“GIRLS HAVE GOT BALLS. THEY’RE JUST A LITTLE HIGHER UP, THAT’S ALL.”
~ JOAN JETT
KICK ASS WOMEN WANTED!
To help inspire others to go out and reach for their dreams, Miss Matahari is on the lookout for women who’ve already achieved something significant in their lives. The Inspirational Women page features strong, determined women who’ve had the courage to face their fears, bulldoze through any obstacles life throws at them and still emerge victorious.
Perhaps you overcame injury/illness to run the marathon/climb a mountain/or get back into fitness? Perhaps life dealt you some rather hard blows but you got back up and kept striving towards your goal, stronger and braver? Or maybe you just achieved something so awesome it would be rude not to share.
Being a Warrior doesn’t mean having no fear, but rather the courage to feel the fear and do it anyway.
If you have an inspiring story to share please send it in along with a couple of photos that best represent you to firstname.lastname@example.org. No more than 300 words please.
(NB: Each story must contain a health, fitness or sporting element.)
VIEW OUR INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN. YOU COULD BE NEXT.
I AM WARRIOR ENOUGH
VOLCANIC ESPRESSOS AT DAWN
LABELS NOT INCLUDED
BOLD & BEAUTIFUL
BE NOT AFRAID
WHAT MOTIVATES ME TO EXERCISE?
I AM WARRIOR ENOUGHI became pregnant at the age of 39 and I was over the moon although I was also very nervous as everything you read warns against the potential complications the older you are! I’d been doing CrossFit for 3 years before my pregnancy and my aim was to continue to keep fit throughout with the approval of doctors and midwifes. I was nervous at the start as most of the publications and write ups are against intense sports such as CrossFit, especially the weightlifting element of it. I continued doing CrossFit 4-5 days a week until 2 days before I gave birth and I never felt better! All my movements and workouts always depended on how I felt and were always modified accordingly, even though I was still able to execute an 80kg back squat! I strongly believe that continuing my workout regime throughout my pregnancy helped me manage my stress, kept my hormones balanced and my energy levels up. I gave birth to a healthy baby girl a day before my due date and my actual birth lasted just 27mins. I returned to CrossFit slowly 2 weeks later and was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes within 10 days! I also took part in the My Extraordinary Pregnancy documentary series that was on TV beginning on 2015 on TLC channel.
Katja Harjanne, Hove
OVERCOMING CHALLENGESBorn two months prematurely with Cerebral Palsy, jaundice, blood poisoning, a heart attack and collapsed lung, I was giving my parents grief from an early age! Determined I’d live a relatively normal life, they sent me to a mainstream school with special units attached. I began riding at 6. I loved horses and the freedom they gave me. Naturally competitive, when I realised I could excel at it; I wanted to be the best I could be. During my GCSEs I was selected as the youngest rider to ever compete at the Paralympic Games. Taken for experience alone no-one expected me to return from Athens with a bronze medal and the whole experience changed my life. Being around other Paralympians made me look at how l coped with my own disability. They just got on with life and l wanted to be seen in the same positive light too, changing people’s perception of disability. I since became European and World champion winning 2 golds and 1 silver at Beijing in 2008, whilst studying for a maths degree. But in 2012 I lost my top horse and it looked like I wouldn't make selection. I’d lost what had drawn me to sport in the first place—fun! Mentor Leon Taylor helped me realise this and the instant I was smiling again, the stresses of competition diminished and I was selected for my third Paralympic Games – I won three Gold medals! To become a Paralympian I believe you have to first accept your disability. I’m not going to lie; I have my down days. I’m 28 and still rely on people to cook for me and tie my shoe laces, but I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s made me who I am today. Everyone faces challenges in life; it’s how you overcome them which defines you.
Sophie Christiansen, Maidenhead
VOLCANIC ESPRESSOS AT DAWNMaybe I’m a romantic? Perhaps. Or, maybe I’m a dreamer? Definitely. Though minus the sleep. It must be my Sicilian DNA that thrives on the sunrise espresso. It’s as if there’s a volcanic surge through my veins at the peek of that golden grenadine sun. So many things to do and places to go, what better way to start the day than to go for a run or stretch my muscles from Surya Namaskar to Shavasana before the world wakes? Eyes open, running shoes on, bolt! In addition to yoga and marathon-training, I’m always running with my company – shaking hands, smiling and collaborating with global thought leaders. An intrepid entrepreneur, author and art aficionado, I can easily be described by the word ‘imago’, derived from Latin, suggesting vision, dream and view. To me, no vision is daunting, except the one you cannot see. Ah the irony, I say, glancing at the mission statement of my eye society. For me, health is paramount – if you look good you see better, literally! Managing my international non-profit, I promote eye health education for doctors around the world. Whether racing a 10k, 20k or invigorating the ophthalmic industry to achieve the next milestone, I embrace an inextinguishable energy to make things happen. My organization has participants in over 85 countries, so as an energizing networking/bonding activity, I’m rallying doctors to “Run-the-World” with me. Not only will I collect more passport stamps and acquire some more languages to my collection, but I’ll also have a chance to push my global health initiative to promote the advancement of next-generation vision through the cross-pollination of biotech, life sciences and tech. Wow! Where will I run my next race? When will I launch the next company? Bring on the next challenge! Or, perhaps I should practice meditation?
Amy Gallant Sullivan, Boston
LIMITLESSI grew up in Chesterfield, Derbyshire where my dad was a miner and my mother a nurse. I was always mad for sports at school and was a very keen cyclist. In the Mid 80′s with my dad “on strike” for 2 years I became very ill with a tumour in my right knee. I dropped to 5 stone in weight due to the illness and treatment and had to have my right knee cap removed. I also was given a knee joint replacement. They told me I would never walk properly again. Despite the pain I was desperate to show I could get on a bike again and by 1992 was selected to represent the UK at the Barcelona Olympics! I switched to running some years later to see what I could achieve and today hold 4 marathon course records with a PB of 2 hours 38. I have top 20 finishes in London & Berlin and top 10 in many big city marathons including Amsterdam, Florence and Moscow. I was also 1st lady in the masses race of the Great North Run in 2010. Last year I became the first lifelong Vegan to complete the gruelling Marathon des Sables – 156 miles across the Sahara carrying all your own gear and food in a 12 kg rucksack and in April this year I’ll be tackling the North Pole Marathon then the Antarctic Marathon in November. I’m an honorary patron of the Vegan Society as well as patron of the Captive Animal Protection Society. I live in Essex where I run Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary which is home to around 400 rescued animals including 53 Horses. There are no staff nor volunteers, I do the work alone with my partner’s help at weekends and when I’m away racing.
Fiona Oakes, Essex
LABELS NOT INCLUDEDI’ve never been one to define myself by “what I do”, where I come from or how much I’ve achieved in life. I see identity as something that is free-flowing and multi-faceted – not confined to fixed roles or collective labels and absolutely not defined by others. What a paradox it was, then, for me to acquire various ‘clinical labels’ in attempts to make sense of the recurring depression, anxiety and panic attacks I experienced for 22 years of my life.. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the way ‘effects’ of unresolved personal conflicts and emotional traumas get labelled up. What has struck me more is how ‘disorder’ is so often misconceived as ‘cause’ and ‘defect’, how ‘opinion’ can be mistaken for ‘fact’ and how diagnostic criteria can give rise to false assumptions and generalised statistics. Is there any wonder why many, who find themselves categorized in this way, face discrimination and stigma? For me, living in the opinions of others, was not acceptable. I sought true understanding, scientific facts and pragmatic solutions as well as the freedom to define and express myself. I needed to move forward with my life without reliving the effects of past negative experiences. And, I wanted to live without the life sentence of a psychiatric misdiagnosis. After years of self-help, soul searching and therapy sampling, I finally found a way to resolve the root causes and triggers. And now, my life has come full circle. Not only am I free from the ‘effects’ and ‘labels’, but I live a life that’s much more congruent with my true feelings, beliefs, desires and values. I’ve set up my own business and help others on their personal journeys too. Instead of feeling ‘unfit’ for life, I’ve taken up fitness for life. Where I once steered clear of modelling opportunities, I now seek them out, but on my terms. I have learned that ‘freedom of mind’ is the most precious gift we possess and once we realise it, no-one can seize it from us. Life may take us on many unexpected journeys, but it is how we take them in hand that defines us.
Ally Oliver, Brighton
BOLD & BEAUTIFULOne day you wake up and you just can’t recognize your own image in the mirror. And for the rest of your life you have just to admit that… You are the most beautiful bald woman in the world! I was 5 when that happened. My story is just like the story of many other women but the difference is that I do believe that I want to be the Inspiration for them to show themselves off. My best friend is called Alopecia Universalis and it gave me the boost to love my body even more and I have learnt to treat it with care; feeding it with the healthiest food and walking every day. Now I’m pregnant and have a 50% chance of having a bald child but if this happens I will be proud to show him/her how to manage life in the lightest and happiest way. I’m a marketing specialist and the reason why I choose this job is because I wanted to be amongst people and to show them that I wasn’t so bad. Now I work as a marketing manager for a healthy cafe/ restaurant in Rome, called Queen Energy and for Po(l)p, a brand of t-shirt to express your individuality. Yes, I enjoy my life and if I have a chance to come back to this world I will ask to be bald again!
Monica Olivieri, Rome
BE NOT AFRAIDIt’s easy to say, ‘I can’t. I can’t because it’s difficult, because others can do it better, because life’s hard so what’s going to change now? I was that person and life was hard, damn hard. I grew up with alcoholic parents, abuse and abandonment, ending up on the streets aged just 15. It was easy to run. From my life, my hopes, my fears. But is that really the answer, to never even try? On what was probably the lowest day of my life, a day when all my hope was spent, words I’d heard as a little girl came whispering back to me “Be not afraid.” And I knew I had to stop running. No matter how hard that was going to be and with no guarantee of a positive outcome, I had to make a change or else my life was never going to. From that point on I made better choices and started to face my fears, especially that of failure, to go for my dream – to enter the Olympics. Baby step to baby step coupled with the help of some amazing coaches and trainers, I learnt confidence and self-belief until I found myself in Seoul actually believing I could do it. I walked away with Olympic gold. I’m not saying I never had fears again, but I now knew I could face them. So I didn’t stop there… I went onto do modelling, acting and eventually becoming one of the movie industries top stuntwomen. I made my change and today my focus is on helping others to do the same. Through my writing and motivational speaking, I want to help make a difference and show that with a little self-belief, we can all make our change, we just need to remember to ‘Be not afraid’.
Dana Hee, Los Angeles
WHAT MOTIVATES ME TO EXERCISE?Although no one in my mother’s family has actually celebrated his/her 100th birthday, they usually get to 95 in reasonably good health. To best enjoy my old age, I figure I need to keep my body in shape. Over the years, I have gone to a gym, walked, cycled, and run. I am foremost motivated by goals, MY goals, and they do not include being the first, fastest, or best form, but rather to finish and to not be last. (Twice I was last, followed by a support vehicle. Never again!
Marie Spodek, New York