Have ever thought about who would make your list if you had to sit down and write down the people who have had the largest impact on your life? I honestly had not either until recently. I had a challenging week not to long ago and it was if I could hear a series of words play through my mind encouraging me. After my week was over, I was working out one morning and began to reflect on that week. I thought, where did those pearls of wisdom come from? I did not read them in a book, ask anyone for advice, search for inspirational quotes, or seek out the words. The pearls of wisdom and lessons were an accumulation of things that I learned from some of the most influential women in my life.
If you were as lucky as I am, I had a mother that taught me so many things. She believed in God first and everything else will fall into place. How right she was! I watched her forgive, forgive again, and forgive yet again, no matter the circumstances. Believe me, I was a frequent flyer of asking for her forgiveness when I was growing up! She taught me that kindness was always best and that “pretty is as pretty does.” I know that my sister is going to roll her eyes when she reads this, but I got an extra portion of our mother’s home cleanliness and organization skills. I know it sounds nuts but if my home looks out of control, I feel out of control. This lesson has stuck with me, but you must read on to learn the next lesson on this subject that I learned from my mother in law. I wish my sweet momma were still here to read this blog post, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is reading it as I type it.
As I grew up in church, I met many special women but the one that always comes to my mind is Betty Brown. She never gave me advice, but her ACTIONS ALWAYS SPOKE LOUDER THAN WORDS. Betty has a servant’s heart. Her hands were always busy working quietly in so many ways and she never wanted any credit for it. Betty is truly one of the humblest women that I know. She loves people and has the kindest spirit. Her relentless work ethic and choosing to do her work for the right reason has impacted my life tremendously.
In high school I had a teacher by the name of Londa Pickett. She was so kind, invested in her students, and saw their strengths despite your weaknesses. She was always able to make your weaknesses just what they should be…just your weaknesses. Yes, she encouraged you to work hard to improve your weaknesses, but she chose to focus more on your strengths. As my high school graduation date approached, I recall asking her one day what she thought a good career choice for me would be. She told me to come sit down beside her. She asked me several questions but the one that stuck out in my mind the most was when she asked, what do you want to be remembered for La Chell? I sat in that chair for a few minutes and could not for the life of me answer her. I left school that day and thought about that question the rest of the day and most of the night. When I saw her at school the next morning, I told her that I wanted to be like her and help other people. We brainstormed “helping careers” together. By the end of the week I told my parents that I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse. I ultimately chose to be a nurse but the funny thing about it is that I get to teach my patients and even through posts like this share my thoughts. Thank you Londa Pickett for not only helping me when I was a 17-year-old confused young lady, for focusing on my strengths, and reminding me that a weakness is just what it is…a weakness.
A few years after I began my career as a nurse, I had boss by the name of Marty Norman. To this day, she is my all-time favorite person that I have ever worked for. I have never had a manager believe in me like she did. I was still a relatively a new nurse and she took me under her wing. She taught me how to use critical thinking skills, be part of a team, to trust your gut instinct, not be afraid to learn new skills, and to lead others well. I recall that we had a new computer software program to learn for our documentation process. At that time, we documented on pen and paper. The computer software company sent instructors to teach the management group to learn the software and Marty asked me to join the training as a staff nurse. I struggled and struggled through that training because I had never used a computer. I literally used my two index fingers to type with. A year or so after that training Marty told me that the instructors from the software company asked her several times if I was the right staff nurse to learn the program. They obviously had seen me struggling. Marty’s reply to them was, I believe in La Chell and she is my top pick. That was a huge boost to my self-confidence. Having someone believe in you like she did, be mentor to me early on, and most of all giving me a chance not only impacted my career but my life as well.
It is unusual for many women to say this but my mother in law has always been one of my favorite people. She honestly has been like a second mother to me. When I was a young mother, she once told me that my children may be on my toes now, but they will forever be on my heart. At the time, I was frustrated because I had a 4-year-old and a 1-year old crying at the same time but how true those words were. Throughout their lives I have often thought of those words. Now, they are almost 20 years old and 17 years old. What I would give, to have them back on my toes! Another reason she has been influential on my life is that she taught me how to get my priorities straight. When my husband and I first began to date I was invited over for dinner. After dinner was over, I began to clear the table. She quickly told me go sit down and not to worry about the dishes. Not only did she tell me that, but she followed her own advice. The dirty dishes waited until after we went into the living room and visited with one another. To this day, this is still what we do at her house. Now my sister is smiling, yes….relationships are more important than housework.
I have written about my sister Sherry in the past, but this post would not be complete without including her as one as the most influential women in my life. I try not to dwell on a surreal chain of events that she and I endured together for many more years than I care to count, but it made us stronger! Not only did we become stronger, but we became tough. We learned what having true grit means. Out from the trenches we came! These were not natural qualities that I personally had. They were learned. Sherry always had her head up, marching forward, and most of the time picking me up as I was kicking and screaming because I had to learn these new qualities. She patiently helped me to develop these skills because with the adversity we were facing there was no other option. I look back on our experience and in no way am I thankful for it, but I am thankful of who it made me. Please make no mistake, we are all presented with situations that we would not choose but our character is built in difficult times. I know deep down that my sister was scared, hurting, and mentally exhausted but very rarely did she show it. After all, she had lessons to teach her little sister.
Lastly, I have a deep connection to Rachel Hollis’s work. If you are not familiar with her, she is an author, motivational speaker, and lifestyle influencer. She has no idea that I exist in this world but that is not important to me at all! There is nothing like playing her latest Podcast episode while I walk or run. I would be amiss if I did not share at least 3 of her quotes. 1) “Never break a promise to yourself.” 2) “If it is not challenging you, it is not changing you.” 3) “You can not control the circumstances of your life; you can only change how you react to them.”
I would encourage you to think about the people who have helped mold you into the person that you are today. Take the time tell them how they have impacted your life and say thank you. I feel that I should have said thank you many years ago to several of these women. Today is the day that I get let them know how instrumental they have been to my life. I often say that our words have power. I hope that you will think about using yours now.
As you reflect on the influential people in your life I hope that you will consider gifting them with a thank you and one of the many personalized textile products that we offer at Sew Meaningful. My company is based off the principle of using your words to share with someone special or even to yourself. Our personalized quilts, blankets, and pillows allow for you to incorporate your words into one of our designs. The bracelet collections are perfect daily reminders of words that you want to give to someone or wear yourself.
In closing, I must tell you how you receive little whispers throughout your life to reassure you that you are headed down the path you were meant to be on. My oldest son was home from college 2 weeks ago and was working on an assignment. He told me that he was assigned to read Toni Morrison’s Nobel Lecture and was having difficulty understanding parts of it. I offered my help and sat down to begin reading it. Her Nobel Lecture was about the power of language and the words we use. It was almost 1 AM when I went to bed and the next morning, I woke up thinking about what I had read the night before. I had heard of Toni Morrison and knew that she was an author but wanted to know more about her work. I read several articles about her life and then read the following quote from her, “"We die. That may be the meaning of our lives. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives." I knew that I was on the right path when I read those words. I feel so strongly that we should share our words and love for each other before it is to late!