Welcome to Real Women Wednesday
This series was created to empower and inspire women around the world. Every Wednesday a new Q&A with a remarkable woman who I’ve connected with and/or admire appears on my blog. It’s my way of helping ignite the fire within whoever is reading this. These fires will begin to burn bright, passions will be formed and you’ll also get to meet a woman whose fire is already burning.
It’s about growing our sisterhood and developing the understanding that all women are divine beings.
This Wednesday’s woman is Leigh Norman. I first met Leigh when I was 7 years old through my big sister and adoptive mom, Lori. Leigh is someone who I’ve always been inspired by.
She probably doesn’t know this because I’ve never told her, but I’ve always admired and looked up to Leigh. Leigh knows who she is, is vulnerable, genuine, sophisticated and full of adventure. Leigh has a kind soul and you can tell that when she’s around her family. Plus she always makes an outfit look flawless. She’s a true beauty. Inside and out.
Leigh is a phenomenal woman who has gotten to spread her kindness all around the world. You’re going to love her words.
So, let me stop rambling… meet Leigh!
What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
3 words to best describe me…This interview is a great self-reflective tool already! I’m going to go with optimistic, happy aaaaanndddddd…..ambitious – which can sometimes border the line of unrealistic or naïve.
Where is home for you?
Home for me will always be Peterborough. No matter where I am in the world or where I have lived. I have loved so many places but to me, home is where I was raised. Where my family is. Where my roots are.
You’re in need of some alone time, where do you go?
If I’m in need of some alone time, I would likely head for a run or to the lake. It is always so refreshing and revitalizing to disconnect and take some personal time with nature.
What has been the happiest moment of your life?
Woah, the happiest moment of my life. That is tough. I have had a lot of incredible moments and memories…I don’t want to sound cliché either.
Think back to your childhood… what memory came to mind?
If I think back to my childhood, I think about how lucky I was. My memories usually do to Anstruther Lake or camping with my dad and family. I was so fortunate to be able to grow up around the water and experience all of the adventures that the forest offered to a young kidlet. I worry that these days, kids are so caught up in the world of electronics and ‘online world’ that they aren’t getting the values and opportunities that the outdoors really has to offer. These were the building blocks of my childhood. Spending an entire day exploring the shores of the lake or the back woods until I heard the ‘dinner bell’ or, if I was far enough, the sun started to set.
Where do you feel the happiest?
I feel the happiest when I am comfortable. This could be snuggled up on the couch with Jordan, or at the cottage surrounded by my closest friends and family. It is usually when things are simple. The tiniest moments. A campfire, a drive to get coffee with Jord, a groggy morning when the sun is shining through my window, making my nieces and nephews laugh.
What does being a woman mean to you?
To me, being a woman means being confident. I think it was Bob Marley who said it best that a smile is the most beautiful curve on a woman’s body. It also means wearing a lot of hats, though. We are sensitive but also so strong, generous and caring but also independent.
How do you think we (as women) can help build friendships/relationships instead of competition between ourselves?
Ah good question, Mol. This is so important. I think there definitely is an unfortunate stigma amongst women, whether it be based on their looks, successes, failures, triumphs or what have you, that brings about some strange form of judgment or negativity. We need to empower each other. Celebrate our successes AND our failures. Because failures are lessons. You don’t learn by being perfect, or safe. We need to encourage risk. Help each other achieve our goals. Support each other.
How do you work on yourself and improve your mental health?
Another great question. I really starting to appreciate this interview as a reflective process. I don’t think I reflect on myself enough. I work on myself by trying to challenge myself. University was a challenge. I never saw myself going to University when I was in high school – now I’m a high school teacher. That’s kind of funny to me, still. This past January I accepted a challenge from my cousin to train for, and run a half marathon. I’ve never been much of a runner, ESPECIALLY in the winter, and I NEVER imagined myself running 10km, let alone 21.
But it felt so good. And I was so proud of myself on race day. AS far as my mental health goes, being active really is the best thing for me. I’ll have a busy week where I don’t make it to the gym, or out on the tennis court, or outside at all. If there is one good thing about being over 30, it’s that I know myself, and after one of these weeks, I know that I’m not feeling myself because I haven’t been active enough. So, I make time. It is a priority for me, even if it is only 20 minutes of my day… Physical activity to me is a therapy.
Tell me about a woman that inspires you
You’re pretty inspiring yourself, Molly.
I am inspired by my mom. And as I get older, any mom, really. I see my sister-in-law raising 3 little ones, and incredibly at that. I now have the hindsight to understand the sacrifices and challenges my mom went through to ensure I ended up where and who I am today. I don’t know how she did it, but I owe her so much.
What do you think the biggest challenge is that women face today?
I think the biggest challenge that women face today is social media and the warped ideals it provokes and instills in young girls. Actually, not even just young girls. I have found myself caught up in some feeds that are so unrealistic and fabricated. But there I lay, comparing not only my body by my lifestyle to the images of complete strangers.
I was thinking about my niece getting older the other day. She is 8 years old and her friends are starting to acquire cell phones. The thought of her having access to these images is terrifying. I want to grab her tight and never let her ever join the online world. I’m not a parent, and I know that she will one day have a phone. An Instagram account. Facebook page, all of it. I also know that social media is a positive tool for so many other things.
Finding the balance is the challenge, I guess.
How can we change it?
Oooh I see what you did there. I think where I left off in the last question is where we start for this one. Finding the balance. I think if we educate the younger generation of women. On self-love, empowerment, what it is to be real.
Focus on morals, individuality and value. We need to have the hard conversations. Talk about our insecurities. Celebrate our uniqueness’s, our quirks – because we all have them. It wasn’t until my late (laaaaaaaate) 20’s that I started to embrace my insecurities. I always used to try and cover them up. Maybe wear baggier clothes in the areas I felt insecure. But trying to simply cover things up – it doesn’t work.
My boyfriend, the sweetheart, loves the parts of me I like the least. He thinks I’m ridiculous sometimes, but talking to each other about our insecurities has given me more confidence – to show them off. Embrace them!
If you could tell a teenage girl/young adult one thing, what would you say to them?
This question resonates well with me because I work in high schools. I see so many young girls and I just want to shake them! My only advice would be to live your life to its fullest. Be independent and do what makes you happy. Don’t live your life on someone else’s terms or standards.
Be strong and open to trying new things. GET OUTSIDE and seek adventure. Find new ways to challenge yourself. Travel. Listen to the stories of strangers. Surround yourself with positive people. Try to connect with others. Be considerate – be so considerate of others – you never know what they have been through or are going through. Know that one person can make a change. And have compassion.
**I realize now that I said ‘my only advice would be’ assuming I would keep it short and sweet. That was a bit of a tangent with a lot of advice. Hahaha**
I laugh sometimes because I hear myself saying things to my students. And I think, Leigh… you sound so old. These are the things my parents would have said to me. But they were on to something. No matter how many eye rolls I get from my students, I will continue to say it!
How do you think the world is different for younger generations?
The world is so different for younger generations because it is so connected. I know I’ve gone on my social media tangent already, but its true. Kids don’t get outside enough. There is a legit thing called nature-deficit-disorder (read Last Child in the Woods!) Screen time is taking over. I see it in schools every day. I think people are scared of dirt. How funny is that? Go outside. Scrape your knee on the gravel road. Get stuck in the tree that you climbed too high. Summersault down a hill. Get a grass stain. Play road hockey – yes, right in the middle of the road!
I think people are scared of dirt. How funny is that? Go outside. Scrape your knee on the gravel road. Get stuck in the tree that you climbed too high. Summersault down a hill. Get a grass stain. Play road hockey – yes, right in the middle of the road!
What are your thoughts on social media and being able to connect always?
I think question 14 explains my thoughts on being connected always. Sorry, I should have read ahead. While I am so aware of the benefits of social media (especially in marketing my latest hobby), there is such value in knowing when to disconnect. I read one of your posts about the App that tells you how much time you spend on your phone. This really made me think. How many hours of my life have I wasted looking at other people’s daily trifles? Too many. And never has It made me feel better about myself, or more validated or empowered in any way. The only time I feel that way is when I am out living my own life. Going on my own adventures. Making my own memories.
The only time I feel that way is when I am out living my own life. Going on my own adventures. Making my own memories.
Hello, me again. I just want to say a HUGE thank you to Leigh for taking part in RWW and answering these questions. I was really looking forward to Leigh’s answers because I consider her to be family. I admire the type of woman Leigh is and I hope her words left you feeling empowered, the way they did for me.
Thank you, Leigh, for being part of my Real Women Wednesday series.
To follow Leigh online, check out her company north oar co. Your one stop shop for custom, hand painted decorative paddles. They’re beautiful!
Are you wanting to read previous RRW posts? Catch up here.
If you’d like to be featured on Real Women Wednesday, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to me on social media. My handle is @thebookofmolly.