How Do You Recognize a Strong Woman?

For the past four years, this blog has featured brief biographies of women. Each woman featured shows strength, but it’s not necessarily physical strength. If it’s not physical strength, how do you recognize a strong woman?

Daring greatly is being brave and afraid every minute of the day at the exact same time.

Brene Brown

She doesn’t wait to be saved or given permission to act.

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

Mother Teresa
Photo of Mother Teresa in her blue on white habit

Sensitive, kind, and dedicated to serve others, Mother Teresa was a strong woman. She acted on her convictions and founded the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa and her missionaries cared for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, ran soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, children’s and family counseling programs, as well as orphanages and schools. She put her own health at risk and worked tirelessly to help those in need.

Strong women challenge themselves. 

Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.

Photo of Simon Biles in a red long-sleeve leotard, mid-air during a gymnastics routine.

America’s most decorated gymnast, Simone Biles is physically small, but she didn’t let that stop her. Her strength isn’t only physical. A focused and dedicated athlete, she challenges herself and works hard to achieve her goals. 

Strength can be mental, emotional, or physical. Physical strength isn’t necessary to be a strong woman. But women can also be physically strong.

A strong woman speaks her mind.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

Maya Angelou
Photo of Kamala Harris By Office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, is confident, assertive, and full of personal charisma. She does not shrink herself to fit the roles or expectations of others. Vice President Harris speaks her mind and does not back down when others attempt to diminish her.

She can make choices against convention

It’s ok to care about what other people think, but you should give a little more weight to what you, yourself, think … The habit of thinking is the habit of gaining strength. You’re stronger than you believe.

Nnedi Okorafor
Photo of South African female combat troops with helmets, weapons, and in cammo

Strong women know others might judge them for choosing a career that goes against what is “feminine.” They also know that others do not determine their self-worth. They find their self-worth inside themselves.

Photo of a female construction worker carrying a long beam over her shoulder.

She can say no.

We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome.

Isabel Allende

Rosa Parks was soft-spoken, sweet, and small in stature. Some described her as timid and shy. But in 1955, Rosa said no. She refused to give her seat up for a white man. She might have been ‘timid and shy’ but she was a strong woman.

A strong woman seeks the right attention

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

Though she was a shy and retiring person, Eleanor Roosevelt gave 348 press conferences as First Lady. She stepped into the role of First Lady and used her position and her voice to help others. Eleanor was a United Nations delegate, a human rights activist, a teacher, and a lecturer who averaged 150 speaking engagements a year throughout the 1950s.

She frees herself from the victim mentality

Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.

Carol Burnett
Photo of Oprah Winfrey clapping

Outgoing, enthusiastic Oprah Winfrey is idealistic and has the interpersonal skills to make others want to join her to make things happen. She had plenty of reasons to see herself as a victim, but she changed her life. And she works to change the life of others.

Her Strength May Not be Recognized

One small crack does not mean that you are broken. It means that you were put to the test, and you didn’t fall apart.

Linda Poindexter

Strength is not always visible. Others may refuse to see it. Sometimes you may have difficulty seeing past your perceived flaws or the insults and injuries life has dealt you.

The broken heart still has heart beats. Though you may feel like death, you are stronger than you think.

Qwana M. BabyGirl Reynolds-Frasier

Strength is contagious

Learn about the strengths of the women before you and around you. Surround yourself with strong women. Find mentors and be a mentor. 

Fight and push harder for what you believe in, you’d be surprised, you are much stronger than you think.

Lady Gaga

How do you recognize a strong woman? Sometimes you need to look in the history books. Sometimes you need to look in the mirror.

Photo Credits:

Photo of Mother Teresa by Laurel  Maryland, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Simone Biles in 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro, CC BY 3.0 BR, byFernando Frazão/Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Kamala Harris Public Domain 

Photo of female South African troops by MONUSCO, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of female construction worker  from Seattle Municipal Archives, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Rosa Parks Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Eleanor Roosevelt at the United Nations, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Oprah Winfrey by Machocarioca, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of old woman by Free Photos on Pixabay

You Are Strong Enough

After all we’ve been through as individuals and a nation, we’re all tired. Even if we have hope, we’re stress fatigued. No matter how tired you are of all that’s happened. You are strong enough. Yes, we have months to go before we have a handle on the pandemic. Longer for economic and racial injustices to be corrected. Even longer to restore some sense of national unity. It’s exhausting. But we are strong. All of us—You are strong enough to get through this.

Strength is one of those things you’re supposed to have. You don’t feel that you have it at the time you’re going through it.

Joan Didion
Image of street signs at the crossroads of impossible and possible--you have the strength you need--choose possible

Problems are not the problem;

coping is the problem.

Virginia Satir

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness.

It’s a sign of strength.

Karamo Brown

Strength and compassion are

not mutually exclusive.

Robert Kiyosaki

Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.

Norman Vincent Peale

But standing up to your obstacles doesn’t mean hating or destroying or name calling. With compassion and caring and striving to understand, you will find that you can stand better and strong against your obstacles.

You Will Endure

Endure and persist;

this pain will turn to good by and by.

Image of a hiker walking a stone path in the mountains--you can endure--you have the strength you need

We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure.

Cesar Chavez

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.

Corrie Ten Boom

Building mental strength is about regulating your emotions, managing your thoughts, and behaving in a positive manner, despite your circumstances.

Amy Morin

Being mentally and emotionally fatigued is normal after what we’ all have been through. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to retreat for a while. Use the tools in your mental health first aid kit.

Choose Hope

Image of a little girl wearing a mask and holding a woman's hand

Each relationship nurtures a strength or weakness within you.

Mike Murdock

There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.”No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.

14th Dalai Lama

I am not what happened to me,

I am what I choose to become.

Carl Gustav Jung

Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.

Samuel Johnson

With the new day comes

new strength and new thoughts.

Eleanor Roosevelt

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

Christopher Reeve
Image of a light bulb shining and floating above a hand

The new dawn blooms as we free it. 

For there is always light, 

if only we’re brave enough to see it. 

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Amanda Gorman

You are Strong Enough

I know many of you don’t feel you have enough strength to go on. There certainly are days when I don’t. But we can do this. We can mask. We can social distance. And we can listen to one another. We’ll learn to work together to bring equality and justice for everyone. t’s a long haul job. But we’ve got this. You’ve got this. You are strong enough. Remember that.

When Your Motivation Needs a Boost

It’s November, and that means a lot of writers are taking up the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month—this month. This is an annual challenge that many enjoy. And one that many “fail.” Rather, they don’t write 50,000 words within the month. But this, the eleventh month of the year, is also a time when the long-running pandemic is flaring, a contentious election is happening, and social outrage is high. Most people are worn out. Many are struggling to stay motivated to get through the day. Here are a few strategies you can use when your motivation needs a boost.

small olive branches above and below the handwritten words don't give up--a sign for when your motivation needs a boost

Know What Your Ultimate Goal Is

You may think this is obvious, especially a writer. You might say my goal is to write a book. Maybe it’s that simple, but in this case think bigger. Do you want to be the author of one book? Perhaps you want to have a retirement nest egg? Or do you want to move to a tropical island? 

Visualize your future self. You’ve accomplished your big goal. What does your daily life look like? What does it feel like? How do you feel about the road you took to get there? 

Journal or draw out these ideas. These will be important 

Your why is usually pretty simple. Why do you do the job you do? Remembering this is key to keeping you on task. Here are a few suggestions that may help you remember your why.

Remember Your Why

Monetary Gain—you will get paid. Maybe your goal is to keep a roof over your head, food on your table, and clothes on your body. 

A Sense of Accomplishment—it may be important to you to be better at something or to have reached a goal. 

Personal Gain — you’ll get the degree you wanted, you’ll learn something new. Be careful about this one. It can easily slide into something you have no control over (if someone else has to agree to give it to you—such as applause or a job promotion—you might influence the outcome but you have no control.)

A Step Toward a Larger Goal—you know your big goal and the steps needed to get there. Word your goal as a fraction of the way to the ultimate goal.

Other motivational discussions mention fear and power being reasonable motivations. They may be for some things, and they can definitely be positive motivations. But there’s a danger that they will become soul-crushing for you or someone else. There’s enough negative energy in the world right now. Try to find a positive energy motivation. It will take you further.

Whatever your why, write it down on a self-stick note or poster or white board and stick it about your workspace. 

Set a Goal

hand written message on pebbly brown surface for when your motivation needs a boost says "small steps are still progress."

There are the big goals, such as writing 50,000 words in a month. But it takes many little steps to reach that ultimate goal. Break your goal down into smaller steps. Smaller, until you get down to what you must accomplish in a day.

Be realistic about the daily steps. To write 50,000 words in a month, you must average 1667 words for each of thirty days. But will you really write every single day? If you can, great. If you have a day job, a family, holiday or other commitments, that daily activity may be impossible. So figure the realistic number of days you can expect to spend on your goal. If you spend five days a week for four weeks, that’s 20 days. You must write a lot more words (2500 words per day). 

Whatever your daily goal — write it down. Put it up where you can see it.

Prepare for the Unexpected

If 2020 isn’t a crash course in this, I don’t know what it. But you know life rarely goes exactly as you’ve planned. Plan for the unexpected. Know what you’ll do if you need a temporary change of goals, if an urgent family or life matter interrupts and keeps you from your daily goal. How will you adjust? When writing a novel, have a digital or handwritten backup in case of mechanical failure. Hire help to deal with the other issues or order takeout so you have another hour of working time. Have a plan.

Prepare for Flagging Motivation

This may be where many of us are right now. It’s been an unusually tough year. Perhaps you’ll want to have some inspirational quotes on standby. 

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

Martin Luther King Jr

Find quotes that motivate and inspire you. The best source of quotes I have found is Brainy Quotes.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.

Francis of Assisi

It always seems impossible until it’s done.

Nelson Mandela

When Your Motivation Needs a Boost

Don’t give up. 

You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don’t give up.

Chuck Yeager

Give your motivation a boost with music.

Don’t give up. 

You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up.

Babe Ruth

Try a different post and motivational quote.

Don’t give up.

Don’t give up.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Thomas Edison

Remind yourself of your why. Remind yourself of your goal. Then remind yourself to boost your motivation and don’t give up.

Believe You Can and You Will

Sometimes we get right up to a new project and we begin to second guess ourselves. Doubt creeps in and we call it reality. Don’t let that reality stop you. Believe you can and you will accomplish your dream. Whether you are starting a new project next month for NANOWRIMO, or you’re starting something new today, I hope you’ll find encouragement here. 

Image Carpe Diem spelled out in a pile of scrabble tiles. Sometimes doubt creeps in and we call it reality. Stop doubt. These quotes will help you believe you can and you will succeed.

Believe You Can

The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.

David Hockney

I don’t think anything is unrealistic if you believe you can do it.

Richard L. Evans

And my dad drilled it in my head, you know, ‘If you want it bad enough, and you’re willing to make the sacrifices, you can do it. But first you have to believe in yourself.

Jennie Finch

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.

Norman Vincent Peale

Have a robust mindset; dare to move any mountain!

Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

How do you learn to believe in yourself? By failing. That’s right. You practice and practice, and fail and fail, and you practice again. With each practice, with each failure, you improve. And one day you’ll look back and see that you did it. 

You Can Do It

You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can.

Jimmy Carter

Whatever you go into, you have to go in there to be the best. There’s no formulas. It’s all about passion and honesty and hard work. It might look glamorous, but it takes a lot of hard work. The blessing with the arts is that you can do it forever.

Hugh Masekela

Keep writing, because not only does practice improve skill, it gives you more chances to score on the market. I did that for eight years before making my first sale.

Piers Anthony

Just sing it. Don’t prove you can sing it. I know you can, you know you can. So just do it, because if you try to prove it, you’ll lose.

Beverly Sills

You believe you can and you will

The phrase “you believe you can you will” doesn’t mean that every one of us can be a megamillion dollar earning superstar. Dream your dream. Don’t try to be Stephen King or a Simone Biles. Be you. Believe in you. Do it your way.

To help yourself, you must be yourself. Be the best that you can be. When you make a mistake, learn from it, pick yourself up and move on.

Dave Pelzer

On the first draft, I ended this post with a good luck wish, then I realized that you don’t need good luck. You believe you can and you will accomplish what you want to do.

What is the first step you’re taking to start that project? 

5 Tips For Staying Motivated

It’s the “lazy hazy days of procrastination” in Kansas. Motivation? It’s too hot. Focus? There are swimming pools and parties and picnics calling you. Not getting far on that project of yours? Here are five tips for staying motivated during the lazy hazy days of summer (or any time of year.)

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.

Zig Ziglar

Get Started

There will be days when you don’t feel like working. Do it anyway. Take a small step. If necessary, take a tiny step. But do it. Once you’ve taken that first step, no matter how small, the next step is easier.

Can’t get started? Check out my post on creating the life you want. It discusses a 5-second rule that might change your life.

Starve your distractions. Feed your focus.


Reduce Distractions

This is a big one for me. And yes, there are some distractions (husband and kids and family) one cannot simple “reduce.”

When my son was very young it was difficult to find the time and quiet to write. Then, when he got a little older, I used a noisy timer. I’d set it for ten minutes at first. When he could hear the ticking he wasn’t supposed to interrupt Mommy. Of course he did. Inevitably, not five minutes into my writing session he’d come to my desk.

Son: “Mom, Mom, Mom…” Mom: “Is it on fire?”
Son: “No.”
Mom: “Is it bleeding?”
Son: shakes his head
Mom: “Is it dead?”
Son: “No.” usually accompanied by an eye roll or two
Mom: “Then it’s not an emergency, come back when the timer rings.”

Today, I my son is grown. Now I distract myself–a lot. The internet is my big distraction. From social media to web-based games to “research,” I’m quick to go down the rabbit hole. There’s web based software that helps control internet distractions. Some software blocks certain sites. One piece of software I use keeps track of the time I spend on the device (phone, computer, or iPad). When I see my time go up, I re-evaluate and usually learn I need to refocus.

Boost Your Energy

Play music that gives you energy. This is huge for me. I have a playlist of music I call high energy. When I’m cleaning house or exercising that’s the music I play.

I have another playlist that’s for writing. Those pieces are dramatic and emotional.

Find the music that gets you going. Don’t know what to play? Youtube is a great place to try out a wide variety of music. See what came up when I searched for energy boosting music.

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

Neil Gaiman

Know Your Why

Remember where you started and why. It’s probably the best motivation you have. If you haven’t already, write down your reasons why you first wanted to do this thing that seems so hard now. Rekindling your passion will be the best motivation.

Looking down at two pair of feet on a patio with the words "passion led us here." One of five tips for staying motivated.

See the Big Picture

Make a visual, something that represents you achieving your goal. What will it look like? How will you feel?

Put that visual somewhere you will see it every day. Seeing your goal helps you reach your goal.

Tips for Staying Motivated

Quote on black background, "You didn't come this far to only come this far." 5 Tips for staying motivated

Summertime is full of distractions and heat and other things that can de-motivate you. Follow these five tips for staying motivated. Keep working toward your goals regardless of the procrastination season you’re in. Please share other tips or motivational tools that have worked for you in the comments below.