Our focus on strong women continues, and sometimes we find those women exactly when we need them and they are a fleeting influence in our lives.
Life has an interesting, sometimes funny, way of bringing people together in the right place at the right time. Have you ever had a conversation with a woman who you didn’t know that impacted your life? Tell us about it.
Edith/Maddie: When I was a senior in college, a professor encouraged me to take a graduate seminar. After a week, I was so unconfident and cowed by what I perceived as the brilliance of the grad students, I dropped it. A year later I was on a cross-country solo bus trip and happened to sit with a woman a few years older. Like me, she also wore thrift-store clothes, no makeup, and sensible shoes (this was 1975). She said she was in a PhD program to look at the effect of feminist counseling centers on lesbians’ mental health. I stared and thought, if she can do that, I can. Two years later I started a doctoral program in linguistics and earned my PhD four years later. I don’t even know her name.
Barb: I’ve casual conversations with strangers that changed my life, but as I think of it, most were with men. The most meaningful encounters I’ve had with women have been with people with whom I have one sort of relationship, say as work colleagues, but somehow the conversation goes to another place. Strong, older women have given me incredible advice about parenting while working, time management, and general advice about what to expect from life and how to ride the inevitable roller-coaster. I am forever grateful for conversations they probably don’t remember.
Sherry: This wasn’t a conversation but a book about a strong woman. When I was going through a difficult period in my life, I came across Sara Parestsky’s V. I. Warshawski books. They helped me get through that time. Since then, I’ve met Sara and was able to thank her for writing such wonderful books with a complex female character.
Liz: I remember being in a really low place one day and going to a yoga class at my regular studio. While I was waiting for class to start a woman about my age came in and started chatting with me. I don’t even remember exactly what our conversation was about but it felt like I was talking to a kindred spirit – and I felt so much better after our chat. She didn’t even live in the area, but said she was passing through and wanted to do a class. We did exchange numbers and talked about getting together for coffee at some point, but I never saw her again and sometimes I think I imagined her, or maybe she was an angel sent to lift my spirits that day.
Jessie: I have pondered this question and pondered it but I cannot recal a time when something like that has happened to me. Like Barb, I have had a lot of heart-to -heart conversations that have meant a great deal to me but not with strangers. I am not sure I give off the sort of energy that invites that sort of thing from those with whom I am not acquainted! Perhaps I should ponder on that!
Readers, have you had a chance encounter with a woman that made a difference in your life? Tell us about it in the comments below.