By: Pam Thomas, Owner Pammie’s Sammies, WOCC Treasurer

Ok…so here’s the good news: we are all extraordinary.

The not-so-good news? We have a hard time believing it.

Twice a year, the West Orange Chamber of Commerce hosts an amazing event titled “Celebrating Extraordinary Women”. For a few hours, we are transported into the lives and careers of some of Central Florida’s most accomplished women. They include barrier-breakers, ceiling smashers, and downright determined individuals. Ladies…we honor and respect; you. This year’s women, at last week’s event, once again demonstrated their talents and how they all contribute to the present and history of our community.

As a past panelist, I’ll tell you this: I get up, work, care, worry, love, pray, create, tear down, cry, laugh, sleep, and a whole lot more but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what made me an “extraordinary woman”. I mean, most days I felt like the best thing I could say about myself was “well, at least I’m clean”. How could my life, career, and existence possibly compare to all these truly extraordinary women?

Then, the light came on. There it was. That word. That…WORD. Compare.

Somehow, somewhere a great majority of us were trained to believe that our individual “extraordinary-ness” is somehow related to the “extraordinary-ness” of others. We witness women doing great things and we can’t imagine ourselves in their position. How could we possibly do those kind of things (whatever they are)? We think our lives are so ordinary…extra ordinary. But you know what? We are lying to ourselves.

Every woman, in one way or another, is extraordinary just for being alive. We are wonderous creations with our own incomparable stories to tell. Joyous, devastating or somewhere between these extremes, the works of our lives are important and cannot be compared to those of anyone else. Society has tried for millennia to dictate otherwise, and society is wrong. YOU. ARE. EXTRAORDINARY.

So this month, let’s celebrate the extraordinary women leaders that make up our Chamber and community. And you and me. And all the women who are extraordinary in their own way and right. Let’s set examples for future generations, giving them permission, no, demanding that they adore every inch of their being and never believe they deserve otherwise.

I applaud your individuality, creativity, and total grooviness. I defend you and support you and love you. I want to hear your story and I want you to hear mine.  Now, I’m on my way to putting on my bell-bottom yoga pants or something else I love to wear for no one but myself.

You are extraordinary. And so am I.

Rock on,