8 years of womensweb

Happy Teacher’s Day: Four Women Who Taught Me To Live Life

Posted: September 5, 2015

They say, when a student is ready, the teacher appears. Here are 4 teachers who made us see our lives in a brighter light. Happy Teacher’s Day!

The more we experience life, the meaning of the word ‘Teacher,’ changes. A teacher can be anyone, from one in the classroom to the many outside. A parent, a lover, a boss or even a public figure can be a teacher.  Here I list 4 teachers who made a difference to my life as well as to that of many others.

Maya Angelou

I never met her, but I claim her legacy. It seems wisdom made her its home. Anything Maya spoke, talked to so many of us. It was not difficult for us to relate to this Afro-American woman. May be all women suffer similarly. Also, our roots in colonial oppression make us even more similar. We women are taught to forgive, to give people chances and to be the bigger one. But Maya Angelou taught us, “When people show you, who they are, believe them for the first time.” These words hit me like a wave, and it did save me from much heartbreak later.

What would be her best lesson? That’s hard to choose, but she taught every woman to have a space within herself that no one can violate.

She also taught me that to practice any virtue, you need to have courage. How true! To do everything for the first time, I had to breathe courage. What would be her best lesson? That’s hard to choose, but she taught every woman to have a space within herself that no one can violate. No one. That’s the place one goes back to, each time one needs to be at peace or be with God. And no one violates that space.

Maya is a matriarch, and in her shade many a daughter grew. I know, somewhere she is proud of her daughters. In her memoir, Letter to my daughter, she writes in the introduction, “I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian and Spanish-speaking, Native American and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you.”

Maya accepted all of her daughters. In doing so she owned all that we were, our shame and guilt or the beauty and brightness, Maya validated our stories and created new women from the shadows of the past.

Oprah Winfrey

To be a dark skinned woman and be a Media Mogul, is what rags to riches stories are made of.  Oprah defined to me or many across the world what possibility is. She taught us, that no matter where we come from, what stories our lives are woven of, our dreams are valid. In a gist, we are valid. Cable television hit our small town much later. I was in the 9th standard. Star World carried the Oprah Winfrey Show, every afternoon.

I never heard of Oprah before and no one in my town ever talked about her, but this woman talked about what mattered. She talked about body images, of body shaming, teenagers, adults and so on. Being the tallest and thinnest girl in my class, Oprah’s words were my healing balm. Over the years and with each show, she talked of things that mattered. She inspired and most importantly she made us accept who we are. Over the years, Oprah evolved. Now she has the Oprah Winfrey Network. With her, many of us evolved and grew. It’s a nice feeling to know that you have someone to look up to.

My favorite lesson from her is when she asks us to think like queens. She created queens out of ordinary women. Thank you Oprah. We are listening to you!

Iyanla Vanzant

The first time, I read her book Peace from broken pieces, it revealed me to myself. Maybe that is what a true teacher does, not teach you the world, but you to yourself. For one day you will realize that the world outside is what you created within. She taught us to look within, the patterns that we carry, some healthy, some not.  There are distinctive incidents that occur in our lives, over and over again; Iyanla taught us to find repetitions in our behavior and clear the root cause.

In her shows with Oprah, she talked about single women, single mothers, daddyless daughters and may be almost everything that might be a part of a woman’s life. Here is my favorite lesson from her, she says, “All things are lessons.”

These lines are etched in my memory. Iyanla says, “You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.”

Louise Hay

In our society, we are somewhere taught to put ourselves last. But this woman came up with the concept, ‘Love yourself first.’ She tells us how, what we do not have we cannot give to anyone. She taught us that the way you treat yourself, the world just reflects back. Her book, You can heal your life, had been a constant bed mate for a few years. The affirmations helped a lot to bring in a new change within and life did change.

Thank you for teaching us to love and forgive ourselves, which I now understand is a primary life skill. Also, suffering does not make me better, if I suffer, I cannot make anyone happy. Happy women create happy world for themselves and others.

This is one lesson I love when she says “Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

These are four women who taught not only me but many around the world to live life in a better way. They are teachers who guided, who stood as light themselves.

Today, as an independent woman all I can say is, “Happy Teachers Day.” Thank you for all that you have been. You grew our backbones!

Cover images Facebook and Wikipedia

 

Proud Indian. Senior Writer at Women's Web. Columnist. Book Reviewer. Street Theatre - Aatish. Dreamer.

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