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The other day the very popular quote from Eleanor Roosevelt on women crossed my inbox. “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.”

Amusing? Interesting? I beg to differ, when I look at my lineage, specifically the women in my family. It does not take hot water to test our strength. Our determination and drive is always there, it does not take something “hot” or bad to get us going.  Let me explain albeit at the risk of sounding like a cheerleader for my family!

Like many families in the 30’s and 40’s large families were the norm. Grandmothers on my paternal and maternal side had many children. They taught them, guided them and worked hard at being supportive wives. Down that lineage from both sides came many aunts, uncles and cousins.

I spent most of my childhood growing up (during summertime at least) with my mother’s relatives. I enjoyed this immensely recognizing my zest for life and opinions in some of my female cousins. Oh we were a loud bunch! We always had something to say and at any family function the thrill of having the chance to “make a speech” was always there, we enjoyed being heard. I remember 23 years ago at my wedding when I chose to make a brief speech before the groom spoke. What the devil? The bride is speaking?? Ha ha!! There were many shocked people in the room, but I am proud to say that the tradition continued and my sisters and several cousins followed suit! Keep us quiet? Not a chance!

Today this has not changed; I am particularly close to one cousin who is an attorney in England. I define her as one of the strongest women I have ever met.  From her I have learned a lot about strength. I am always impressed when the going gets tough, she gets going! Life has presented her with challenges but her strength is always met with a positive attitude, she is a resounding example of honesty, love and strength for her husband and three beautiful daughters. A strong woman I am proud to know and love!

I look at my mother, who is always there willing to listen to anything going on in our lives. Willing to advise or guide or perhaps be the voice of reason you sometimes need to hear regardless of your age. There are times in my life when I thought I might fall  apart, strength seeping away,but a phonecall to my mother always set me back on the right track. A strong woman I am proud to know and love!

My youngest sister, who is indeed an intelligent firecracker! She has demonstrated that the strength of a woman does not define itself during times of adversity but in perseverance.  She has set and met some outstanding goals at a very young age. She is never afraid to tell you what she thinks. Hell there is times that she tells me what she thinks I should be doing!! Amazing. A strong woman I am proud to know and love!

My daughter who is an outspoken, intelligent and independent young woman of this generation. She does not withhold her thoughts or opinions. She stands up for what she believes in and has a good heart. She is strong, mature and ambitious. A young woman I learn something from every day….I admire her “take on the world” spirit. A strong woman I am proud to know and love!

Lastly, but not least of all. The reason why this blog came to mind is due to my middle sister. Who this year has faced some very difficult changes in her life. Although family is there all the time, the drive and determination to meet each day head on and deal with the issues it presents has to be found from within. I spent many many months worrying about her. Perhaps that comes with the title of being the oldest sister. How can I make things better for her? What can I do? What can I say? I fretted constantly and I tossed and turned at night. Worried and worried, until one day during a face book chat with her. She announced. “It will be fine, everything will be fine. I am strong like bull!!” I laughed and laughed almost in relief. “I am, Maryse,” she repeated. “Strong like bull!!” There you have it another strong woman I am proud to know and love!

I think of her and all the other strong female relatives in my life and I am proud to be a part of them. Strength can be found in any area of our lives perhaps during the worst of times as Bruno Mars sings in Lighters, “you and I know what it’s like to be kicked down forced to fight”.

A few months ago I sat with my son as he barbecued burgers, and advised him that he would marry a strong intelligent woman. Quite frankly I told him, you’re surrounded by them. I kept talking (as I am prone too). She is intelligent, motivated, opinionated and strong.

That’s who she will be! (or perhaps already is?:) )

While listening to me he assembled his cooked burger. All of a sudden he looked at me and his handsome face broke into a broad grin. Carefully he loaded half the burger into his mouth.

He knows I am right.