real life

"When I grow up, I want to be this woman."

There are work and bills and deadlines and alarms every morning at exactly the same time.

Life runs at a speed that sometimes feels out of our control. Our focus is directed according to the clock and the bank and what other people are expecting us to do.

Everything ticks along almost autonomously until we see something extraordinary. Something that makes us stop.

When we see a woman break a world record at a 100 years old, as if it’s just another alarm-started day.

When we hear about a 91-year-old woman who’s a gymnast. The oldest gymnast in the world.

When we see a photograph of Frankie Sprabary receiving her high school certificate at 88.

Or we listen to a set from Sumiko Iwamuro, an 82-year-old Japanese DJ.

These are the moments that make clock faces and bank accounts and the expectations of other people not only seem unnecessary, but completely obsolete.

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Every woman and girl needs someone extraordinary to look up to.

In high school I did an assignment where I shadowed an ‘everyday hero’. (Yes, it’s an overused term. Yes, it’s a real phenomenon).

For three weeks I followed a 80-year-old widow around her dairy farm in rural Queensland. Her husband had died years earlier and she, alongside her tractor and her kelpie, kept a herd of 30-plus cows under control.

Johanna Quass. Image via Facebook.

She herded them to greener pastures, she branded them, she bred them, and she milked them every day at dawn. Never stopping. Never complaining. Always talking, talking, talking to these cows who knew her voice, and her life story, better than any person ever would.

The whole experience left me with one certainty: I will think about this woman and her strength and her story much more frequently than she will ever think of me.

To her, she was simply doing a job.

To me, she was, still is, the sort of woman I hope to grow into.