Funny how the world sees "real women. . ."

Evidenced by all the Real Housewives of. . . shows which seem to be overtaking our televisions, it appears that the world believes we should all be wealthy, pampered, enviable, catty, curvaceous, gorgeous, and more. While we may be gorgeous, most of us are not rich or spoiled or even catty. We are ~ simply put ~ real.

The idea for this blog came after watching a few of those real housewives shows and realizing just how skewed the views of everyday life can be through the eyes of these women. Particularly to those of us in the trenches, working day-in-day-out to take care of ourselves, our children, our parents, our spouses/partners. Those of us who are out there earning a living, who may be dealing with catastrophic events or troubled children or medical issues or partner concerns.

This is a call to all women everywhere who live everyday lives and who want to simply do their best as they love all, laugh often, and live fully. Let us unite with our whole heart and soul, with humanity and grace, with vigor and hope. We are women and we are thankful to be so!

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Monday Hero ~ Splendid Cynthia

For someone so fun and funny and full of life, there are precious few photos of Splendid Cynthia! The smile she shares here is just a smidgen of her humor, with a quick wit accompanying her kind words. 

Cynthia is one of those rare finds ~ the woman who remembers the small things in life. Altho' she has been to my home on only a few occasions, she will randomly hand a small gift to me which is either totally my interior decorating style or something boasting my favorite color! While many of us never realize the value of "intermittent rewards" (a behavioral modification term), Cynthia practices it regularly. By providing kind deeds, words, gifts, and thoughts in a seemingly random manner, Cynthia prompts others to do their best in friendships and in life.

With an opera-star voice, Cynthia could shatter the finest windows in the most abundant cathedrals. She can easily reach those ultra-high notes on the scale that I have to think about just to be able to read them on sheet music! And she sings them with clarity and vigor. Incredible, indeed!

Cynthia, you are my hero. . .my "angelic-voiced" friend. Were it so that I could have a portion of your natural musical ability!

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Monday Hero - Stunning Susan!

Just look at her ~ isn't she beautiful? My entire life I have admired the natural beauty my cousin Susan carries with her. It is an inherent outpouring of her equally-stunning spirit. 

As an adolescent, when my family visited the Idaho farmland area where my parents were raised, Susan and her family often provided a place for us to stay. This included not only food and lodging but also rides on the tractors, on the horses, the opportunity to help herd and milk cows. I even learned how to drive a motorcycle at the age of 14 while staying with Susan! 

Years later, when I was living and going to college in Idaho, I watched as Susan and her husband worked toward adopting children. This was quite an inspiration to me later in my life when I learned I was only able to bear one child. Altho' it was not in my personal life's cards to adopt, the inspiring strength and fortitude exhibited in their endeavors toward this end remained then ~ and remains now ~ in my mind and my heart.

Susan continues to inspire. She is the "woman's entrepreneur," boldly tackling business ventures, overcoming obstacles, and reaching goals which are both temporal and spiritual in nature. When I think of Susan, I am consistently inspired to reach for things I may otherwise have thought unattainable.

Dear cousin Susan ~ I admire you, I appreciate you, I honor you. You are my hero and I am oh-so-grateful to be related to you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Monday Hero - Gentle Ginger

I first got to know Ginger when she asked for my assistance in successfully accomplishing tasks assigned in her psychology course ~ several seasons ago! Yet what I learned from just that initial contact is precious to me. 

Although I must have known it before, Ginger re-taught me the value of curiosity and learning, of seeking knowledge, of gathering information to better oneself. She taught me just how invaluable it is, to one's inner self, to continuously grow in knowledge, awareness, learning. . .thereby increasing one's wisdom in the process.  

Ginger is a joy to be around ~ indeed, she can chat with almost anyone about almost anything! And when she is with her daughter, you cannot help but find joy in their presence! For anyone who knows Ginger's daughter, I am sure you can determine that she is certainly what Ginger was at that age, right? Full of life, laughter, love for her surroundings, all mixed in with a bit of mischievousness!

Ginger, you are a light in a tunnel of gray, a glowing beacon for anyone who simply needs a friend. You are a seeker of truth, of honesty, of tact and dependability. You are my hero, dear friend, and I am grateful that God has allowed you to cross my path!

Monday, August 1, 2011

August is National Family FUN Month!

August is National Family Fun Month and because August 1st fell on a Monday this year, I have chosen to highlight FAMILIES in all their varieties! Stay tuned for some very fun, sometimes funny, and always awesome family photos. . .starting with these few of my family ~ first, the kids:

Seriously ~ were we ever this young?

Second, some of the (more grown up) kids with Mom & Dad:

And. . .only a small portion of the extended family!

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Monday Hero ~ Terrific, Tremendous Tracy!

Tracy, an absolute every day hero, is my cousin and I am thrilled to be related to her! Throughout her life she has had the ability to make me laugh to the point of tears, cry so hard I start laughing, and always. . .always helps me better understand the humanity around me.

This woman has lived more lifetimes in her one than most of us can imagine. She carries with her the tenderest of hearts, and at the same time she is tenacious, determined, and persevering when tackling a problem which needs solving. A natural performer with an incredible voice, she has overcome so much ~ most recently a serious cancer scare ~ doing so truly with the effervescence and love of life you see in her photos! 

There was one particularly difficult time in my life while living in the Rocky Mountains when I was traveling south and north on Interstate 15 several times a month for professional reasons. While on the freeway, I would pass the exit which would take me directly to Tracy's home; I would sometimes stop to visit her and her sister, Cristi. 

While I did not see her as often as I would have liked, and despite Tracy not being aware of the seeming insurmountable trials I was facing, I felt an unbelievable sense of acceptance and well-being just knowing she was there. As I think about that now, tears filter to the surface, as this was one of the great blessings during a bleak episode in my life. 

No matter the problem, no matter the anxiety, no matter the battle, Tracy has always, consistently, regularly been there with pure love, unconditional acceptance, and needed reassurance. She never required details, she only had to know that I needed her. No questions, no demands, no expectations.

Tracy, dearest friend and cousin, you are and have been my lifetime hero. You are a beacon of light and hope and dreams. You instill within me a desire to be more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. Your example is one which women throughout the world would do well to emulate. I love you, I treasure our friendship, I cherish the person you are, and I am ever so grateful to be related to you ~ you are a true hero!

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Monday Hero - Charismatic, Incredible Kiki!

It's already been several years since I had the privilege of meeting this always-happy, constantly helpful, totally accepting woman named Kiki. She was a vendor at a local arts & crafts show, selling her totally unique and creative one-of-a-kind jewelry. While this small Alaska town is very artsy, Kiki brought a new flair and twist to the typically-seen fare.

I quickly learned that "Kiki" was not her given name. Rather, this was a screen name that had become so commonplace that keeping it just seemed to fit. I liked that, and I immediately liked her. She is not a woman with whom I go out to lunch or to the movies. She is a friend who I run into now and again at yard sales, in the store, at arts & crafts shows. With Kiki, I can share the goings-on in my life and know she will appreciate whatever it is, as well as feel the empathy and compassion needed at that time. 

She is also the person who cares for and about individuals of all types. When I meet her in a random place in town, she regularly introduces me to a new friend of hers ~ many times this new friend is someone she has befriended who needs that special type of care only Kiki can give. She is the quintessential "no respecter of persons" who completely loves and accepts anyone who crosses her path. What a rare but precious gift she has!

She is a self-made woman who bought a live-aboard boat and proceeded to learn how to live aboard it! Who does that?? Incredible! And her jewelry just continues to inspire and beautify the necks, wrists, ears, and fingers of many, many women. 

I love you dearly and admire you greatly, Kiki my friend. I appreciate all you do and have done for me over the years. You are a one-of-a-kind hero, and hold the highest honor in my book!

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Monday Hero ~ Lovely Lori

Although difficult to admit, when I first met Lori I was not exactly sure how I would feel about her. However, I did fully realize that this came from the emotional place I was in at the time; it had absolutely no direct relation to the woman Lori is. Rather, my psyche decided to be judgmental based on where she was from, not who she was. Truly, my bad!

Once I was able to put that aside, I began to realize just what a sensational woman I was finally befriending. Learning that we had much in common, I started to see Lori as not only a colleague but also as a friend. And to me, the word "friend" has the deepest of meanings; I do not use it randomly.

Lori has the empathy of a Christ-like woman. She is no respecter of persons; she treats all who cross her path as she would treat her closest and dearest friend. She recognizes the good in people as a whole and as individuals. The strength she possesses in this manner is beyond what I hope to achieve in this life, yet I hold it as a beacon for becoming.

Through trials and difficulties, Lori remains steadfast, holding her head high, even barreling through with the knowledge that "this too shall pass." With such a daily demeanor, she moves gracefully through one challenge and readily accepts the next, knowing that her character and spirit will only grow stronger.

Lori, you are my hero ~ thank you for teaching me. Thank you for loving me despite my crazy "friend" idiosyncrasies! I respect what you have shown me and I am indebted to you for the support and care you share! 

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Monday Hero - Incredible, Captivating KC!

Not only is she beautiful, but KC has the effervescent, magnetic personality to match. She is one of those women we look at and ~ before we even meet her ~ we wonder:  Is she really as nice as she is gorgeous? And then we are introduced and we discover that she is! Indeed, one year, while living in Alaska, KC was the first runner-up in the Mrs. Alaska contest ~ what an awesome honor!

As a U.S. Coast Guard spouse, KC has the unique opportunity to experience many parts of the country every three to four years, exposing her two terrific children to a variety of people, cultures, cities and towns, foods, and all manner of assorted and diverse life experiences. 

And speaking of her children, they are the epitome of cute! They exhibit the looks and traits of both parents, neatly wrapped in packages of fun and mischievousness (just check out their photo!). Just like their parents.

I realized fully how much KC meant to me when she knocked on my door one day several years ago. She had noticed when she saw me earlier in the day that I was not all that happy; she just came by to see what she could do. 

As that was a very difficult time period, I really was almost unbearable to be around. Yet KC had the internal fortitude to talk with me when most everyone else was happily avoiding me. Not only did she go out of her way to check and see how I was and how she could help, she also was not intimidated by my intensity and the questions I felt I needed to ask her. Rather than shrink away and hope I would soon emerge from my nearly vehement mood (as others had done), KC responded with love and compassion and empathy, letting me know just how important I was to her and that she felt nothing but love for me. 

Truthfully, that was the best thing she could have done, and it certainly softened my heart. This small gesture helped pull me from the depression into which I felt myself spiraling. Further, KC's tenderness and love reaffirmed my faith in humanity and instilled a desire to rid myself of the intense anger I had allowed to govern my life for several weeks. 

KC, you are my hero ~ I hold you in high esteem and I admire the good works you do. You have imprinted yourself on my heart. I will always love you and respect you. You represent womanhood well ~ both publicly and privately ~ and for that I will be forever grateful!

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Monday Hero - Amazing Angie!

Honestly, from the first day I met her, I have held Angie in high esteem and had great admiration for her. She is not only a beautiful young mother, but she is also one of the most consistent individuals I know. And in my book, consistency is what shouts out to me as the character trait I am most likely to unequivocally trust.

I am thinking it has to be about four or so years since Angie and her husband of (then) ten years moved to Southeast Alaska from the bone-chilling, seemingly cryogenic arctic northern part of the state where 60° below zero is not uncommon, even on the warm days! Both she and her husband are school teachers by profession and they taught school to Native Alaskans for several years. In that time, I believe they somehow became part Native Alaskan themselves. . .or at the very least, they have successfully adopted many of the customs and traditions of these incredible people of the north. 

And now, a couple of years later, they have the cutest precocious little tow-headed guy running around their house. . .and probably anywhere else he can get to! He is a handful; yet I see Angie ~ in her consistency and patience ~ showing forth the greatest love for her charge. She has a ready smile and radiant eyes. In fact, those eyes speak volumes. Although still a young woman (at least by my estimation), she has experienced portions and remnants and snippets of life which would seem quite foreign to most of us. And from that, Angie exhibits wisdom and a sense of life well beyond the capacity I would attribute to most human beings. She is, in a word, phenomenal.

Not only do I hold Angie in high esteem, but I have had the privilege to observe multiple interactions between her and her husband. In so doing, I see the light in his eyes when he is near her, I see the admiration he has for her when she is in the spotlight ~ such as presenting in front of a group ~ and I see the depth of devotion he has for this woman who agreed to marry him over a decade ago. To me, the opportunity to quietly listen and watch this couple has been a treat and a blessing. 

Angie, you are my hero. I love you, I admire you, I commend your successes in this life and this world. You are one of those rare "unsung heroes" we hear about so often, and secretly wish we could be. Thank you for blessing my life!

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Monday Hero - Sensational Sabra!

My cousin Sabra (who used to spell it Sabre'!), is one of my very favorite people in the world! She is a one-woman show, truly. I have literally known her all of my life, and we've been buds the entire time. Consider that I've pushed past the half-century range. . .that's a very long time ~ in people years! 

I recall visiting Sabra and her family when we were children and hearing her father wish her and her sisters a good-night over the radio where he deejay-ed. Radio was a natural element for this family, as they are the ultimate talent when it comes to music and singing. All they have to do is stand all together and begin a song, a cappella, and the most glorious harmonies appear out of nowhere! Including biology and half-siblings, Sabra's family boasts seven girls and two boys. What an incredibly awesome choir to behold!

Yet, as this week's Monday Hero, Sabra tops the list not because of her melodious forte, but because of her phenomenal strength, leadership, charity, and intense love for her family. Recently Sabra posted on her facebook page that she has found the "language of love; it is Alzheimer's." This simple statement brought tears to my eyes and a deep outpouring of love for this extraordinary cousin. 

Sabra ~ who owns and runs her own mortgage business ~ has taken her mother, diagnosed with Alzheimer's only a few short years ago, into her home to care for her day and night. Somehow she has created the capacity to stretch time and space into whatever is needed. With so many siblings, Sabra certainly has help, yet the most compelling thing. . .she would do the same whether she had siblings or not! 

A comedian, a singer, a businesswoman, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a cousin, and more ~ Sabra is and always will be at the top of my Hero List! She cracks me up without even trying, while at the same time showing forth a tenderness and kindliness beyond compare. She is energy and might and strength in one package who loves deeply and cares fiercely. 

Sabra, you are my family and you are my friend. Having a cousin who has so profoundly become a best friend ~ what a glorious blessing! I adore you, I love you beyond compare, and I strive to become what you exemplify with the strength of character you exhibit. You are my hero!

06.07.2011 - CLARIFICATION:
After posting yesterday, my dear cousin Sabra clarified that her Mom does not actually live with her in her home. In Sabra's words: 

"Mom, thanks to her pension, social security, and part of Ted's pension, lives in a memory care center called Legacy Village. It is five minutes from my house and work. It is about two blocks away from Aunt Fern, and when Ted lived with his son, Donny, it was about five minutes away for him......centrally located, Mom has visits from your sister, Aunt Lucile, Elma Leta and Linda Anne, and Cristi's work is just down the street. So we have been fortunate to find a spot where everyone can visit when they want." 

Thank you for assuring my information is accurate; doing so speaks even more fully to the honorable and extraordinary woman you are! That being said, Sabra, you are and will always remain my hero for the many and multiple things I have listed above. You are awesome, incredible, and wonderful. If I could put you on a plane to Alaska once a month, I would do so, just to get my "Sabra-hit," which is all too rare these days! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Monday Heroes - Women Across the Globe

At this Memorial Day weekend, our thoughts turn to those we love who have passed on, who have made a difference in our lives and for our country. Generally, we reminisce about those who have served in battle and fought for the freedoms we have come to expect throughout the free world. 

As we recall those special people, let us also think of the strength, courage, tenacity, valor, and determination of the women we know, the women we have known, the women we know of, and all women throughout this planet who have made a difference. 

In consideration of this, I think about the ancients, the pioneers, and the contemporary women who have influenced my life. . .there are so many. 

Putting it very simply, let me ask all the women who read this blog: Do you have a credit card or a mortgage or a vehicle in your name? If so, are you aware that as recently as thirty years ago, this likely would not be the case? It took women of great stamina ~ essentially, modern pioneers ~ to bring us forward to this place. 

We have a voice and it is a voice of compassion and learning, a voice of hope and might, a voice understood by women across the globe regardless of our native tongue or what language we speak.

Remember who we are, and act accordingly. We hold precious lives in our hands, we shore up those around us who are in need, we have the strength to be someone's shoulder and the tenderness to pull them close in comfort.

These are such natural pieces of each of our characters ~ let us have cheer and joy and charity in our hearts for who we are, and let us be who we are, when we are, where we are, and why we are . . . just because we are! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Monday Hero ~ Marvelous Marci!

Marci is quite a interesting character. She is someone I watch out of the corner of my eye ~ I never quite know what I will see, but I know that it will always be fascinating and I will learn from watching. 

Marci works in her daily life with teenagers. While she is technically a high school teacher, she is really much more than that. Mt. Edgecumbe High School is one of Alaska's boarding schools which provides opportunity for all high school aged teens to attend, regardless of where they live.  In our huge state (over 650,000 square miles!), each is given the opportunity to go to high school even if their home is in the tiniest of villages in the northern-most or western-most or other-most regions. The downside is that most have to leave their homes for up to four years in order to obtain that high school diploma.  

Thus, Marci is much, much more than a high school teacher. She becomes a mentor, a counselor, a guide. She becomes a very informal "parens patriae," an official term used when a child's natural parent is unable to provide parenting at a given time. In the case of Marci, her "parens patriae" role is by default ~ that is, because Mt. Edgecumbe High School students have are living away from their natural parents, Marci naturally (and quite easily) falls into that role. Not only does it happen naturally, but she does this with the compassion and concern for the whole-person-well-being of each student with whom she comes into contact. This is an incredible feat, in my mind, and one which can be accomplished only by those with the greatest devotion to those under their care.  Marci is, indeed, one of those.

I am in awe of the ability of women to bring all into their fold, to love without condition, to share without concern for themselves. I see Marci ~ out of the corner of my eye ~ doing this seemingly without effort. It comes to her so naturally and so beautifully.

Marci, you are my hero and I feel so very blessed to be able to witness your incomprehensible abilities to love so freely. Your skills, your gifts, your innate compassion, and the classy manner in which you live your life are an example to me each time I think about you. Thank you for being such an awesome woman!

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Monday Hero - Nancy!

One absolutely incredible woman who has garnered an immense amount of respect from me over the years is Nancy. With eyes that sparkle and one of the most infectious laughs around, she has the sound character from which life experience grows. Not all who live are able to pull through and exhibit these awesome traits, yet somehow Nancy has done so. 

This is a woman who has raised a family with the love of her life, who has completed the requisite education to develop and maintain a medical career, and a woman who had the wherewithal to secure a seat on her local city assembly . . . just to try and make a difference. Through these ominous experiences, Nancy's love of life and spirituality ~ along with her ability to infuse these traits into her family ~ have made her a woman of depth, a woman of faith, a woman of grace. 

I must say, it is not everyone who is able to recognize the small, telltale signs of the slightest distress in another human being ~ yet I have seen Nancy do this time and again. Indeed, I have been blessed to be the recipient of her genuine care and concern.

Nancy, you are my hero, you are my inspiration, you are my friend. I love you, I appreciate you, I applaud you. And as you prepare to move into your next life fortune, I bid you farewell with tears in my heart for both my loss and your upcoming exciting adventures! Be safe, be well, and know we are all thinking of you!

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Monday Hero - Sunni

A little over one year ago I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Sunni, a wonderful young Alaskan woman full of life and vigor and joy! I met her as a co-worker, and was immediately drawn to her naturally sunny disposition ~ begging the question, does the name make the person or is the person named accordingly? In Sunni's case, I can conceive only of her spirited soul coming to this earth with the happiness factor conveniently built in.

Sunni works hard and plays hard. She gives to others without regard to what she may or may not receive in return. Truly a selfless woman, she listens with her heart, she shares in others' happiness, and she hurts with the pains of her friends and loved ones. 

There are few women in this difficult world who are more self-possessed, more exuberant, express more vitality and love for life than I have witnessed in the short time I have known Sunni. She is beautiful, she is caring, she is the epitome of living life for today while still planning for tomorrow ~ indeed, with a wedding in the works Sunni will soon exhibit even more of her easy-to-love-self as she becomes the hopeful and generous bride.

Sunni, I hold you in the highest esteem; I uphold the womanhood you exhibit; I honor your woman-becoming and bride-to-be. You have the world in your hands, and while envying that, I also know this world to be in the absolute best hands possible. You are my hero!

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Monday Hero - Louise

So many times over the past half-dozen years or so, I have been blessed to have Louise cross my path, initially as a colleague and co-worker, and ultimately as a friend. There are few women in this world who seem to match up to my idea of what a "friend" is ~ yet Louise is, indeed, one of those few.

A mild-mannered Southern girl, Louise is articulate and very well-spoken. She is a lover of all that life has to offer, and her family are the blessed recipients of her never-ending compassion. Louise is truly one of those women who is easy to like, easy to be around, and easy to confide in. She is also quite self-possessed ~ her southern flair would never allow her to impose her opinions on others, yet she does what she believes in and believes in what she does.

Not too long ago Louise left her Alaskan home to return to her roots in the South, close to long-time friends and extended family. She is missed greatly, and yet I will always know that with Louise is a friend and confidant, a woman of kindness and virtue. One who ~ upon becoming your friend ~ will always be there regardless of the geographical distance which may separate.

Louise, I adore you, I admire you. I commend your womanhood and esteem your earnest sincerity. You are this week's Monday Hero, and I am grateful to call you  my friend!

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Monday Hero - Tremendous Trish!

Of all the women I have met in this awesome island town, I have to say that Trish is one of the most honest and sincere and truly remarkable. She has become an icon among women and men alike, running her businesses with the utmost integrity and dedication. A native of Sitka, Trish is easily the most unassuming, character-driven, compassionate individual one would ever expect to encounter.

If running several businesses was not enough, Trish is an awesome mother, a wonderful wife, an incredibly committed community member. She supports any request ~ whether it be for the purchase of Girl Scout Cookies or a donation to any number of sporting events. As a mother, she never misses an opportunity to be present at an activity in which her children are participating. As a pharmacist, Trish provides extra assistance to those within the community who may be unable to afford their medication. As a business woman, she gives freely to any organization or agency that may come calling. 

Trish is well-known and well-loved. The few opportunities I have had to lunch with her, she has a ready smile and kind word for every single person who passes by. This is a woman from whom I have never heard a negative comment about another human being. She is the essence of unconditional acceptance. 

For you, Trish, I love the woman you are. And tho' it is difficult, I try to integrate those considerable character traits of yours into my own psyche. If all women would emulate you, the world would more likely be at peace!


Monday, April 18, 2011

My Monday Hero - Astonishing Natalie

Honestly, Natalie is truly astonishing! I believe I have never met any woman quite like her. Whether she choses to be blond or brunette, she is gorgeous. And while I have not had the privilege of seeing what she looks like as a redhead, she is certain to pull that off, as well. Exceptionally photogenic, Natalie commands the camera. She could easily be a model, but has chosen instead to be a wife and a mother ~ two of life's most glorious options! 

Natalie is an adventurer, a writer, a lover of all people. She embraces her own life, her own style, her own way of being. And anyone who is privileged to be in her presence will naturally pick up the feeling of worth and value. Rarely without a smile, Natalie looks deeply into the eyes of the person with whom she is communicating, quickly summing up the depth of their character. She knows who that person is, on the inside where it truly matters. She is not dissuaded or distracted by labels or flaws or assumptions. She clearly sees the heart of another as she befriends all.

Natalie is also brilliant. She is a reader, a speaker, and an intellectual. She capitalizes on her talents by putting what she knows into the written word to share with others, to dispense wisdom and fantasy together in stories to reach all people, effectively affecting them according to their age, generation, and station in life.

However cliché-ish it may seem, to know Natalie is truly to love her. It is impossible not to love her, fully realizing the empathy and charity which exists in her soul and which is naturally extended to those around her. 

Astonishing, indeed, Natalie ~ Women of all cultures, races, ages, and generations could easily learn from your fine example of womanhood.  I honor you, I admire you, I appreciate the woman you are and love you for it!

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Monday Hero - Cousin Paula

One of my known-forever-grew-up together cousins, Paula, is this week's Monday Hero ~ she is and always has been an awesome example to me in so many ways. Just barely older than me, I always wanted to be like her: her beautiful dark hair, her sparkling eyes, her great smile. As children, our families lived a couple of hours from one another in Southern California. We often spent days at a time at their house, and they at ours. I can still picture the layout of their home, the colorful non-breakable kitchen-ware (melmac, I seem to recall), and her dad's endless practical jokes!

Unbeknownst to Paula, she remained an example to me throughout the years. She has raised an incredible family while experiencing multiple challenges and trials. She is a happy, loving grandmother who still looks like she could be a young 40-year-old! But the most extraordinary single thing that Paula has done, in my opinion, is when she literally gave of herself to help prolong the life of our Uncle Ted. 
Less than a decade ago, Uncle Ted needed a kidney. I know of others who were tested and were certainly willing to donate if they qualified. Despite that, only one person could. That one was our Paula. She did it quietly and purposely. She did it with compassion and love for a family member. And she would do it again, regardless of any physical or emotional pain it may leave her with. She is just that way.  

Paula, you are one of my most favorite people in the world, and I am more than blessed to be your cousin! My hat is off to you, I appreciate who you are and what you represent. You remain an example of goodness, graciousness, and generosity. Thank you for being you!  

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Monday Hero - Patty

If you ask me how many Pattys, Patricias, or Pattis I know, I am not sure I could name them all. However, this particular Patty has become quite special to me over the years. A most genuine woman, Patty has been a part of my life for over a decade. 

A very first impression of her was the day I witnessed her gift of a pair of shoes. While the recipient probably did not need new shoes, it was very obviously a gift from Patty's heart, just to say that she cares. From that day forward, my observations and reflections and gratitudes for this awesome friend have only proven to be an example to me of a truly compassionate woman making the greatest difference. 

Free with her compliments, she shares them with sincerity. Hugs come with true giving rather than taking. When asking about someone's well-being, the pure intent behind her words is obvious. Patty is a natural when it comes to giving of herself. Regardless of one's station in life, she loves and cares and is not afraid of saying so. No one is beneath her, no one is ever deemed "unworthy" of the compassion she has to share. We would all do well to emulate Patty's sincerity, her genuine self, her pure love.

Patty, you are my hero ~ you are always there to lend a listening ear and a shoulder when I need it. From the depths of my soul, I salute you and your womanhood!