This Easter weekend, I ‘d love to celebrate some wonderful women that have shaped the course of my youth and subsequently, my life. I call them the ‘wonderful Marys’. They were women who dared to follow their passions, went against all societal norms and fulfilled their destinies.
#1: Mary Ike, my aunt.
Aunt Mary was my mother’s younger sister and they could not be more different in personalities. While my mother was quiet and reserved, aunt Mary was extroverted and talkative. She was blunt and never suffered fools. Some important life lessons I learned from her was that the best way to proclaim your faith in God was to love people and have faith in the human spirit even in the face of hurt, disappointment and pain. She taught me that ‘education’ without ‘heart’ was merely an ego-tripping exercise and our greatest accomplishment was not in our job titles or positions but in small, practical ways we positively impacted the lives of those around us.
She taught me to never keep things bottled up and that some times in life having respectful confrontations was necessary to getting closure and moving on. She taught me about navigating the often challenging waters of family ties and relationships, the importance of always being clear on what I stand for and believed in, without equivocation. And most of all, the secret delight of cooking and enjoying family meals as a form of worship and bonding.
She was an unapologetic optimistic, a wise realist, a smart woman and a hard worker who consciously made a choice to be a dedicated home maker, wife and mother and did it with great panache!
Sadly, aunt Mary passed away one week ago. I know she’ll be having a wonderful ball with the angels above! May her soul RIP.
#2: . Mary Okobi, my high school principal
The first time I saw Mary Okobi, I was a new student at an all girls’ boarding school. I remember the mischievous dimple, those intelligent twinkling eyes and the sing-song lilting voice saying ‘Good morning girls’. She built a centre of excellence where we arrived as starry-eyed pre-teens and left as confident, well-bred young ladies. We were taught to be future leaders who dared to dream and accomplish the impossible. She taught us that there were no boundaries to what we could achieve as long as we set our minds to it. Boundaries were non-existent in her world; not gender, not race, not disability….She was eternally curious about life, science, the arts and she succeeded in passing the spirit of originality and wonder unto all of us..
With her, I saw first hand the magic of a magnetic personality, the gift of charisma and an ability to wield authority with grace. She taught me about being visionary and taking action and most importantly, that leadership was not about being popular but about creativity and engagement and creating a compelling call to action!
She ignited my passion for the written word and was the first person to understand the unwritten lines within my works of prose and poetry. I remember a poem I’d written for a visiting education minister:’Let’s take it to the Minister’. On the surface, it seemed to be a tribute with praises and accolades but for me, it had a subtext and had really been a satire about the unresponsiveness of government to the education sector and the egocentric nature of officials in positions of power and authority. It was such a fantastic feeling to find that after countless recitals of the poem, she was the only one who knew it was a satire and she had even a ‘laugh-out-loud’ moment and winked at me when the clueless minister gushed over the poem. I thought to myself: ‘Here’s a kindred spirit’. I must confess that she’s one of the key reasons that I still write today.
Although, Mrs Mary Okobi passed away several years ago, she’ll always live on in my heart.
#3: Mary of Magdala
While Mary, the mother of Jesus mystified me as a child with her sense of innocence, faith and stoic strength in the face of her son’s life, it was the other Mary- the Magdalene who simply fascinated me. The whole mystery surrounding her life, her ability to leave everything behind and follow this man, this saviour who seemed to ‘get her’ always intrigued me.
There always seemed to be an air of unwritten pain and history about her and a hint of a certain fear by historians in writing about or delving deeply into her life. She was an amalgam of feminine strength, passion, fearlessness, sensuality, innocence, humility, power and banked embers of fiery fires. That part in the holy book when she anointed the saviour’s feet with oil and used her hair to gently wipe it off- sheer poetry in motion!!
There was nothing traditional about her and some of the most important lessons I’ve learned from her life is the power of true repentance, the beauty of unconditional love and the peace of a truly forgiving spirit. And also, the importance of pursuing our purpose in life with everything we’ve got.
So ladies, are there women who have shaped your beliefs and ideas about life? Is it a family member, friend, mentor, colleague, historical or mythical figure? We’d love to hear from you as you celebrate these women and describe how they’ve shaped the wonderful, unique creatures you’ve become!
Leave your comments and be an inspiration in action to others.
Live Beautifully! Live Passionately! Live Freely!
Remember, you are not ordinary, you are divinely unique.
You are WOW (Wonderful One-of-a-kind Woman)!