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August Blog Challenge - Day 9

List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.

Okay, on this blog you've read a lot about my mom and dad.  And Dave, Doug and Kyle.  And Kenny, Zach, Kaitlyn and Kailee.  These people are my family.  Everything I do, I do for them.  It would be impossible for me to adequately describe their influence on me.  And I've talked about them a lot.  So I'm just going to say a word about each of them and what they've taught me - and then I'll go into 10 people outside that circle.

Mom taught me to think of others.  Dad taught me to work hard.  Dave taught me to love unconditionally and out loud.  Doug taught me to never give up and to enjoy each moment.  Kyle taught me to be a mother.  Kenny taught me to embrace the life you have and to laugh.  Zach taught me to think things through and go 100%. Kaitlyn taught me about honesty and that there is always sunshine, even when you can't see it.  Kailee taught me new aspects of faith and faithfulness.

1. Denise - Denise is my sister.  And she makes appearances in the blog, but I wanted to say more. She was my first friend.  She's funny and determined and smart.  She's an RN and does so much for people every day.  She comes home with the craziest stories.  She says "crayon" like "cren." She's brave and much more adventurous than I am.  She's brutally honest.  And cries like Grandma Vada when she laughs too hard.  In the most important times of my life, the worst and best days of my life, she was there.  Every time.  From eating ding-dongs on a fishing boat, to fighting over curling irons, to choosing bridesmaid dresses, to labor and delivery rooms, to picking flowers for funerals.  Most of my memories include her.  Memories of breaking into the old high school and eating unripened plums.  Memories of bike wrecks and plans to run away with our lunchboxes.  Memories of sleeping in a tent and playing pinochle with soggy cards.  Of stolen school buses on our front lawn.  Of talking all night.  Or fighting about whose shirt was that. Or going to Grandma's in the summer.  "Dammit Vada."  Of having someone to call when I didn't know what to do.  Or when I was mad.  Or when I was excited.  She is so herself.  Always has been, even before it was fashionable.  She and Darren are true-blue.  Our world needs more people like them.

2. Cheri & Cathy - these two, these two.  They sustained me in ways you can't imagine when Dave was sick, when he was dying.  These two were my lifeline.  They get it.  In a way no-one else could. There were other brain tumor folks, too, Diane (oh how your humor got me through) , Kari, Angela, Peter T, Al, Kara, Deanne, Cynthia...and others who get it...Sue and Claudia.  And people who just plain care, like Patti. These people are my tribe.  Without them, I wouldn't have survived.

3.  Melinda and Kristi and Paula - These three women helped guide my work with patience and grace and incredible insight.  Because of their leadership, I have grown as a person and as a therapist. Melinda taught me about kindness and empathy. Kristi teaches me about clarity and transparency.  Paula taught me about authenticity and digging deep.  I have enormous love and respect for these women and immense gratitude that they have been willing to invest in me, to teach me.

4. Evy - Evy has been my friend for 30 years.  She is passionate and curious and creative.  She makes me laugh. She thinks about things and when she doesn't know something, she finds out.  She supports people, meeting them right where they are, with exactly what they need.  Everyone should have an Evy in their life.

5.  Erik and Mark - from the days of the Currents, playing music in out-of-the-way places, to sitting with me in waiting rooms while Dave had surgery, to stepping into the gap for my children, these two men have illustrated what brotherhood means, what friendship means.

6.  Dave's family - faithful in prayer and support, these people are the salt of the earth.  I never met anyone so giving.  And especially Mindy, who always has time for coffee and a talk.  They have never wavered in their support of me and my children.  That is the definition of family and i am blessed to be included in theirs.

7.  Daryl - Read the blog challenge.  Enough said.  I love him with my whole heart.

8.  Rufus and Shelley - From giving me a place to get away to fixing my bathroom fan to huge hugs, these two are amazing.  Long stories, hot tubbing in the snow, road trips and cocktails.  My life is so much better because of them.  Seeing them is therapy.

9. Darlene - who is always there and doesn't know, either.  Who never lets me feel like I'm alone in this.

10.  Peter - of course, Peter, who loved Dave and was ever faithful in his Friday night calls for 20 years, who stepped up and continued to love our family through Dave's death, who never wavered in being there for us, who woke me from a 10 year slumber and gave me hope.

There are many more, of course...from Jeana and Craig who I love like my own to my math teacher in high school who helped me recognize that I am smart to my grandmother Loree who showed me what a strong woman looks like to Eric who helped us navigate the mystery that is Kenny to the autism mom tribe Cindy, Carla, Vicki, Teri to the college professor that called me brilliant to the grad school advisor who told me I had keen insight to my childhood friend Lisa who shared so many of my memories to Pastor Robin who helped us find faith every time it was shaken to my high school friend Robin who influenced my choice to go to University of Puget Sound, which changed everything.  I can't possibly name them all.

Each of these people has given me far more than I deserve.  I am blessed.

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