In honor of International Women’s Day, celebrated this year March 6-8, Deanna Quietwater Noriega, who has been blind since childhood, talks about the women in her life who have shaped who she is today. The theme this year is Educate. Enlighten. Empower. Deanna’s post embodies this theme as she discusses mentoring, self-advocacy, and overcoming adversity and opting “into life” as a whole person.
There have been many women in my life that served as mentors. My great grandmother, grandmother, and my mother all provided clues on how to cope with life. Each, in her own way, conquered adverse circumstances.
My great grandmother taught me to know myself and use my head and heart to guide my decisions. When she gave me the Ojibwa name that translates as Quiet Water, she wanted me to know that water is strong. It can carve a canyon, smooth the roughness of stones and truly is life.
My grandmother was small and fierce. She taught me to stand up for myself and to face life head on. She made it clear that complaining about the problem doesn’t solve it. You must be the change you want to see.
My mother showed me that being visually impaired was no excuse for opting out of life. She took the time to teach me how to do the things I needed to know to live independently and achieve the goals I wished to reach.
Throughout my life, I have learned from mentors and friends. You don’t need to know all of the answers, there are others who have discovered them and are willing to share their knowledge. The key is to seek those who have gone through the same challenges and ask for their help. Celebrate on this day honoring women those women in your life who have been the wind beneath your wings.