1. God. I totally understand I am who I am because of Him. Point. Blank. Period. Credit goes to no one else. They were only part of His orchestration.
2. Mom. This woman is awesome. I don’t know if anyone can say they have a mother can be disciplinarian, consultant, confidante, friend, comforter, and money-giver all in one. Did I mention, this woman is awesome.
3. My brother. This is my built-in best friend for the early years. He’s the boy. I’m the girl. Yeah…we fussed and fought, but we probably have laughed, wrestled and just hung out a lot more. He get’s my jokes. I get his. We feed off each other…and he’s my security blanket when I’m feeling socially awkward. This guy rocks!
4. My father. Okay…so he wasn’t around through so many years; so many it’s still painful. But he came back. And when he came back, he came with a vengeance. By just being himself, he’s showing me what to expect from a guy. How a guy should provide for a woman and protect a woman and just be there for a woman. He still has a lot to learn about life, but I can’t say I’ve seen many come from the school of hard knocks and turn into a pretty good citizen of the world. Kudos, Dad.
5. My stepfather. #1, how many guys do you know who would be willing to come into someone else’s life who has a child and be there for both of them. I’ll admit, I didn’t care for my stepfather much growing up, but over the years, I’ve come to appreciate him as my real dad. This is no slight to my dad, who’s also my real dad. I guess I’m just blessed to say I have 2 men who care about me enough to call me their daughter and take care of me as such. My stepdad is touched when I say he’s my dad…and that touches me.
6. Xanax. This may sound like a joke, but for a person who suffers from panic and anxiety attacks, this is a game-changer. Panic and anxiety attacks are often debilitating. Xanax has helped me get through some pretty stressful time. I call it my “I don’t care in 20 minutes” pill.
7. Depression and Anxiety Meds. I spent 1.5 years suffering from anxiety and depression…to the point that I washed my hands so much they turned a different color, I was fired from a job, and I was almost mute. Yes, me. Almost mute. When I was introduced to Paxil, it changed my life (and my waistline–a gain of 60 lbs.), but I was happy (until I could no longer take the weight game). I switched to Effexor then Effexor XR and these work great as well. Since the meds, I’ve completed my Master’s degree and am successfully progressing through my career.
8. My job. #1. I love being a marketer. #2 I love being able to work from “where feels right,” which is often my home. #3. I appreciate the philosophy of the organization I work for. I’m pretty much in “learn” mode daily, but I also get to combine many other things I like such as project management, writing, graphic design, coding, and strategy. It can get a bit stressful at times, but overall, I think I’ve found one of the best companies to work for doing the things I love.
9. Weight Watchers. Refer to #7. When I left college, I was literally able to fit a size 4 from NY & Company, but let’s say I was a stable size 6. After changing my meds, I lost 20 lbs. super quickly…but then they came back…and so did a few more. I had enough. I lost 40 lbs with weight watchers and have been able to keep it off. This is the only program/tool I’ve seen work in a sustainable manner (outside of depression, which was unhealthy weight loss). Since losing the weight, my confidence has totally gone up and I generally feel good about my body. Of course, I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s at a place I can appreciate the work.
10. My education. My education has been filled with some pretty good schools – from preschool through grad school, with the exception of a couple…but they did their job as well. My high school was the bomb dot-com. Super fun, college-oriented, and kind of strict. College followed suit, without the strict part. Michigan State would let you fail, kick you out and accept the next person in line without saying sorry. This is where I started growing up…I learned what it meant to have a career and to be responsible. I truly do believe it’s both what you learn in the classroom as well as what you learn outside of the classroom. That’s what makes you a well-rounded person, which brings me to my next point.
11. Extracurriculars. I was involved in so many different activities, it was almost ridiculous. Yet, it wasn’t. Being in these activities exposed me to so many different things I may have otherwise never had the opportunity to be exposed to, such as INROADS, which taught me how to interview, and BEEP which was so college-focused, it had us focused on standardized entrance testing from the 9th grade, or Ivylettes, which taught me to be in love with myself, appreciate my history, strength and sisterhood of being a black woman. There was dance, cheer, basketball, and track to add to the list. Many great friendships and good times resulted through these endeavors, sometimes through sassy attitudes and such, but great friendships nevertheless.
12. Family. Insane (in a hilariously good way). Smart. Encouraging. Helpful. Kind. Giving. Beautiful. Creative. And the list goes on. In addition to my brother, my family is my built-in system of friends. They can be loud and we can debate for days…and I love ’em to pieces. I don’t know. You may have a pretty awesome family, but I’m not sure you can find one better than mine. Dramatic family members included.
13. My mentee. This girl has taught me how to be caring, giving, accepting and so much more. I took a liking to her because she reminded me of myself at a younger age. Her family situation was similar – church all the time – and she was a bit rebellious. She has me beat on the rebellious part, but she’s one of the most kind, sweet young ladies a girl could know. And I love her for just being who she is. And, her son, my godson, is just adorable. Thanks for allowing me into your life DJ P. You’ve probably had as much of an impact on me as I’ve had on you, if not more.
14. All my students. Many of you may not know, but I taught youth bible study for years. It was there where I learned how much of an impact I could have on the lives of young people. And conversely, how much they could have an impact on me. We’ve cried together, laughed out loud together, and even fought, but I would not give that experience up for the world. Some are now married. Some have children. Some have graduated from college. And at least one is my at church roll dog. Once again, I’m not sure if there will ever be anyone outside of my husband and children who will teach me unconditional love as they have. Love y’all with all my heart.
15. My friends. Okay…my friends rock. From my besties from the O to the ladies and gents at the M and all those in between. To my BFFs, you all are the most amazing and supporting people in the world. We’ve been rolling tight since high school, and have had our ups, downs and all arounds. And the guys – the drama, the laughter, the pain, we’ve been through it all…and even as we’ve been through them, we can say “we still togetha” (In Living Color.) To my peeps from the M. I have NEVER met such an authentic group of people outside of my BFFs and my family. I’ve learned through you that skin color doesn’t matter as much as character. You all are the closest people I’ve ever been to who aren’t black…and I love you for it. You’ve helped to expand my mind, lauch like crazy, cry, and just show you who I am as well. From the real geeks to the faux geeks, we all rock. How about that for IE6? (I now laugh at tech jokes too.) Thanks for not only welcoming me into your world, but helping me understand how it’s a part of my world.
Wow…there is so much more. Like the song says, if I had 10,000 tongues, I wouldn’t be able to tsay enough. I am just super thankful for life and the people in it. This world is full of a bunch of crazy, but the people around me and some pretty cool experiences make it just that much better.