Monday, April 25, 2011

Celebrating Womanhood (UWIB Blog Hop)

Each month, the Unique Women in Business team does a Blog Hop focused on a different theme.  For April, the focus is on celebrating womanhood.

Each woman has many roles in her lifetime.  At some stage in her life, a woman may only have a couple of roles (perhaps a daughter and niece, for example). 

My Niece's Hand
One of my niece's hand. Her fingers are saying
"I love you"
in American Sign Language (ASL).

At another stage in her life, a woman could have many roles such as: daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, wife or partner, mother, grandmother, worker, volunteer, leader, follower, nurturer, caregiver, peacemaker, teacher, artist, or more. 

Nana and the Girls
My mom with two of her grandchildren:
Sophia and Olivia (my daughters).

Some of these roles are not of one's choice - they are made by others...while other ones are clearly personal choices. 

Two of the roles that I have chosen are: stay-at-home mother and homeschool educator.  When I was younger, I did not even envision my life as having children in it...much less being a mother who homeschools her two daughters.  Yet, being a mother and homeschool teacher have been two of the most challenging and rewarding roles in my life!

Girls in Awe as Monarch Flies Away
The girls watching a a monarch
that they raised from a caterpillar
fly in front of them. 
This particular monarch stayed around them
for quite a while before flying to the pasture. 
It was such a memorable and amazing moment for us all!

Prior to adopting Sophia in 2000, I was content with running a non-profit organization that I founded that offered art and farm camps to children; a teen mentorship program; and volunteer program for individuals, families, corporate teams, and individuals required to do court-ordered community service.  A good percentage of my year was spent writing proposals and seeking funding to do the camp program; and writing curricula for each of the camp weeks. 

Once Sophia and Olivia were adopted from orphanages in China, and their special needs were diagnosed in the United States (both came with referrals as "healthy" children), life took a very different...and unexpected...turn. 

With Olivia requiring in-home therapy multiple days per week from an occupational therapist, physical therapist, and special education instructor combined with therapy that I needed to do with her multiple times per day, my decision to end my outside-of-the-home career was necessary.

Playing in the Body Sack
Sophia and Olivia playing in the Body Sack I made.
It was designed so that they could go into the tube of fabric
and move, crawl, and stand up
(they were small enough to do that at the time this picture was taken).
It helped both of them with their sensory issues
(sensory integration dysfunction); and
helped them identify where their bodies started and ended
(a proprioceptive issue).

I have learned a tremendous amount over the past 11 years in terms of special needs; health/medical issues; developmental delays; learning disabilities; educational philosophies and methods; and a variety of subjects that I have taught the girls....just to name a few areas of growth.

Womanhood, though, isn't limited to child rearing. While this is certainly an important role and is central to many women's lives, there is so much more that we (as women) are called to do.

One of the things that I believe celebrates being a woman (and that I try to make a central focus of my life) is is of helping and serving others - whether people are struggling financially, emotionally, or physically.  Women can help individuals outside their family or they can choose to focus on providing support and care for their own family or aging parents.

Looking at the Sensory and Memory Quilt
My dad looking at the sensory and memory quilt
that I made for him (he has Alzheimer's Disease). 
I gave him the quilt for Christmas 2009.

As the Washington Post reported in its June 16, 2009 issue, "Assistance for frail elders comes, the majority of the time, from a single individual. More specifically, from a woman: Seven of every 10 adult children who help frail parents are daughters."

Another way in which women can celebrate their gifts is by working with their hands and sharing their creativity with others.  I believe that creativity can inspire, encourage, and even provide comfort to others. With only one lifetime given to us, it's important to use our time wisely to make things that are wholesome, beautiful, nourishing, and inspiring. 

Mary Mom Me Sophia Olivia
From left to right:  My sister, my mom, me,
Sophia, and Olivia on my mom's 80th birthday (April 24, 2010).
I made the quilt she's holding. 
It has the handprints of each family member on white squares. 
On the blue squares, I hand-embroidered words that
were qualities her family used to describe her.

As Anne Frank said, "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." It's worth taking some time to think about how you can make a difference with your gifts and skills.

The poem, Beauty of a Woman, was written by the late eduactor-humorist Sam Levinson for his grandchild and read by Audrey Hepburn on Christmas Eve, 1992.  I think it is a wonderful poem that celebrates womanhood:

For attractive lips,
speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes,
seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure,
share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair,
let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise,
walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things,
have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;
never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand,
you'll find one at the end of each of your arms.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands,
one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in
the clothes she wears,
the figure she carries,
or the way she combs her hair.


The beauty of a woman
must be seen from her eyes,
because that is the doorway to her heart,
the place where love resides.


The beauty of a woman
is not in a facial mole,
but true beauty in a woman
is reflected in her soul.


It is the caring that she lovingly gives,
the beauty of a woman
with passing years—only grows.

Harvest Moon by Hand celebrates womanhood with the following products:

Set of three fabric bags that can hold gifts for a special woman in your life.


A peaceful image of a swan to hang in your window
made from hand-poured beeswax.


A set of upcycled notecards made from wallpaper samples.
Wonderful for sending a beautiful greeting or thank you letter to
a woman who has made a difference in your life.


A hand-embroidered needlebook made with all-natural wool felt.
If you sew and share your skills with others,
a needlebook is a good way to keep your needles and pins handy.


A four-color window star to beautify one's home.
Window stars are lovely gifts for birthdays and Mother's Day.

The UWIB team has many inspiring and creative women who are participating in this month's Blog Hop.  Please take some time to visit these women and see how they are celebrating womanhood:

Audrey Fetterhoff http://audreygardenlady.blogspot.com/
Linda Stranger http://capecodjewel.blogspot.com/
Judy Woodley http://wellspringcreations.blogspot.com/
Janet Bocciardi http://www.honeyfromthebee.com/
Ann Rinkenberger http://harvestmoonbyhand.blogspot.com/ (you are here right now)
Celeste Bocchicchio-Chaudhri http://elephunkstrunk.blogspot.com/
Wendy Kelly http://blog.vintageday.com/
Cory Trusty http://aquarianbath.blogspot.com/
Karen Terry http://jmjcreations.blogspot.com/

11 comments:

Nancy's WildWire said...

I enjoyed a visit with your lovely family so much! What a perfect representation of womanhood:)
Nancy

Elephunk said...

The photograph of your daughters with the butterfly is amazing! I really enjoyed reading this thoughtful celebration of womanhood and the various roles that women play.

capecodjewel said...

YOU are an amazing woman!

I wish I had 25% of your energy/smarts/determination. :)

Awesome post!

Linda :)
http://capecodjewel.etsy.com
http://craftymakings.etsy.com
http://capecodjewel.blogspot.com
http://facebook.com/capecodjewel
http://twitter.com/capecodjewel

Janet Bocciardi said...

An incredibly meaningful post... Your daughters will learn so much by watching you live your life. The photo of the two of them with the butterfly is priceless. I especially enjoyed how you tied all the stages of our female lives together in one post.

ritascreativenest said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us. Your children are amazing. What a memory that butterfly must have made for all of you. The quilts are awesome as is everything you make. Your strength and love shines throughout. Thanks for participating in the blog hop...

Aquarian Bath said...

Lovely post. Thank you for sharing your story.

Karen Terry, Artist/Designer said...

You are my "Hero"!!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your contribution to the UWIB Blog Hop. You are a true representation of womanhood!!! If I only achieve a few of your achievements I will feel successful!!!!

WellspringCreations said...

Beautifully written! You have a lovely family; thank you for sharing!

-Judy
http://WellspringCreations.US

Audrey said...

Wow Ann! I had no idea you used to run those cool camps! I follow your blog and am always inspired by what you do with your 2 beautiful daughters. They are precious and will be inheriting such a wonderful legacy.
Love the quilt you made for your Dad too. I made a book like that for a family member but hadn't thought of a quilt- Great idea!

Thank you for this touching post!
Thank you,
Audrey
http://AudreyGardenLady.blogspot.com

Life Is A Lark said...

Love all of the photos! Great post.

Robin said...

WOW! It was all I could do to be a mom and Girl Scout leader, let alone a home school mom. What a wonderful post again about what our purpose is here.