I know I’m a day late with this but I think it’s appropriate to honor the women in your life any day of the year. Where would most of us be without these women? I’m going to to talk about four women in my family whom I admire for different reasons. I’ll be mostly focusing on their fearlessness because each of them has exhibited extraordinary bravery in different ways. Each of them have had strong influences in my life and have all had a hand in shaping who I am today. I’m going to to talk about my mother, my sister, and both of my grandmothers. I have aunts (and some cousins too) that I truly admire as well but this post would turn into a veritable novel.

First, my mother, B. My mother has probably had a bigger influence on my life than anyone. There are an awful lot of things I could talk about here, but I’m going to focus on one main theme. She taught me that I should chase my dreams. B made my childhood wonderful. Holidays and vacations and birthdays were all so exciting as a child and my mom seemed to be just as excited about them as anyone. I found out as an adult that my parents were pretty short on cash a lot when we were growing up and were burdened with a decent amount of debt. I found out as an adult. I had no inkling of any problems whatsoever as a kid. None. My mother (and dad too but this post is about the ladies) put on a strong and happy front and made sure it didn’t affect us. We were encouraged to try out anything that interested us, as long our grades were good. That meant musical instruments, sports, plays, and crafts. If one of us was interested in something, it was made a priority. My mother stayed at home with us until we were late elementary/junior high ages and at that time, she decided to go to college. She had married young and subsequently had children young in a time when a lot of women didn’t go to college. So when we got to ages where we were more self-sufficient, she decided to follow her own dreams. I’ve always thought this was courageous. It takes guts to go to school in your thirties. I went when I was still in my twenties and I felt overwhelmed and old compared to the kids there. She did it with four kids and a husband at home. And she graduated with a 4.0 grade point average. She has taught me, among other things, about the importance of chasing your dreams no matter how scary or overwhelming they may be. And that is a huge theme in my life. What’s the point of life if you’re going to spend it being miserable? So thanks, mom, for making sure that I had to opportunity to chase my dreams. And for providing me an example of someone who did the same.

My sister, N, is fearless for a couple of reasons that I admire. First, when she was pretty young, she moved thousands of miles away because she wasn’t happy with her situation the way it was. I think everyone thinks about taking off once in a while, but who actually does it? Well, she did. She didn’t have any children or a spouse or a career that was tying her down where she was at the time, so she decided to go. And she did. That’s very brave to me. I moved far away once and couldn’t handle it. But she stuck it out and followed her dreams and made them a reality. I also admire her fierce faith. She and I do not believe in the same things spiritually. And truth be told, I can be somewhat fickle about those things. N is steadfast and dedicated to her beliefs. Even when they aren’t popular with her friends, family, or loved ones, she is fiercely devoted to them. And I think that’s gutsy too. So thank you, N, for showing me the value of change and devotion.

My paternal grandmother, C (we all call her Nanny) is my next fearless relative. C is my only living grandparent which makes her even more precious. But her fearlessness started when I was very young. Too young to remember everything. She lost her husband (my grandfather) at a relatively young age. She was in her fifties when she became a widow. But rather than let the sadness bog her down and withdraw from the world, she made the decision to become more outgoing. My mom told me a story that Nanny had told her once. She said that after my grandfather passed away, she would go out to eat alone (something I find to be brave in itself but I digress). And she would conduct experiments. Sometimes, she would be quiet and reserved and not smile much. And sometimes she would smile and chat. She said that she realized that her attitude had a direct effect on how others treated her and she made a decision to be friendly and outgoing. And she is so right. How you approach others will almost certainly affect how they will treat you. And Nanny is one of the sweetest people I have ever known. I don’t think I’ve ever even heard her cuss. She is getting older now and her memory is not what it used to be. But her awesome attitude and fearlessness in the face of extreme (and sometimes unwanted) change still shines through. So thank you, Nanny, for showing me the value of personal mindset and attitude. And for being the best example of these two things I could ever hope for.

Lastly, I’ll speak about my maternal grandmother, L (we called her Grandma). L passed away right after I graduated from high school. She and I were very close. Grandma is the reason I love to cook and bake and garden today. I would spend weeks with her in the summertime and we would spend our days picking vegetables in the garden, baking and testing out recipes, and watching The Price is Right and PBS cooking shows. She lost her youngest sister when she was a teenager and I believe that was a heartache that stayed with her throughout her life. That is not to say that she dwelled on it, but it was definitely a scar on her heart. This made her fiercely (I know I keep using that word but it is the most apt word I can think of in these situations) loyal and protective of her family. I don’t have any specific stories of extreme bravery on her part but she was a strong woman who had no problem speaking her mind. Once in a while it was inappropriate (usually hilariously so) but I think that takes guts too. Because of her, I know it is important to stand up for what you think is right and to make sure it is made known if something is happening that isn’t right. So thank you, Grandma, for introducing me to the hobbies that would become some of my greatest joys and for showing me the importance of speaking my mind.

I feel completely grateful for having women in my life who have been excellent role models. I haven’t even talked about any of my aunts who are all intelligent, strong women with so many admirable traits that I’m not even going to try to name them lest I leave one or 6,000 out. Or my cousin who has six kids and seems to have her life more put together than mine is with zero kids. Or another cousin who moved across the country and made her dreams become her life. And seriously, countless other excellent examples of women role models who have made appearances in my life. I do not take this lightly and I urge other women out there to celebrate any women in their lives who have positively influenced them. Unfortunately, not all young girls or even grown women have positive influences such as these. And I have so many in my life to celebrate. So thank you, every woman I have ever come across who has had even the smallest positive impact on my life. This world needs you and I treasure you.