Day 9

List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.

1&2.) My parents.
This one is a no brainer. They are living proof to me that True Love does exist. They have been together since high school. That in itself is awe-inspiring, but when the divorce rate for Special Ops marriage is about 50%, the fact that they’ve remained together for over 30 years is astonishing. They taught me that family is the only thing that matters, a person is only as good as their word, hard work and dedication will get you anywhere you want. Their love for each other and their children is unconditional. Their encouragement is unfaltering and their hands are always helping when friends or family need it. My parents are the epitome of what a good life lived looks like.

3.) Amelia Earhart.
She is one of my childhood idols. She was so brave and intelligent and never let her gender get in the way of her dreams, even in a era where women were expected to get married, have babies, and stay home. She smashed gender stereotypes not only with her profession but also with her physical appearance, and let nothing dissuade her from doing what she knew she was born to do. Except for ya know, the aliens that abducted her, or the Bermuda Triangle that sucked her up, or the Japanese that held her hostage before she died.


4.) Glennon Doyle Melton.
She was the first person (besides my mama) that told me it was okay to be an emotional wreck of a person. Through her writing I realized I wasn’t actually crazy, there were a lot of women out there like me struggling with depression and anxiety and insecurities and just way too many emotions. Even if I was crazy, I was in damn good company. She is a powerhouse of love and truth and great mantras.

5.) L.R. Knost.
Another author that helped me in a really dark time of my life. I remember when I discovered her writings. I was sitting in Little Bee’s dark room, rocking him for what seemed like hours on end in our freezing basement apartment. He was a terrible sleeper,  and it seemed to get worse as he got older, not better. During the days he was a disaster of high energy, angry outbursts, and restlessness. I was struggling financially, had just started a brand new relationship (with C), and could not for the life of me figure out what I was doing wrong to make my toddler so unhappy and anxious and angry. I found an article on Pinterest written by her about parenting a strong-willed child and absolutely bawled. She is the guru on gentle parenting and everything I hoped I could be as a mother. I’m not nearly up to her level, but her words and gentle guidance really helped me see Little Bee’s point of view, and how I could help him.

6.) Dr. Timothy Winters.I have known Winters since I got this hare-brained idea to go to Greece for 4 weeks in 2009. He is a saint among men and one of the driving forces behind my collegiate success and degree. He helped me discover my academic passions and mentored me throughout the years. When I emailed him and told him I had to drop out due to the issues with the Drone, he asked if there was anything I needed and if I was safe. A few months after term started I emailed again and said I wanted back in school but was worried about catching up. He told me to come down to his office immediately and he’d help me with anything I needed. Just like that, I was back in college. For the past 6 years he has encouraged and guided me along my academic path. He is a force to be reckoned with outside of his office too. He is a professor, a volunteer sheriff’s deputy, a deacon in the Catholic church, a father of 4 girls, and grandfather of 2 (I think?), a devoted husband and a very active member of his community and school.

7.) Laura Ingalls Wilder.Another childhood idol of mine. I devoured her books over and over as I grew up, and was in awe of her spirit. She was so spunky and independent when that was usually frowned upon by society. She had a tough life, but always found beauty and a way to have fun. She was sassy, loyal to her family, tough as nails, and whip smart. She was everything I wanted to be growing up.


8.) Michael Franti.
He is just a holy person with a beautiful soul. His music is so raw and fresh and powerful. I rarely agree 100% with famous people on political things, but so far everything he stands for, so do I. He is a preacher of love and peace and unity. And some good dance beats. Yes please! The energy at his shows is insanely contagious. You cannot NOT be moved. The vibrations are way too high. As are most of the people.


9.) Little Bee.
He changed my world the minute I realized he was growing in my womb. Everything I thought mattered before him didn’t actually matter as much as I thought it did. My life is split in two very distinct sections: time BEFORE Little Bee and time AFTER Little Bee. Being his mommy has shown me how much I can really handle, and how much I can love. He has taught me to keep calm when things are insane (still a lesson I struggle with)  and sometimes a simple thing like a hug or an “I love you Mommy” can make everything better. He lives his life all out: everything is the absolute most exciting or the absolute most tragic. He plays hard, loves hard, cries hard, laughs hard, sleeps hard, hugs hard. This boy is 100% all the time, and while it’s e x h a u s t i n g it’s also inspiring. Adults hold back all the time and miss out on so much in life because of it. Kids can show us how to live, love, and appreciate the little things.

10.) Sherri Anderson.
I was very young when my grandmother died. It was 20 years last month that she succumbed to the tumor on her brain, and I have never not spent a day not missing her. Although I only enjoyed 9 short years of her as my grandmother, her love was profound and her presence in our life was always felt, even after she left the physical world. She was a quiet and calm force in a family of big, stubborn personalities. She loved hard and worked even harder. I never remember her raising her voice or even giving a stern look, although I’m sure she did on occasion. She had a gorgeous smile that never faded, even when she was in so much pain. She guided her children, her husband, and her grand children on their religious paths and made sure that she was there at big moments in life, even after her death. She saved family heirlooms for me and my brother to be given on momentous occasions like first communions, confirmations, and college. Her love for her family never ended, even after her life did, and how can you not be influenced by a woman like that?

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