In honor of Women’s History month


Anxiety rushed through my body as I boarded our plane heading to London at 6:25 a.m. As I sat and waited for the plane to take off, I wondered how long my body would be overwhelmed by anxiety. Remembering some helpful grounding exercises from a book I read called Try Softer by Aundi Kolber, I settled into my seat and got comfortable with my surroundings. I looked across the row to the other side of the plane and noticed my hubby resting, his eyes closed, peacefully sitting in his seat. After realizing that this is just another two-hour plane ride to our home in Vienna that I have done multiple times, my heart rate began to slow down, and my body began to relax into my seat.

As I have been navigating my own journey, I have thought about all the amazing women around the world pursuing what they believe, being fueled by something greater than themselves. I want to share about two women that have captured my interest: Queen Elizabeth, and Alice Williams. As I study the lives of these two women, I notice that even when facing challenges, they both cultivated friendships amongst the people they led and they utilized creativity to help fuel solutions in their work. I have observed that Her Former Majesty the Queen and Alice Williams were able to stay the course because they trusted that they would be able to fulfill what was requested of them due to the grit and grace they carried, not only when fighting for others, but also when fighting for themselves.

Two women who chose to believe in themself

In the book A Queen for All Seasons, wherein the author Joanna Lumley shares stories from Queen Elizabeths life, I read that Princess Elizabeth became Queen at age twenty-one due to her father passing away (Lumley 12). As I read in the book, Princess Elizabeth was the next in line to be head of the Commonwealth so when her father passed, it was her turn to be the ruling monarch. The princess stepped into the role of a Queen with grace and confidence stating, I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong” (13). At such a young age the Princess was willing to lay her life aside for the betterment of the Commonwealth. The Queen had such confidence and resolve, and she will forever be remembered for it. Williams started a business that supports women who are coming out of disadvantaged situations-a social enterprise-because she believed she had the skill and resources required to do so. Though it wouldn’t make her wealthy, Alice knew that she wanted to start Luminary Bakery because of the hope it would bring to the women who needed hope the most. Alice states on the Luminary Website “Too often, violence and trauma isolate us from the community, when that is the very thing we need the most. Every woman has shown immense courage to survive her circumstances alone, but it is only when others embrace her that she can really start to fulfill her potential". Even when others may have said that both of these women were not prepared to step into the roles ahead of them, they believed in themselves and walked out one step at a time, the path laid before them, which in turn has shaped history.

Friendship cultivated within their sphere of influence

Friendship is what we all long for and it is something that the Queen and Williams pursued within their sphere they led and are leading. As I write, it is beginning to dawn on me that I see the Queen as a sort of mother figure for the nation, someone we turn towards when the going gets rough to see her reactions” (Lumley 3). Queen Elizabeth chose to live her life as a friend and grandmother to all. She led the Commonwealth as if it were her own home. In a similar way, I see Williams currently leading her social enterprise as a safe place for women who have been put at disadvantage. Williams created a business that has become a community for women who need a safe place to land, and the Queen chose to be a place of safety for those who needed reassurance when society got tough to live in. Safe Community is what both of these women wanted to give the people they led, and that created a place of friendship between them and the people who were led by them.

Pictures taken at Alice William's bakery during my recent trip to London. They had the most delightful baked goods (if you are in London, you must stop here at Luminary Bakery located next to the Camden market).

Creativity that brought solutions in the midst of challenge

Alice saw a problem. The women who encountered disadvantages caused by their past situations and carried trauma, were not able to have a job, and she realized that these kinds of women just needed the right support to succeed in a career. Alice saw a gap in society and used creativity through teaching the skill of baking to bridge that gap. The bakery, Luminary, is a social enterprise where Williams trains women with the skill of baking to help these women rise out of their disadvantage. Similarly, Queen Elizabeth used creativity to navigate political challenges. Political conversations that the Queen had with individuals, followed conversation about her horses being trained in the stable or other topics that would soften the mood (Lumley 271). The Queen knew how to face challenges that arose with storytelling and simplicity which brought people together rather than apart. Williams and Queen Elizabeth both pioneered their paths as women with creativity to arrive at solutions when challenges arose, and they both achieved what no one else ever thought could be through the character they chose to walk in.

Princess Elizabeth became Queen at such a young age. She chose to lead a life of elegance and courage that carried the Commonwealth until her very last breath. Alice is a woman who is following the call within herself to provide support and hope to the disadvantaged and to those who did not know hope existed. I am sure both these women encountered moments where they were filled with anxious thoughts just like I did on the plane to London but, through it all these women clung to things that grounded them and led with dignity. They chose to tend to the garden before them and committed to make it more beautiful than how they found it.

May this encourage you in that whatever you may be doing, seemingly big or small, we all play a part in how history is shaped.

Let’s steward the garden before us and leave it better off than how we found it.

With love and joy, Grace