I’m impossibly tired. I want to curl up in a ball and sleep. And I’m not picky on location. In fact, if someone had knocked me over this afternoon at work I would have happily slept on my concrete office floor. All day I’ve been wondering why. I wasn’t up terribly late over the weekend. We did do bathroom remodeling but it wasn’t horrible. I was wracking my brain for reasons and then I learned that, once again, we’re expecting up to ten inches of snow.
When I ran out for a latte at lunch it was 47 degrees. Now it’s 33, snowing like crazy, and so windy. Soon it will be straight up blizzarding. The weather. The %@^*!&$!!! weather. THAT is why I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. THAT is why I want to put on sweats, drink hot cocoa, and eat cookies. THAT is why reading Perez all day seemed like a far better idea than working (not that I did any such thing). THAT is why I’m swearing like a sailor (when not with the little girls of course). Oy.
Our little girls have been bouncing off the walls with cabin fever. We have a day or two of 50 degrees and it starts to feel like Spring and then BOOM…eight inches here, six inches there, effing winter everywhere.
All of that said, I’m well aware that complaining will not change the weather…deep breath…so I’m choosing to focus on something else.
When I was little, and my mom was single, she had a very tight-knit group of girlfriends. Women who were intelligent, strong, and successful. Her friendships with these and other incredible women provided invaluable examples for a little girl like me. First, I grew up understanding that having a group of very close girlfriends was integral to one’s happiness and health. Second, I grew up with so many examples of strong and successful women. Women who spoke their minds, women who were not passive, women who were sarcastic and funny and smart. Third, I grew up linked to these particular women in a way I likely wouldn’t have been if I’d had a traditional family. These women became part of my family.
In adulthood, I’ve had the opportunity to work for two of them. Allowing me to form my own relationships with two women with whom my mom has shared friendships for 30+ years. They became second mothers, trusted advisors, and friends of my own. A couple of years ago, one of them passed away, and it was one of the most devastating losses of my life. I wasn’t finished with her yet. Even though I no longer worked for her, or even spoke with her often, I always knew she was there should I need her. I knew that her kindness, sound advice, and wicked sense of humor were only a call or visit away. Her funeral offered an illustration of the woman I want to be.
This past week I attended the funeral of the other woman’s father. I hadn’t seen her in years. She’s never even met my husband or my little girls. Side note…it’s amazing to me, as I get older, how when life takes turns you sometimes leave important things and/or people in the rearview mirror without intending to do so. When I saw her last week, and stood holding her hand, I was flooded with memories of the time I’ve spent with her throughout my life. First, as a kid (I’ve known all of these women since I was six or seven). But then throughout college and through my twenties when I worked for her.
Over the next few days I spent a lot of time thinking of these two women. One who was gone, and the other who’d just lost her father, and I thought of all they’ve given me. And how they’ve helped shape the kind of woman I am (and who I want to be).
Both successful in business, they showed me what it meant to be a strong business woman. How to stand up for one’s self. How to be ethical no matter what. How to be balls to the wall when called for, yet, how to do it with integrity. I saw them both work in industries mostly made up of men, and how it sometimes meant they had to work harder and smarter, and I watched them do it with grace and respect.
Both women were well-known in their respective fields. They could have rested on their laurels and reputations but they didn’t. They worked their a-ses off every single day to be good at what they did, to learn everything they could about their changing industries, and to be sure what they were providing their clients was the best possible product. They worked so very hard to make sure their work was relevant and impeccable.
Both with their husbands for 25+ years, they offered examples of strong and healthful relationships. What it meant to be strong-willed, wildly successful, yet dedicated and loyal wives. Their partners were good solid men who built their wives up. They weren’t jealous or resentful of their wive’s success, they embraced it. They weren’t floor mats over which these strong women stomped, they were equals, and they behaved like true partners should. They communicated with each other openly and honestly and didn’t play games. When one grows up with a single mom, witnessing healthful relationships is incredibly important, and these women (along with my mom and step-dad) offered just that.
But it didn’t end there. They weren’t only amazing business women and wonderful to their families, they were active members of their communities. Through volunteer work and loyalty to causes about which they were passionate, they shared their talents and hearts and souls with organizations and people who needed it so badly. They gave all they could in every. Single. Thing. They. Did.
Then there was me. And anyone else who has been lucky enough to cross paths with these women. They gave themselves so easily and eagerly. They shared stories (some just for laughs others with lessons pertinent to a particular situation). They helped me learn, grow, challenge myself, and go through tricky situations with grace and integrity intact.
I think of them both more often than some of the people who are actively in my life today. Whether it’s a business situation that reminds me of them, something I know they’d find funny, or in situations when their input would be truly cherished.
These women helped make me who I am today and they offered a picture of the kind of woman I want to be. I feel so blessed to have had them in my life…and I also recognize how important it is for my little girls to see the same things in my close friendships. It’s important for them to understand the vital role my girlfriends play in my life. It’s important for them to get to know them so they see many different examples of strong and successful women. I would love for them to one day look back and feel blessed for having known any of my girlfriends, as I do for having known my mom’s.
My heart swells when I think of all these women have done for me. If I can offer even half of what they have given me to someone else I will be so grateful. And hopefully…one would be (if she were still here), and the other is, proud of what I have become.
TODAY: What if in honor of the fabulous women who have helped shape my life I try to do the same for others? What if when challenged in business, or life in general, I think of what these amazing women would do if they were in my shoes?