Happy March 1st everyone (side note: can you believe that it’s already March!?)! For those of you who don’t know, March is also Women’s History Month, which is SO important to me. So many incredible women have helped pave the way and continue to make our world a better place. Along with celebrating the amazing achievements of women throughout history, I thought it would be a great opportunity for the girls on Team Jilly to share their female role models they look up to and why. But because our team is SO big now (ah how did that happen?) we had to break this series up into two separate parts. So this is part one of two and I will let them take it away!
Wow. I’m not even sure where to begin since there are so many inspiring women in my life! However, today I would like to feature THREE incredible women who have impacted my life, contributed to my growth, and will forever leave an imprint on my heart. Each of these women are strong, independent, and have the fiercest entrepreneurial spirit!
My mom, Wanda Crawford.
My mom is probably one of the strongest, most resilient women I know. She tells it like it is and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. I’ve grown to love her honesty and openness … even if it makes me sweat a little.
Among many things, mom has taught me the importance of hard work and dedication. Somehow she is always prepared for everything. Just when I think I have everything planned out, she is ten steps ahead of me.
One of the things I love so much about my mom is her ability to make a house a HOME. From cozy surroundings to crisp sheets and delicious home cooked meals, I feel very fortunate to call her my mom and admire the fact that she can pull it all off effortlessly. Not to mention, I admire her eye for decor and styling and consider myself lucky to have picked up some of that from her. Even if that means trying to beat her to HomeSense so she doesn’t snag all of the good stuff before I get the chance to!
To say that I appreciate everything she has done, and continues to do, for our entire family would be a total understatement.
My granny, Sophie Hoy.
My mom’s mom. Speaking of strong, resilient, and someone who doesn’t sugarcoat things (except for her homemade doughnuts!), that was granny to a T! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, hey mom?! LOL!
My granny raised my mom and SEVEN of my mom’s siblings. She was very strong willed, independent and CHEEKY! Granny always had an ear to lend and an eye for fashion. In fact, she opened up a women’s boutique clothing store in Peace River, Alberta, called “Sarah Jane Fashions” and another one a few years later in Lac La Biche, Alberta. She ran both clothing stores for around TEN years leaning on my mom to help her with the buying (is there anything my mom can’t do?!) while running back and forth between the two locations.
Granny was also an excellent cook (helloooo Ukrainian roots!), I remember watching her make perogies and sugar doughnuts from scratch over and over in the kitchen and was eager with anticipation to eat everything up as fast as I could.
While my granny isn’t with us anymore, I know she is watching from above and hopefully sipping on a rye and coke.
The photo below is my granny holding one of my cousins in her clothing store, Sarah Jane Fashions.
My grandma, Barbara Crawford.
My dad’s mom. Adventurous, daring, lover of life. My grandma graduated from nursing school and only practiced for a short time before my grandpa won her over (being the handsome cowboy that he was!) and brought her out to the farm! From there she raised four boys all while helping out on the farm from feeding the cattle, to taking care of an abandoned bear cub to performing a cesarean section on a SHEEP!
Grandma was always up for anything and enabled my creativity. Always leading me around the farm picking mushrooms, wildflowers, and collecting bones which I would later turn into crafty projects to enter in our local fair and in return, scooping up my fair share of 1st place red ribbons.
Grandma still resides in Peace River and is still a spitfire and extremely witty (with a memory like an elephant!). Not to mention, she’s a well known photographer in Peace River and turns her images into postcards which she sells at a few locations around town at the ripe age of 89!
Mattie Warner Mayes (1847 or 1856 – 1953)
The woman who inspires me most lived and died a long before I was born but her legend lives on in me. Mattie Warner Mayes was my Great Great Grandmother. Mattie had a son named Virgil who had a son named Milton who had a daughter named Anna Helena who had me. Mattie was born into bondage in 1847 in Green County Georgia, USA. She was sold like a commodity at the age of 4 and never saw her mother or grandmother again. After the Civil War Mattie used her new found freedom to venture to Georgia to find work as a domestic worker. Soon afterwards she met her soul mate and married a preacher by the name of Joseph Mayes in Fayette County, Tennessee.
Together the young couple, in pursuit of their dream to live a life free from racial terror, convinced 12 other members of their congregation to sell everything they owned and migrate to the prairie west in 1910. The fear of the unknown did not dissuade them, they did not quit despite the bitter welcome, chilling winters and the difficult terrain of their new home in Canada. Mattie became well known in her community in the unceded Treaty 6 Territory, Battleford, Saskatchewan, where she served as a midwife, healer, storyteller, caregiver, preacher’s wife and matriarch of her family. Joseph and Mattie founded the Shiloh Baptist Church and first Black settlement in Maidstone, Saskatchewan. Mattie had 10 sons and 5 daughters. She lived to be 106 years old, and died on January 20, 1953 in Edmonton, Alberta. Mattie’s descendants, the Mayes family, comprises one of the largest black families in western Canada. Her vision to see her family enjoy the rights of full citizenship came to fruition and she will be remembered as a community builder and pillar of our family. Mattie’s legacy taught me the value of strong family ties, hope in the future and perseverance.
Image Credit: Mayes Family Archives
Image Credit: Mayes Family Archives
Image Credit: Mayes Family Archives
What inspires me the most from Princess Diana’s legacy is her unwillingness to accept the world around her for the way it was and her love, compassion and charity for all. She always did what she believed was right, even when it went against societal norms or royal traditions. At the time of her death, I was a teenager and I remember hearing how she encouraged young people to follow their dreams and to live up to their fullest potential. This has inspired me many times throughout my life to think outside the box and reach for the stars! Princess Diana proved that you can achieve and surpass expectations that others put on you, even during your own personal life challenges.
“I don’t go by the rule book. I lead from the heart, not the head”- Diana
Anne Frank (1929-1945)
My role model is Anne Frank, even during the darkness of World War 2 she was able to highlight the positive and hopeful aspects/ experiences of her life in her diary. I have lost count of the amount of times I have read her diary and the fact that she sought refuge in my hometown of Amsterdam, The Netherlands hits close to home. If you are unfamiliar with her story Anne who was German-Jewish girl, who sought refuge in Amsterdam to hide from the Nazi’s during World War 2. The annex in which she hid was in the city center tucked behind her dad’s storefront where he sold and packaged pectin, herbs, and spices. She managed to hide there for 2 years with 8 other people. She sadly passed away in February of 1945 in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Her story however lives on through her diary and it brought me closer to my Opa, Theo with whom I spent hours chatting about the war and sharing newspaper clippings. Anne Frank’s story is a stark reminder that there is always a light in the darkest of times.
Quote: “No one has ever become poor by giving.”- Anne Frank
Image Credit: Anne Frank House
Well, there you have it, a few of the girls on Team Jilly’s favourite role models. Make sure to swing back over on March 15 for part two!
Happy Women’s History Month!