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Camila Alves McConaughey (left) with her 94-year-old grandmother
Courtesy of Camila Alves McConaughey

I grew up watching my mother and my aunt surrounded by a strong network of women. In Brazilian culture, community is a priority. During the good times, everyone celebrates together. When times are tough, everyone supports each other with real, hard, honest advice. Growing up, we were taught to say, “yes, ma’am” and “yes, sir,” and I’m raising my children to do the same.

One of my favorite cities is New Orleans, where many of our dear friends live. It has the traditions, culture, flavors, and food that, in many ways, parallel those in both Texas, where we have a home, and in Brazil. While I was in New Orleans, I met strong, wonderful, supportive women with such generous spirits. One of my dear friends, Ms. Clara, taught me how to cook delicious dishes filled with Southern love to feed my family. And I still make her red beans and rice. Another dear friend, Ms. Katie, would always tell me, “This, too, shall pass.” That one phrase has helped me overcome some of the biggest challenges life has thrown my way.

Living in South Texas, I see similar close connections that women in the South have with one another. Whoever you may be—a friend or a wife or a mother—those women are there for you no matter what! Even though at times you may resist their help and say “No, thank you,” they usually know better. Sometimes you really do need help.

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This kind of kinship and support is unique to South Texas. It surpasses anything else I’ve ever experienced. In comparison, there are some other communities where, if you bring up life challenges or hardships, people often distance themselves from you. They want to avoid all of the “bad or negative energy.” They only want to be around “positive” people.

But not Southern women. They actually view these highs and lows and ups and downs as the beauty of life, the reminder that it’s not about the destination but the ride that we are all on—together.

Those qualities resonate with me, because that’s who I am at heart. All those Southern values I’ve learned, I’m passing on to my children.

Camila Alves McConaughey is an entrepreneur, mother, and founder of the lifestyle-and-community website Women of Today. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Matthew McConaughey, and their three children