Wonderful Women – The (real) Incredibles

Last night’s sleep started too late, ended too early and was ridiculously inconsistent in-between.  I really dislike those kind of nights.
It ended early because of a few drops of rain.  I actually prefer to get up around 6:00, but only when I go to bed on time – so I was trying to sleep in today.  I heard those unforecasted drops of rain and bolted upright – we are having a flagstone patio installed and they have layered gravel, sand and then a small layer of cement which must not get wet – I wasn’t sure if I should run out in my pajamas and try to cover the area with a tarp?  When had the rain started?  Would there be more?  I really didn’t want to do this and was relieved to hear cars pull up nice and early to work.  They would know what to do with wet cement and I was glad to be awake and have the day ahead of me.
Inconsistent sleep – I am blaming it on cheap pizza.  I really don’t eat fast food.  Especially not cheap fast food.  First of all, it is always hard for me to eat out – so many years with such a tight budget… I tend to look at menu prices and calculate how many gallons of milk I could be buying… If I am going to spend the money, I want the food to be worth it.  {Last week, during my “weary” days, we had to get take-out because there wasn’t going to be any cooking and cold cereal didn’t sound too great.  My two companions weren’t exactly mobile….  I was, however, choosy – beef brisket sandwiches from Costco, thin-crust wood-fire-baked pizza with pear and gorgonzola.  Yummy!}  Last night we had a houseful of girls here to watch a movie, so we had a pile of “affordable” pizzas.  These don’t tempt me, yet at the end of the evening I broke off some crust and will say that it was quite tasty – but in the middle of the night… ugh! there was that sick feeling telling me that I am just too old for that sort of thing.

Side note – as I type here in the quiet morning there was a flash of lightning and clap of thunder that was deep and long – few things bring me more joy.  I was raised in the Rocky Mountains and LOVE thunder and lightning.  Here in the northwest we get more rain than we know what to do with – but we get thunder/lightning only once or twice a year.  There was some faint thunder earlier – and I am sitting here wishing for more….

Sleep was late in starting for two reasons.  First of all were those wonderful, full-of-life movie watchers.  They did not stay late, but after they left our family was still full-of-life and we had a lot to talk about.  I am keenly aware that Greg will be gone in just two days and Jackie in just a number of weeks; so staying up to talk and laugh – these moments are too precious.  When we did get to bed I began to think – this is always my downfall in the night.  It is hard to shut of those thoughts – especially when they are pleasant.
…Last night I was thinking about women who have influenced my life.  There are so many of them – and their influence is so varied.
Initially I was just contemplating womanhood in general.  Women are incredibly complex, incredibly strong, incredibly incredible.  Equal to men in every way – equal to create a perfect balance.  Equal does not mean the same.  I am sorry for women who try to be men – this throws off that balance and ends up weakening both sexes.  Men with their cut & dry decision making, women with their multidimensional decision making – so different in so many ways.  The world needs it both ways.

My mom and me –
caring for me in every way.

I really like men also (one in particular!!).  My husband, my father, my brother, my father-in-law… this morning I was thinking of how they have had an impact on my life.   When it comes to women, I they also have an “impact” – but the word that fits women even better is “influence”.   A woman’s ability to influence the lives of so many, and thus impact the world… it is an incredible gift.  (I am liking the word incredible.)
Keeping me awake last night was a list of women who have come in and out of my life – and I began to think of specific roles that they have played.  I am now going to make this list, though it will be incomplete – these are the individuals who popped into my mind.  Their influences are greater than I can say, but I want to just make a short list – for my own records at least:

Lori & I with our new babies.  Her
first (Noah) and my third (Jackie).

HOME:  My mother – it would be ridiculous to try and keep short the influence that a mother has on a daughter – but, in a nutshell, Mom taught me to have faith.  She has a simple but strong faith in our Heavenly Father and showed us the way to have the same.  She is also cheerful, friendly and loving to everyone – it comes naturally to her and I would have to work all of my life to begin to brighten a room like she does.
My sister – even more ridiculous would be to try and describe the role of my sister – she is like an extension of me.  I love and adore her.  Lori is all goodness – when we were young I would resent this.  Think of the Little House on the Prairie books – she was like Mary… the well-behaved, pretty sister full of goodness, while I was like Laura – a bit more adventurous with a tendency to get dirty and find some sort of trouble.  It used to seem that my mom would try out every hideous hair-cut she could think of on my plain brown hair, while Lori was allowed to have straight, beautiful, blond hair.  Haha, but I am not bitter, haha…  Seriously, it was fun when she got old enough to play dolls with me.. and she was young enough to boss around.  I still boss her around for fun – and she laughs, calls me bossy and does whatever she pleases (the nerve!).   I love her deeply.  Lori fills the role of being the woman/friend I rely on whole-heartedly to help, to listen, to advise, to support, to laugh, to always… ALWAYS be there for me!

Jenn and I at Senior Awards Banquet

HIGH SCHOOL:  Jennifer – we went to a small high school where we all interacted with each other  in some way, but Jenn was my always my best friend.  We even vacationed together.  Her greatest influence – learning how to be a good friend and giving love and support.  What a blessing to have such a friend during the high school years (no drama!).  At 17 she had leadership skills that I am still trying to match.
COLLEGE:  Three roommates stand out as some of my all-time most influential women ever!
Stephanie – what a pair we made!  We balanced each other so well – we both contributed to each other in positive ways, while helping each other knock off those rough edges.
Dyla – the epitome of goodness.  Her loving acceptance of others, her tendency to look for the good in a situation – I hope that they wore off on me as much as I wanted them to.

Watching Dyla – probably Thanksgiving
which I usually ate at her house in SLC
Roommates!
Pam, Me, Steph, Dyla

Pam – only Pam knows the depth of our discussions and the help we gave to each other during our freshman year.  One thing in particular – she had a religion professor who challenged them to time their prayers and try to pray for at least 20 minutes each evening.  Since we shared a room I was swept along in her challenge… anyone reading this should try it for a week – I think I should also.  Therein lies a whole new dimension to prayer!
OREGON:  Now I can get myself into trouble – faces swim past me and I know that this list is super-long, but I will have to limit it to a few specific friends.

Me & Nina touring Pittock
Mansion with our girls
(in matching shoes!)

Nina – Ah, Nina – she is a blog entry all by herself.  I am always shocked to hear her say that I have been an influence in her life when… duh… she has influenced me deeply and in such a variety of ways.  Her strengths have lifted me to new heights and her boundless energy and ideas – well, I can only try to keep up… but I am glad that I try because our life here at home has been enriched.  She is truly my sister-friend… we go to a conference with 2,000 other women, yet we are the two that show up in the exact same jacket.  We build our homes over an hour away from each other – with a few years in between – but using the same builder… and we still laugh about the man who did the finish work asking Nina if she has a sister who lives in Washington – same style with same budget considerations.  Then there was the time that we drove in caravan-style with our kids and a few extras to a youth camp in Idaho.  Another young man that we were taking marveled as we stopped to eat at rest areas – “Are you two sisters?” – we had packed essentially the same food for breakfast, snacks, and lunch – and both seemed quite content to unload our kids to eat on the grass beside the gas station.  No way would either of us have spent our money on fast-food.  What a blessing to have a friend like this – our similarities and influences go much deeper, but that is entirely its own topic.
I will have to keep this shorter now –
Teri – Another sister-friend.  Greatest influence on my life?  She showed me what it means to be a fun mom who thoroughly enjoys her children.  Priceless – utterly priceless!!!
Sarah – Two things – I naturally love to bake, and here Sarah leaves me in the dust – but helped me to see how this hobby can be used for good.  Sarah also gives, and gives, and gives – seemingly tireless in her service to others.
Nedra – Another friend who adores her children at a higher level than most – Her youngest (of 7) is the same age as my oldest (of 6) so I used to “sit at her knee” and drink in her wisdom.  Like all of us, she has known some tough times… yet always serving others and brightening their day with her cheerfulness.

Back to roommates – just to
enjoy the 80’s hair!

Eileen – How to describe Eileen?  She is the big sister I never had – when I first moved to Oregon I would watch her and wonder how I could develop a countenance that she had so naturally.  She is beautiful inside and out.  Our birthdays are ten years and one week apart – so we get together at least once a year – and I am still left wondering why I have to be so feisty when she is so patient, loving and serene.  I always think… maybe ten years from now I can be more like her… then another ten years pass and she is still so far ahead…
WASHINGTON:
I still live here, so these women are influencing me in real time… I had better refrain from using names:
My sweet friend that I see about once a month is one of those ladies that quietly adores and serves her family – her children are grown up and still close.  I can see the benefit of a mother who takes her job seriously.
How about my business executive/hunting & fishing friend – I have only one of these, and I enjoy her showing me how a woman can be smart, adventurous and still beautiful.
My two dear hispanic friends… the funny and feisty woman who always makes me laugh and the other is a powerhouse of a mother – she and I share many of the same thoughts when it comes to deep matters – so I am always happy to hear her opinions.  More smiles – great women!

BYU Graduation
Me, Karin, Jenn, Kathy

I have a friend here that is one of the most reliable, helpful and unselfish woman I have ever known… she is pack-full of traits I would like to emulate.
Then there is my dear friend who is currently joining me in cancer-weariness.  We wouldn’t wish it on one another, but we are glad to have a friend who understands.  She is someone like my mom who lights up any room she enters.  How often have I asked a child if they want to join me in an activity and the kids want to know if so-and-so will be there, because she is just that fun to be with!

Kim and I hiking in southern Utah

There they are – I made myself limit my current influences to just five – but I can hardly type for thinking of this sea of friendly faces swimming before me – I picture walking in to church tomorrow and who I might see – every one of them is a part of  my life.   Then I start to think of the nursing students I loved (Karin, Jenn), or the friends we had when we were young married students (Kim, Laura, Julie)…

Sisters-in-law at Multonomah Falls
Nancy, Me, Brenda

I had better include my extended family!  My mother-in-law is a good woman who gave me the eternal gift of a wonderful man that she raised and trained.  I dearly love my sisters-in-law!  Mark’s brothers all did a great job at choosing wives!  They are all talented, fun and thoughtful and I have learned much from watching them over the years.

Another sister-in-law
Kayleen & me in Germany

The names and faces seem endless.  I have taken a day off between starting and completing this blog entry and the topic has hardly left my mind.  I am just intrigued as I ponder the influence we have on one another.  Always watching – learning from successes and mistakes, trying to be like someone, trying to never be like someone else, having my day brightened by a kind word and learning to pay it forward…  I wonder if we are aware of the lives that we touch everyday.
I have SO MUCH to say about this – I will probably say more about it, and then say it again.
I have left my three FAVORITE women for last:  Jackie, Natalie and Kimberly.  I have known them here on Earth for less time than I have known almost every other aforementioned woman – yet they have had the great influence.  They have helped to refine me as a person – as I learn to give and serve.  There is so much I want to teach – so much I want them to know.  As I think of the example I want to be to them, I have to be a better person than I have ever been before.  Yet, with all of my teaching and example-setting… it seems to work out, again and again, that they are the teachers.  I am learning from them every day.  They are better than I ever was at their age.  They are more talented, more intelligent and more spiritual.

I saved the BEST for last!
Jackie, Natalie, Kimberly hiking
at Mt. Adams

This has been a fun exercise – I am wondering how it would be to get a spiral notebook and just start listing names of people I know and a few memories to go along with them.  What about that girl in first grade that laughed at me when I read the word “old” instead of “odd”.  It hurt my feelings, yet made me determined to work harder at school and not be laughed at again… Or that same year I had a friend who taught me to cross the monkey-bars.  Monkey-bar-talent was a real boost in self-esteem at that age.  Making that list would take a lifetime.
I wonder whose lists I would be on?   I hope that their memories of me would be positive.  What if everyone had the goal to be a positive influence for others?  Wouldn’t life be pleasant?

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