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Celebrating Our Role Models on International Women’s Day

By Diana Raab March 03, 2023 Mindset

International Women’s Day is on Wednesday, March 8, and it’s a great time to not only honor and celebrate those women who came before us, but also those who continue to inspire us on our life journeys.

Even though many of us who are baby boomers have now become role models for future generations, we still have fond memories of special women who have greatly influenced our lives.

Living in a Different Age

In general, we women of a certain age are young at heart. Most of us grew up during a time of optimism and growth, and we want to continue to live life to the fullest. We have no interest in retiring at 65; in fact, many of us feel more vibrant and energetic than ever.

We are proud of the fact that we look younger than our actual years, because we take good care of ourselves. Needless to say, we have stood on the shoulders of giants, but who were these individuals? Perhaps this is a good time to reflect on those women who impacted us at a deeper level earlier in our lives.

On a personal level, there were many women who paved the path for me and set the stage for my role as a powerful woman. Some were friends, relatives, and professional colleagues, while others were those who I knew through their work or writings.

My Earliest Role Model

My grandmother was probably my earliest and most significant influence. She lived with us and was my caretaker while my immigrant parents worked long hours at their retail store in Brooklyn. My grandmother, who was orphaned at the age of 11 during World War I, had a worldview that strongly influenced mine.

She was grateful for her life, and because she lost her parents to cholera at an early age, she learned to be happy with very little. I was an only child, and my existence gave her a purpose.

When I became more independent and started walking to school by myself, her role as a woman shifted. She no longer felt needed, and sadly, she took her life while living in my childhood home.

Lessons from Grandmother

As a 10-year-old, my grief ran deep, so to help me cope, my mother gave me a Kahlil Gibran journal where I could write letters to my grandmother. Within those pages, I thanked her for having spent the first 10 years of my life with me.

I also expressed gratitude to her for sharing three very important passions – journal writing, needlepoint, and dancing. (In fact, my parents met at a dance hall in New York when my mother was dropping off my grandmother so she could dance!)

And when I was about eight years old, she taught me how to needlepoint. I started on a larger canvas and would sit beside her as she needled on a smaller-holed canvas. I still have the three needlepoint chairs she made, which are now more than 100 years old.

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My grandmother wrote down her thoughts regularly while she was alive, and I was blessed to find her journal, where she’d written down the details of her life as an orphan in Poland during the war.

Finding this journal was a true gift and was the basis for one of the books I authored: Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal.

Other Influential Figures

During my adolescent years in the 1960s, there were very few female role models, but since that time, and with the advent of the Women’s Liberation Movement, more and more women started to rise to new heights. The second wave of the movement was that of “feminism.”

Many feminists influenced and inspired the woman I’ve become, and their achievements helped me realize that the sky is the limit and that I should always follow my passions.

Some of these women were political activists as well as being accomplished professionals: Anaïs Nin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Onassis, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Gloria Steinem, and Arianna Huffington, among others.

Eternal Wisdom from Those Long Gone

I am now 68, and many of my former role models have passed away, but the memories of what they taught me will be with me forever. And the truth is, we no longer need role models – we now fulfill that role for future generations… and what a huge responsibility that is!

I realize the importance of daily reflection, and the value of facing my fears and sharing my stories, as doing so will help young women navigate their own journeys. I want to constantly remind them to listen to their hearts and to live out their dreams.

The gift of life is precious, and we have no idea how long we will be on this planet, so we need to make the most of every single day.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Who were your role models back when you were younger? Which lessons you learned from them are most vivid to you today? To whom are you a role model at this stage in your life? Please share your thoughts and stories with our community!

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Why is the author standing OUTSIDE with the beautiful needle-point chair?


Excellent article! Those who served as role models in our past stay with us forever, often in surprising ways.

I lived with my grandmother on her farm, along with my parents, however their marriage was abusive. My grandmother became the one who took the greatest interest in me. Strangely enough, at that time, she was educated, had a degree, although she never used it, and she believed firmly in the value of education for women, unlike my father. She also had unconventional beliefs for that time, so encouraged free thought. She taught me the value of being independent, not relying on others for my needs. She also taught me the value of quality and saving for it.

I also had another great grandmother who lost her husband to an accident when her three sons were under the age of 9. She was forced to work at a lowly job and remained poor throughout her life. She was very proud, refusing charity, as was often the way back then. She became blind due to glaucoma later in life but still insisted on remaining independent. Throughout all of this, she maintained a cheerful, positive disposition. Often, when I was enduring hard times in my life, I’d look to her example and think, if she could endure all that, I can surely get through this.

My other great grandmother endured her share of problems too but always remained independent and positive too.

These women, and others I noticed later on in life, definitely had an impact on my life.


I didn’t have grandparents in my life but I did have a neighbor who I called my ‘other mother’. Marge worked with my Mom at the Mental Hospital and taughte me the importance of getting into the soil when upset. She would say; get out there with God’s good earth and you will feel better, and I did.

Patricia Black

As a single mom of three professional women I appreciate & applaud you 👏🏼


Thank you for this article! It’s inspiring!

The Author

Diana Raab, PhD, is memoirist, blogger, speaker, and award-winning author of 10 books, and numerous articles. She often writes and speaks on writing for healing and transformation. Her latest books are Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Program for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life and Writing for Bliss: A Companion Journal. Explore her books and Conversation Cards for Meaningful Storytelling.

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