Rosa Parks, Clara Barton, Elizabeth Blackwell, Mary Anderson, Josephine Cochran, Marion Donovan, Gertrude Belle Elion, Bette Nesmith Graham, and Rachel Zimmerman.
How many of these names do you recognize? One or two? They are all women who have made a significant contribution to your life. Let’s take a look at how.
Rosa Parks saved us, in this generation, from having to endure the disgusting effects of segregation that marred this country during its formative years. Anytime I think about how one woman can make a difference, I immediately think of Rosa Parks. What impresses me most about Rosa, is the quietly, calm way she went about taking her “stand.” She didn’t scream, shout, yell, make a scene, cry, rant, rave, or carry a sign. She preserved her undeniable dignity and obvious classiness by simply doing what she knew in her heart and mind was the right thing to do when the time came to do it. Talk is cheap, action or, in this case, resolute steadfastness is everything. Granted, there was a lot more she had to do – and did – to finally get the laws changed, and you can read all about it by clicking the link above to her name, but she fought the right way, the legal way, and used the legal system to make things right.
“When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ And he said, ‘Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.’ I said, ‘You may do that.’”
Here’s something the history books won’t say. On that fateful day, December 1, 1955, to just about everyone else around her at that scene, Rosa was “scum.” She was at the very bottom of this society’s barrel. Not only was she black, she was also a woman. In 1955, you really couldn’t get any lower or be considered any less of a human being. But she knew she was more. She knew she was a child of God and worthy of all the blessings He put on this earth for all of his creations. And, she was “tired of giving in.”
“When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night.”
Are you tired of giving in to something you know is beneath your honor?
Clara Barton I’m sure you’re familiar with the American Red Cross; this woman founded the organization. Actually, that was probably the least significant thing she did during her lifetime, but it’s the one that impacts all of us today. What I especially like about Clara was her belief that we are all a part of each other; we are all connected in this one, big universe, and we’re meant to help each other. We need to remember that in our dealings with one another.
Elizabeth Blackwell opened new doors when traditional ones were closed to her. When others thought she was a joke, she pulled the final “prank.” Read about her by clicking on her name – she’s great; a doctor, teacher, writer, and entrepreneur at a time when being these things as well as a woman was practically unheard of.
Mary Anderson invented windshield wipers. I had always assumed some man did that. Shame on me! What impresses me about Mary, was that instead of just complaining about the situation, and rather than just keep her invention to herself, she obtained a patent and made money from her ingenuity. Too often, even in today’s society, women are pooh-poohed for trying to make money from our ideas. Take a lesson from Mary; take your ideas for making something easier for us all and get them patented. Then go out and make some serious money. It really is okay for a woman to do this. Wouldn’t it be cool to overhear your grandchildren saying to their friends, “I don’t have to work when I grow up; my grandma created the watchamajigger and we’re loaded.”
Josephine Cochran Now here’s a woman who had money, but still had a problem; too many broken dishes. She is said to have exclaimed, “If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I’ll do it myself!” And she did. I need to take a lesson from her. I’m constantly telling my husband he needs to invent the flying car. Maybe it’s time for me to start those plans myself. I wonder how much Engineering school costs?
Marion Donovan Do you ever get tired of your children’s bad habits? So did Marion. She invented the disposable diaper. Hmmmmmmmmm. What are your children’s bad habits?
Gertrude Belle Elion Many of us are alive today thanks to this woman. She had many inventions under her belt when she died in 1999. Click on her name to see a list of a few of the drugs she developed. Her most recent impact would be the creation of a drug called AZT, which is used in the treatment of HIV.
Bette Nesmith Graham Here’s a woman who had it all. Not only was she an inventor herself, she invented “Liquid Paper,” but she had a son who became famous as well. Does anyone remember Michael Nesmith of the Monkees? I do! (Actually, I remember my older cousins being crazy about him when I was growing up.) Brains, beauty, brilliant family, and money – if only she could have lived longer. The point I would like to make here is; don’t live vicariously through your children, hoping they will live the life you wanted. Set an example for your kids by living your life purposefully – they will follow in turn. Isn’t that what you really want for them? Your children are here to fulfill their purpose, not yours.
Rachel Zimmerman There are a lot of people out there worth knowing, but because they have trouble communicating, we don’t know they exist. Now we can thanks to this woman. Actually, maybe I should say, thanks to this girl. When she was just 12 years old, Rachel created a software program that enables non-speaking people, such as those with severe physical disabilities like cerebral palsy, to communicate. Get the full story by clicking on her name.
All of these woman are/were hard workers. They didn’t sit around wondering what their purpose was in life – it was right in front of them. When their mission presented itself, they accepted their responsibility. They also didn’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves either. They simply used their skills, talents, education and connections to make life better for themselves and others. They did what they could, when they could, when the situation presented itself.
I found information on all of these women in about 5 minutes on the internet. I wonder, if I had kept searching longer, how many more I would have found. Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? But here’s my point: YOU make a difference. YOU are important. YOU can do anything for which you have a strong enough desire. More importantly, YOU are here for a reason. What is it? Do you know?
Maybe it hasn’t been revealed to you yet, and that’s okay. Just keep preparing yourself. Educate yourself on anything and everything that interests you, so that when the opportunity arises, you’ll be ready. The more prepared you are for an opportunity, the more likely you are to see it. And remember this quote from Orison Swett Marden:
Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.”
Like keeping your seat on the bus, or inventing a better way to clean your windshield. We’re not all meant to be Oprah Winfrey’s, Martha Stewart’s, or Eva Longoria’s; some of us are destined to be a Rosa, Mary, or Rachel. I don’t know about you, but I’d settle for that!
- Make a list of all your talents. Think back to your early childhood; what did you have a passion for then? What did you want to be when you grew up? What interests you now?
- Once you have your list, do a web search and educate yourself in each area of interest.
- Be watchful for an opportunity to present itself.
This post was written by Debra Moorhead, Motivation, Education, Inspiration on November 17, 2006