Saundra by Joe Belcovson
Talking with Saundra Pelletier
My guest today is Saundra Pelletier, CEO of WomanCare Global and author of Saddle Up Your Own White Horse: 5 Principles Every Woman Needs to Know.
JB: Welcome to OpEdNews, Saundra. You have devoted your entire life and career to empowering women. Let's start at the beginning. You give your mother credit for making you the strong and capable person you are today. How did she do that, and in Caribou, Maine, of all places?
SP: As Jackie Kennedy said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much."
My mother's life was bungled as she was never encouraged as a child to do much of anything except work on the farm. Education, ambition, a runway for success was as foreign as her crossing the county line. She has lived her life with the disappointment that she should have done more but her way of breathing more freely was to encourage me to do all the things she didn't do. For me, there were three significant differentiating ways my mother raised me that were different than other girls I knew.
-- I was treated like an adult by age 8 and told things that were probably by most people's standards beyond my age comprehension like, "never be in a position to need a man, it's ok to want one but needing one makes you vulnerable" and "always have your own bank account and never tell the balance to anyone - you never know when you might need to leave town."
-- My mother always said, "no matter what happens, you can always come home and work at McDonalds." This was her ultimate mind trick to ensure I would never need to come back to Caribou, Maine to work.
-- She also always said, "being alone builds character, you should like spending time with yourself above anyone else."
I really believe that if more mothers focused on building strength in their daughters vs. femininity, this world would be a better place. Strength trumps softness, always. I also believe if more mothers raised their daughters to know they could always come home, no matter what, women would take more risk and be more courageous.
I have seen so many women get left for younger, crazier models and they are helpless. Most are financially ruined but those who aren't are emotionally distraught and can't pick up the pieces of their lives. Women need my mother's message to become the person you want to attract and stop waiting for it to arrive in the body of Prince Charming. Charm fades, if women build a foundation of strength within themselves, they can always rebuild their life if they need to.
My mother now says she deserves very little credit. She jokes that I was born with a willpower made of iron and a drive to never settle. I think every girl is born that way but she needs someone to cultivate it, to tell her it is ok to be beautiful and strong and that power is not just for the life of a man but for the life of a happy human.
JB: You didn't carry a lunchbox or dress like your peers in elementary school. Why not? What was your mother after with these two small but essential tweaks?
SP: "Fake it til you make it" and "dress and act for the person you want to become, not the person you may be at this moment" are the mantras that were personified by my mother dressing me in suits and having me carry a briefcase. Now that I look back on my life, I think it's important to note that although my mother was a strong personality, she also allowed me to make my own decisions.