This year between celebrating my 49th birthday and celebrating my 50th birthday I’m paying tribute each week to 50 women or groups of women who have shaped me and have made a personal impact on my life.
Today is #3 of the Women of Influence in my life. The first group of women who have impacted my life are my aunties…..
I’ll start with my Aunt Kathy because it’s her birthday today!!! Happy birthday Auntie! Kathy is my dad #1’s sister. Growing up I thought she was an angel because she talks so soft, so sweet and is so gentle that the only thing I could imagine as a little kid, was that she was an angel. I have never met another human with the gentle, sweetness of my Aunt Kathy. She is also genuinely always interested in what is going on in my life. As an adult when I go to see her I have to consciously remind myself, “Remember to ask about how she is doing and what is going on with her life.” Because she is so good at wanting me to tell her all about my life. A couple years ago I was doing some research for a Psychology class I was taking at the University of Utah and I interviewed her about what she remembered about my childhood. What a treat it was to hear “my” childhood story from the perspective of an angel. This is a memory I will always treasure. Another recent event was when my Granny was nearing the end of her life. My dad and his sister (my Auntie) would not always see eye to eye on what would be best for my Granny. Kathy approached me and asked how to best talk to my dad in a loving manner that would benefit everyone’s viewpoints. I was honored that she respected me enough to ask for my assistance. Now that my dad and granny from this side of my family have passed on, I thought I would feel lost and forgotten, but my Auntie calls me frequently and texts to check in on how I’m doing. She has taught me to be genuinely interested in others, to authentically care about the lives of others and to treat others with kindness, whether it is deserved or not. She is a beautiful example of this because it is her personal integrity, not because she has an agenda. Now, that my friends, is an amazing goal I’d like to grow in myself more and more. One last thing about my Auntie Kathy, whenever we say good bye, she always tells me to tell my mom “Hi”, then she adds, I just really love your mom. THAT is a good human and a wonderful woman to have in my life to have helped raise me. I simply adore my Auntie Kathy.
My next Auntie to be named is my Aunt Connie. She is Dad #2’s sister. She came into my life when I was very young and I have always felt her BIG Auntie love. My Aunt Connie is hilarious. She has quick wit and her laugh is fabulously contagious. I went to visit her in Florida years ago and her husband Esto was telling me he wanted to get a boat to drive up and down the canals, but he couldn’t remember the word for boat so he called it a canoe. My Auntie burst out laughing, “A canoe???” She said, “Who do you think you are, Hiawatha?” We all laughed for hours. I think the thing that has impacted me most about my Aunt Connie is how thoughtful she is. Every year she sends every niece and nephew a Christmas gift. The gift is hand selected with them in mind and she buys them throughout the year, she is always on the lookout for the perfect gift for each of us. She is on our family text thread and she pays careful attention to what every person would like as a gift. This kindness touches my heart, it is not about the money she spends, it is about the thought behind the gift. It is a gift of love from her heart. She also STUFFS the card and envelope with glitter and confetti so you get to enjoy her “gift” for weeks as the glittered love is all over your floor. We all LOVE getting a card in the mail from our Aunt Connie, but we also know to open it very slowly. Her thoughtfulness and gifts from the heart are the qualities I would like to pass along to the loved ones in my life. I simply adore my Aunt Connie.
The next Auntie is on my mom’s side, this is my Auntie Tami. My earliest memories of this auntie are the warm cozy feelings I felt whenever we would go to her house to visit. The house was always decorated in such an elegant style. If it was a holiday, there was decor for that holiday set up and I felt like I was getting a big hug just walking in the door. When their family moved to Seattle, I missed seeing them at our Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Sunday’s but the road trips to Seattle were highly anticipated and I knew my auntie would have the yummiest dinner waiting for us when we arrived. The meals at her house were heavenly, it was where I discovered that food could be more than just to fill my belly, it could be enjoyed fully. To this day I have not been able to recreate her Thanksgiving rolls, although I have her recipe and give it a try every now and then. What I most admire about my Auntie Tami, is her love for her family. She will step up and do whatever has to be done to make sure they are taken care of and provided for. I have watched in awe as she has done this throughout her life. She is brilliant as a wedding planner/engineer. The flowers, the decor, the food…. All of it…. She is an absolute genius. The weddings she plans, flow with love, beauty, magic and unity….and elegance…. So much elegance! All the things you want to feel on a special day of connection. I know my love for decorating and creating a cozy space was inspired by her. Trent asked me recently why I thought I liked decorating for each holiday and putting up new decor for each new season. I told him that each decoration has a special meaning to me and that when I put it up, I feel like I’m surrounding myself with love. I feel like I’m getting a big hug from all the fabulous memories in the “things” I use to decorate. As I think back on my first memories of my Aunt Tami, this is what she created in her home. I felt like I was getting a big hug when I walked through her door. I still feel this way when I visit her. Plus, she gives fabulous hugs …. So that’s a bonus. In more recent years, we have had the opportunity to have small but deep talks about life. I always walk away from these treasured conversations feeling that I have been deeply seen, clearly heard and wonderfully loved. Just like her home, I feel that I am held and hugged tightly by my sweet auntie. I know that she is an absolute treasure to her family and I feel so blessed to get to call her my Auntie. I simply adore my Auntie Tami.
My Aunt Susie is an angel now, but when she walked this earth she was my mom’s best friend. They were like twin sisters. They loved eating healthy, talking about metaphysical possibilities and how they could best make a difference on this planet. They talked on the phone almost every week. I loved watching their beautiful example of “sisterhood”. My Auntie Susie dedicated so much of her life to her children, especially my cousin Brian. Brian is autistic and my auntie did everything she could to give him a better way of life. She made sure his diet was healthy, that he had adventures and fun just like all the other kids. She was a beautiful example of selfless love and a wonderful illustration of a mothers love and dedication to her children. She was very dedicated to a healthy lifestyle and her “yummy” desserts are always some of our favorite memories of her. She always wanted to share her beautiful wisdom of health, with everyone. I simply adore her courage to share this with our huge family….who was not always as excited to receive her sugarless desserts. We all miss her great laugh and spunky personality but I’m certain she is watching over all of us, especially my mama, her best friend. I’m so thankful for this exemplification of what sisters can be for each other. I simply adore my Aunt Susie.
My Auntie Nan is one of the greatest influencers of how I wanted to do relationship/marriage. She was also the most fabulous example of how I wanted to do motherhood. I remember early in my life the feeling of “fun” whenever my Auntie Nan and Uncle Rick would be around. Sure, my Uncle Rick was the life of the party but he had my Auntie Nan to star right alongside him. The fabulous thing I loved about watching their relationship, she wasn’t a co-star, she was an equal partner. They both just exuded a love for life every time I saw them. They loved each other, they loved their kids and everyone knew it….we could just FEEL it! I wanted a relationship like that! I remember hearing stories of my Auntie Nan dressing up and going into her kids classrooms when they were young to sing happy birthday to them. I loved this idea. I wanted to do THIS!!! YES!!! THIS!!!! This is the mom I wanted to be. I may not have dressed up and gone into my kids classroom for birthdays but we always dressed up for their birthdays and the parties were extraordinary….. All inspired by my Auntie Nan. My Auntie began to practice yoga many years ago and then became a yoga teacher. Seeing pictures of her leading class lit a small spark within my heart. It would be many years later that the spark would actually catch fire, but my path to yoga was inspired by the majesty and regal beauty my Aunt Nan embodies on her yoga mat…. And the way she does life. She showed me you can be fun and quirky, have a wild and crazy romance and still be dedicated to a life of the utmost spirituality.
Last year I signed up for a small weekend retreat at the beginning of the year. I’m always a little nervous walking into a retreat with strangers and not knowing what I’ve really stepped into. As I went to sit down, I heard a familiar voice and turned around to see my sweet Auntie walking into the same retreat. I ran over and received a famously fabulous hug from her. I loved sitting in ceremony, through vulnerable processes and finding beautiful healing that weekend with such a giant of an amazing human in the same circle. When you arrive at a place of equality with the adult humans in your life, enough to sit in a beautiful healing retreat and hold space for one another, you simply find yourself in a space of bliss and gratitude to walk this path of life together. After all, we’re just walking each other home. I simply adore my Auntie Nan with all of my heart.
My Auntie Nancy! Wow! As I write this my heart is bursting with how much love I have for each of these women and my Auntie Nancy is such an amazing human and my heart is bursting out of my chest for how much I adore her…. Honestly, it’s difficult to express how much she has impacted my life. My earliest memories are of her and my uncle Craig dating and falling in love. My uncle Craig was sort of like a big brother for me for a while. I looked up to him and always wanted to be like him. When he started to date my Aunt Nancy, I could tell he had fallen in love, there was something different about him…. And it was a good thing. I don’t know all the details of their first years of marriage but I know that they fought to keep their relationship close. They don’t take their relationship for granted and they put in the loving work to build it and make it grow.
They both have an amazing determination and dedication to their family. I watch the family parties they host for their adult kids…. Holidays, pumpkin carving, dinners, gifts, all of it and I see the connection they have created among their children to keep them all connected with love. As I begin a new chapter in my life with older children, I look for examples of what I want to create with “us”…. And my Auntie Nancy has given me a beautiful road map.
Nancy is also the funniest person EVER!!! (Look at the picture I found on her Facebook! LOL!!) We had a family reunion many years ago and we had a scavenger hunt, one of the things we had to do is fish out golf balls from a pond on the golf course. Nancy told us we needed to get nine golf balls…. I should have known she was on the opposing team and would stop at nothing to win this “Amazing Race”. We only had to get two, but we spent so much time trying to get nine…. All the while she laughed and laughed from her winners podium. She is also so HIP!! She knows all the latest buzz words, text lingo and whatever “pop culture” influence is going on. She is a school teacher and there were never luckier kids than to have my Auntie as their teacher. A couple years ago a movie titled, Wonder, was coming out in theaters. My Auntie read the book to her class and then took them all to the theater to see the show.
THAT is quite a field trip! The movie is about a little boy that doesn’t look like the other kids and is scared to go to school. Needless to say, it is a fabulous movie and a tear jerker. I love that my Auntie made it a point to teach the children in her classroom about the importance of accepting others who may appear different than we do. She will not tolerate bullying, there is only love in her classroom. THAT is her heart. She is funny, wild, crazy and right smack in the middle of all that fun…. She is LOVE!!! All love!!! She gives it, she is an example of it, she grows more and gives it all away. I watch her now with her grandkids and it absolutely melts my heart. I want to create the connection she has connected with her children. I want to give the unconditional love that she FREELY gives to her family, her class, her friends and ALL of us lucky enough to know her. I’ve said it before, but I truly mean it….. I simply adore my Auntie Nancy!
In countries like India and Africa the term Auntie signifies dignity and respect. These elder women are considered a huge asset to the community. The Aunties in my life have definitely been an asset to me. They have given me some of the best examples of strong, confident, powerful, yet gentle, supportive and grace-filled women I have ever known. I’m beyond blessed to have them as consistent guiding lights throughout my years. I simply adore each one of my Aunties, Because of them….. I have been changed, FOR GOOD!