Being southern is something I have always associated with my identity, and not just where I live geographically.

And, that can surprise people.

I think it was something engrained in me when I was younger, especially by my mom and my grandmother. There was no sort of strict “rules” of how to act…  but my grandmother definitely thought I needed to know how to snap a green bean, and my mother made it clear there should be a set table and fresh flowers in a vase every time guests came over for dinner.

And no, none of us lost any of our teeth and we wore shoes (in public)…

Never show up to a party empty handed. Plant your bushes and trees in the winter for the best blooms. Grow your own herbs. Never touch up your lipstick at the table. There were basic lessons like that, but there was one TRULY non-negotiable rule.

And that is Southern women are strong.

I never forgot the stories my grandmother told me about growing up on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and the hard work it entailed, and the physical strength she earned from it. But what always made an impression on me– and still does– is when she told me about marrying my granddaddy and moving to Alabama, leaving everything she had ever known behind for this foreign place.

Now, that’s strength.

All of these seemingly small things, from the way Ma churned homemade ice cream on the fourth of July every year to my mom’s constant gardening, made such an impression on me and made me appreciate the place and the culture of where i grew up. There’s truly no place like the South, and like southern people. These ideals were so engrained in me throughout my life that I forget some people don’t quite realize how helpful the Farmer’s Almanac is, or that you can wear red lipstick to any event you want and yes, you can pull off overalls.

Some people have such an idea of what they think southern women are like, but I’ve found that just isn’t true. I have a career, I’m independent, and I am educated. But I also love to bake, I think cowboy boots go with everything, and some of the best food I have ever had was from a gas station in Selma.

You can be both. You can be all of these things. And to me, that’s what being a Southern woman is about– being strong enough to know that.

Writing this blog is a way for me to share these ideals I was so immersed in and share them with people who weren’t.  And more importantly, to show that southern ideals aren’t what many people think they are. It’s a modern take on those ways of life that I want to share.

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