Well as I start and stop to write my piece for Empowered and Poised, I am overcome with so many emotions regarding the woman I have become. You say empowered and poised, I couldn't agree more of how those two words fit the product of what you see, when you look at me. I have overcome so many obstacles, or what others may call obstacles. My story is one, I did not realize until a few years ago, how life’s circumstances would mold and shape me into a multifaceted human being.
I am a giver and server by nature. I am a product of divorce. I am a part of the sandwich generation. I am a good wife, mother, sister, cousin, and a darn good friend. The picture I selected reminds me that life can be what you make it; this picture was taken with my Mother, my Aunt and their friend, one Saturday in October of 1976, at an amazing restaurant in Painesville, that had a fabulous staircase. I did not know the wonders and fears this four-year-old girl would face. I remember growing up I wanted to stand with confidence, elegance and light up a room like my Mother, I can do that. I remember wanting to be strong and have an authoritative voice my like my Aunts, I can do that. It’s what it took to become those things. I could have chosen various aspects of my life to let you see how I have become who I am. The years that best molded and shaped me into who I am were my teenage years.
To make a lengthy story short, I considered myself to be a normal teenager. I was still active in the arts, music and extracurricular activities at school; while handling some major responsibilities. I can remember my Grandmother (my Mother’s Mom) telling me I can be anything I want to be, but I better learn how to walk, without throwing those hips (which in my mind were non-existent) and only move at your waist, as you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. And then with my Mother so keen on etiquette and poise; sit up straight, do this or that exactly like this so it’s right. So, of course being obedient I practiced very often, until both of them no longer mentioned my “inadequacies”. My Grandmother, was such an intricate part of my life. Very few words were spoken by her to me as a teen, but what was verbalized permeated my heart and my mind. I will never forget the years I spent helping to take care of my Grandmother and another Aunt that had cerebral palsy. Those teenage years that were supposed to be fun filled and fancy free; were more so work and responsibilities; with sprinkles of normalcy. However, I did not see it like that at all. You may wonder why I did not stay at home with my Mother and 2 brothers during those years. It was primarily due to my Grandmother and Aunt needing help. My Mother volunteered me to be the one to do it; as she worked at the Nuclear Plant and dealt with her MS. Hmmm, I was a teenage caregiver, imagine that!
Yes, there was some heartache as I faced bullying or teasing from other students because of my large nose, or my hair might not have been quite right, or my clothing may not have been the latest fashion. Sure, there were days I felt like an average emotional teen dealing with issues among my peers. But, I overcame that, because of the reinforcements from all the strong women around me! I think having the responsibility of cleaning a home (with help); preparing breakfast and dinner; writing out the bills/checks; learning how to triage tasks (because they would rattle off a few items at a time and don’t ask to have it repeated, that showed a lack of attentiveness): getting them ready for doctor’s appointments; forming relationships with the “old folks” that would visit; all of this prepared me for what I would face as an adult in business and family life. Through it all I have learned to trust and depend on God. Reflecting now and then, I thank God for allowing me to care for my Grandmother and Aunt; and being able to receive guidance from the women in my life during those teenage years to help propel me into the life I live today.