I think as a young woman today it can be difficult to find strong females to look up to. Working at the restaurant I work at (especially in a town with a strong emphasis on stereotypical aesthetic), having been in a sorority and being a frequenter of the Phoenix metro area workout circuit, I’ve seen so many woman who put the majority of their time into how they look and what others think about them. This is definitely not coming from a judgmental place: I’m certain I’ve been in a similar mindset more than my fair share of times. But I can honestly say that over the past couple of years it is something I’ve become conscious of and am trying to distance myself from everyday. One of the best tools that helps me to do this is finding inspirational, healthy and well-rounded female role modes to look up to. It is how I remind myself it’s possible to live any life I can dream up and can provide a good kick in the ass when I need to get back on track about making my best life happen.
**of course these are not the only women I look up to…I just wanted to give a broad range of people I admire for various reasons outside my family***
Women at Studio 360:
The first group of women is (kind of unexpectedly, I’m assuming) from a local place I’ve been working out at for a long time. Although I think spending an exorbitant amount of time worrying about what I look like or thinking about the calories I consume seems tiring and defeating, I do think being healthy and able bodied is crucial. For me it correlates directly to my mood, self esteem and outlook. I love feeling like a strong, athletic person and I enjoy (most of the time) doing everything from running to yoga to weights. I find that my favorite workout is spinning at a local spot: Studio 360. I love it because it is an ass-kicking workout, the time flies by and the dark room stops me from having to stare at my pained, beet red face while working out. Although I’ve never really enjoyed spinning anywhere else, it is the company of great people that has kept me coming back for so many years. There’s a large handful of women who have been consistently going to that studio since before I started spinning (which was over 8 years ago) and they still make it to class almost daily where they continuously kick everyone’s ass including mine, despite their on average 15 year age “disadvantage.” What I find most inspirational about all these women is that they’re not just housewives who do little with their day besides workout and lunch together (not to imply that is all a stay and home mom does!); these women have successful and competitive careers. There’s a few lawyers, a woman who owns a well know local store, an actress, nurse, doctor and then of course the studio owner, who in addition to being in great shape and a smart business woman is incredibly down to Earth. Every time I go to that studio it is much more than just an aerobic workout for me. I may not be the best: I take lots of recoveries and I definitely wouldn’t sit in the front row, but I am yet to find a place where there are so many inspirational women in front of me…encouraging me to hit the right beats and push through the tough stuff.
I love Bethenny Frankel. I think she is an amazing female role model on so many levels not only for myself but for all females, especially young girls. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s made an insanely successful career out of things that also happen to be some of my passions, maybe it’s because she has a kick ass body, or maybe it’s because she gets to live in one of my dream cities surrounded by a seemingly amazing and loving group of people. Of course these are reasons why I am openly envious of her but I mostly admire her because of all her traits that have allowed her to get to her present place in life. I have obviously never met Bethenny, any relationship I have with her extends as far as my television, computer or her books that are sitting on my shelf. But how she presents herself in the media does a great enough job of conveying her honest and outspoken personality, her great confidence (but not arrogance) and her drive to be her best self. I love that she is aware of these qualities in herself; she embraces them and she uses them as tools to help her get where she wants to go…what is there to not look up to?
Judith Grimes-Priebe (High School AP Psychology teacher)
GP, as we always called her in school, is one of those characters in my life that has, since the moment I came to know her, has always been in the back of my mind. On a regular basis advice she gave, stories she told us, thoughtful insights she shared or simply memories of her great impact as a teacher come to mind…that’s just the kind of teacher she turned out to be: one that sticks with you forever; I know for a fact I am not the only student of hers that feels that way.
Out of all the women I have personally come in contact with I believe she was the greatest role model for young girls and women. One story she told us will forever stick out in my mind as a true testament to this. I don’t remember it detail for detail but it went something like: while getting her undergrad degree her long-time boyfriend had discussed his desire to get married in the near future but because she was determined to go the whole way (PhD) with her Psychology education they ended up breaking up because this was something she wasn’t willing to compromise and she thought there was plenty of time to dedicate to a family after she completed her schooling. Looking back on it now it’s not a profound story but you can imagine that hearing this as an insecure typical high school girl is a pretty shocking experience: giving up a man who wants to marry you and spend his life with you for any reason seemed crazy at that age. When I think about that story now I think it’s very admirable of her; I’m not saying it’s always right to go ahead and give up a relationship whenever it doesn’t flow smoothly with how you see your life…but sometimes it is important to not forget to put yourself and your ambitions first.
However, this is just a blanket example or her inspiring traits. She not only taught me great things about and made me love Psychology but she also gave great lessons and advice on life such as “anger is a secondary emotion” generally stemming from sadness (something I often think about when I’m feeling mad), that’s it’s important to eat a well balanced breakfast (when she originally told us about egg white omlettes, fruit and yogurt and toast with nut butter it was pretty advanced thinking for the time) and without ever directly stating it she showed us that it’s important to be the best and strongest version of yourself.
The story behind her recent, sad and extremely premature passing only reinforces her position as a great role model. Again, I’m not too privy on the exact details of what happened but from what I heard while pregnant with twins (her 2 and 3rd children) she found out she had a unique circumstance of cancer. Because of the uncommon circumstances compounded on top of simultaneously being pregnant the cancer was very difficult to treat; she in fact ended up passing away a while after having the twins. Although it is an extremely unfortunate circumstance, there’s no greater validation that she talked the talk: she was an incredibly strong woman who ended up sacrificing everything so her kids would have a chance at life.
Her story is one that I will remember and think about forever but sometimes I wonder: we always feel like we have so much time…as she said she wanted to put off a family and kids until she had followed her dream through: if we knew we might not have the time here that we generally assume we do would we do things differently?
A co-worker of mine, Irene is probably the closest thing I have to a mentor (although she doesn’t really know that). Whenever someone brings up Irene, my first response is pretty much always “I think she’s the most amazing woman I know.” I think I first realized this when, after a few weeks of working together, she gave me a small high quality dark chocolate disc she had pilfered from the pastry station. I proceeded to bite down on the small disc of deliciousness and she stopped me, saying “oh no honey, you have to savor it.” That’s when I first knew I really liked her.
The way she lives her life, her values and the way she is with her children are what I find most inspiring. Many times she has said something, done something etc that causes me to sit back and reevaluate, reprioritize and rethink some preconceived notion I have about life. I can’t think of anyone who embodies the the idea of a holistic being, living life for the moment and experiencing life to the fullest more so than Irene. She has been so many places and seems to have done so many things…from being a flight attendant, helping train new staff for the restaurant because she’s by far the most knowledgable about the food, teaches business classes at Southwest Institute for the Healing Arts and does Hypnotherapy for women with fertility issues and is a life coach. But what I find most inspiring is that when you talk to her it’s obvious that these are passions of hers: she does them because she loves what it involves, it helps her grow and it is an outlet for her to help others.
She also seems to be one of the best, most hands on mothers I’ve ever seen. One thing I see a lot of in the restaurant is how disconnected some kids can be: it’s a regular occurrence to see kids spend all of dinner watching something on their iPod, headphones on the whole time; I’ve even had 15 year old kids who will not directly give me their order…they have to tell their parents who then tell me. I also see kids who look at almond butter like it’s an alien and refuse to even try it because it’s not their usual Jiffy. I’m not a parent so I can’t really judge but I feel bad for these kids and am determined to not be one of those parents who use my iPad as a babysitter, only order their food from the kids’ menu and teach their young children to always look for the sugar count on their nutrition labels.
Anyways…back to Irene: I remember being a little taken aback when she said she spends the hot summer days doing crafts with her kids and that the TV is never on when her kids are awake. The reason I was taken aback is because, like I was saying, now a days that is not really the norm especially in a city where 110 degree plus temperatures sort of eliminate playing outside as a summer activity. I think that’s the thing I admire most about her: she makes a conscious and determined effort to make sure she can be the best version of herself and she makes just as strong an effort to make sure she provides that same determination in her children.