International Women's Day: A Celebration of Resilience

In honor of International Women’s Day, we teamed up with some of the strongest women we know to recognize resilience and celebrate the women we admire. Keep scrolling to see what they had to say!


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Meredith

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
I admire Esther in the Bible – a remarkable woman willing to risk her life to save people during times of turbulence. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Esther is symbol of bravery and courage. Many times, our lives can become routine, but all of us will have defining moments! Esther was an orphan who stepped out in courage and proved that God can perform miracles, even when odds seem impossible.

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
I’ve been blessed to meet so many amazing women through fashion. I was at a private invitation event in 2016 and it turned out to be a pivotal moment in time for me. During the event, I met and connected with some of my favorite fashion bloggers and women of style that I admire. The women were all authentic, genuine, and supportive, like family. As I was driving home I thought to myself, I am so proud to be a woman! The fashion community is filled with women who support and pray for each other. It’s neat how God can show his love through friendships.

Share your favorite ways to uplift women around you.
I love uplifting women around me with words of encouragement! We all battle moments of self-doubt, insecurity, and discouragement; moments that make us feel like giving up instead of going on. Sometimes, a little encouragement is all a person needs, and spoken at the right time, can make a positive impact on a person’s life.

- Meredith Dwyer, @meredithdwyer

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Jena

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
I admire one of my clients, Michelle McComb, CFO of VTS, for many reasons. She has grown an incredibly successful career climbing the corporate ladder to the C-suite, which isn’t easy in male-dominated environments like finance, real estate, and technology. Part of Michelle's personal brand is her incredibly high bar of integrity that she never compromises for anyone or any situation. I look up to her as a role model; as someone who sticks to her guns, despite temptation. I hope throughout my career, I always hold myself to a similar standard.

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
Part of my work centers around advocacy, specifically employee advocacy. I have had the opportunity to turn things around for some of my female clients when they have been faced with the receiving end of micro-aggressions in the workplace (such as getting passed up for a promotion or navigating ambiguous feedback from a male manager). I give them the tools to help them advocate for themselves, but I have also involved myself and raised these issues to the "powers that be" when they have occurred. A lot of times, these kinds of situations happen in the workplace unconsciously, but all too often, women are met with the losing end of the game and suffer because of it (despite non-malicious intent). Unless I was a woman who had been through all the same struggles as my female clients, there is no way I would be able to effectively advocate for them. It's in these small moments I am super proud to be a woman.

Share your favorite way to uplift women around you.
My favorite way to uplift women is to celebrate their wins. As women, we typically move from one thing to the next without ever celebrating our wins. I try my best to take the time and point out when women have succeeded. Celebrate! Just last week, a woman I admire received a large promotion, so I asked her when we could go out for celebratory drinks! Life can’t always be a moving goalpost. We have make the effort to take stock of what we have accomplished.

- Jena Booher, @jena.booher

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Holly

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
I deeply admire the clients I work with because they are some of the bravest women in the world. Many of my clients started working with me because they were sick of the negative thoughts being projected onto them by society, peers, and often, themselves – that they weren't good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, savvy enough. My clients are consistently creating new, empowering stories about what is possible for them exactly as they are today. I have clients go on to start businesses, travel the world, pursue relationships, and embrace their bodies. They are opening new possibilities for themselves every day, and that is the most inspiring thing in the world to me.

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
I feel proud to be a woman when I am collaborating with other women. I don't believe what society has told us — that women are competitive and catty with one another — because that truly hasn't been my experience. Women have been an integral part of my growth, lifting me up, encouraging me and providing me with beautiful opportunities. I strive to do the same for other women.

Share your favorite ways to uplift women around you.
My favorite way to uplift women around me is by connecting them with one another. As an entrepreneur, you cannot underestimate the power of community and networking. Whenever I meet a new female entrepreneurial friend, I like to invite her to events, introduce her to my network, and get her plugged in. It can be a lonely road and is so much easier when it's walked with support.

- Holly Toronto, @loveyourbody_hc

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Janna

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
Mama Doan! My mom is the most compassionate and caring person I know. She always puts everyone else before herself, constantly thinking of others and how she can serve them or what she can do to bring them joy. My mom donates her time to serve her community and wears so many hats — mom, sister, daughter, grandma. She is always making sure her family is fed and taken care of and asking what she can I do to help. My mom is the epitome of unconditional love. She inspires me to do better and be better.

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
Growing up, I always believed in the notion of GIRL POWER. However, it wasn't until I started blogging and meeting powerful boss babes/female entrepreneurs who were running their own businesses — some on top of working full-time — creating/reading/signing their own contracts, and building their empires. When I negotiated and signed my first contract, I felt like one of them. Today, I feel so proud and empowered to be one of those ladies. They inspire me to believe that anything is possible as a woman, to dream big, and do more.

Share your favorite way to uplift women around you.
My favorite way to uplift women is by showing them support and being their cheerleader! It so amazing to witness women coming together to support one another. When we're all cheerleaders for each other, it makes the journey a fun and exciting one. One of my favorite quotes is, "We rise by lifting others." This way, everyone wins.

- Janna Doan, @jannadoan

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Janie

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
Two women — my two sister-in-laws, Marian and Diane. One beat cancer, and in the process of her battle, lost her daughter. Her only child. Watching a woman fight a battle and then lose her child — there are truly no words to describe her strength. My other sister-in-law suffers from chronic migraines. There are days when she can't even get out of bed, and yet, she never complains…somehow always finds the strength to be there for others. I truly admire these women for their strength, their kindness, and for the love they share with our family and the community in spite of what they are going through.

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
When I am out running errands and am approached by a reader or am contacted online by a woman who keeps up with my blog, I feel proud to be a woman when she shares her story with me and lets me know that in some way, I have inspired her. Stories range from women finding the courage to leave an abusive relationship to thanking me for introducing them to the beautiful designs by Maggy London! This is when I truly know that all I've been through had a purpose. The purpose to be of help and encouragement to someone. It's a wonderful feeling!

Share your favorite way to uplift women around you.
My blog, Medley Style! I created the blog to inspire and elevate women of all ages, but one of my main goals for this platform is to let women who are 50+ and fabulous know that is never to late start over if you have to. It's not too late to make that "dream" come true. It's not too late to soar, no matter what you've been through! Through Medley Style, I share my journey in hopes to be a blessing to others and that we can make a difference and a positive change in this world. By doing this, I also let women know that we can dress with style and celebrate our fabulousness in the process.

- Janie Medley, @medleystyle

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Beatriz

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
Golda Mier. She was born in Ukraine in 1898 and grew up in Milwaukee, WI where she became a school teacher. In 1921, she immigrated to what was then Palestine. She settlied on a kibbutz, entered politics and rose to prime minister of Israel, a country dominated by men, and led it during the traumatic Yom Kippur war.

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
I have surprised myself so many times with what I was capable of doing, so I guess I'd say I’ve been proud to be a woman from the earliest days of my life – getting out there to face this beautiful, but challenging, world.

Share your favorite way to uplift women around you.
I love applauding a woman’s success! Seeing a woman succeed uplifts me, makes me proud, and fills me with joy. Acknowledging a woman's success gives her the strength and fuel to keep going and fly higher.

- Beatriz Greiff, @bgreiff

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Lauren

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
My mommy! Her compassion, kindness and generosity is unparalleled. She literally will give you the shirt off her back. During my 2nd bout with cancer at age 24, I was in the hospital in isolation for six weeks. My mom slept on a small recliner chair every night. She is my forever-sidekick. I have deep gratitude for her unconditional love. Each day, I spread kindness, love , and joy, always following in her footsteps.

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
Four years ago, when I started my own business. It was tough to go against the grain. I had extensive experience in fundraising and event planning (so I knew I could always go back into a full-time role if I needed to) but I was determined to make a positive impact on the lives of others – so Chi Chi Life was born and I’ve never looked back.

Share your favorite way to uplift women around you.
Showing up. Plain and simple! I lead with curiosity and adore seeing my friends in action. Support is integral in cultivating a strong community. We rise by lifting others.

- Lauren Chiarello, @chichilifenyc

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Caralyn

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
I'm pretty lucky to be surrounded by some incredible women who have shaped who I am. However, I wouldn't be anything without the love and support from my mom. She is a leader in her field, an advocate for children's education, and an all-around amazing woman. A perfect example of strength and softness. As I've grown into adulthood, I've been able to appreciate how great of a woman she is.

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
I've never felt prouder to be a woman than I have recently. As I'm getting older, I've been able to appreciate the women around me – women who are building careers, households, families…Women can truly do it all. It amazes me.

Share your favorite way to uplift women around you.
My favorite way to uplift women around me is to find at least one thing about them to compliment and make them feel good. As women, we can be so hard on ourselves (and each other!). I think it's important to remind other women when they're rocking it.

- Caralyn Mirand Koch, @caralynmirand

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Sheri

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
The woman I admire most is a strong, intelligent, determined individual who I just happen to call mom! Throughout my life, she has supported and encouraged me to excel in ways that I may not have thought possible. In my darkest moments, she has always been there to lend an ear, offer comfort and offer much-needed advice. She is truly an incredible person…a blessing in my life.

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
One moment that made me proud to be a woman was the day I graduated from college. At my graduation dinner, I was surrounded by so many of the women in my family and all I could think about was how the strength, support and love of these women made it possible for me to achieve everything I did. I was, and still am, very proud to be a product of their labors and, someday, I hope to be able to do the same for someone else.

Share your favorite way to uplift women around you.
I believe the best way to uplift women is to encourage learning and education. It doesn't necessarily have to be formal education, but I do think that knowledge can truly empower women in every aspect of their lives.

- Sheri Atwell, @shapely_chic_sheri

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April

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
There are numerous famous women that I absolutely admire, however, the first person who comes to mind is my friend, Michele. She has been battling cancer since 2001 – basically her entire adult life. She is the epitome of strength and I felt compelled to write about her. Even during what seemed to be her millionth round of chemotherapy, she still made my family 10 different homemade meals to stock our freezer before my surgeries. (She even included homemade cookies!) That is something I will never ever forget. Michele is the kindest person I know, always helping others before herself. She continues to battle even when the odds are stacked against her, and she does it with character, flair and a genuine heart. I am so proud to call her my friend. Keep fighting, Michele. We love you!

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
Besides carrying and birthing four children, there is one moment in particular that sticks out for me…a time I felt proud to be a woman and proud to be the mother of two amazing girls. Two years ago, I had major surgery on my spine for Scoliosis (two titanium rods and 26 screws). During that surgery, my spinal cord was permanently damaged and I lost feeling and ability in my left leg. (You can read about that on my blog.) After spending months in the hospital and in bed, I began to learn how to walk without feeling and control. I finally came home from the hospital on what happened to be the kids’ first day of school. I refused to miss walking them in, and so with the help of my husband and kids, I walked them to class with my walker. As I struggled with each step, both of my girls helped me along. They were so proud of me – I could see it in their eyes. I remember how I felt in that moment. Loved, inspired, PROUD. I was proud not only of myself, but of my children. My kids had to witness the horrible aftermath of my multiple surgeries. It took two years of physical therapy, and I still struggle to this day. Both my girls were diagnosed with the same condition and are braced for 20 hours each day. Although I feel extremely guilty, I hoped that by seeing what I went through and continue to go through, that they will rise to the occasion (and boy, have they). We are strong. We are fierce. We are proud to be women who can handle anything!

Share your favorite way to uplift women around you.
I am all about uplifting others, especially women! One of the main reasons I began my journey as a blogger was to help others. I have been very vocal in regards to my medical condition and hope by sharing my story, it will help others to not only embrace and love themselves, but to see that anything is possible with strength and perseverance! I used to use fashion to hide my body (like a designer camouflage). Now, I share my fashion looks and words of wisdom to show others how to love themselves! There is nothing more gratifying than seeing my story help others and shed some light on this condition. Another thing I do daily is read inspirational quotes. Sure, it sounds cliche, but it was an important part of my recovery. I love to share these on social media and on my blog along with motivational articles. There is nothing more uplifting, in my opinion, than a woman who had the odds stacked against her and rose to the occasion with grace, dignity and strength.

- April Wagner, @apriljwagner

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Holly

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
My mother! I became a mother last year and at that moment I realized on a magnified level how selfless and amazing my mother truly is! She is the most generous and hardest working God-fearing woman I know!

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
Carrying and having a baby! It is such a blessing to be able to carry and birth your child. I am still so amazed at a woman's body and the ability for it to grow a human! It's so wonderful.

Share your favorite way to uplift women around you.
Encouragement! I try to tell at least one woman a day how amazing she is! I love to comment on fellow bloggers’ pages and let them know how wonderful they are doing! Women have so many roles to fill and hats to wear. It is so important for us to let each other know that we are proud of one another!

- Holly Boyd, @maketodayahollyday

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Jaime

Tell us about a woman who you admire.
I admire Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. Her calling is to support women – literally and figuratively! She is a working mom and has built an incredibly successfully business. She is real, she doesn't take herself too seriously, and she inspires me daily.

Describe a moment you felt proud to be a woman.
Recently, I felt proud to be a woman when I became the head coach of my son's basketball team. I’m showing young boys that girls can coach, too. When we both play, we both win.

Share your favorite way to uplift women around you.
My favorite way to uplift the women around me is to remind them of their strengths – what I see in them that makes them unique and special. We rise by lifting others.