List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.
1. Ryan – Obviously, he has influenced me mostly by loving me, but he is also crazy smart and handy. The man can fix or build just about anything – and as much as I love my Dad, that was never his forte so, it’s been so educational to be around Ryan. He is always teaching me something – usually about technology or cars or building/repairing things (or anything related to those). No one looks at me the way he does, and that makes me feel stronger. He brings so much joy and love into my life – something that every living being deserves to have.
2. My Parents – Even though they aren’t married anymore, I have to lump them into one for this because TOGETHER, they taught me how to love and be loved. I have my Mom to thank for my gentle side. She is kind and loving, and I when people tell me that I am that way, I can’t help but think it’s because I was directly influenced by my Mom. My Dad is the kind of guy that you strive to make proud. That probably comes with being a “Daddy’s Girl” for most of my life. He also passed down his love of baseball and music trivia. They raised me to be confident in who I am, to try and smile in the face of any trials I encounter and to stand up for myself and what I believe in.
3. Frankie – Because of my little brother, I learned my first lessons in truly having someone’s back no matter what – and someone else having yours. The moment he was born, I had a lifelong best friend, which also introduced me to a new kind of love. The love you have for your siblings is different from the love you have for your parents, or your spouse. I also think I learned patience because of Frankie. ;)
4. Brittany – One of my BFFs, this girl is my music soul mate. And I don’t say that lightly. We met in 4th grade, on the elementary school playground, because she was playing Ace of Base on her boom box. I loved Ace of Base, so surely we were meant to be friends. From that moment on, we have shared countless music memories, from our first concert together (Boyz II Men), to high school choir, to the probably hundreds of shows and concerts we’ve been to together over our 17 (!!!) years of friendship. She is the person I can count on to really understand how music gets into your soul and holds on.
5. Lindsay – My soul sister. We met about 7 years ago when she started dating my brother’s best friend. (They got married on 3.24.12!!!) I always liked her, but we were never more than casual friends until 2010. Our friendship journey started there, but really took flight in 2011. The more we talked, the clearer it became that I was destined to be friends with this girl. Our conversations are so easy and open. She understands me in a way that few others do. She has quickly become one of my closest, most valuable friends.
6. Kim – Another of my BFFs, Kim and I met in 6th grade and hit it off right away. She is one of my most fun friends. We laugh SO MUCH, and that quality is so, so important. I am free to be 100% myself with Kim and not only does she accept me as I am, but she pulls out the “silly” in me and runs with it. She is also a fellow Cancer crab, so she gets me when my mood bottoms out.
7. Kyla – I used to nanny for Kyla’s 3 kiddos. Almost immediately, I knew there was a higher power at work there. She taught me a lot about being a mother – tools and lessons that I filed away in an arsenal for when it’s my turn. But it was so much more than that. Kyla was an unwavering source of strength for me as I went through some of the toughest times of my life. She isn’t just a lady whose kids I babysat. She is like family.
8. Judy – I met Judy when we worked together a few years ago. She is so smart and wise. She helped me grow so much in ways I didn’t even know I needed. I found my footing in my views on politics, as a woman and as a new wife with her help. Her knowledge and insight is like a prized possession and I am lucky to know her.
9. My Grandparents – I feel like this is a given, just like my parents, but since none of my grandparents are still with us, it’s easy for me to look back and realize the ways they influenced me.
My Gram (Dad’s Mom) passed away when I was in 4th grade, but she is the person I take after the most, physically. I have her hair, her chin, her body type and her feet. She was 100% Swedish, and that is a part of my culture that I am so interested in.
My Grandmom (Mom’s Mom) was the most gentle, selfless person I’ve ever known. She was such a kind southern woman. I strive to have a quarter of the compassion she had. In middle school, we had to write a paper about our hero. Most of my classmates picked celebrities or athletes. I picked my Grandmom. (True story.)
My Granddaddy (Mom’s Dad) was probably one of the smartest men I will ever know. But, he was also kind and loving. He lost his leg (and blew his ears drums) when he ran over a landmine in WWII but he never let that slow him down. Grandmom and Granddaddy were also an amazing example of love. Love for their family, their community and, most importantly, for each other.
My Gramp (Dad’s Dad) is the grandparent I was closest to in my late teens and 20’s. After Grandmom and Granddaddy had passed away, I think I realized how precious our grandparents are, so I put more effort into my relationship with Gramp. He made me feel important and valued every word I ever said to him. That is something that always stood out to me. He was also a WWII vet (a Screaming Eagle from the 101st Airborne division). All of my Grandparents had a huge impact on who I am, and even though I miss them all terribly, I am so lucky to have had the time I did with them.
10. Anyone I’ve ever met – No, seriously. I could go on and on and on with this list because there are SO MANY people in my life that have influenced me. Chances are, if I've met you or talked to you, I could tell you exactly how you've influenced me. So, thank you!