A Good Southern Woman

In Louisiana Ladies, Terri Netterville by Lola Magazine

Winston Churchill once said, “The most beautiful voice in the world is that of an educated southern woman.”

For us southern women, however, the most beautiful voice in the world is the voice of our daughters, once they discover it and then find the courage to use it.

For when we make the choice to use our voice to make the world a better place, the universe will step aside and allow us to do just that.

A good southern woman will teach ya that.

Here’s the thing about a good, traditional southern woman: We are very proud of our heritage.  …Very proud of who we are, what we stand for and where we come from.

Those of us who have chosen and look forward to being wives and mothers relish in our roles as the one who keeps the household managed and the heartstrings strumming.  Yes, we quite like being the gatekeeper to the hearts of those we hold near and dear to our own heart.

We are good daughters, mothers, sisters, cousins and very good company.

We are strong enough to lift up our men, while simultaneously making them weak in the knees.

We feel empowered when we outshine or outsmart an opponent who felt they were above us simply because of the way we look, the way we talk or the way we move across a room

There are actually quite a few misconceptions about a southern woman, but the reality of these misconceptions might surprise many who aren’t from around these parts.

Sometimes, people mistake our southern kindness for weakness, our southern charm for flirtation, our southern accent for backwoods thinkin’ and our quiet strength for being submissive. But it doesn’t take too terribly long for them to realize that our kindness is simply our natural approach; our southern accent is just an indicator to where we hail from, and our quiet strength derives from southern wisdom that we garnered by watching our own mamas who were able to maintain a calm composure during life’s many storms.

My paternal grandmother, Grace Ann Allen Spinks, was the quintessential southern woman.  In my eyes, she was the perfect picture of how a southern woman should look, behave and carry herself.

She was the pinnacle for me.

In fact, I would have to say that she was the one southern woman in my life who left the greatest impact on my heart.

Her grand influence over my life is etched in the deepest pockets of my heart.  And the light of her gracious southern spirit will live in mine forever.

Young, blonde, beautiful and statuesque in high school, Grace Allen was slated to become valedictorian for her high school class when she met my Methodist preaching grandfather at a tent revival in her hometown.  In an instant, her world was changed forever.

It wasn’t too long after that first meeting that she broke off her engagement with the town pharmacist and gave her hand in marriage to this handsome Methodist preacher who had stolen every part of her heart… and all of this to the chagrin of her Baptist Bible-thumpin’ mama, the woman we all called “Gran.”

That’s another thing you must understand about a good and strong southern woman:  Once we’ve made up our mind and heart, there isn’t much that can be done to stop us.  We are capable of thinking rationally and logically, but we usually go with our gut when it comes to matters of the heart.

Gracie, as we grandkids called her, was the consummate preacher’s wife.  She taught Sunday School, sang in the church choir, made more covered dishes than you can shake a stick at and extended her sweet friendship to everyone in the community…Methodist or not.

She had the beautiful God-given ability to play the piano by ear; she always wore the latest fashion trends with refined taste and could talk football with anyone at any time.

Her beauty was undeniable, while her sense of humor could disarm a drill sergeant. She was a spectacular hostess at social gatherings and had the ability to set those around her at ease, no matter the situation or circumstance. This is an art form perfected by good southern women.

On top of that, she also made time to volunteer at the Methodist Children’s Home, while continuing to successfully cater to the needs of her beloved husband and three children.  They were her whole world.

THIS was what I grew up believing was the standard of a strong, capable, precious and good southern woman.

What we are taught by the good southern women in our lives, from a very early age, is that kindness is the master key that unlocks the door to goodness and ultimate greatness.  Once we open that door, we are led down the corridor of faith that leads us straight to our divine purpose for this world.

Southern women are a fascinating bunch, to say the least. We are a paradoxical blend of strength and softness. We can be that soft place to land, while also being the reservoir of steely strength with firm resolve to move forward even when our world feels like it has fallen apart.

This is in our DNA.  It is embedded in the deepest part of who we are as southern women.

We carry on in the light of great faith, even during those times when the light in our own life has been dimmed by one of life’s inevitable hurts.

We are souls born to rely on our intuition when logic has no place in the decision we are forced to make. We believe this is a gift from God. We believe we are a gift from God. And we believe our children are our greatest gift from Him.

In order to leave a lasting legacy that our daughters will want to carry on, we must do as the southern women before us did.

We must stand on the side of righteousness, while encouraging our daughters to do the same.

We must master the art of inspiration in a world that attempts to force cynicism on us.

We must always find ways to empower the powerless, while doing our best to shed our own worry and fear that can tend to shade our hopeful hearts at times.

We must choose to be the guiding light for those who feel lost in the dark.

All of this we learned from the good southern women in our lives.

Southern women are strong and fearless in their pursuit of ultimate happiness for themselves and for the ones they hold so dear and close to their hearts.

There is nothing quite like a good, strong southern woman of great hope and great faith.

Our southern mamas taught us that, too. We give God all the glory for it.

And lastly, good southern women always like to… keep it southern real.

As ever,
Teri Netterville