It was wonderful to witness the sharing of millions of posts worldwide in recognition of International Women’s Day 2018.
March 8 has been re-energised as an important platform to celebrate the achievements of women and continue calls for gender parity.
Merrick Life joined in the throng with the stories of five women from different backgrounds and occupations who have each made their own significant impact on a profession, community, family or culture.
Each story is inspiring and empowering evidence of how far women have come in the last 100 years.
But in truth it wasn’t their stories that most resonated with me on the day.
A friend of mine posted this on facebook:
‘Feeling blessed to share my life with so many incredible, strong and inspirational women, not least my wonderful mum – who even during her battle with a terrifying illness displays strength and dignity. ‘Walk tall’ and ‘Never be afraid to be yourself” were her words of wisdom as we were growing up. So relevant and appropriate now. Our struggles as women continue but we are seeing changes and at a faster pace.
‘EQUALITY will be ours!
‘Happy International Women’s Day to all you absolute beauties.’
It reminded me very much of a piece of advice given to me by my own mother.
I first fell in love with the law when I was 13, inspired by a triple whammy of influences.
Leon Uris’ courtroom opus QB VII hit our TV screens around the same time that in school we read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird with its theme of racial injustice. The novel’s hero, Atticus Finch, is a model of integrity for lawyers. And there was the classic movie, 12 Angry Men, with Henry Fonda slowly convincing his fellow jurors to confront their own prejudices. Together these three stories, each concerning a quest for justice, had a profound effect and determined my desire to work in the law.
So imagine the disappointment when I secured my first job and found I didn’t enjoy the law office environment at all. Serious, sombre and quiet did not make a natural habitat for someone who grew up in pubs and hotels.
That first job would, however, become the place I learned the power of being true to yourself and helped to elicit what still remains one of the best pieces of advice given to me by my mother.
I rang home to break the news that after four years of study, a job in the law wasn’t for me. Mum listened intently as I explained my plight.
When I’d finished my ramblings, without hesitation she told me to go in to the office the next day with the promise of a month of being myself. If I still didn’t like it after that, then I should leave.
So in I went, took a chance and lifted the law office atmosphere a little with the injection of some humour and light-hearted banter alongside all the proper, serious stuff.
Much to my surprise I ended up staying with the firm for another three years during which time I received a training that continues to stand me in good stead even to this day.
My friend’s social media post was not on its own – there were so many on March 8’s #IWD2018 calling out the wonders of ordinary women across the globe; each testament to an indomitable strength and awesomeness.
In 2005 I was asked by a friend to take a table at a charity ball. At the time I was working with a number of commercial clients but they were regularly invited to such events and another one was unlikely to fill them with glee. So it was I determined to take nine of my divorcing/divorced ladies instead.
I was working at Linder Myers at the time and that night, thanks to some naming inspiration derived from the Sassy Pink Peppers in America, the LM Pink Peppers enjoyed their inaugural outing.
Each of the girls was on their own individual journey and at a different stage of a relationship breakdown but they shared their stories and gained a catharsis that comes when you recognise your own pain in someone else.
We have since attended more charity balls, enjoyed trips to the theatre, trained for and run the Manchester 10K, raising funds for the Children’s Adventure Farm Trust (www.caft.co.uk) and gone on holiday together.
We’ve celebrated a number of milestone birthdays and a remarriage; others have also found happiness in new relationships. Some have suffered the loss of a parent and we have gathered round them to give our love and support. Numbers fluctuate but at the heart of this group are women who have shared a life experience and come out all the stronger for it – ladies I salute you!
And, Mum, with another Mother’s Day just passed, I thank you for that advice back in 1985.
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