Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where you didn't need a special day to celebrate women? I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by women who make every day a celebration of how awesome we are. I do, after all, come from the land "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above-average!"
Joking aside, I realized early on that my family is chock-full of strong, independent, loving women. Both of my grandmas raised their girls to have voices, and have survived being widowed with incredible grace and tenacity as they had to learn to navigate a world where their men had always handled the bulk of the day-to-day business.
My aunts have held careers in nursing, teaching, and business, and cousins have followed in those footsteps, setting examples of all that women are capable of accomplishing outside the home. Inside the home, they raise families and love their husbands and teach their children everything that I think matters in life...faith, family, kindness, loyalty.
My mom, in particular, is a pillar of everything I think a woman should be. She knows how to make life beautiful and fun, she is formidably intelligent. She is unafraid to admit to her weaknesses and unashamed of her (innumerable) strengths. She's taught me to never put myself in a box of what others want me to be, and to always speak up for myself. She's a paragon of virtue and a walking example of how important it is to do the right thing and, above all, to do everything with integrity and love.
Emmy, my beloved, talented sister, just adds to my pantheon of women I worship. She sees the world in a way that stretches my own worldview, adds humor to every interaction and calls it like she sees it, no matter the situation. She works harder than anyone I know and is a living example of how amazing and important it is to pursue your passion.
And my girlfriends...my Hannah, Kelsie, Claire, Laura, and of course my Kaitlin...I'm so incredibly lucky to count such a circle of women as "my" girls. Knowing I can talk to them about anything and everything on my mind, whether it's body image, boys, booze, work drama, weddings, goals, dreams, fears, ambitions...you name it, we've covered it. They reflect my best self back at me, and I am so thrilled that I now never go a day without talking to each of them in some way, shape or form. They can make me laugh at everything, or they can make me really consider and dig deep to find answers I need or peace I've lost. Outside my core group, I have so many other connections to young women who inspire me every day. One of the best parts of the Notre Dame family is the all-girl dorm thing...it's built me a concentrated group of brilliant peers who are the very best that this generation has to offer.
And finally, a shout-out to the men who stand behind and beside all these women...colleagues, friends, brothers, fathers, husbands, sons. I love all of them too. Here's to the girls--thank you for being my support, my inspiration and my role models. Happy International Women's Day!