26 March 2008

Phenomenal Women

I read the Maya Angelou poem every couple of years, and feel inspired and motivated, and add an extra bit of sway when I walk. Because, deep inside, every woman likes to believe she is phenomenal. We do so much for our families, and we keep down steady jobs and have a finger in more pies than a gaggle of old women can bake on an Easter week-end.

And yet, I cannot agree that every woman is phenomenal.

Miriam Webster defines phenomenal as relating to or being a phenomenon or known through the senses rather than through thought or intuition, and lists extraordinary or remarkable as synonyms. Maybe Urban Dictionary is more spot on with this definition:
a word generally used by lying bastards who overexaggerate everything they do or say.

It is another one of those words, just like awesome and incredible, that has been grossly overused, stripping it of its meaning, and thus leaving a gap in our vocabularies. Because, in reality, there are a couple of people who could be described as phenomenal.

I have been thinking about the women in my life for some time now, and there are probably a couple that could be considered slightly phenomenal, or even border-line incredible.
And it is not the single mother of two who keeps down a regular job, but gets home so bushed that she cannot spend time with her children. No, she is brave, but she is not phenomenal.
Neither is it the woman who is on every single committee at school, and drives her kids to more extra-murals than is probably good for them, but sleeps alone at night, because her husband is always away on business. She too, is brave, but no where near phenomenal in my mind.

For me, the phenomenal woman is the woman who knows her limits and her strengths, and never allows her limits to detract from her strengths. She will never taken on more than she can handle, but when she does, she will admit defeat gracefully and make sure another can step in to fill her shoes. She will give every one a fair share of her time, without neglecting one party in favour of another. She will live her own life to the best of her abilities, without ever dictating to others how they should live. She will be the best friend one could wish for, and a formidable opponent, should you cross her. She will fight for the abused, and see through the flukes.
In my book, it takes a lot to be phenomenal. But, that said, even phenomenal people have flaws, and this should be remembered at all times. A truly phenomenal woman will steer clear of adulation, and step down from her pedestal - probably with her sleeves rolled up and her hands elbow deep in muck.

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