Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Women in My Life (and there are many of them!)

In a society where we see women tearing each other down and seeing each other as competition instead of allies, I want to take a moment to thank the many women in my life. 

To start, I must begin with my mother, Sandy Smith, who did so much more than bring me into this world.  She is an amazing, strong women who has been through so much in her life and made so many sacrifices for my three brothers and I.  She is an inspiration, demonstrating to me that hard work and determination make so many things possible.  She went back to school for her bachelors and then her masters degrees with four young children at home, all the while demonstrating to me what it really means to "stand by her man" in her marriage.  Though we are both strong-willed and butted heads frequently as I was growing up, and I spent the majority of my adolescence rolling my eyes in her direction, she put it up with my selfishness and attitude, demostrated what an mother's unconditional love really means, and we came out the stronger for it.

Then there's HER mother, my grandma, Bettie Bramer.  She's a God-fearing woman who has always had her priorities right where they should be.  She's a nurturer who loves caring for her family, and she let me live with her for four months when I first moved to California and was just getting out on my own.

My friends are all unique and special to me each for different reasons.  Elizabeth Thomas is always there to talk through problems and analyze all aspects of a scenario.  Janelle Penner is such a nuturing person who loves to take care of the people in her life.  Bekah Gonzales has seen me through all kinds of hard times and stood by me and can still laugh about it.   Katie Perano-Frieson is who is a ray of sunlight in my life.  When I get to see Katie, not just my day, but my week, is better.  My manager at work, Rocio Arroyo, who believed in me before I believed in my own abilities.  Her encouragement and belief in my potential is a large reason for any career success I have.  Laycee Alvarez is the kind of friend who will stop whatever she's doing to help me.  There are so many other women who have enriched my life in many different ways - My high school friends like Kristi Veis and Esther Brown, college roommates Gretchen Tillstrom and Anya Tronson.  I am also so thankful for my future sisters-in-law, Jill and Kara Blanks and Johanna Mott, and future mother-in-law, Babs Blanks, who have helped make me feel like part of their family.

I often tell my fiance that he's so lucky because many of his closest friends are people he's known since childhood.  When we stand up at our wedding this March, the guys standing next to him are people he's known for years.  My life has been more transient, and the women standing by me in March are primarily people that have come along later in my life.  But I am realizing that having the chance to meet so many different women who have all touched my life in different ways is its own blessing. 

.  So here's to the women in my life - may you be double-blessed for the blessings you have been to me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Love, love, love

Jimmy (my fiance) and I are taking a premarital mentoring course.  One of the chapters in our study guide deals with the different types of love.  They are classified into eros (erotic), philia (friendship), and agape (unconditional love given with total committment).  As I'm sitting here considering the differences between each one, I feel like the first two are have lost meaning and the last one is extremely hard to come by in our committment-phobic society. 

All around me I can see how the physical expression of love has lost its purpose.  Its given too freely, so much that for many people it's not even an expression of true love anymore and has been reduced to an empty physical act without any sort of meaning or feeling behind it. 

Friendship is easy to come by too, but again can be almost rendered worthless when there is no committment behind it.  How many friends have I had in my life that have come and gone?  I have been left with some great memories.  Many of these people - childhood friends, college roommates, ex-boyfriends, classmates, people I've worked with - they have all enriched my life in some way, but when things got a little tough (someone moved away, got a new job), maintaining the friendship was ultimately not worth the effort and now all those relationships are just memories.  I know my experience is not unique, and in the transient society we live in our lives often only intersect for a brief period of time.  Some people are only meant to be in our lives for a season, but still...I can't help but feel like this lack of committment is a spreading disease among our generation.  Not that I haven't been guilty of being lazy about keeping up friendships, because I have.  There are many relationships I wish I had worked just a little harder at or made the effort to keep in touch.

But when I read the description of agape love, I was struck by how powerful it really is.  I was fortunate to grow up with parents who demonstrated unconditional love for each other and for my brothers and I.  They still do.  I have never doubted that no matter what happens in my life, my parents will love and support me and always, always stick by me.  I may disappoint them; I may break their hearts.  But they will continue to love me.  There are very few people I can say that about, and I know that many people out there don't have ANYONE they can say that about.  I think that if more people made that kind of pledge in their marriages, to their families, to their friends...our society would be much better off, and there would be a lot more of the kind of love that really lasts.   I want to make the personal committment to being the kind of person who sticks around not just when it's easy to love, but even when it's incredibly hard.    Because thats when people really need each other, and that's when love REALLY MATTERS. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chasing Pavement

This morning I started my day like a lot of them have started recently: chasing pavement.  Which means I was locking my front door and pulling a sweatshirt over my head at 7:30am as I set out for an early morning run.  Now I've been doing this as early as 6am all summer long with sunshine shining bright, but this morning it was a little foggy and there was a chill in the air and I thought "Fall, I think we're finally going to meet again."  I live in Fresno, California, which is famous for those Indian summers that pull 90-degree weather into October.  We say that Fresno only has two seasons, summer and winter.  Those two seasons definitely take majority of our year, so I relish those few weeks we get of fall before the cold comes and the foliage dies.  I ran down Cedar to Barstow past Fresno State, past students hustling to their early morning classes and cars piling up while their drivers hurried to make the morning commute.  Then I quietly ran home, past the cows contently chewing grass on Bullard.  By the time I got home, the sun had pushed the clouds aside to warm my back.  And I walked up my driveway with a clear head and a smile on my face, I remembered all over again why I run: What better way to start the day?