My Leap List

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Tribute to the Women in my Life

     Mother's Day always makes me sad for all of the things I didn't have in my past.  Tonight I realized when you don't have a great role model, you have to find your own.  I am blessed with wonderful women that teach me everything I need to know about life.
     My sister Tammy is an amazing woman.  While raising three beautiful, strong and independent young women, she helps run a gymnastics business, writes and performs music, creates original artwork at a glass blowing studio, and still finds time for anyone in need.  She randomly buys candy bars for the cashiers at the store to make their days a little better.  She stops and helps people on the streets and sends care packages to people when they are feeling down.  Although she faces her own demons and struggles, she faces the world head-on and doesn't back down from doing what needs to be done.  I owe so many parts of who I am to her.
     Colleen is my friend next door at work.  I love her strength.  Before I knew her, I didn't have strong women role models in my life.  I saw women deferring to society, men, and what we are "supposed" to be.  I thought strong women were a B word like...bad.  Colleen is a strong woman, but she never abuses her power.  She will stand up for herself and the people in her life.  She stands up for what is right and never backs down.  She adopted a beautiful girl from another country and became a single mother because she wanted to be a mother and wasn't willing to compromise on what she needed from the men in her life.  I am a stronger woman because of her.  Thanks to her, I have learned a woman's strength is a beautiful thing when it is used to change the world for the better.
     Stephanie is one of my oldest friends.  I have always admired her ability to be true to herself.  Even in high school she was able to say what she thought, dress how she wanted, and be who she was without spending time worrying about what the world thought about it.  She is the exact opposite of me.  She is one of the greatest role models in my life.  As I watch her protest injustices for everyone, not just the safe to defend people that don't get you in trouble when you support them, I am awestruck.  When I write here and begin editing myself, I think of her and stop censoring myself.  Watching her put her dreams on hold so she can take care of her ailing parents makes me love her even more.  Steph makes me proud to be a woman.
     I am fortunate to work with Kandi.  She can make you laugh at anything and everything.  She has a special light that makes you feel happy just to be around her.  The kids at school love her, but she never lets them get away with anything.  She is like a Pied Piper.  The kids and adults in school are always flocked around her with smiles.  She goes out of her way to make people feel good.  You might find out later that she was sick or tired or stressed or busy, but you would never know it.  She is totally focused on you in the moment and gives freely of herself.  You never feel like you have been a bother to her.  She inspires me to be a better human being.
     Patti D. is a writer, a mom, a public speaker, a blogger, and a woman extrordinairre.  Every time she goes through a rough time, she turns it inside out to be a beautiful experience to help others.  By sharing her lowest moments, she lends me a beacon to see through my own tragedies.  I have never heard her utter or write a negative word about anyone or anything.  She is always focused on the lesson to learn and the beauty through the pain.  In a torrential rainstorm, Patti would put on her vegan boots and dance in the rain until the rainbow came out.
      Amy M. is my favorite Facebook friend.  This amazing woman saves the world, or at least her small part of it.  She works tirelessly to save lost, abandoned, and injured pets.  She raises money for RAL and dedicates infinite hours to making animals' lives better.  In her free time she helps raise money and awareness for people with cystic fibrosis.  When a cute little girl was struggling in the hospital, Amy stayed with her and gave her cute disguises for her breathing tubes.  Amy gave her a leash for the cute puppy waiting to be hers as soon as she left the hospital.  When she was worried about passing her check up, Amy took her shopping.  They bought matching outfits so Amy could take over if the breathing test was a struggle.  Amy has been through some of the worst moments you can imagine.  Her childhood was a lot like mine, but she shares her past honestly and compassionately for everyone involved.   Amy always looks on the bright side of life, and never lets herself turn bitter and cold.  When winter depression rears it's head, she asks all of us to send pictures every Sunday at 6 to brighten the dark winter nights.  When I begin to feel sorry for myself, I think of Amy and stop.  She is my Phoenix and reminds me I can rise above the ashes of my life.
         My grandma is my role model for grace.  Watching her age has shown me the woman I want to be in the future.  When I start to criticize my gray hairs and wrinkles, I think of her and smile at the woman I see in the mirror.  I want to age with dignity and grace.  The poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph begins with the lines, "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me..."  This poem has always reminded me of her and who I want to be as a wise woman at the end of my life.
     Amanda is my pride and my joy.  I never knew how wisdom could be held in a sixteen-year-old body.  Whenever I get side tracked and lose my way, she always says the words that lead me back to myself.  She sees through the masks we wear and sees us for who we are.  Then she helps us see the people we are meant to be.  Her life has been anything but easy, but she always comes through everything even stronger than before.  Loyal to a fault, she will never leave anyone behind.  She loves with her whole heart and never apologizes for who she is.  When I am at my lowest moments, she is always there for me and helps me survive to see another day.  Tonight she said, "Without you, we wouldn't have a life, so the balance is still out of whack."  It's true.  The balance is out of whack, but what she doesn't realize is that the balance is mine to her.  She is the one that taught me to LIVE and stop going through the motions.  She brought the joy and the colors to a life that was pale in comparison.  She is the reason I celebrate today.  Happy Mother's Day, baby girl.  And Happy Mother's Day to all of the amazing women in my life.  I wouldn't be who I am or who I will be without all of you. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Words and Feathers and Streams-of-Consciousness

     Words are the most powerful part of being human.  A word separates us from exhilaration and devastation. We never outgrow the power of words.
     Tonight my sister's words brought me to tears as I read her online journal about a musician who tried to kill himself.  He is here today but won't make any other promises.  She sent words into the darkness hoping to anchor him until the sun comes back around.  There is so much suffering. We all want to stretch across the distance and hold on to one another, but the fall will kill us if the hand is refused.  Better not to admit we are dying inside until it is too late to do anything but jump.
     My Hansel and Gretel went into the forest.  Gretel couldn't find her way back out and Hansel couldn't live without her.  The rest of us do the best we can without them.  My words were not enough to lead them home, but I keep sending them anyway.  The forest is still dark and cold and lonely.  Sometimes words are all we have to offer.
     A friend stopped by today to tell me what a difference I had made in his son's life this year.  He struggles in unimaginable ways, but his life is turning the corner.  My heart glow put E.T. to shame.  A few words, a two-minute conversation, and my world washed into new colors.
     A later message started, "I don't know if you heard this or not..."  Disappointment and another loss added to the week's list.  Everyone tried to tell me, "It is for the best...one door closes...God works in mysterious ways..."  My hollow words echoing back at me.  I smiled politely and nodded my head, but I wanted to cry and scream and swear and any other thing that polite women do not do when a dream may not be shattered but is pretty damn cracked at the moment.  I know tomorrow will be better and I will look at it in the best light again, but today it totally sucked.  I needed someone to call it what it was and feel with me.  Another lesson about being what the person needs and not relying on my stock answers of support.
     Checking e-mails and finding more messages that should never be written to or from the people they are going to.  Promised messages are eternal in my world.  I can forget them in the moment.  I can stuff them down with the best of them and act totally fine, but after all these years, the stuff is running out of space.  New messages that show I am making the best decision I can make for the people in my life.  Things will never change and it's futile to believe the words that pretend otherwise.
     When I opened the garage tonight, a feather floated down at my feet.  The angels had lots of bricks to throw at me lately, but the feather message was a delight.
     Tonight I am blessed in my darkest moments to have angels all over my life looking over me.  I have words to rage and cry and rejoice.  True friends that love me in my brokenness.  My kids that comfort me in ways no one else can - snuggled noses and sleepy hugs and chocolate chip cookies.  My sister's music as the soundtrack to my lost days because I can carry her with me when I am alone.  My brothers planning a guys day out for my son fighting his own battle out of the forest.  So many blessings and angels and feathers and messages and words...I never would see if I didn't take the time to write these words.  Tonight I am living life out loud.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Warrior

     I know a man who talks big and acts small.  When push comes to shove, he realizes he cannot do what needs to be done.  It is easier to sacrifice the many for the needs of the one.  Most of the men in my life continually teach me the same lesson.
     I am a woman who acts big and talks small.  If the decision will impact other people, I will make any tough decisions you throw at me.  I am slow to anger, but this warrior will relish the battle that was worth my fight.  My favorite women teach me this lesson every day.
      I don't usually see this warrior woman when it comes to saving myself.  She likes to save the fighting for the others in need and hide her own scars under golden armor.  As long as it is only me hurting, I can make all the excuses in the world.
     It is time for the two women to unite into one.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Poison

     In the face of your ultimate betrayal, my truth shrivels.  You even killed my words.  The only thing I carried with me from the dark days.  I circle and circle and circle around you and me and us.  There is no sense and no solution.  Love and pain and who we are is trumped by who we believe we are.  I love your best self and you despise your worst and opposites explode.