keep her sorrows behind and throw towards us the smile of happiness and innocence..
The Post was a great one..But ma confusion on the usage of this phrase/sentence still haunts me.

Susan said...


I believe (as I said in the blog) that a woman of substance is a woman whose life means something.

Do you have to bury your sorrows? I don't think so. I don't think that would be healthy.

I think a woman of substance is someone who triumphs in spite of adversity or sorrow. Or maybe someone who triumphs because of her sorrows.

Sorrows can push us to be more than we would have. Sorrows can make us see the world for what it is. Sorrows can make us see the world around us in truth and show us that others suffer too. Which could bring us to a point where we realize someone -- maybe even us -- should take a stand, alleviate the burden or simply be available for others to talk to.

I don't believe you can bury your sorrows. I believe they make up who you are. But I also believe that you cannot let them destroy you.

Does that help?