For my first 2024 blog, I want to honor someone who’s been a continuing influence and inspiration in my life. I want to teach about them, and I want to remember them. Oftentimes, we may forget to look at those that have gone before us. We can learn something from everything and everyone. In this day and age, life can get so busy that we forget to pause, forget to remember, forget to thank. In my faith, we always say, “May their memory be eternal.”
In late 2023, we lost author, activist, humanitarian, and former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter. Not only did she serve the United States, but she served the world.
She was a long-time volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and advocate for caregivers with her founding and ongoing work with Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers. Alongside former President Jimmy Carter, her husband of 77 years, she also started The Carter Center and they became pivotal figures on the world stage, bringing about education and awareness on critical issues, building key relationships with other countries and their leaders and even helping to eradicate Guinea worm disease.
I had the honor of meeting and attending Rosalynn Carter’s book signing in Nashville back in 1998. At the tender age of 16, I knew that I was listening to and was in the presence of someone who was influential, who wore many hats, who was, as I call it now, a GSDer. Not only influential in her local community of Plains, Georgia, but influential in her country of the United States and ultimately the world.
She spoke of her support of mental health and the vital importance of talking about it so that those that struggle would seek help. She was keenly influential in making changes at a governmental level and a key voice of support for the Mental Health System Bill that passed in 1980. I believe that we are just now seeing the fruit of the pivotal foundational seeds of education and awareness that former First Lady Rosalynn Carter planted in the late 1970s and 1980s.
I long admired and respected how she was a GSD woman who wore many hats from daughter, wife, mom, to First Lady of Georgia, to First Lady of the United States, author of five books, activist, world humanitarian, and everything in between.
She learned from her mother at a young age that “You can do what you have to do,” and that mindset and mentality stayed with her throughout her life. She continued to use her voice for good. She continued to use her platform, and she and her husband were partners in making the world better. Their love and support of one another was unwavering. They often spoke of their more than seven decades of marriage and shared some of the lessons they learned along the way. They both spoke to solid communication, giving each other space, and doing things together as some of the key secrets to the success of their lifetime partnership.
As I ponder what being influential means for the GSD Factor Life, one of my favorite quotes of Mrs. Carter’s summarizes it beautifully:
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter
As we remember former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, may we teach the next generation about her influence, share how she used her voice for good, show the impact of her advocacy, and point to accomplishments of challenging the status quo. May we strive to make even a small percentage of change that she did.
May her memory be eternal.