Thank You Notes To the Women Who’ve Changed My Life
By Mandy Teefey
My Dear High School Counselor,
I would like to sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart for the lack of belief in me and your offer to guide a life full of disappointments in result of becoming a teen mother. You denied my eligibility for Honor Courses because, as you said, I could not handle the work load, be a mother, and balance a job at the local Wal-Mart. I ruined my life and I ruined “that” child’s life, therefore all my hard work to better our lives was disregarded.
After days of tears and with the support from one of my teachers I proudly took that job at Wal-Mart, and later conquered those Honor Courses, proudly became Prom Queen, and went on to graduate college. I thank you, as you taught me one of the most valuable lessons in life — when you told me “No” that day, I heard “Yes” instead. From that moment on, “No” signified my strength and ability to create a “Yes” when the things I want most are initially denied. I now know that I can overcome any adversity presented to me.
My Little Girl Blue (Janis Jolpin),
Your vulnerability never stunted your message that women can be tough. You never backed down from your beliefs, even as rocks were being thrown at you for standing up against the KKK, or when you were getting kicked out of your choir because you wouldn’t follow the rules, and as you experienced the constant verbal abuse for your image. You were not a mixed up kid who fumbled into the world of music as you claim. You were a woman who exemplified what it meant to be an empowered woman in a male dominated world. Most people only saw you as a typical Rock Star cliché, but your battle with your demons only encouraged women to own their souls. I thank you for giving me the courage to own my soul and my imagination, as I know they are my truth.
My Two Loves, Selena & Gracie,
Thank you for teaching me something new every day and inspiring me to always be my best and to not let you down. Nothing in this world is more grand then being your mother. I have come to see beyond myself and celebrate the death of my ego in order to give you my all. Always remember your will cannot be taken away and the most important thing you can do is positively contribute to the lives of others.
Love, you fierce Mama Bear, always.
Coretta Scott King,
There is not a space big enough to acknowledge everything you did for this world. Emmaline Pankhurst once said “We are here not because we are law breakers, we are here in our efforts to become law makers.” You are one of the few I think of when I hear these words.
In the thick of losing the love of your life, you jumped in and lead the fight for racial equality, became a leader in the Women’s Movement, and continued to honor the life and works of your husband. I thank you for teaching me to be a powerful force behind my husband and to not leave his side, even in death.
Additionally, you went on to broaden your scope to fight against the opposition facing LGBTQ rights. I thank you, as you taught us that there is no excuse to give up nor to impose judgement, as no injustice, no matter how great, can excuse even a single act of violence against another human being.
Clark Clifford, an advisor to President Kennedy summed it up perfectly, “Once in a great while, an individual will capture the imagination of people all over the world. You have done this; and what is more important, through your graciousness and tact, you have transformed this rare accomplishment into an incredibly important asset to this nation.”
You inspire me to always be better, to make my family and children the priority as you did with yours. My loyalty to my family lies at the level it does because you showed the world how it should be done. Even on that fateful day in Dallas, you channeled your own pain in order to fearlessly honor your husband, and I thank you.
“If a woman is to be measured, let her be measured by the things she can control, by who she is and who she is trying to become.”- Monroe
As a fellow woman, I would like to thank you for your bravery to speak up for those who were afraid to stand beside you, who did not realize that the power of women united, leads to independence and the respect we deserve.
Executive Producer Mandy Teefey has been shepherding Netflix’s upcoming “13 Reasons Why” which premieres March 31. Since she first read Jay Asher’s novel when it was first released, Mandy was drawn to the unique and compelling story about teen suicide which centers around the suicide of high-schooler Hannah Baker, who leaves 13 cassette tapes to explain why she took her own life. The New York Times #1 bestseller inspired a national conversation among readers about suicide prevention and the impact that an individual’s actions can have on another person. Mandy secured the rights to the book and shopped it around for several years before Netflix picked it up for 13 episodes. Below is a link to the Netflix panel with Mandy alongside writer Brian Yorkey, director Tom McCarthy, Dylan Minnette (Clay), Katherine Langford (Hannah), author Jay Asher, and executive producer Selena Gomez.