In honor of International Women’s Day coming up this Sunday, March 8, I wanna tell you a story about my grandmother, Margaret Schweizer.
My grandma was one of 11 children whose family immigrated to the states from Ljubljana, Slovenia when her eldest sister was a small child.
She played the bassoon growing up, was an avid golfer, loved me unconditionally, and was full of grit, gumption and spice – she wanted things her way, and she wanted it now!
But perhaps her biggest claim to fame in her life was the fact that she ran one of the first female optometry practices in the Chicagoland area, and was one of the first women in the United States to fit her patients for contact lenses.
And, the way that she got onto that path was rather rugged, to say the least…
Her first husband died suddenly two days before their first child, my Aunt Georgia, was born.
This obviously set my grandmother into labor, and there she was, wallowing in her grief, with a newfound responsibility to care for her child on her own.
Being a new mom now, I can hardly fathom her hardship.
Her first husband was an optometrist, and eventually, she decided to put herself through optometry school as a single mother in the 40’s, in a field that was almost completely dominated by men.
Her eldest sister would watch my aunt, and she’d take the train every day from Joliet to Chicago, to go to school and have the know-how and credentials to reopen his practice.
She also eventually remarried and had my sweet mama, and this is how I came to be.
My grandma died when I was 16, and I never actually talked with her about her story, but learned it through my mom – who also ran her own businesses for nearly 35 years of her life.
More recently, I realized that these two strong women paved the way and carved the path for me to do the entrepreneurial work that I do in the world.
Their stories are part of my lineage, and entrepreneurship truly runs through my blood!
Consequently, I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire adult life – I taught dance independently and ran a dance company in my early to late 20’s, ran a 10-year massage therapy practice mid 20’s-30’s, and for the past 8 years I’ve been a Women’s Business and Leadership coach – supporting my clients with building their confidence and expanding their heart-driven missions, in private, group, online and in person settings.
Leading experiential groups programs and transformational retreat experiences is my JAM, and I’m thrilled to launch a worldwide accessible online group program later this year teaching other creative change-makers how to do just that!
But the truth is, I know without a shadow of a doubt, that I wouldn’t be sitting here with the privilege of doing this work, if it weren’t for my grandma or sweet mom.
So on this upcoming International Women’s Day, I celebrate ALL women identified people, everywhere – across time – the strides that have been made, and the steps forward that we continue to find ourselves collectively making…
But I especially celebrate my foremothers who’ve come before me.
I honor the rugged path that my grandma had to make – one that I know deep within my bones is WHY I now do what I do.
And, I thank you, thank you, thank you – for doing what you had to do to give my family a better life.
Last thing, women, never forget, you are more powerful and more capable than you can ever imagine. You are fabulous, you are magic, you are a miracle, you are a QUEEN. Go out there today and all days – say YES and follow your dreams!
Bowing down to you and all women, everywhere,