From my early youth three women stand out as exceptional inspirations. Sorry mom, they are actually, Mary Poppins, the Bionic Woman, and Pippi Long Stocking. To clarify, I can think of all kinds of real life inspirations, like Harriet Tubman, Audre Lorde, Helen Keller, to name just a few. I applaud and hold these women in awe but, they came much later in my identification and awareness. It is the mighty three first feisty fictional females that are the most enduring for me. Still and always, I venture.
Today I am focused on my idols, fictional to some, but very real to me, at least as a 10 year old girl. Let's face it, we are in fact often the coolest, truest version of ourselves at 10.
And these women rocked in my ten year old eyes! All rather independent, feisty, smart, savvy, otherworldly and strong, emotionally and physically. A recipe indeed to garner complete admiration. And along with being ever so sensible, Mary Poppins could fly; I mean, how magical is that?
They taught us about facing adversity with innovation, courage, wit, and sometimes a song....
They broke stereotypes held about feminine behaviour and looks; with Pippi's straight out shocking orange braids and overabundance of freckles, she was her own fearless, unapologetic self. Pippi was super strong, at one with the animals, and encouraged girls to have fun adventures and believe in themselves. She was sheer genius, and completely magical to me.
Jamie Somers, the Bionic woman, ( rebuilt after her accident) was better, faster, stronger then she was before; and yet, remained feminine with her long flowing blond hair and beautiful, husky voice. She could outrun a cheetah and hear things a mile away....what a powerhouse to behold.
These were my kind of women!! Even at ten; especially at 10.
And Mary Poppins, with her smart outfits, killer boots, and spiffy umbrella just sprang to life in my imagination as the woman who had it all and should be envied. She was formidable. Practical and capable she was no nonsense, no drama, like a sturdy bridge to a magical world. These were the mentors of my youth, the shining stars of inspiration. And I'm glad...I'm not sure Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus would have done justice to my young aspirations.
So what is the role of mentors in our life? At this stage, my mentors tend to be more professional. Artists I admire and whose career trajectories have taught me things about self-employment, self invention and sustaining stamina and vision.
Stumbling on a children's book yesterday by none other then Madonna herself, I thought, “Really, you have to do this too?” Already dominating the world stage in music, fashion, modelling, film directing, singing, dancing, and now children's books? I was both a might envious and ticked simultaneously (of course I mean jealous and dwarfed). Leave some realm untouched for us mere mortals Madonna! Let the rest of us catch our breath on the mundane survival beat for a minute.
But there it is, what sets mentoring apart from those that engender jealousy, envy and resentment as opposed to celebration, inspiration, joy and motivation?
Is it a fine line? Or is it simply strength of character or lack thereof.
I have art mentors that intimidate and elevate me. I have social justice advocates I marvel at. I know women that accomplish it all and never look tired or appear to show their stress! Amazing. ( My stress on the other hand, schvitzes everywhere...it hardly seems fair. )
But mentors, they provide us with hope. Hope and a light on the murky and brambled path to our deepest dreams. Often calm, cool, collected images of courage and composure, they both instill and inspire hope, beauty, strength, charisma and accomplishment; the whole meal deal.
How are they different than friends we admire? Sometimes they are one and the same. My childhood mentors are usually out of reach by text or late night emergency phone calls, and seldom respond to ranting emails. Friends excel at regular support; they may not understand what you are aiming for but love you anyway, even if and when you fail. Mentors keep the eye on the prize. They provide clarity and momentum on the big picture. And, unlike friends, my mentors serve as more than human but just shy of full out goddess status. Somehow, this means I love them all the more, even when some envy mingles in the air alongside the jet pack fumes from burning creative fuel, flying high to reach the bar they have set.
Having a mentor is still not, and never will be, about copying, or repeating, or 'catching up'...but rather stepping into your own fullness, your juicy bold self, your version, your best, bestest version of you.
Mentors are the mighty leaders who inspire us to keep up the march to be AWESOME, and encourage us to step into some pretty fantastic shoes to make our own tracks. These boots below I'm pretty sure would impress both Pippi Longstocking and Mary Poppins, hands down. One of my favourite pairs of power boots, which can only lead me to inspired days.