Ever asked yourself, "What’s possible when we believe in ourselves and go for what we want?"
If so, you're going to love what comes next. If not, now's a perfect time because you're about to meet 4 women who, against all odds, have changed and are changing the world in incredible ways. Be on the lookout for golden nuggets of wisdom and jaw-dropping surprises...
(Kenya, Africa | 1940 - 2011)
Green Activist + Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
She may have been born on April first, but Wangari Maathai was no fool. Too corny? Gooood 😎 As the first African woman, and first environmentalist, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai was a force to be reckoned with.
In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, enrivonmental conservation, and woman's rights. Through her the GBM she was able to provide jobs and salaries for women and plant over 45 million trees across Africa, the U.S., and elsewhere.
Neat fact: After high school, Maathai was one of 300+ Kenyans selected to study in the U.S. Thanks to John F. Kennedy.
Quotable quotes: "We often preoccupy ourselves with the symptoms, whereas if we went to the root cause of the problems, we would be able to overcome the problems once and for all."
"Finally I was able to see that if I had a contribution I wanted to make, I must do it, despite what others said. That I was okay the way I was. That it was all right to be strong."
TAKEAWAY: No matter what circumstances you’re up against or have been through, if you have a calling in your heart then you are equipped with everything you need to bring it to life.
(Iowa City, Iowa | 1938 - present)
NASCAR Race Car Driver
Just look at her... Does she look like a badass or what?!
Originally an aerospace engineer, Janet Guthrie went from one male-dominated career to another. But that never stopped her from following her passion and spirit for driving.
Because she competed in a male-dominated sport she met up with discrimination and prejudice and every turn. But there were also many who saw her for who she was: a great racing driver. In fact, Mario Andretti, one of the world's most successful racing drivers, once said of Janet, "Anyone who says she doesn't belong, just feels threatened." She is the first woman in history to qualify and compete in both the Indianapolis 500 in 1976 and the Daytona 500 in 1977. Oh, AND... she drove one of her 500 mile races with a broken wrist. No wonder one of her most notable quotes is:
"It is a matter of spirit, not strength. It is a matter of doing your best each little moment. You must have a very intense desire to keep going." Read more about Janet's driving career here. And here's an inspiring interview by NPR (be sure to look for the awesome photo of her from the Indy 500 in 1978. JOY.)
TAKEAWAY: It’s A-OKAY to change direction. In fact, it's more than OK. You really can take a hard left turn and do something completely different. Go for it with all your spirit and heart.
Links and stuff.
(Bangalore, India | ?? - present)
Lake Conversationist & Award-Winning Writer
"I always say that if our house was facing the other side, might be I would not have done anything at all for the lake." That's why Usha Rajagopalan, even after restoring one of Bangalore, India's many lakes and inspiring 30+ "Save the Lakes" citizen groups, still calls myself an accidental activist.
"The lake’s poor condition started bothering me. It was just a puddle of dirty water."
Cool fact: Usha is also an award-winning writer & poet.
One of her most notable works includes a translation of poems by famous Tamil poet, Subramanya Bharathi’s.
To give you an idea... Tamil (Bangalore's local language) is one of the most intricate languages there is. Personally, I've been learning a few words and phrases because it's Ashwin's native language and all I can say is WOW, I've never used so much of my mouth for one word before...🤯
Check out this short YouTube video on how Usha and her volunteer team were able to clean up the lake. It's quite amazing and innovative. What I love about it most is how they used the Earth's natural system and rhythm to bring the lake and it's surrounding land back to life. In fact, it was so successful, other lake groups are using the same remedy. Here's the story told by the storyteller herself. It's a stunning account. And there's lots of pictures ;-)
TAKEAWAY: A simple wish to make your little slice of the world a more beautiful place can make a big difference. It's important to work together.
(Glasgow, Scotland | ?? - present)
Astrophysicist, Martial Artist, & Poet 😱😍
📸by Charles Hamilton
Ever wonder if you could be an astrophysicist, martial artists, model, writer, actress and poet? Naziyah Mahumood certainly didn't. She was too busy being them. Here's some incredible things about Naziyah: 1. She's partially blind.
2. She was named Scotland's Most influential Women, 30 under 30
3. She's a jedi. (click that link and then... wait for it...😱)
4. I almost positive I'll go full-mode fan girl if I ever get to meet her in person. OK, that last thing was about me. But really it was about me about Naziyah so it counts, right?
I mean, how could I not awkward laugh just a little... Just look at some of her beautiful words:
“The best vehicle for traveling is to turn the wheels of your imagination.”
“The force exerted by the fist will only be momentary, but the strengthened will of the mind and spirit can last you a life time. This is the journey of a martial artist."
“Beauty is, in essence, a reflection of the radiation of the light of your soul. It is the strength to conjure within ourselves the courage to stand by what is just and true, including our true selves. It is a reflection of you.”