Voices of Strength: Celebrating the Women Who Helped Me Find Mine - Newsletter #8

inspiration linkedin newsletter Mar 22, 2024
Maven Musings with Heathe Cook Cover Art

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As we celebrate Women's History Month, I find myself reflecting on the incredible women who have shaped my life, lifted me up during the toughest times, and taught me the power of resilience. Today, I want to share the stories of two extraordinary women who have left an indelible mark on my journey: my mother, Jeannie Cook, and my high school speech coach, Donna Messina-Lee.

Jeannie Cook: My Rock, My Guide

Growing up, my mother, Jeannie, was more than just a parent; she was my rock and guiding light. Her strength, resilience, and unwavering support have been constants throughout my life. From the moment I was born, she taught me the importance of finding my voice, standing up for what I believe in, and never giving up.


My Mom loves a handwritten note or card and she always writes “reach for your stars” to sign everyone and there have been hundreds of those over the years. That was the mantra in our household from her and my Dad. My mother always put her family first. She worked tirelessly to provide for us, juggling all of us. Her jobs included selling home interiors and retail without losing her sense of grace and kindness. Her unwavering belief in my potential gave me the courage to pursue my dreams, even when the path seemed daunting.

Jeannie's love knew no bounds. Whether it was cheering me on from the sidelines of my high school plays or offering a listening ear during late-night study sessions, she was always there. Her words of wisdom still echo in my mind, urging me to persevere through the hard times and embrace the moments of joy. I taught her how to Facebook and she checks in and shares positive posts daily. 

Donna Messina-Lee: A Beacon of Inspiration

During my high school years at Wheaton Central/Warrenville South, I had the privilege of crossing paths with Coach Donna Messina-Lee, a true force of nature. As our speech coach, she didn't just teach us about public speaking; she instilled in us the power of our voices and the importance of using them to enact change.

When I was writing my first original oratory speech she said to me, “what makes you mad?” “what makes you want to put a fist in the air?” Write about that. 

Coach Donna's passion for communication was contagious. She pushed us to dig deep, find our unique perspectives, and craft speeches that resonated with authenticity. Beyond the trophies and accolades, she created a safe space where we could be vulnerable, take risks, and grow as individuals.

I'll never forget the countless hours Coach Donna spent with us, tirelessly coaching, refining, and encouraging. Her dedication went far beyond the classroom; she became a mentor, a confidante, and a trusted guide. Through her example, I learned that true strength lies in vulnerability, and that finding your voice is a journey of self-discovery.



Finding Strength in Women

As I reflect on the impact of these remarkable women, I am reminded of the countless others who have shaped my life's tapestry. From the fierce determination of Donna Messina-Lee to the unwavering love of my mother, I have been blessed to be surrounded by strong, inspiring women.

This Women's History Month, let us honor the trailblazers, the mentors, the caregivers, and the everyday heroes who have paved the way for us. Let us celebrate the power of resilience, the beauty of authenticity, and the strength that comes from lifting each other up.

To all the women who have touched my life and continue to inspire me, thank you. Your voices, your stories, and your presence make the world a brighter, more vibrant place.


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