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.