Mummy, Do You Know ………?

My son just walked up to me to ask where his swimming goggles are. I’m not quite sure if there is a job description for mummy about somewhere that states that she has super-natural powers.

I mean, how else would I know where he put the swimming goggles that HE took out of his bag himself last week and PLACED heaven-knows-where? I must have super-natural powers. No wait! In fact, I AM Wonder Woman, so I will use my x-ray vision to find them. Why didn’t I think of that?

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Redefining Wonder Woman Series Seven: Giving Back

This is the first Redefining Woman Woman post of 2015 and I am so excited to introduce my school friend, Ore Somolu-Lesi to you all. Nigeria has sadly had a lot of negative press lately and I’m happy to share one of the many things that gives me hope for my homeland.

Ore Somolu-Lesi

Ore Somolu-Lesi

Ore and I met at Queen’s College (secondary school) about thirty years ago. Although our parents were good friends, we were sort of flung into close proximity by virtue of our height. As tall girls, we often found ourselves together at the back of the line for assembly. At school, Ore was incredibly clever- she seemed to sail through exams effortlessly; serene, strong-willed and really quiet. Whilst life has taken us on very different paths, we’ve kept in touch through the years. Today,Ore is the founder of a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) known as Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC) which empowers girls and women through the use of information technology. I hope her story inspires and encourages you.

RWW: What did you want to be as a little girl?
Ore: I wanted to be so many things. Each week, I had a different ambition and they were all so different: one week I wanted to be an astronaut, the next an interior designer. I guess there was something about each one of these jobs appealed to a part of me or to one of my interests. And I had very many interests. I was fascinated by space and watched every programme that explored life outside of the Earth. I loved to organize things and people. I loved to learn about far-flung parts of the world.

The constants were that I loved reading and liked to write, so I assumed that whatever I ended up doing would involve a good deal of both.

RWW: Please tell us a little bit of your background
Ore: I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria as the eldest child of 3 children (with 1 brother and 1 sister). My parents were both engineers with strong entrepreneurial streaks. My first degree was in Economics at the University of Essex, U.K. and then I went on to study for a Masters of Science degree in Analysis, Design & Management of Information Systems at the London School of Economics & Political Science.

My Masters degree was an interdisciplinary programme that explored the development and management of information systems within organizations and countries. Information systems are made-up of technology, the users, the environment in which the technology will be deployed and any policies guiding the use of said technology. It was a very interesting programme, one in which we studied different theories on change, innovation and management.

Afterwards, I moved to the United States, to gain more practical technology skills and experience. I opted for a certificate programme on Applied Sciences at the Extension School of Harvard University, Boston. In the programme, I focused on programming, web development, multimedia and technical writing. I gained skills that led me to a variety of exciting volunteering opportunities such as helping a small non-profit design and manage their electronic newsletter. I also taught web design at a community technology centre.

My first real job was at a non-profit organisation called Education Development Centre (EDC) Inc., where I worked as a research assistant looking at the different ways men and women used the Internet for learning. I moved on to building the website and managing the technology resources for another department within the same organization. It was a time of incredible learning and stretching for me and I gradually came to realize that I could do so much more than I thought I could. However, it always meant taking myself out of my comfort zone.

RWW: Having lived away from home for so long, what motivated your move to Nigeria?
Ore: I lived abroad for eleven years (five and a half in the U.K and the U.S each). I knew ultimately that I wanted to move back home to Nigeria. From my work with community technology centres in the U.S, I had seen my students grow in confidence from learning how to use computers. I had also seen my former students go on to get jobs based on what they learnt in my classes. My work exploring the potential of using technology for change in the U.S encouraged me to see how women and girls in Nigeria could also learn how to use these tools for learning and empowerment.

RWW: Did you have a plan?
Ore: I got a job offer in an oil and gas consultancy firm. This was a very different industry from the one I had been working in. I wasn’t quite sure what I would be doing there, but it was a job and I had found that it wasn’t very easy getting a job from the U.S. However, I managed to get a job before moving home and was grateful for it. My immediate plan was to complete the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme as soon as I moved back home.

RWW: How did you go from an Economics degree to advocacy?
Ore: In my final year at Queens College, I had to pick the degree I wanted to study in university. I didn’t have a clue! I danced around from degree to degree.

The general thinking then was that the smart girls chose Medicine; the girls who can talk and argue go for Law; the business-minded girls chose business and commercial degrees like Banking & Finance, Accountancy and Business Administration. Then, everyone else gets in where they can fit in. I had no idea what I could do, but I thought “I’m quite smart, so I should pick medicine.”

This was a hilarious decision considering that, all my life, I had an aversion to blood. I closed my eyes during the gory parts of films. I also was not particularly enthused by physics and chemistry.

In the end, I didn’t get high enough grades in Physics and Chemistry to study Medicine. Although, it was such a humbling experience, it turned out to be such a blessing in disguise, because then I could give more thought to what I really wanted to do. I honestly still couldn’t figure it out, but opted to study Economics because I was very good in Economics and Maths. I decided that I would try many different things while at university and so hopefully, by the time I graduated, I would have figured things out a bit more.

RWW: And did you figure things out?
Ore: Before I started university, I went to a computer school to pass the time until I could start school again and learnt how to use a computer properly. A fascinating new world of knowledge was opened-up to me.

When I got to university, I started a business typing essays for other students. It was hugely empowering to make my own money with the skills I had. Then I started thinking about how other women could use technology in their lives for their own empowerment.

I decided to study Information Systems for my Masters degree to gain a better understanding of the role of technology in social and economic development. While I was doing my Masters, I got to learn about how few women were working in the technology space. This included creating technology, developing technology-related policy. Even in terms of access and usage – the figures for women were very low. I was intrigued to know why and to do something to help close that gap.

The idea that would eventually become W.TEC started to take shape. This was firmed-up when I moved to the United States and worked at EDC and my volunteering role at the community technology centres.

RWW: Explain what W.TEC is all about?
Ore: The Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC) is a Nigerian non-governmental organization set-up in 2008 and which encourages Nigerian girls and women to learn how to use information and communication technology as a means of empowering themselves socially and economically. Our programmes include technology literacy workshops; skill-building projects; and research examining pivotal issues related to African women’s use of technology.

Our programmes are a combination of technology literacy classes, mentoring opportunities and research. We offer young girls a technology camp each year as well as after-school clubs which help to extend and deepen the initial learning they receive from the camp.

Through a mix of classes, workshops, presentations, excursions and leadership exercises, we endeavour to build strong, intelligent and focused young women, well-prepared for living and working in an increasingly technology-driven world. Our girls learn how to program, create applications for mobile devices, build websites, make short films, etc. They also participate in career talks led by women working in technology jobs or who use technology in interesting ways for their work.

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W.TEC in Action

RWW: And what do you offer women?
Ore: For women, we have the Entrepreneurship & Technology programme, which is designed to equip current & aspiring female entrepreneurs with relevant business & technology skills to build and manage a profitable and sustainable business.

RWW: Why girls and technology? Why not poverty, health or education in general?
Ore: W.TEC was set-up in January 2008 and conceived in response to research that showed that although ICTs significantly contribute to a nation’s development and growth, women – who make-up approximately half of Nigeria’s population – are severely lagging behind in their knowledge and use of technology.

Over the last two decades, Nigeria has experienced a rapid growth in information and communication technology (ICT) jobs, however women are less equipped to participate in this space. Available research shows that female enrolment in the technology and engineering courses of Nigerian higher institutions is lower than men’s (Punch Newspaper, January 5, 2010). This disparity continues in industry, with women accounting for less than 20% of ICT jobs in Nigeria and tending to occupy mostly junior or non-technical positions (Development Information Network, 2006). This means that women are not benefiting from technology’s economic and social advantages.

Research also indicates that in order to ensure that more women are working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths careers; it is important that the interest of girls in these subjects is kept and nurtured through secondary school. That is why we pay particular attention to working with girls aged 11 to 17 years.

RWW: Every career or cause has a humble beginning. What form did W.TEC take in the early days?
Ore: The precursor to W.TEC was a project I set-up in 2006 with a friend Sokari Ekine called Blogs for African Women (BAWo). This was a 6-week project that taught secondary school girls how to blog. In doing that, we helped them gain more confidence using computers. As a result, I gained the experience of running a project from the concept stage to the implementation , monitoring and evaluation stages.

A while after the project ended, I saw a Call for Proposals for a small grant that would support projects that helped to strengthen networks. I built on the BAWo project and submitted a proposal for what would become W.TEC’s first project: the Networking for Success project (http://www.w-teconline.org/nfsblog). The Networking for Success project would teach women how to use Web 2.0 tools (essentially social media) and other ICTs to effectively develop and advance their work. We shared a lot of the learning materials online and created a blog where the network of women would discuss their use of the various tools we were learning about.

Thankfully, we were selected to receive the grant in 2007 and at the end of the year, I resigned from my job to set-up W.TEC. In January 2008, I started work full-time on W.TEC. Looking back on it now, those were very exciting times.

Project coordinator, Toyin Ajao, our office assistant, Nkechi Nnamchi, and I we set-up the structure which was the foundation for what W.TEC is today. We implemented the Networking for Success project in May 2008.

RWW: What experience did you have at the time to run the organisation?
Ore: All I really had was a very little idea about what it took to run an organization, but I learnt as I went along. At the time, it was quite nerve-wracking and I always feared I would be ‘found out’ as someone who didn’t really know what she was doing. But, it seemed to others, that I looked like I did. I was very, very passionate about my work and I realise that definitely helped buoy me through the times where I was very uncertain about myself. I handled 90% of the training in those days and all our beneficiaries commented on how well I was able to teach and how much I seemed to love my work.

Over the years, we have grown in staff strength a little (we are now four with a sizeable team of volunteers). We have some more structure in place, but still flexible enough to make decisions fairly quickly and adapt to changing circumstances.

RWW: What challenges have you faced in terms of changing perceptions of women in IT, particularly in Nigeria?
Ore: When W.TEC started in 2008, there was very little knowledge about the gender digital divide in Nigeria – why it existed and why it was important to close it. W.TEC was one of the few organizations working in this area and we have engaged in a lot of awareness-raising over the years through training, speaking at conferences and other events, interviews in the media, and presenting the results and alumnae of our programmes as strategies to educate the wider public about the importance of gender equality in ICTs.

There were many people who did not understand why closing the gender digital divide was even important. They felt that if there were fewer women working in technology than men, then it must purely a matter of choice. There was no understanding of the role of female role models in technology. There was no understanding of the unique challenges that many women and girls have with respect to access to technology, having time for the study and practice required to learn the skills. There was no thought given to the factors that cause many women to drop put of technology jobs within the first 10 years of their careers.

Now there is more understanding about the benefits of closing the gender digital divide and more government agencies and companies are expressing interest in supporting initiatives to encourage more girls and women in ICT learning – it’s use and careers.

RWW: You’ve received several awards. Which has meant the most to you?

Ore: Maybe the very first one, which was the Change Agent award from the Anita Borg Institute. There is something extra-special about the first thing and so I will always remember this first award I received.

The Change Agent award is given to women who are supporting other women in computing. I was invited to the Grace Hopper Celebration, which is the largest gathering of women in computing anywhere in the world and is an annual conference organized by the Anita Borg Institute. I was given the award in a glamorous ceremony by the president and CEO of the ABI, Telle Whitney and Alan Eustace, Senior Vice President, Engineering & Research, of Google at the time (and Board of Trustee Member of the Anita Borg Institute).

My sister Ayoola travelled with me for the conference and having her there made it so so special for me.

Press

RWW: What is your hope for Nigeria and young girls in particular?
Ore: I really want girls to be all that they want to be. They should have the ability, access to opportunities and education that can make this happen. I want Nigeria to be a place where girls and women have the support and encouragement they need to realise their dreams. Although my work is more focused on how girls and women use and engage with technology, I care about the total girl and the total woman.

The vision of W.TEC is a society where Nigerian women and girls are able to create and use information and communication technology for learning, activism, entrepreneurship, and professional activities effectively.

RWW: Thank you Ore.

You can learn more about W.TEC from their website at: www.w-teconline.org, YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/watchwtec and online album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtec/sets/

Redefining Wonder Woman Series Five: Master Of The Game

I met Laura on twitter when I started to connect with people in the baking world. Her flawless cake designs and clean shots caught my eye. She only had a handful of followers then and didn’t even have a Facebook page. She now has six and a half thousand plus followers on Facebook and over a thousand on twitter . Laura has taken a simple desire and turned it into so much more.  I hope it inspires you to become a master of your game.

SONY DSC

RWW: I don’t know much about you can you tell us a little bit yourself?
LL: My name is Laura Loukaides (pronounced “Lou-kay-dees”) I was born on June 19th 1993 in Hertfordshire, UK. I enjoy writing, photography, music and decorating cakes – all different art forms I really admire. I’m also obsessed with Cake Boss and The Great British Bake Off!

RWW: How long have you been baking?
LL: I’ve been baking since I was very small, my mum taught me how to bake (she’s still makes the best cakes!)
I’ve only been baking seriously over the past two years since I started decorating cakes. When I’m baking for my family I’ve fallen into this habit of making everything so much bigger than it’s supposed to be… unless profiteroles are supposed to be the size of a Grapefruit…

RWW: I was stunned to find out that you are self taught. It would take me years to turn out such flawless cakes. When did you love for baking start?
LL: The year I was turning 19, after watching countless hours of Cake Boss and Food Network Challenges, I decided that I wanted to make my own Birthday cake. Before watching any of these TV shows I had no idea what Fondant was, I had never heard of it, I was aware of wedding cakes but I never actually thought about how they were made. I wondered to myself if I was capable of doing something like that, so, I started by making a fondant rose -not Gum-Paste, I didn’t even know it existed- and to me (at the time) it looked nice, so, I made 80 of them… yep… all in Orange for my sisters Birthday Cake, her birthday was before mine so I decided to design her a cake and put the roses to good use, she loved it! Cake artists will all scream at me when I say that I used to store my Fondant in the fridge.. What was I thinking?!

RWW: Who inspired your love for cake decorating?
LL: I’d say Cake Boss inspired me the most to begin with. I also really admire the incredible work of some of the big names in the cake industry such as Sylvia Weinstock, Ron Ben-Israel and Peggy Porschen; they’re all very talented in their individual styles. There are so many inspirational cake artists in the world I could go on forever!!

RWW: How did you learn about the craft?
LL: TV, YouTube, Books and Magazines. I’ve never been to any classes for anything. To begin with, I never even knew you could take classes in Cake Decorating so I taught myself how to do the basics and then developed my skills by taking risks and learning from my mistakes.
RWW: Can you remember the moment you knew you had a gift?
LL: Like all Cake Decorators, I’m always doubting my work, so I’ve never seen myself as having a gift, I always feel there is room for improvement, but everyone’s compliments and reactions at Cake International really helped to build my confidence!

Cake International 2014 entry

Cake International 2014 entry

RWW: How long has it taken you where you started to where you are now?
LL: Just over 2 years, It’s become an obsession!

RWW: What was your first cake like? Do you have a picture of your first cake? 🙂
LL: Ummm… I’m not proud of my first cake, at the time I just assumed that I knew what I was doing but I had no idea, I have learn’t so much from making mistakes. My cake skills are much better than before… I’m a little too embarrassed to show anyone my first cake…

RWW: How much time would you say you dedicate to practising?
LL: I practice new techniques whenever I can, mostly in the evenings, It’s always best to challenge yourself. Sometimes we can look at something and think, woah there is no way I can do that, but, Who says you can’t? Don’t let anything stop you, Give it a go!

RWW: What’s your creative process like? How do you get inspired and how long does it usually take you from idea to cake?
LL: My creative process can take a while because I like to create new and original designs, there is so much around now that coming up with new ideas can be difficult, but, with my cakes,  it’s literally whatever people like. It’s always much easier to copy a real-life subject from it’s true form because you know what it’s supposed to look like. If I have to design a wedding cake, I like to take to fashion for inspiration, for example; Dior Couture is perfect for an extravagant wedding style because it’s very colourful, there are lots of patterns you can incorporate into the design;  and then you have Vera Wang which is better for a sophisticated wedding design – the soft tones and subtle features work really well. Most recently I have taken to architecture and tattoos for inspiration;  the shapes, styles and shading are all fantastic elements when you’re looking to create something a bit different.

RWW: Do you love what you do?
LL: YES! It’s honestly one of the best and most rewarding professions anyone can go into and, the cake world is so lovely.  Everyone is always so supportive and helpful. I’ve met some amazing people since I started decorating cakes!!  My proudest moment so far is being selected for the front cover of Cake Masters Magazine (September), it’s such an honour, I still can’t believe it!!

Cake Master Magazine, September 2014

Cake Master Magazine, September 2014

RWW: I see you also dabble in photography. It’s great that you can combine two loves. Do you take photographs professionally as well?
LL: I used to take photos all the time, not so much now, but teaching myself about photography has really helped me present my work in a clean and professional way. Daylight is your best friend when taking photos of your cakes!!

RWW: What’s most important to you?
LL: To me, it’s most important to just enjoy what I’m doing, being able to get up everyday and look forward to what comes next is an amazing thing. I’m still only young and have so much more to discover in this crazy cake world…

Thank you Laura

Laura collages

To see more of Laura’s creations, check her out on twitter @LauraLoukaides, her Facebook page or her website www.lauraloukaides.o.uk

Yep! I’m A Superhero!!!!

I love these guys.  Their music never disappoints!

Here’s to all Superheroes all around the world!

Hope this recharges your batteries and strengthens your capes! 🙂

When you’ve been fighting for it all your life
You’ve been struggling to make things right
That’s how a superhero learns to fly

Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power

When you’ve fighting for it all your life
You’ve been working every day and night
That’s how a superhero learns to fly
Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power

Oh-oh, oh, oh
Oh-oh, oh, oh

Read more: Script – Superheroes Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Songwriters
Barry, James / O Donoghue, Daniel / Sheehan, Mark

Published by
Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., DOWNTOWN DMP SONGS

Redefining Wonder Woman: My Mother My Hero

Welcome to the first of many Redefining Wonder Woman (RWW) stories from ordinary women who have done extraordinary things. It would be remiss of me to start this series without acknowledging the influence of my mother on my life – just in time for Mother’s Day too. It was an interesting experience interviewing my mum as a woman and not as her daughter. I discovered so many things about her that I never knew and came to understand her a bit better. She has always and will always be my epitome of a strong woman. I hope you are as inspired by her story as I am.

RWW: What did you want to be when you were little?
Mum: As a child I didn’t really think about it.  When I left grammar school, I thought I wanted to study dentistry.  When my father sent me to England to study, he said I had to study Law. I protested and told him I would rather be an accountant if I couldn’t be a dentist. However, not having the prerequisite grades meant I would have had to complete a preliminary course before University. My father promptly told me he only had enough money for a three-year course and that’s how I ended up studying law.

RWW: Did you like it?
Mum: I enjoyed it even though it was tedious.  There was so much case law to get through and you had to constantly read journals and newspapers to keep abreast of current issues. In retrospect, I don’t think I would have enjoyed accountancy as much. For instance when I heard Tony Benn had passed away, I remembered that the renunciation of his peerage was one of the cases we looked at whilst I was at school. Daily occurrences made law a very interesting subject.

RWW: So no regrets about studying law?
Mum: Not at all.  I was very thankful to my father for forcing me to do it. Eventually it worked out well.

RWW: How did you get into Insurance?
Mum: After I graduated, I worked for the Board of Trade (now the Department of Trade and Industry) within the insurance division for about four years. Then I moved back to Nigeria in 1970 and attended Law school there. Before I left the Board of Trade, I asked my bosses to give me a recommendation of Insurance firms to work for. As soon as I got back, I contacted the two companies I was given, had interviews and secured a job offer with Royal Exchange before I graduated from Law School. I started work there on the 1st of June, 1971 and worked there till 1995 when I retired; almost twenty-five years.

I started out as the Assistant Legal Officer and within six months I was promoted to Company Secretary, Legal Adviser when the incumbent went back to England due to an illness. I subsequently became the Company secretary and I rose from Assistant General Manager to Deputy General Manager and eventually became an Executive Board member; the first female executive in the history of Royal Exchange, worldwide.

RWW: I find it incredible that you worked at the same organisation for almost twenty-five years. Why didn’t you move elsewhere?  
Mum: Should I say it was loyalty? I enjoyed what I was doing and I had everything I wanted in a job. I had a lot of autonomy within my role and I had the privilege of flexible working hours which meant I could do the school run and start work about 9.00 AM. I was also one of the top professionals in the industry with a good rapport with the Heads of Units at the Head Office in England which was very important in terms of longevity at the time. And you’ve got to remember that during this period there was the divorce, and I needed job stability. And to be honest, I didn’t have problems at work and there weren’t many companies at that time that operated flexi-time and that was very important to me.

RWW: What challenges did you face as a woman in the workplace?  
Mum: Internally, I found that men didn’t respect women or their opinions. They found it hard to accept a woman was their boss. Externally, when I went to meetings, people (men) looked down at me and I found that I had to put forward my views forcibly in order to be heard. However, since I dealt with trust investments, they soon realised they had to work with me.  

RWW: Can you recall an occasion where this was overtly displayed?
Mum: Yes. I remember a meeting with foreign investors and a much older Nigerian gentleman told me to shut up. He brushed my opinions aside and carried on with the meeting. I was livid, but I knew I had to be calm and avoid a slanging match. So I said very calmly that what he said wasn’t nice and he should accord me the respect due to me. I was proud of the way I handled it and at subsequent meetings, he addressed me appropriately. Ironically, eight years later, this same gentleman was embarking on a venture that required my approval to succeed. Suddenly my opinions were valuable to him as I was an instrumental party.

RWW: LOL

RWW: After you retired, you started a travel agency in your early 50s.
Mum: Yes. I used my severance package to invest in a Travel agency because I loved travelling. I ran that successfully for about ten years and eventually sold the company. I had no regrets when I sold it. It was the right time to do that.

RWW: Speaking of travelling, what countries have you explored?
Mum: Australia, Brazil, Venezuela, Jamaica, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and other places in Europe as well as several American states. A few of those trips were done when I travelled round the world in six weeks with one of my best friends.

RWW: Let’s get personal. What was it like raising four girls on your own?
Mum: It was hell on earth!
RWW: LOL
Mum: Not because you were bad children but primarily because of my own fear of making a mistake.  I wanted you all to turn out right. There was the fear of whether you would excel at school, and then university and then life. I spent a lot of time being anxious for each one of you. I was constantly wondering if I would ever get this thing right? There was also the fear that people would say you would have been better off with your father. With a lot of determination and God’s help, it turned out right even when things were tough financially.  I have no regrets as far as you children are concerned.  It was just the pressure to look after the family that sometimes got to me.  Even with all that pressure, I still count myself very lucky to have had the four of you as children. I know people in similar circumstances who did not have the same ending. I count myself very lucky indeed.

RWW: Would you say you were successful?
Mum: LOL. That would be for other people to judge. I think I set out to do what I wanted to do as far as Law is concerned. I have done everything I wanted to accomplish. Even though I didn’t want to do it, I have thoroughly enjoyed being in the Legal profession and have no regrets at all. I met many Nigerians who were much older and pioneers in their professions through Law; older members of the society who acknowledged my success and accorded me my due respect. I’m happy with all I accomplished.

RWW: Although you are retired you are still quite busy for a woman in her 70s.
Mum: Yes, I’m very much involved with a few church committees and several charitable organisations. I’m also a non-executive board member of an investment company and a school governor for a boys secondary school in Lagos.

RWW: What concerns you about young women in Nigeria today?
Mum: I think there is still room for women at the top of corporations. I pray for a time when women will not have to make a choice between being there for their family and work. These days, it is difficult to marry your home and your job. It’s very difficult for women to get professional jobs with flexible working hours. I feel there is going to be a time when things have to change as they have changed in England.  

RWW: What is most important to you?
Mum: My name.  The fact that I can go out today and hold my head up high without any shame.  I didn’t steal or cheat anyone. My name counts for a lot. 

RWW: Thank you mummy.

Mummy collage

Machiavellian Tactic In The Workplace

I’ve had a very interesting day at work.  I was told not to bother applying for a promotion; basically because the person wants the role. 

What do you think I’m going to do? I’m going straight for it, I will not pass GO and will not collect £200.

They better watch out for Wonder Woman.   Ka! Pow!

 

 

 

 

Wonder Women Assemble

It’s funny that my blog is called redefiningwonderwoman but I don’t seem to have a lot of woman-ny stuff on here. I’m hoping to change this in the next few weeks. My plan is to interview someone who I feel stands out as a Wonder Woman. We are used to lauding women like Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton – woman who have scaled the high echelons of their professional terrain. We don’t often hear about ordinary women doing extraordinarily simple things that make you wonder. A book may never be written about them and you may never hear about them on a global scale but, in my opinion, they deserve a Wonder Woman award.

As I write this, I recall a day at University. I was hanging out with one of my male friends, and we saw this girl as we waited in a queue for food. She had the most stunning, to die for, hazel eyes. I went ahead as you would and told her she had beautiful eyes. She said thanks. What my friend said after was a shock to me. He said I should never be vocalise my admiration for another woman because she would think I was jealous. And I remember saying back to him that if she felt I wanted to be her, that would be her problem but if I think someone is beautiful, I’m going to let them know. I marvelled at the sort of world that dictated that women will be pitted against one another and compliments to one another were banned. Of course, I rebelled against such a notion.

I had a life changing moment when it dawned on me at the age of 25 that I was normal. It was such a monumental moment that I remember how old I was at the time and what I was doing. It was freeing. There is no perfect woman out there. No one has it all together. No one is 100% happy with their lives. No one is emotionally stable all of the time. Everyone is just trying to be. And when you hear about those mums who love staying at home with their children during half term and wish they didn’t have to go back to school. They are either lying or represent 0.00000000000000000000001% of all women. Most of us sometimes want to run and hide from our own children. Most of us suck in our tummies – perpetually. We sometimes want to hit our spouses on the head. We sometimes or all the time have messy homes and our children don’t behave the way we would like. And most of all, we are ALL turning into our mothers.

There is so much to learn from one another but we can only learn from each other if we are looking at the real version of ourselves. Let’s encourage one another, even when it’s hard or we’re jealous. That doesn’t mean we can’t disagree over lifestyle choices but there’s no need for cattiness. Let’s just BE!

So if I get myself organised enough, I will start a new series on my blog celebrating Wonder Women I come across in daily life. It will be posted on the last Friday of every month and will commence in March. If you have any recommendations, email me at redefiningwonderwoman@gmail.com.