I have a daughter with a faucet for a nose (home from school so I can nag her to pu-leez use a tissue and help bring down her low-grade fever), but there is still plenty to be thankful as we kick-off this work week.

March 8th is set aside to commemorate the achievements of women in politics, science and social change as International Women’s Day. As great as the “big name” women are in our world who have enabled the women of today to shine, I think it is important for us to recognize the strength and gifts of the women who touch our lives at a local, community level.

In honor of International Women’s Day, I give you a list of strong women in my life for whom I am thankful:
1. The great Jennifer Tai, photographer extraordinaire – Saturday marked my fourth photo session with her. This woman has an incredible eye for composition, a laid-back personality to put her clients at total ease, and a contagious laugh. Though I know she misses her homeland of Malaysia, I think she’s finding Western Washington to be a decent second home. I’m honored to live in the same community with her and count her among my friends. When she’s not capturing our community’s lives with her lens she’s working on the Board with me at our girls’ preschool. When I asked her how she does “it all” she replied, “I don’t sleep!” I think she’s telling the truth.

2. Maria Millsap of Banana Blossom Press – Not only does Maria create fitness-related greeting cards and shirts (both of my kids have the shirt pictured below – “Running. It’s a family thing”), but she visits countless fitness expos to generate a positive vibe in the fitness community with her products. She has an encouraging attitude and welcoming sense of humor. A supporter of fellow-local business women, Maria also sells We Are Girls Who Love to Run at her booth! I am so thankful for her energy and support of the book. Thanks for bringing my book to the masses, Maria. Oh, and she has lots of Seattle fitness goodness to share on her blog Hills & Hammies. Send her some bloggy love!
3. My friend, Christine. Our little girls are good friends, her older daughter and my son hit it off beautifully and she and I both love to run. Christine is new to the sport, her true love is volleyball (she’s a coach). Yet in the last year, she has discovered that her legs were made to GO. I first coaxed her out for an early Saturday morning trail run in the fall after I found out that she was a runner. We’re now training for the Mercer Island 10K on the 21st – at an amazingly fast clip for me (8:30 miles!). Thanks to her I’m doing more outdoor runs and facing my fear of hills. After our long hilly runs, I can now breathe all the way to the top. That’s huge. We’re going to rock this thing, Christine.
4. The women of my Saturday morning trail run – I started this thing last spring and it is still going. I wouldn’t say it is going strong yet, but it looks like we’re turning a corner and numbers are increasing. I had two women join me for 5K (give or take) at 7:30 this last Saturday morning. Funny thing is they thought I had hit the trail early without them because there was a car identical to mine in the parking lot. So off the went – before I arrived! I eventually caught up with them near the turn-around spot and enjoyed running back to the lot with them. They now have my license plate memorized so it won’t happen again (and I’ll do my best to get there a few minutes earlier!). I expect to have at least 6 more women to join in the trail run adventure with me next weekend and more as we get closer to summer. Spring is in the air and fair weather runners are getting excited to get back out. The Saturday group has spurred some interest in some of the group meeting up during the week, too. Just what I hoped would happen!
5. My mom – I don’t think a single paragraph in a blog is sufficient for summing up this woman’s gifts. So I’ll just let you know that she’s great and that I appreciate all she’s done to pave the way for me and my little girl.
And representing the next generation of strong women:
6. My daughter (who is a LONG way from becoming a woman, but she’s a STRONG girl!) – This three year old has a way about her. She can hike up Diamond Head, sprint up-hill for a quarter mile, bicycle around a 1.5 mile lake loop without batting an eye, play “Angel Robin” along side her “Batman Brother” in her white angel costume with handcuffs she made to haul the bad guys off to jail, and set up a “fancy shoe party” with her tea set and stuffed ponies. She is perhaps her daddy’s biggest fan, but is thrilled to give me occasional kudos like the night she deemed me “Best Sunggler in the House”. She inspires me to set new goals and work toward them. Always one to stop what she’s doing for a good spin (think arms spread, head thrown back, dizzy-making, fall-over spinning!), this carefree girl also makes sure I stay in touch with my inner girl and take time to play. Yes, that’s her on the Diamond Head trail last month, stopping to show me her muscles. 🙂
How about YOU? Who is one strong woman that inspires you?