I've had a few friends go through some really difficult times recently... well, over the last couple of years actually. It's all come together in my mind recently, how lucky I am to have such amazing friends... strong, brave, inspirational, funny, talented, determined and beautiful (inside and out). Everything they have gone through is a reminder to me... to be grateful for my life.... my health, my home, my partner, my (newish) job, my friends and family. I'm going to share a few of their stories with you... because they are a constant source of inspiration and strength to me. I'm adding a few descriptors beside each name but all of the above mentioned qualities apply to all the wonderful women listed below.
Alli - determined, beautiful, inspirational. Super talented Alli and I met through crafting and became instant friends. She is always so positive, always has a smile on her face. Over the last year, she has gone through a number of challenges including a significant knee injury, her son being diagnosed with Autism (a long, hard road) and numerous family challenges. Through all of this, she has persevered, making big changes in her life and becoming super strong and healthy. Her and I ran the Victoria Goddess Run 5K together last Sunday and it was fantastic! It was her first official run and I was there to support her and do a 'fun run' (as much as running can be fun!). She finished strong, coming 19th overall (I was a wee bit behind her at 24th - a mere 15 seconds)... the story of the run and our friendship can be found here. Note: all of sweet things she said are equally true of her.
Anudeep - brave, beautiful, funny. A relatively 'new' friend in my life but a very cherished one, nonetheless. We met at work and quickly realized we had a lot in common, including yoga, running, food and craftiness. Two weeks ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, two months before her wedding. Pausing for the tears to reappear... she is in her early thirties and of Asian descent... a 0.43% chance of getting breast cancer. She's super healthy too. What the hell (stronger words come to mind but I will refrain)... ranks pretty high in the 'life isn't fair category'. She has been so strong about it... and has kept her amazing sense of humour. Cancer is a solo journey in so many ways but I will do whatever I can to support her.
Emily - funny, talented, strong. A 'virtual' friend... we know each other through blogging, email (many, many, many emails), and Skype. I think our friendship started out after I replied to a comment she had made about a green cupcake on my blog. The emails have not stopped since and I feel like we've known each other for years. Earlier this spring, emails were going back and forth making me thing something was 'up' but never did get a straight answer. Turns out Emily was pregnant... but I didn't find out until she miscarried. Having never been pregnant, I can't pretend to know what it's like but I can just imagine the devastation. Through it all, she maintained her strength and sense of humour. Two qualities in her I really admire. She has bounced back quickly (or so it seems to me) and is back to her funny, talented self.
Gillian - strong, inspirational, determined. How does she inspire me? Let me count the ways... 1) selling her condo, taking a leave of absence from her job and travelling (with her partner Jason) around the world for a year, 2) leaving her comfort zone (a.k.a. here - Victoria, BC - I really miss her and Jason) to move to Calgary (it snows there... ick... you know my feelings on that) to shake up life and move towards their goal of living overseas, 3) staying strong through the death of her and Jason's father last year (within two weeks of each other, right before Christmas). She writes an amazing travel blog and always has these amazing insights on life that never cease to amaze me.
Jill - talented, strong, funny. We first met at A Muse training in Seattle a few years ago and became instant friends. We have a lot in common - science geeks, child free, crafty addicts, love of food & drink and sarcastic sense of humour. Jill finished her Master's degree last year (still on my to-do list). This, in itself, is an accomplishment but Jill did it while being a full time middle school science teacher. I've been to her class room and heard about all of the amazing things she does so this makes me admire her even more. She works sooo hard at being an amazing teacher. She even does a forensics unit... wish I could sit in on that! In addition, she has mini teaching gigs in the summer and in the evenings. Never a dull moment at her house! Not sure how she breathes sometimes... In addition, she recently received an award for her Master's thesis! Wow! I was so impressed but not surprised. She works so hard yet still maintains a great sense of humour... although I'm not sure when she sleeps.
I chose to share these few stories because these lovely ladies have shared their stories on their blogs. However, I know many other friends and family members who have gone through numerous challenges over the last few years too... divorce, family upheaval, breast cancer, prostate cancer, multiple miscarriages, 100+ pound weight loss, death of a parent, job loss, major illness... I think that list is long enough with out me continuing on. So next time you are a bit cranky because the price of gas is too high (pricey in the US, pricier in Canada, priciest in Europe), your kids didn't pick up their toys and you tripped on them (I only have myself to blame when I trip on stuff because I'm clumsy and it's my stuff I'm tripping over), your spouse didn't pick up their clothes off the bedroom floor (that would be me at our house), you didn't with the latest contest, you didn't get published in the latest (crafty) magazine, you had a bad day at work... remember, there are regular people out there overcoming significant challenges and keeping a smile on their face. I am grateful to know a few of those amazing people and to them I say... "thank you for the honour of being your friend and keep on being a phenomenal human being".
ETA (courtesy of Jill):
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle - Plato
Thanks for 'listening'... hope you are having a great weekend.
You are so amazing - 4.25"x5.5"
Stamps: Paper Smooches Chit Chat
Paper: white card stock, SEI Sunny Day
Ink: Stampin’ Up! Old Olive, Chocolate Chip, Tangerine Tango
Accessories: A Muse Studio Sugar organdy ribbon, EK Success 1.5” circle punch