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“She is fierce,” they say. “So is her daughter.” A lineage of strong women.

My daughter rides Arabian horses. She’s been riding since she was 2 years old. She’s always been fearless… “like her mother”, they say. “She’s so tiny,” they say, “on such a large animal.”

My daughter is a petite Spaniard, with the determination of her Russian Baba, who immigrated on a boat to Canada, pregnant with her first child, after losing everything in the war.

“She is fierce,” they say. “So is her daughter.”

I come from a lineage of strong women and I worry I have passed it down to my only daughter. We are relentless, independent and strong-willed. We are cursed with the strength to endure and the resilience to survive even the most difficult of trials or tribulations.

We have been trained to put on a brave face. But as my middle child rides around the arena, chin up, posting in rhythm, I surprisingly hear her trainer say, “Relax. Be brave. A horse can sense when you are nervous or scared and it makes him uneasy.” She’s been outed.

It’s not that strong women are invincible or even want to accept the challenge, it’s just our qualities become our expectations and it can become an exhausting faรงade, at times. But like muscle memory, we ride on through each and every provocation that comes our way, without hesitation., lays out the 6 admirable qualities of strong women, of which 2 firmly resonate with the strong women and girls in my life:

“Strong women are shaped by the storms they have survived.”

  1. They never forget what made them strong.
  2. They value respect over attention.

When it comes to my great grandmother, grandmother, mother and daughter, I don’t know if I could determine whether it is nature or nurture. We are all woven by the same clothe.

My daughter takes a deep breath in sync with Magic Man, her partner in the arena. I whisper “You’ve got this.”, reassuring her of her incredible strength. She gives me a wry smile, as if she already knew. I roll my eyes. She’s only 9.

*** I wanted to add one of my favorite excerpts from The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros, titled “My Name”, but I didn’t quite know how to incorporate it to this post… but it reminds me of the whirlwind of emotions that I feel as a strong woman. Comment below on what you think! This piece has stuck with me since I taught it for the first time 17 years ago.

“My great-grandmother. I would’ve liked to have known her, a wild, horse of a woman, so
wild she wouldn’t marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and
carried her off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier. That’s the way he did it.
And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the
way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with
what she got or was she sorry because she couldn’t be all the things she wanted to be.

Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window.”

4 thoughts on ““She is fierce,” they say. “So is her daughter.” A lineage of strong women.

  1. I love this heartwarming and beautiful piece, Annie. I can just see your young daughter riding her horse in my mind’s eye and from your description. I didn’t know much about Arabian horses, so I looked them up on Google and realised how strong, and proud these horses are. Your daughter must look so small sitting up on her magnificent steed.

    I love the line, ‘Strong women are shaped by the storms they have survived.’ I agree with that sentence, but I feel it is a good thing to be strong as a woman, especially in these times. I saw my counsellor on Wednesday, and we were having a very similar conversation about all the hardships I’ve endured in my life, and she was puzzled to know how I’ve remained so strong (not that I have always been this way – I think it was a case of having to be strong). My dear late Mum and my Nan before her (who, strangely enough, came from Russia also) were strong and determined women, too, as is my daughter in her turn.

    I just love that last paragraph taken from The House on Mango Street. I’d not heard of that before I read this post – I googled that, too, as I was interested to learn more. I think my favourite line of all is this – “She looked out the window her whole life, the
    way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow.” Thank you for sharing this post – I really enjoyed reading it. Ellie x ๐Ÿ’–

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am thrilled that my piece inspired you! I have found blogging very theraputic. I had the same conversation with my counsellor just today! We spoke of the many uncertainties that are looming us and the importance of feeling safe and secure… not only in our situations but in ourselves, as well. ๐Ÿ™‚ Annie

      Liked by 1 person

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