I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the people in my life that have helped my become, overcome, and learn to fly. We are each made up of so many different experiences and share many relationships – all those things contribute to who we are today and some leave a lasting impression and make us stretch to become a little bit better each day.
I realize I will never be able to repay these people for their role in my life, but I do wish to pay-it-forward in some small way.
I will never be able to say thank you to Karen LaGuisa who taught my 12-year-old church class. I was the one never paying attention – talking at all the wrong times – generally being disruptive. SHE was the one writing me sweet notes (still have a few of them), putting her arm around me and telling me she loved me, and telling me how awesome I was. Wow – talk about looking at the heart! She is STILL amazing.
I will never adequately be able to say thank you to JoLynn Holt whose influence was critical in my life during my difficult teenage years. She always loved. She was kind. She did not judge. She taught me the importance of allowing others to “just be”. Given enough love and acceptance MOST people will eventually pick themselves up and become something beautiful. I cannot think of her without tearing up a bit. She was, and still is, a most beautiful woman inside and out.
I can never say thank you loud enough to my high school basketball coach who taught me that hard work and persistence are always worth the effort. She taught me the power of positive thinking. I remember laying on the gym floor “visualizing” myself making 10 free-throws and thinking how ridiculous it was – only to find that my 9-10 out of 10 free-throw shots starting “dropping” consistently. She taught us to work together as a team. You can have 5 amazing players but if they don’t work together they will still be a mediocre team. She had a passion for sports and for life. LOVE her still and every one of the girls I played with all those years.
How do you say thank-you and tell your own mother how much you love her?! Really! How do you do that?! I know for me, I just want my children to be happy. I want them to have solid family relationships. I want them to teach my grandchildren about God and The Plan of Salvation so they will know how to return to Him. I want them to view their lives through the eyes of gratitude. To count their blessings. I want them to pay-it-forward and bless the lives of those around them in every way they can. I want them to be true to those things that they know to be right.
Maybe, in some small way, I have told my mother thank you. I learned to serve from watching my own mother. I have tried to mirror her kindness, her constant reaching out to other (really, she has never met a stranger!). I LOVE my husband with all my heart and never look outside of our relationship – I already know there is nothing better. My boys – and now, their beautiful families – are my whole life! And I would simply not have it any other way. She taught me to find joy in the small things, to be content with what you have, to take pride in a clean/organized home.
And my dad…. he has always worked hard to provide for our family. He is generous with others. He has always honored my mother. He always expected us to be the very best that we were capable of. He expected integrity in everything we did. He taught by example as much as by word. He is a man of strength and courage. And I love him.
My husband is AMAZING! I have to say it, I am a handful. He is always kind, loving, accepting. Once, a few years after I had lost 80 pounds we were watching a little video and he suddenly said, “Wait, what was that?!”. I said, “You mean my fat arm?!” He said, “Replay that part again.” I did. It was my fat arm – huge and ugly. He sat stunned for a moment and said in a quiet voice, “I never saw you that way.” I believe him. I have struggled with my weight since I was 14. He always tells me not to worry – “just more of me to love.” God bless that man for being that way. He really does mean it. He has told me he wishes I could see myself through his eyes for just 30 seconds – that I would never see myself the same way again. How do you thank someone for that?! Really, what a beautiful gift. Saying things like that only works if you REALLY MEAN IT! He has always truly been the “wind beneath my wings”. When I first started in Real Estate, he asked me what my goal for my first year was. I hadn’t even thought about it, so being a bit sarcastic – I said, “I just want to make more money than you!” Without missing a beat, he said, “And how can I help you do that?! How can you NOT be successful with that kind of support?! When the kids were little, he was always the “soft” one, the voice of reason, the fun daddy! I was firm and strict and ridiculous! Always demanding the perfection I could not seem to obtain myself. Sometimes I wish I could go back and know what I know now and have a do-over. But there is only the moving forward. No going back. I pray every day that my sons will be better parents than I ever was. That they will be THEIR daddy! He is long-suffering. Trust me, almost 33 years with me now and he is still here – EVERY DAY – being amazing. He loves me-faults and all-how do you pay that back?!
I want to be THAT person. The soft voice (I don’t even know if that is genetically possible! I come from a LOUD family….), the accept-you-wherever-you-are person. I want to love without condition. I want to motivate someone to be better because of my good example. I want to offer a genuine smile, a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, a high-five when merited. I want to serve someone who can never repay me. I want to be a team-player. I want to be known as a woman of integrity, one who works hard. I want to be generous and genuine. I want to be true to myself, to my family, to my God.
There are lots of books written on finding happiness, but true happiness comes from being THAT girl. When I pass on, as someday I will, I hope that I will be remembered as one who loved freely and fully. Yep – I wanna be THAT girl!
Gonna pay-it-forward! NEVER going to forget ALL that have blessed my life. I couldn’t possibly name them all, but I CAN be a little bit better everyday! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your role in my life and for making me a little bit better….I truly am so G.R.A.T.E.F.U.L.
Now go out and be THAT girl (or boy). 🙂