“I am woman, hear me roar.” That was my favorite song, when I was four-years-old. I can still see myself sitting in the backseat of my parents’ ’79 Toyota station wagon, I was singing my heart out to Helen Reddy’s “I am woman, hear me roar.” We were probably on our way to some Toastmaster conference in the middle of nowhere California. But that song made the trip worth it. I sang that song as often as I could.
Little did I know at the wise age of four, that it would be the Anthem of my life.
When I was growing up, you could definitely hear me roar. I was a fully expressed little girl: singing, dancing, acting, gymnastics. I was out there!
Then middle school and high school happened. Ugh. Like many other young girls, I chose to be accepted and belong over my self-expression. My roar, my voice was all but silenced at school.
However, there was one place where my voice could not be silenced – on the soccer field. I played soccer for over 20 years and in every position. My most infamous position was the fearless goalie on the high school varsity team. Whether you were on the opposite side of the field, on the sidelines, or in the stands, there was never a doubt, you would be able to hear me.
In college at Lehigh University, my roar grew louder, grew stronger. I primarily used my voice to advocate for others whose voice had been suppressed by society – women, people of color and the LGBT community. However, my voice for myself came out in my physical appearance with my piercings, tattoo, my dad’s personal favorite, the blue hair.
I became a middle school teacher to give my students what I never got – a chance to have their voices be heard. I worked tirelessly to provide those opportunities with a phenomenal partnership with the organization, Challenge Day. And in the process of teaching my students, I reclaimed my own voice at the very spot where it was first silenced.
It has taken several years to regain my raucous roar, but now it is stronger than ever.
Now much of my work as a life coach and motivational speaker is empowering women to reclaim their voices, own their roar.
One of my recent workshops was for female firefighters. In order to survive the male-dominated profession, they often had to quiet their voice. So much of the workshop was spent to give them an opportunity to share where and how they are silenced and give them courage and skills to reclaim their voice and bring it back in the firehouse.
It is these women who deeply inspire me to continue to work to empower women, to empower all people to use their voice, to reclaim their roar.
As Helen Reddy states perfectly:
I am Strong!
I am Invincible!
I am Woman!
Who is willing to join me?