On Being a Strong Woman

Strong Women in my family! From top left- Sisters Cally, Mary, Daughter Michelene, Penelope's Mom Jess, Penelope, Mom, and Moi.
The Strong Women in my family, taken on Greek Easter 2016. From top left- Sisters Cally, Mary, Daughter Michelene, My son’s partner Jess, Baby Penelope, Mom, and Me.

“One by one she slew her fears, and then planted a flower garden over their graves.”
John Mark Green

In my younger days, I often noticed how older women would brazenly speak their mind. They seemed to have no filter. Saying what they wanted, not caring whether it hurt someone or not, they barrelled over others with unbridled words. I envied this at times when I wasn’t blushing with shame for them.

Fast forward to my (now) mid life wisdom days and it’s amazing the bravado I have. I’m finally in that category of saying what I want and doing (well, mostly!) what I please. I can look people in the eye and not really care if they like what I’m saying. Attempts at diplomacy work most of the time but sometimes they just go flying out the window.


A few years ago, my friend told me a story about her steak eating, beer drinking, ciggy smoking mother who horrified her one day. Her mom was sitting on a bench outside a big retail store with a couple of other large women (yes, complete strangers). As my friend came out of the store, her mom nonchalantly proclaimed, “Where did all the fat people come from?” This while sitting there like it was just a regular day. I asked if the other women bopped her mother with their purses and my friend’s answer was “no”.

Where does the midlife bravado come from? And speaking of which, why does unresolved anger have to come with it? After scaring myself a few times with my own lack of ceiling on my wrath, I confided in an older friend of mine. She said, “If you have any unresolved issues they will come out in menopause.”

This answer provided me a measure of relief. Here was an explanation that made sense. In my first book, I talk about the realization that with my deepening relationship with God, I knew I was loved to infinity. What became the challenge was not to abuse that love by engaging in mean, angry comments to others.


This is still true now. Lately, I’m using the three A’s approach- Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. To stay in awareness and acceptance but not take any action (on bad behavior) implies an egotistical, self centered way of looking at things (or plain ignorance). Of course I should look at myself. Of course I should attempt to tape my mouth shut occasionally. Of course I should rein myself in. Deep down I do not want to deliberately hurt people.

I have a lot on my plate lately. There are many beautiful relationships I’m currently engaged in with family, friends, and clients. I’m trying to use my new bravado in the way that will suit me best. It helps me be more honest. I feel more open to sharing feelings that previously I might have bottled up. Channeled properly, this bravado helps me make a point and keeps me from stuffing it down deep. Reining myself in when it will do no good (or only hurt others), I’m learning to share unhappy feelings with “safe” friends, those who will love me no matter what. Unleashing unbridled anger at others- worse yet, projecting it onto innocent people- is a big fat no no.

When I feel that quickening beat of a mouthful of wrath coming on, I pull my breath deep into my core and take a moment to center myself. I am a strong woman capable of empowerment and not prone to intimidation, negative thinking, or pity. This mantra will usually restore peace and tranquility. Small bits of these moments, savored like a good chocolate chip cookie, help me retain my sanity. This is a busy world. Let’s not forget to love ourselves in the process.

Latest Granddaughter Picture. Penelope helps me remember what's important.
Latest granddaughter picture. Penelope helps me remember what’s important.


Join me on my graceful journey.

26 Replies to “On Being a Strong Woman”

    1. I am so aware of what Penelope can become. I am already telling her that she can do whatever she wants- she can accomplish anything she dreams. How wonderful. Good to hear from you! xoxo

  1. Lovely. Well I certainly know older folks who could use a filter. I’m curious about the lack of tact that seems to come with age and hope to be able to handle it with grace, as you describe here through the three A’s.

  2. Joanne, this post should be a powerful, must-read article for women everywhere, especially young, getting-started women is search of strong guiding words. You selected perfect quotes to accent your story, and I loved the pictures. This is a masterpiece! <3

  3. Here’s to strong women…”may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them!” I agree, this is a powerful read for women of all ages, and especially young women searching for identity. You offer some great advice and insight, Joanne. Unresolved anger and menopause…whew, what a combination!! (haha). Such a hugh different between being strong and being a bully! ” We need women who are so strong , they can be gentle..” What a beautiful quote…I love it, and what a beautiful little granddaughter you have!

    1. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them- I love it! I am more aware than ever that we as women can raise strong daughters and granddaughters (and in my mom’s case, great granddaughters!). Thank you for reminding me of this Cindy!

  4. This statement just may have saved my sanity. “If you have any unresolved issues they will come out in menopause.”
    Oh my goodness. I could have used that knowledge a few weeks ago. I’ve never been an angry or cross person until doc had to cold turkey the hormones–I went into menopause (and a chronic cranky) over night.
    Some days, I think you’re my personal angel. Loved your quotes and your coping recommendations.
    This one is going up on my bulletin board (and will provide the jump off point for what I want to write for you!)

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’re amazing. xo

  5. I agree that being a strong woman is not being caustic. Being a strong woman is bearing life’s burdens with grace and calm. Occupationally, I am invisible. I absorb the pain other’s carry with them daily. Personally, I am invincible. My faith carries me from tragedy to tragedy, from joy to joy, and from prayer to prayer. I let God be in control. I have no worries because I know I am loved. I start every day doing my best, I end every day thankful for the blessings. I call this living LIONHEARTED.

  6. As I not so gently enter this mystifying time of mid-life and menopause I am awed by the emotions that wash over me! Coming to terms with what wants to come out of my mouth and the tears that I have no control of is no easy task! Thank you so much Joanne for your words! What comfort they have given me and wisdom I will call on in the days, months and, I am told, years to come. 🙂

    1. Angela, it is wonderful to find a kindred spirit in this time of life. It is not an easy time and it is good to know when others are going through something similar. Thank you so much for coming for a visit to my blog! God bless! xo Joanne

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