It’s women’s history month, and I’m so excited to highlight three women who inspire me in the present. Thanks to Lucia Aguirre, Betty Kripp, and Marissa Paine for taking the time to answer my questions (responses below). First, let me share a bit about each of these women from my own perspective:
I first met Lucia Aguirre when she volunteered through Flock of Cycles to marshal a Bike to Feed Families ride. What I love about Lucia’s story is that she reminds me that a new activity or passion can change your life. And there’s no doubt that cycling has done that for Lucia. I see in her a woman who is strong, confident, ambitious, giving and connected. And I know her passion for cycling has contributed to where she is in life.
What can I say about Betty Kripp? I’ve admired her from the moment that I met her. She and her husband, Bob, moved from the suburbs to the city upon retirement, and I remember thinking that was BOLD. Little did I know all of the other things that Betty was doing to blaze her new post-retirement path. When I talk with Betty, I’m in awe of how many different efforts she engages in. I can’t help but think of author Jane Jacobs’ city sidewalk ballet: “…an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole.” Betty is a part of that ballet in the South Side, and as a walker, she has the opportunity to take it all in.
Marissa Paine says it all in the last sentence of this post: “I’m in HOT pursuit of everything I want.” That’s the Marissa I know and miss seeing. She traveled from St. Louis to Pittsburgh for seven months straight when we studied together as part of Duquesne University’s Professional Coach Certification Program. During our capstone weekend, Marissa’s vision for her coaching and consulting practice was clear, bold and inspiring. I swear, in that moment, half of us wanted to go work for her! Marissa has a presence about her that makes her a natural as a coach. And she’s a “servant leader” who makes a difference wherever she is.
So treat yourself, dear reader, to hearing from three women who inspire me and I’m sure will inspire you.
Lucia M. Aguirre – Pittsburgh, PA
What’s something you’re excited about right now? I’m excited about the spring weather, and also on March 21, I will be hosting the 5th annual “Viking-Biking” ride and potluck! This ride came up as a silly ride-idea that surprisingly has passed the test of time, and now is an event that at least some folks look forward to!
In your view, what is epic about the way you live your life? Ha! If anything, it has to be that I try to approach everything I do with the same child-like joy of someone trying something new, even if it has been done before. I think that as one gets older, they get too serious/nervous about things. But I think that joy and even a level of “innocence” should be strived for -depending on the situation! Once “on it,” I try to stick to it come failure or success!
When did you start living boldly? Was there an impetus for this? I think I always have, since I was a kid. I’ve always been very imaginative, social, and highly “stubborn,” per say. Once I start scheming or planning something, I just can’t stop. Also, being from another country (I’m originally from Mexico City), I realized that no matter what I do, I’m always going to be a bit “different” in the States, so I figured I might as well use that to my advantage.
What advice would you share with someone who is struggling with going for what they want out of life? I personally get inspired by pretty much all that surrounds me, like my friends, random people, historical figures, the news, etc. I also love learning about new things and experiences. So I use my will to try something, and seeing what someone/something has done it, and figure how I can do the same -or better – by making it my own. Also, to put fear and anxiety in the time-out box and just try what one wants to do, come hell or high water. I think that ultimately, fear of others, or ourselves, is what keeps us at bay sometimes.
What role does nature or just being outside play in enhancing your life? It is just very relaxing for me. I have a job that can be stressful at times, so being outdoors, specially riding my bike, just releases that away. Also, while riding it lets me have time for myself: no phone, TV, etc…plus, I love how my body just feels alive -sweaty, feeling the breeze, the joy when I climb a tough hill, etc!
What’s something you dream of doing but haven’t done yet? I wanna go to Egypt and check out the pyramids! Gaza, Saqqara…I love archaeology so it would be so much fun. I also dream of going to Dubrovnik in Croatia. I learned of that city/country while in college, and since then I’ve had it on my “bucket” list! Soon……
Betty Kripp – Pittsburgh, PA
What’s something you’re excited about right now? Right now, I’m excited about the very positive vibe in the South Side. Since the closing of the South Side Local Development Company in 2012, the South Side has been in transition as it tries to sustain the successes of the past 30+ years. Local all-volunteer organizations have stepped up to try to do just that. Yes, they will need money and support, but through creative collaboration and problem solving, they have shown they are willing to do whatever it takes to preserve and improve this amazing neighborhood.
In your view, what is epic about the way you live your life? Epic is kind of an intimidating word….I don’t consider the way I live to be great or heroic, but it is always a challenge to work through my natural shyness almost every day. A quote from Eleanor Roosevelt has been helpful: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Moving to the city almost 14 years ago and becoming actively involved in the community has given me endless opportunities to do “scary” things!
When did you start living boldly? Was there an impetus for this? After my husband and I retired from our suburban teaching jobs and moved to the city, I felt so energized by my new surroundings. I also saw that there were things I could do to make the place better. It was different here. I sensed some kind of empowerment taking hold, so I started looking around to see where I could fit in, learn from others and offer my time and energy.
What advice would you share with someone who is struggling with going for what they want out of life? Place matters. After retirement, I knew I wanted to be in the city, so I got a part time job working for VisitPittsburgh and also went back to school at my Alma Mater, Duquesne University, to get a paralegal certificate. At least now, I was coming into the city every day to work and go to school. From this place, I gathered energy and direction. Armed with the confidence of having succeeded in acquiring a new skill set, I decided to accept a job offer at the Arts Education Collaborative, which is located in downtown Pittsburgh. Even though it wasn’t in the legal field, I was able to call upon my teaching skills and move in a different direction in a new place. Then we moved here and it all came together!
People matter. I have been very fortunate to find and know several wise and savvy people throughout my careers. I watch them, listen to them and learn from them.
What role does nature or just being outside play in enhancing your life? I am a walker. If there is any way I can get to where I need to be by walking, that’s what I do. Walking gives me an opportunity to really see where I am and what’s going on. It gives me a chance to really think things through, solve problems and reflect. It’s hard to do that in a car.
What’s something you dream of doing but haven’t done yet? A very big dream of mine is to see some kind of process put in place that connects the city school district with pregnant women and their families to provide ongoing support for their expectant children before they are even born. Then continue to offer guidance in parenting through preschool and early school years. Encouraging the families to immerse their children in books and words, teaching positive ways of interacting with others and dealing with challenges and building confidence will make all the difference in success in school and beyond. It has to start there. Handing out books now and then just doesn’t do it! And If I could be part of that somehow, it would truly be a dream come true.
Marissa Q. Paine – St. Louis, MO
What’s something you’re excited about right now? LIFE! 2015 is a milestone year for me. I just turned 40 and am celebrating 20 years of marriage. My teenagers are transitioning to young adults and I’m “coming into my own” as a business owner. I’m excited about life and what lies ahead!
In your view, what is epic about the way you live your life? Wow, what a great question. I can’t say that I consider anything significantly EPIC about the way I live. I’m submitted to God, open to opportunity and hungry to help. I think this summarizes my approach to life pretty well.
When did you start living boldly? Was there an impetus for this? Hmm. I’d say it’s been evolutionary. One courageous move after another. Small at first, but as I’ve grown, the moves seem to require more courage…and subsequently more reward. I can recall making the decision to not change my hair for a job interview. I got the job! Then there were the decisions to apply for jobs that I felt were “bigger than me.” Got those, too! I left an upwardly mobile corporate career for something more meaningful in the nonprofit sector, and now, my boldest move yet, self-employment! And yes, that’s going well, too!
What advice would you share with someone who is struggling with going for what they want out of life? DO IT! You only have one life to live. If you fail, the “safety” of ordinary is ALWAYS available but why not shoot for extra-ordinary??? It’s SO much more fun!
What role does nature or just being outside play in enhancing your life? I’m actually not a big outdoors person, but there is nothing like taking a deep breath in the open air on a beautiful day. I absolutely LOVE being surrounded by God’s majesty: sun rays, beautiful flowers, majestic mountains, tall trees, the crash of the ocean. It’s humbling. Sometimes when I need a minute, I take a deep breath and stare at the sky, amazed at all of the wonder that’s being coordinated in the earth at that very moment. It’s a phenomenal centering opportunity. Hmm, maybe I’m more “outdoorsy” than I thought!
What’s something you dream of doing but haven’t done yet? To be honest, I’m living my best life right now. It was a long time coming, but it’s here! I don’t harbor dreams anymore…I go get them, usually it’s just a matter of timing. Of course I’m looking for more impact (and people) in my business, and my husband and I have a marriage-focused charity that is just beginning to take shape. I want to see those endeavors flourish, and I have a whole vision board full of bodacious things I’ve yet to achieve, but I’m in HOT pursuit of everything I want.