Obviously, first and foremost my mama. She taught me unconditional love. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I certainly appreciate more the sacrifices she made for me, though I was an ungrateful, little brat back then. I was and am number 1 to her.
Then there are the women I've met over my lifetime.
It all started when I was incredibly young, my very first best friend, C. She was the bus drivers daughter, and like the other women I'm going to talk about, I owe a lot of my self to her. She encouraged me to be good, and led me to places where I'd find something to believe in. Small towns don't have much to do, and it's very easy to go down the wrong path. I firmly believe she was my first angel.
During that turning point known as "the Tween/Teen years" I met my next influential lady, Nicki. Now Nicki was a hurricane. She hit my small town with a fierce independence and spark that I'd never seen before. She was fireworks to me and lucky for me, she saw a little sparrow who she took under her wings. She taught me to dance, flirt, introduced me to my first scary movie, which I hear was more humorous but scared the pants off me - The People Under The Stairs, I believe. Most of all she taught me that confidence was beautiful. It was ok to have a bit of self esteem. Sure we got into some trouble, but nothing too bad because I always had that C part of me to keep me careful.
Next was a gal I knew from school, who moved to the "Big City" and we lived together - S. Now S was a lot like Nicki. Fire, spunk, and she had a "deepness" to her too. We'd get into philosophical conversations as we were getting ready to go out drinking & dancing for the 3rd night in one week. We fought too, man there were days we hated each other - it's tough when you live with someone, always. S taught me not to believe everything someone says or that I hear, in a GOOD way, and she was there for me when my heart was stomped on....a few times. She was an amazing shoulder. To this day, I'm still amazed by her strength - she's one tough cookie.
Now, this next one, we weren't close friends but I look at her like another angel, a bridge so to speak, because she took me on a path to where I met more ladies who influenced me greatly - V. V was a customer of mine at one of my first jobs. She encouraged me to apply where she worked and put in a good word for me. It was a big company and I spent almost 10 years there, growing in many ways. Just thinking about her makes me smile.
There is a gal I knew from Jr High and High School but we didn't get super close until we both got pregnant with our first child. A. A is someone I tell my deepest, darkest mom secrets to. You know, the ones where you lock yourself in the bathroom because you just can't handle the crying anymore. She get's me out of the house, and when she talks I always listen intently because hidden in her words is some little gem that makes me think differently about something. She challenges me to not be so petty, and try new things. I love her children like they are my own and feel like we've done our mom growing up together.
K, now she's pretty darn amazing. I feel like she's a whole decade younger than me, not that she's immature but because sometimes I feel so old and she makes me feel young. When I'm with her, I don't know, I somehow feel cooler. She's a mom too, beautiful, and talented. She can paint, make beautiful custom cakes, cook, so yes, there are times I am jealous of all she can do but above all, I look up to her for that. I feel like sometimes too, she wants advice from ME. I like to feel needed and that makes me feel special.
At that big company I mentioned that V brought me into, I met 3 amazing ladies. L, J and W, another reason I thank V every day!
Now L, she likes everything just so. She's one of the most focused, real, women I've ever known. She's a tough egg to crack, and it took me a while to get her to like me. She taught me that while compassion is important, letting people walk on you is not. I value her opinion to this day, as someone who's going to tell me like it is, be honest, even if it's not what I want to hear. We all need someone like that in our life and I look up to her more than I think she'll ever really know.
Then there's J. She is so darn smart and like L, she'll tell me like it is but then educates me on the why of it. She's great with money, even work/life balance she's always made that an important part of her life and I try very hard to listen when she's counseling me. She goes for what she wants, and works hard to make it happen. She just has the innate belief in herself and she's so decisive. I never see her waffle on something, she does what's right, and she always makes the right choice. She's an amazing mama and a little fashionista. I am always asking her what I should wear or what I should accessorize with. She's one very cool gal.
Last but certainly not least is W. W is special. She's like a mom, sister, and best friend all rolled into one. She was the first person to make me really believe in myself, all of my self. She still knocks me around when I'm being an idiot but having someone believe in you, that you look up to, is amazing. She listens, always listens, for as long as it takes. She gives the best advice and sets the best example. I've always looked at her relationship with her husband and how she handles things as a standard to try to model my relationship by. They are so in love it borders on too much PDA sometimes.:) Same thing with how she's raising children. She is so good at the balance of letting them be themselves enough, letting the "apron strings" loose but there for them when they make mistakes. Her kids talk to her when they have problems. I can't even explain how lucky I feel to have her to share my "She wants to do this, what do I do?" conversations. W makes me laugh. She loves my children, my husband, and wants to have us around. One of the best parts is she talks to me, and she trusts me. Trust is such a big word. I would trust her with my life, my children's lives. She relies on me too and I never ever want to let her down. She's too much to me, to big a part of who I am. W is one of those people I feel like I would be lost without.
I hope you have good people in your life, over the years, like I have, who've made you who you are today. I know how lucky I am. I see how different my life could be and every day I'm thankful. I remind myself that there's little pieces of all of these women in me and it's my job to live up to those tiny aspirations inside.