Google “extraordinary women” and up comes Extraordinary Women Ministries. (Their September conference is sold out, so if you are looking for some extraordinary ladies, Roanoke in late September might be your best bet.) Then see what they’re preaching as a “lifestyle.” You can learn more about a series on WGBH television spotlighting the likes of Coco Chanel, Maria Montessori, Audrey Hepburn, Indira Ghandi, and others who “overcame all adversities to emerge as triumphant, inspirational icons.” You might also visit Dictionary.com where extraordinary is defined as “beyond what is usual” and “exceptional in character.”
Chanel, Montessori, Hepburn, and Ghandi are great. What about the others? I’m talking about those people we may cross paths with once in our lifetime or on a daily basis. They may not have achieved “icon” status as defined by WGBH or others, but you know the world is a distinctly better place because they are in it. I think of:
- Christa Nielsen of Operation Birthday Box who started with a simple lesson for her kids on the importance of thinking about others and now delivers joy to children living in shelters throughout Bucks County.
- Catherine Suitor and Donna J. Byrne who generously took in a girl with a vision of making the world a little bit better and professionally raised her into a woman who lives her vision of everyone being able to flourish (and yes… that woman they raised is me).
- Nancy Morrill, Tam St. Claire, and countless others at the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition who tirelessly advocate for women and families because they know when women do better the whole community does better.
- Toshi, who is gone far too soon and was so quietly generous that you couldn’t even begin to count the lives that she touched when she was with us and continues to touch to this day.
- The Founding Mothers, Board members, volunteers, and staff of A Woman’s Place who birthed a commitment to help and will remain vigilant until the job is done.
- Louisa Whitten, Martha Skoog, and Karen Aduba who inspired me, blazed a trail for me, reprimanded me, encouraged me, comforted me, and challenged me to do more… all with humor and perseveringly persistent love.
I recently had the opportunity to be introduced to a definition of extraordinary that made my heart sing. A respect-filled nod to David Hale Sylvester who writes in his book, Traveling at the Speed of Life, “Being extraordinary is not the performance of superhuman acts; it is the action of one person performing very human acts on a highly consistent and caring level.”
One person performing very human acts on a highly consistent and caring level – and in the case of so many that I have the pleasure of knowing, they are performing those acts #LikeAGirl.
Ifeoma U. Aduba