#DailyWings: “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” -Christopher Reeve
Blogging From A to Z is an annual month-long challenge in which bloggers around the world are invited to write a blog post every week day for the month of April, with each day corresponding to a letter in the alphabet (26 week days = 26 letters). For this year’s A to Z challenge, my theme is personal anecdotes, or “childhood memories.”
If there’s anything you should know about me, it’s that I’m obsessed with Superman. I collect the comics. When I was little, I stared at the television screen every day after school with a bowl of dumplings my grandmother made me as a snack, watching “Superman: The Animated Series.” I handmade two DC costumes: one Superwoman costume, one Zatanna costume.
I grew up watching “Smallville,” a show on CW that ran from 2001 to 2011, chronicling Clark Kent’s childhood and how he eventually became the superhero we all know and love. I followed that show religiously for all 10 years, and it’s safe to say that that show — and those characters on that show — helped make me the person I am.
But…I’m not here to talk about Superman today. Or Clark Kent. (Yes, there’s a difference.)
In my #DailyWings quote, the legendary Christopher Reeve calls a hero “an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” We read all the time about the men who have made history or left a legacy or served as an irreplaceable role model; as a proud feminist, I want to take this time to talk about the heroines from my childhood – namely, three women who have taught me what it means to persevere, be courageous and have faith in yourself even when all the odds are against you.
1. Helen Keller
I read “The Story of My Life” by Helen Kelley all the way through for the first time last year, but before that, I remember reading passages from her autobiography in grade school during class. The textbook we were reading from had colorful drawings wrapped around the text, depicting Helen Keller’s teacher Anne as she traced the letters “W-A-T-E-R” into the palm of Helen’s hands. I thought about how Helen would’ve never been able to enjoy these beautiful drawings that illustrated her life.
I always looked up to Helen and deeply admired her story because, as a child, I could never understand what a blind and deaf little girl’s life is like. I grew up with a tracheostomy tube, along with various other health complications that made school, friendships, even grades just a little bit harder for me. But to live without your vision or hearing, I felt, seemingly meant stripping away the very senses you need to survive. And yet, Helen not only learned how to communicate with others and use language – Helen became a writer, inspirational speaker, disabilities advocate and so much more.
Helen’s story reminds me that there is always someone out there who is fighting a more difficult battle than I am. That doesn’t make my emotions and trials any less significant or meaningful, but it gives me perspective. If Helen Keller — with all of her health struggles and limitations — can overcome her battle and be strong and do something amazing with her life, then so can I.
2. Chloe Sullivan
You know I had to bring up “Smallville” again somehow, didn’t you? For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, Chloe Sullivan is a character that was specifically created for “Smallville” as part of Clark Kent’s group of close friends in high school. Chloe is the editor of Smallville High’s “The Torch” newspaper, and starts her career in investigative journalism at a very young age. Plus, she’s a computer whiz and expert hacker to boot. (Ironically, she’s also the cousin of Lois Lane, the traditional love interest of Superman/Clark Kent and hotshot reporter at “The Daily Planet” in the comics.)
I love Chloe’s perseverance, her journalist’s curiosity and her smart writing. But what I love even more about her is the way she risks her life — and her career, but they’re basically the same thing — to stay loyal to her friends. Chloe has to struggle through her father’s unemployment, her mother’s mental illness and constant rejection and heartbreak from Clark, her lifelong best friend and the one person she truly loves but will never be able to have. Despite everything, she is willing to do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves, including keeping Clark’s secret, even if that means going against her gut instinct (which is to tell the world).
Although I didn’t start following her until only a few years ago, Allison Mack (the actress who plays Chloe Sullivan in “Smallville,” and one of the kids in “Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves!“) is also quickly becoming one of my real-life role models as well. Allison is one of those Hollywood celebrities who doesn’t seem to act like a celebrity at all; in fact, she’s more personable than most. She opens up to her fans through her blog and creative writing, she shares inspirational quotes on Facebook and she strives to enjoy a perfectly imperfect life. Here’s hoping I can meet her someday (*crosses fingers tightly*)
3. Jean Langley
This is a name that you may not read about in the newspapers or hear on the news, but it’s a name that belongs to someone who was my after-school home care nurse for nearly seven years and who saved my life.
In fifth grade, on Jean’s first day of being my home care nurse, I was sitting in a chair when my tracheotomy tube suddenly got blocked by hardened mucus. I’ll spare you all of the horrifying details; long story short, I went into cardiac arrest, Jean forced a new trach tube into my neck and my sister called the ambulance. My parents weren’t back home from work yet that day. Because Jean had remained level-headed (so difficult to do during a patient crisis) and reacted so quickly, I’m here writing this blog post.
That day is forever seared into my mind, and into the minds of my family. I will never know the proper way to thank Jean. She’s a huge part of my childhood and has taught me so much about being responsible, understanding my own body, knowing when to say “no” and accepting my own limits for the sake of my health. Jean is and has always been my heroine, even if I didn’t know it back then.