Honoring the Women in My Life for International Women’s Day

by Ken Mueller on March 7, 2012 · 38 comments

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carry water Honoring the Women in My Life for International Womens DayI was probably only 3 or 4 years old, but this is one of the few events I remember from my earliest years in the 1960s:

I remember going to the grocery store with my mom, and at that time, grocery stores often had a Brach’s candy display where you could mix and match a bag of candy, and pay for it by weight. You also had the option of putting a penny in a slot and taking one piece of candy, on the honor system. Well, and this is the part I don’t remember, I apparently must have just decided that I wanted a piece or two and I took some and stuck it in my pocket, without my mom knowing.

Then comes the part I do remember. When we got home, it was time for my nap, my mom found the candy in my pants pocket. Now, for the sake of one piece of candy worth a penny, it would have been very easy for my mom to scold me and shrug it off. But that’s not what she did. Oh, I sure got scolded, but the punishment was far worse. My mom made me take the penny out of my piggy bank, marched me out to the car, drove me all the way back to the grocery store, made me apologize to the grocer, as he watched me put my penny in the box. Oh, the humiliation, even at that young age. But this story has stuck with me over the years and left an impression as my mother taught me several valuable lessons.

First, it was made very clear to me that stealing was wrong. It was important to do the right thing. Second, I also learned the value of owning up to my mistakes and making it right. Sure, it cost more money in gas to take me back to the grocery store than the candy itself was worth, but over the years my mom (and dad) impressed upon me the reality of right vs. wrong.

For that, I’d like to thank my mother.

When I was asked to take part as a blogger in Oxfam America’s International Women’s Day, this is one of the first stories that came to mind.  When I was pitched with the idea of blogging about this, I was asked to think about the women I admire and who have made a difference in my life. And my mom is certainly one of the most important as she and my father have been an incredible source of support throughout the years.

You see, around the world, particularly in Third World nations, women are often the most important people in a family or culture. Women are often the glue that holds those families and cultures together. Consider this:

Some stats as to why this is important, and I know these will resonate with you:
  • Sixty-six percent of the world’s work falls on women’s shoulders, yet they earn only 10% of the world’s income.
  • If women were given the same access to resources that men have, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%.
  • Hunger and poverty are about power and inequality, and women and girls face the biggest inequalities of all.

For instance, my church is actively involved in working in underdeveloped countries around the world. One of those is one territory of 28,000 people in Tseikuru, Kenya where individuals sponsor more than 2,000 children impacted by AIDS and poverty. Additionally, LCBC has provided funding  for clean water wells, farm animals, microfinance projects, and more, to the tune of several hundred-thousand dollars. You see, in many of those areas, there is little access to clean water. As a result, the task of walking 10 to 20 miles each day to bring back clean water falls on the backs of the women girls, literally. Because of the time it takes, many of the girls are unable to attend school, thereby limiting them and their futures. By digging wells close to home, these young girls can attend school and realize their full potential.

Oxfam America is one of many organizations that seeks to improve the lot of women, and therefore families, around the world.

And in honor of International Women’s Day, which is tomorrow, I’d like to pay quick tribute to just some of the important women in my life. Yes, I’m sure I’m forgetting some, and if I do, I apologize.

My mom – I’ve already told you about her, and not only do I greatly appreciate all that she has done for me, but for our family as well. She’s been a great source of strength and encouragement to me for the past 50 years, and in particular has been incredibly supportive as I made the decision to go into business for myself. Thanks, Mom!

oxfam Honoring the Women in My Life for International Womens Day

My wife – Becky and I are approaching our 27th wedding anniversary, which is pretty amazing in this day and age. But beyond that, I know I’m not always the easiest person to be around. She has stood by me through the years, truly through  the “better or for worse”. She has also been a great source of inspiration and support, particularly as I build this business. And she has done a fantastic job of raising and educating our three kids, sometimes in spite of me. Thank you, Becky.

My daughter – Elizabeth is our oldest child, and at the age of 22 has turned into an incredibly beautiful and wonderful young woman. She and I have a great relationship, and I love spending time with her every Tuesday evening for dinner. I hear so many stories of heart break from parents as they talk about their children making poor decisions, and yet I have thankfully not had to deal with that. Elizabeth is a wise young woman and truly has a heart for others. Sure she annoys me sometimes, but I think I’ll keep her. She makes me happy and proud in so many ways. Thank you, Elizabeth.

But the women who inspire me and make a difference in my life go beyond just my family. I could make an incredibly lengthy list, but here are just a few:

My clients – Without sitting down to actually do the math, I would guess that at least 50-75% of my clients are small businesses owned and operated by women. Women in underdeveloped countries often don’t have the chance to run their own businesses. But in this area, it seems like there are quite a few. From restaurants and bakeries to salons and fitness studios, a lot of our successful local businesses in Lancaster are owned or run by women. If I were to just pick one to name, I would pick Deb Brandt, owner of Moxie House, a local marketing and design firm, and publisher/creator of Fig Magazine. It was Deb who contacted me about helping her out with social media several years ago that really helped me to get my business off the ground. She was my first client, and continues to work with me on a regular basis. Thanks, Deb, and thanks to all of my other clients.

My former boss, Susan Fisher – I have had many bosses over the years, a number of whom were women. When someone asks me who my favorite boss was, I never hesitate, and quickly blurt out Susan’s name. Susan hired me back in 1990 to be the Radio Curator at the Museum of Television & Radio in New York City. When I got hired, I expected to be there no more than five years, but I ended up staying 13 years, mostly because of Susan. Susan was one of those people who both worked hard, and played hard. She knew how to treat her employees, and her loyalty and trust in us created an incredible environment in which to work. There were times when money was tight at this non-profit, and times when staff morale was incredibly low, but Susan did everything in her power to protect those of us in her department. I learned a lot from her over the years about a lot of things, including how to be an effective leader. In some ways, Susan and I came from very different worlds, and if we had just met at an event we may never have “clicked”. On paper, we weren’t the type of people that would probably hang out together. But we had a great working relationship and she truly earned my trust and respect, at a time when it was often hard to respect or trust others with whom we worked. Thank you, Susan, for being such a great boss, and more importantly, such a great leader.

My business/online community – My online community consists of a lot of great people, many of whom are women. I’d like to mention three in particular: Marijean Jaggers, Shonali Burke, and Gini Dietrich. Interestingly enough, I’ve never met any of these three in person. Whether they know it or not, they have been a real inspiration to me as I work to take this business to the next level. They have been there to answer my questions, provide encouragement, and sometimes just give me a bit of an “atta boy!” when I need it. They are there when I need to bounce an idea off of someone, and they won’t just tell me what I want to hear, but what they think I need to hear. That’s important. So thank you, ladies. You’ve been great support to me, and I appreciate and value your friendship. Just don’t expect me to send you flowers anytime soon.

That’s my list, and like I said, there are many more I could add here, but I’d rather you add your voice. Take a moment to honor the important women in your life, whether they are family, mentors, teachers, co-workers, or even someone who just quietly makes a difference in your community. Consider sending them an International Women’s Day e-card to let them know, or give them a personalized IWD award that you can print out or post on your blog or Facebook page.

It’s your turn now. Who are the women who are important in your life? Who are the women who have inspired you, pushed you, and supported you?

 Honoring the Women in My Life for International Womens Day
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36 comments
divinemadness
divinemadness

@kmueller62 so I'm gonna assume my name is mentioned at least once in this?

C_Pappas
C_Pappas

This is a wonderful post Ken! I mirror Shonali's comments below - we need more men like you!

 

There are SO many women I admire. Like you, I have really valued my family. My great-grandmother migrated to the US from Greece in the early 20s and the stories she told were unbelievable. I think the thing I admired about her was that even though she went through so many struggles, she left this world saying 'I danced and Im ok leaving now'. Amazing person!

 

Like you Ken, my mom is truly a rock. I felt like I was lucky to go away to college because I never really ackowledged how much they matter to me (unlike your daughter, I was a bit of a terror :) ). We have an awesome relationship now and I respect every single thing about her. Working full-time with 3 kids, going to night school and taking care of my dad. I dont know how she did it all and did it with a smile. I am so lucky to have her in my life as my mom.

Marijean
Marijean

I have not met Shonali, Gini, Becky, Elizabeth or you. Or your mom. Thank you for a sweet post and for being such a great friend. We will get together this year. In Chicago. At @ginidietrich 's house. 

Latest blog post: LinkedIn: Spot the Fail

R Dawson  Oxfam America
R Dawson Oxfam America

Ken, thanks so much for your wonderful post.  Perhaps at one point there was a parents guide (although I never received it when I had my two kids) because the exact same thing happened to me as a kid except it was a pack of gum I pocketed and my mom drove me back, marched me in and made me apologize to the clerk and give the pack back.  Mortifying for me but what memorable lessons I learned from that! 

 

Thanks for sharing your story, and who you honor this International Women's Day, and for raising awareness about the issues Oxfam works on and the tools we are providing!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

OMG! You used Becky's and Elizabeth's names! In public! I also love that you say Elizabeth annoys you sometimes. LOL!

 

And thank you for the nice note about me. It's strange we haven't met in person, but we will make it happen. You know, when I plan a trip more than two hours in advance.

Shonali
Shonali

What? I don't get flowers? :p Just kidding. I loved hearing the story about your mom; seems to me public shaming works. :p

Thank you so much for helping to spread the word about Oxfam America's (client) campaign, Ken and, more than that, thank you for being an advocate for women every day. We need more men like you.

kmueller62
kmueller62

@divinemadness who are you again?

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @R Dawson Oxfam America Hey, thanks for stopping by. I guess there was a parenting manual back in the day, but I sure as heck can't find it for my own kids!

KimHowardDC
KimHowardDC

@kmueller62 I did the same thing when one of my children took something. And I recently marched them down the street after a ding, dong...

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @ginidietrich Hey, I've used their names before. If I don't, it's more due to their privacy than anything. And I've had Elizabeth in videos!

 

And yeah, we'll meet sometime, so bring your A game.

 

And I can't be too hard on Elizabeth. She makes me dinner every Tuesday night before I teach, and last night she prepared a birthday dinner for me complete with bacon! And then she used Facebook to  tip my class off about my upcoming birthday, and they all sang to me. Yeah, she's a good kid. Most of the time. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @Shonali Thanks, Shonali, and no...no flowers. Sorry. Though I guess I could send you some virtual flowers. 

JenniferSayer
JenniferSayer

@kmueller62 You're welcome. Hey look, no rocking throwing or punching. Haha

kmueller62
kmueller62

@KimHowardDC haha, well...not sure I would do the second of those...

kmueller62
kmueller62

@divinemadness well that would just be weird

JenniferSayer
JenniferSayer

@kmueller62 haha Probably not very long. We do best at punches and jabs. jk

kmueller62
kmueller62

@JenniferSayer hmm. i wonder how long we can keep this up?

JenniferSayer
JenniferSayer

@kmueller62 haha Yes, yet... Jk Well, thank you. That is quite a nice compliment. :)

kmueller62
kmueller62

@JenniferSayer yet. and btw, i could have added quite a few names to that list including yours

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