While I almost think I should give myself a free pass on the fifth posting about inspirational women (hey, three best friends, three work influences...), I also know that there is one more woman that I simply must discuss.
In truth, I've already talked about her in the past, but I honestly can't say enough.
I'm Catholic to the core (though I may wander from church to church, you can't take the Catholic out of this girl), and our Blessed Mother is truly the one who guides me from day to day.
From the giant rosary hanging over my parents bed to the numerous medals that hang around my neck, Our Lady is a constant presence in my life. Through becoming a mother at the tender age of 14, she became the mother of us all. And it is Mary to whom I pray for guidance when I'm having trouble navigating the many layers of complexity involved in being a good woman. How do I be a good girlfriend? Will I ever become a mother? The Blessed Mother is the one who helps me face these questions.
Walking by myself through Berkeley late at night in college? Oh, I can't count how many Hail Mary's I said to myself. Unable to fall asleep, my mind aching with worry? Again, the number cannot be counted.
In my relationship now, it's the Blessed Mother who provides me with patience, who helps me understand that being a woman isn't always about getting roses on a random Tuesday but also about being able to be there to listen to a man finally express his worry about not having his new job yet or not feeling entirely himself in this (still) new state. Mary helps me to realize that being a woman is not about giving up who I am but about being the best me I can.
Even when I doubt whether or not I want to keep attending my current parish (mostly, I haven't attended it regularly since November), I never doubt whether I want to rid my apartment, my car, my life of rosaries.
Even since December, when I asked if I could put God's plan before my own, as Mary did, I have felt myself changing, felt myself understanding that God's plan for me is the one that matters more. I might feel frustrated after a particularly hard day at work or worried about what will happen in the next few months, in the next year, but I really think I have gotten better at accepting that there is a power greater than myself who knows the plan for my life. And it is only with Mary's help that I have been able to do that.
She is a shining example of womanhood, and if I can be even a fraction of the woman she is, I will consider my life well-lived.