Well….wow. So it has been over two years since I’ve last put words here on this blog. It is so incredibly hard to write what you think/feel and be vulnerable; especially for me. I decided to take up my sword again after beloved blogger, and now friend, Brittany Gibbons of brittanyherself.com, issued an August challenge: a month of body blogging. It seemed a good as time as any to put something out there in the world.
Today is August 5th and as such I decided to go with the 5th challenge on the list. The challenge is to write about the five women who have changed my life.
1.) It most likely comes as no shock to anyone that the number one person on this list would be my Mother. She did in fact, you know, give me life and stuff. She also truly shaped my world view. My Mom is a fighter above all else. She is like the cat who you throw up in the air that always lands on its feet. I mean my gosh, she has a baby girl at 16, then lost her beloved father, then baby girl at 19, then leaves her crappy Husband and raises girls by herself… in a nutshell. I won’t say there weren’t bumps along the way, big bumps actually; but I think Mothers and Daughters can butt heads in ways that no other relationship can. However, my Mom taught some very important things about the world. My Mom taught me the value of hard work. My Mom has worked her ass off from the ground up, quite literally. She is currently in a high level public relations position, and it is no surprise to me that she is excelling. There are two areas, of many, about which I’ll write about today where Mom has absolutely shaped/changed my life.
One, my Mom instilled in me the deep value of a person, of all people. My Mom is totally inclusive; unless you burn her, then you’re assed out. She is bright, gorgeous, and funny. People flock to stand in her shadow, and she invests in all of them. She has never been the type to shoo someone away from her lunch table. My Mom is just as likely to be talking to a major foundation CEO, as she is the janitor who takes care of the office. She taught me, and lived the principal, that everyone has something of value, that I am NO better than anyone else. I’ve have carried this with me in my pocket since I was a kid. I’d like to think that I am as good about it as her. I feel like the intrinsic value of a person is something that is often ignored. I don’t know where in life people get the idea that they are awesome and everyone else sucks, but they suck. I only hope I can reach my own daughter about this. She currently operates as if her little Brother is her own personal minion.
Two, back when I was in college my Mom told me about an exchange she had with a friend. My Mom and Step-Dad had recently bought a travel trailer because my Dad was traveling for work at the time, and sleeping like 3 hours away from home during the week. The idea was that he would live in the trailer. A few friends came over to see the trailer and visit with my parents. One of my Mom’s friends was super excited for my parents. She was like “this is awesome…you guys will have so much fun with this…etc” Whereas her other friend, walked in looked around and said, “must be nice, congrats.” My Mom told me after how different she felt with each visit. How even though the second friend was nice, and pleasant, but her “must be nice” made her feel like crap. How people say “must be nice” all the time and it is an acceptable offhand comment. She said that she was disappointed that the second friend couldn’t be happy for them (I mean my friggin goodness my Mom had only been with my Step-Dad for like a few years and had struggled for like ever) and made a comment that made my Mom feel guilty. She told me she would never use that phrase again, and be sure to share in others joy more often. This conversation between my Mom and I happened probably 10-12 years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday. Who are we to trample on someone else’s joy? So what if I feel sad or jealous? Lock that shit up and be happy for those around you.
There are so many more things I have learned from my Mom, and all manner of things small and large that she has done that has shaped me, but it would take me a novel to tell you about this. Suffice it to say, my Mom is kind of totally friggin awesome. She is also like a really great cook, is a crazy crafter, and a super fun Grandma. In essence, my Mom’s the shit.
2.) The second woman that has changed my life is my Sister. I am always trying to be more like my Sister. My Sister is fun and goofy. She has always seemed to be so sure of herself. She is an inspiration to me every day to be myself, and never apologize for it. She is also my constant challenge. It is hard not to measure yourself against someone so awesome. My Sister is a full on pinterest project, totally themed birthday party, house is all decorated kind of girl. I am not. I pin my little heart out, and I can hardly manage to do anything other than try a new recipe here or there. I am the Mom who calls, or even texts
, the family a week
before my kids birthdays to throw together a BBQ. You know what my Sister would
say to that, “oh my gosh Erica who cares this is just fun for me.” So that is
what I tell myself when I feel like my Sister is going to win all of the good
Mom awards. Sometimes that voice wins, but more often I feel less. However, I
realize that is my problem. My Sister isn’t doing anything wrong, she is just
being her badass self. The idea that someone can be awesome, and want me to be
awesome, yet is not a mirror showing me how un-awesome I am…priceless. I love
3.) A third woman I will mention is a dear friend. Her name is Ruth. Ruth taught me a lot about friendship, kindness, gratitude, and faith. Ruth and I connected on levels I wouldn’t have expected between a 17 and 60+ year old. She taught me that friendship knows no age, no background, and no bounds. I think Ruth is the first empath I’ve ever met, even though I had no idea what that was at the time. Ruth had a very tough upbringing. She grew up feeling less than everyone around her, even though she was drop dead gorgeous and has the kindest heart I’ve ever witnessed in a person. She is the one who will comment to a gal in Victoria Secret that the panty color she chose was so pretty, and she wished she had a pair like that at her age. Then before you know it, 45 minutes has passed and this poor girl is pouring her heart out to Ruth about her life story and how she had been struggling. How she just got a new job so she was buying herself something pretty. No joke this actually happened; more than once, in my presence. Ruth taught me to open my heart to strangers, to press when you ask someone how they are doing and they say “ok.” She taught me about generosity of spirit. She taught me about being an empath long before I knew I was one. She taught me about paying it forward, and sticking your neck out for people. I think most of all though, she taught me about faith. There was a particular rough time in my life and Ruth was there. There were days I honestly didn’t know how I would make it through. Ruth would take my hand, tell me she’d been there, and then we would kneel and pray together. She told me that sometimes life is hard and you pray to get through each and every minute if you have to. There was many a day I would pray just for an hour, a minute, of time hoping that things wouldn’t hurt so bad. Her love and acceptance helped carry me through those tough few years. In exchange, I open her world up to Taco Bell. It just doesn’t seem like a fair trade. J In all seriousness, I was there when her beloved Son left for college. Her Son, whom she was super close to, and fought for half her life practically to have. I moved into their renovated barn apartment for three of the years I was in college. I held her hand when she missed her Son, I made her laugh when we would go shopping, I helped iron her Husband’s copious amount of long sleeved work shirts. Spoiler alert, I totally rock at ironing because of her. Ruth taught me in the few years we were crutches for each other, that there are no limits to friendship, and I love her. A few years ago she moved away to be closer to her Son, because He never moved home after college. He met a great girl, got married, had two baby girls of his own. So his parents sold their ranch and moved to be closer to them. I miss them all the time. I think of them often, and when I do, the warmth of Ruth’s spirit envelopes me, and I feel lucky to have spent so much time with her.
*Sidenote, Ruth’s Husband is all sorts of amazing as well, but this post is about women.*
4.) The 4th woman who has changed my life is my therapist. I firmly believe that all people can benefit from some therapy at some point in their life. There is nothing bad about knowing the how’s and why’s of your reaction to things. I mean it is a lot of hard work, but totally worthwhile. She has given me perspective and tools that I will carry in my heart forever.
5.) The last woman I will mention is the fabulous Mrs. Brittany Gibbons aka BrittanyHerself.com. As you can tell, I know many totally awesome women, so picking the top 5 that changed my life is difficult! However, it is easy to name B. I’ve been a long time reader of hers for years. Several months ago now she started an online community where I have been a really active member. Through this forum she has greatly enriched my life. She has brought me wonderful new friends, and a place where I feel at home being myself no apologies. She challenges us to be happy with ourselves on a daily basis. The group has also filled me with a lot of purpose. I am good at my job, but it isn’t what I am supposed to be doing. The forum gives me an opportunity to do what I do best, and that is be there to support others. I didn’t even know that is what was missing until the group existed. The group has highlighted my purpose for me, and through it I have connected with people who provided me with the tools to learn a lot more about how I operate. I will be forever grateful to these women who have shared the deepest recesses of their soul with me, and who have lighted a fire in my heart with purpose. I look forward to the next chapter of my life where I pursue graduate work to further this purpose.
So we’ll see how tomorrow’s challenge goes. Who knows, maybe it will be another two years before I write again!