It is incredible to me that any woman should consider
the fight for full equality won. It has just begun.
~Alice Paul, 1920

On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, enfranchising all American women the rights and responsibility of citizenship, including the right to vote.

One hundred years.

My grandmothers were born in 1914 and 1917, before this significant event. That fact isn’t lost to me.

My maternal grandmother lived on a farm. As the oldest daughter, when her mother died at a young age, she became the “woman” of the household. She cooked and cleaned, caring for those younger than her. She left school in the eighth grade.

My mother desperately wanted to go to college. But being a girl with a boyfriend (my father) a couple of years older than her, her parents said no. She’d quit and get married anyway, they said. What was the point?

In three generations, the women in my family tree went from an eighth grade education, to high school graduate, to me, a woman with a master’s degree.

That’s power.

In my lifetime:

1967 – it became illegal to place help wanted ads based on gender
1972 – Title IX passed, outlawing education discrimination based on gender
1974 – Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed, giving women the right to open up a bank account without requiring the signature of a male. This included credit cards.
1988 – Women’s Business Ownership Act passed, giving female entrepreneurs the right to take out loans for their businesses.

This year, in honor of the 100th year women can vote in the national election, I vote in honor of all the women before me who fought to ensure I have the power to live the way I do. Being able to vote, open up a bank account, buy property on my own, and secure a business loan if I desire to do so; without these women, I wouldn’t have full control.

Yet it’s also essential to remember Alice Paul’s quote from above:

It is incredible to me that any woman should consider
the fight for full equality won. It has just begun.
~Alice Paul, 1920

We witnessed these past months and years that nothing is forever. Two steps forward, one step back.

It can be challenging to create your dreams when you have the power to do so. It’s impossible when you don’t.

But, times are a-changing …

It starts with financial strength

Create a list of words to describe women.

  • Nurturers
  • Mothers
  • Selfless
  • Hard workers
  • Caregivers

No matter how many words you list, unless you happen to be a financial advisor, I bet you’d never include the words “financially savvy” on this list.

Why? Because women are trained to be nurturers. We’re wired to look out for others. We have an instinct to put others’ needs before our own, even when it isn’t in our best interest.

Imagine if your child came to you right now and needed thousands of dollars to correct a problem. It’s an emergency; can you come up with it? As women, if it’s sitting in our retirement funds, or in a savings account earmarked for our own future, we’d happily write the check and give it away.

Yet that can be devastating the future we dreamed of, wished for, planned for.

It’s partially because of how we’re wired. But arguably, it’s also how we are raised.

Were you ever told, “girls aren’t good at math?” Yep, that’s setting the stage for poor money planners. “Let a man handle it. They’re better at numbers.”

That’s partially because we didn’t have control over our own finances entirely until the late 1980s. Until a few determined women moved into positions of authority, and set examples for the rest of us.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is only one such woman. She was instrumental in breaking down a rigid framework of discrimination that was a part of every woman’s life.

Why does that matter?

Because financial well-being is the first form of freedom. As many of us this year are finding out, without cashflow, very little else matters. This involves earning your own money, caring for your financial health, learning more about spending, ensuring you build for a strong future, and above all, making your own decisions.

But I’m married, you might say. We do it together. That’s even more of a reason to build your own financial health. (You can read about the lesson I learned right here.)

Self care is all about being your best. Self care is about the freedom to ensure you are healthy and whole on all levels. Including financial.

Without proper wealth building knowledge, that can never be.

Choose to be the main character in your life

As women, we have this habit of going along with the crowd. We hold back. We keep our heads down. We like to go along for the ride.

Especially if you are surrounded by others who like to take charge, it can be tough to stand up and take control when what you really enjoy is taking care of others.

You lose yourself when you pay attention to everyone else.

What does it look like if you aren’t fully in control of your own life?

You withdraw from relationships – even the relationships closest to you. If you don’t connect with your spouse anymore, it’s not because of something they’ve done. (Not entirely anyway.) It’s more about what you’ve done internally. To be a good listener, you have to listen. To be supportive, you have to support. If you show up as the person you want to attract, that person will show up to be the same for you.

It’s the same with your kids. Your mom. Your sister. Your friends. How do you show up in the relationship? Do you set by example? Are your thoughts and actions important? Or do you live the way you do because it’s how it’s always been done? You’re just “good ole mom.” You aren’t as much in a relationship as you are the one who “does.” You’re a housekeeper, bottle washer, and full time chef.

You let others control your dreams – we all have dreams in place. Yet some of us listen to others around us, while pushing aside or ignoring our own dreams. Don’t wait to get permission on how to pursue your dreams – do it. Don’t ignore the calling you have deep inside. Even if you predict you’ll lose support from those around you, isn’t it more important to be true to yourself?

Your dreams matter. Even if you haven’t dreamed in a while.

You don’t stand up for yourself – it’s easy to go with the flow. It’s easy to let others state their beliefs while you quietly stand to the side. It’s harder drawing a line in the sand. But when you aren’t treated at your full worth, you’re not living up to your full potential. Say what’s on your mind, live the way you desire, stay true to your inner message. Even if it means doing a one-eighty from where you are today.

You don’t invest in yourself – this is about creating your own worth. Your education is imperative for being the best in this world. If you don’t understand money, do something about it. If you regret a lack of education, head back to school. If you regret not working at a job or career you love, what are you waiting for? There’s so much life left to live.

At midlife, we reach a quandary of having built a life all around us. We’ve built a home, created a family, and put everyone’s needs above our own. Then suddenly, it changes.

We have time. We have space. We have an empty nest. And we don’t know what to do.

It’s a big scary world out there, with so much time on our hands to think about me, myself, and I.

(Which we hate! Give me a list of things to do for everyone else, that’s easy. To focus on me, no way!)

I’ve been there too. When our daughter left for college, we left our old lives behind. We sold our forever home, got rid of two-thirds of our stuff, and set out to live a simpler life. Travel is just a part of our desires, The other side is all about doing what we desire.

We didn’t come to this life by chance. We actively pursued it.

I wanted to be a writer. I’ve designed every single day perfectly. I’m not saying there aren’t bumps in the road. But I can honestly say I love and thrive each and every day.

That’s by design …

It starts with one thought … being worthy

Self-worth is difficult to come by, especially when you travel down the road with glaring messages feeding you lies.

You’re just a woman.

You’re not good with money.

Your job is in the house.

And another chip falls from our psyche.

Showing up for your own life means questioning everything. It means using your critical thinking skills, asking yourself, “does this make sense?”

One hundred years ago, my grandmothers were born into a world where they couldn’t vote, couldn’t own property, or get a credit card on their own.

Look how far we’ve come?

Yet it’s up to each of us for how we move forward.

Vote as if your life depends on it.

It does.