my tribe

advice revised (1)My Top 5, as I call them, are busy people: Fawn is a surgical nurse, Janet runs a highly successful real estate group and the Thinking Boise blog , Jodi has her own adolescent counseling business and blog, Briana recently moved to the Oregon Coast and is starting a new enterprise, and Maire has her own massage therapy business and is heavily involved in animal rescue. Despite their busy lives, they are always there for me. (This list is not in any particular order, BTW.)

Fawn took in Pooka and me when I left my ex. Janet is my walking encyclopedia and always knows where to point me. Jodi, being a counselor, knows how to pull out the stuff I’d rather keep buried and I always look to her when I’m bouncing ideas all over the place. Bri was the first person I went to when my heart was the most broken it’s ever been. Maire is the one I seek out when I need the hard truth told to me straight.

Taylor Swift doesn’t have it as good as I.

Recently I asked My Girls what the best advice they ever received was. What makes them the kind of women that recover from low points quickly? Why are they able to take the worst situations and make them extraordinary? How did they get that way? I mean, they’re all tough and sensitive at the same time. Push them down and they don’t come up swinging, they rise above and out of your reach. What keeps them afloat?

Fawn texted me, “Follow your heart…” I’ve watched her do this over and over, even while friends and family tell her to toughen up. She loves so completely. Once you’ve earned her affection, there isn’t much you can do to shake her. The greatest thing I’ve learned from her is to forgive the people who hurt us. As I watch her make her way through her new single life, I see that she can ask for help without flinching or giving up her pride, that she knows that love isn’t always rational, and that she is capable of such immense emotion even as a nurse who is trained to have boundaries. At times I worry about how sensitive she can be. And then I realize it’s hard to watch because I am built the same way. We understand each other. When we talk there are usually tears and hugs.

For Janet, the best advice came from a psychologist who advised her to go to Paris when friends invited her. “That was a game changer.” Anyone who says, “Never say no to Paris!” sounds like someone worth listening to, right? Long before I was a mother, Janet gave me the best parenting advice, “Always reassess.” Because of her, I look at every program, every school, every experience that Rhiannon has and I place value on them: Is this worth the money/time/energy – is this what Rhiannon needs? Janet taught me to do that. She is constantly working on bettering herself and her business. She’s a mentor to me in a lot of ways and one of the most amazing things she ever said to me is, “Just because you didn’t do everything right doesn’t mean that you deserve to be hurt and abused.”

Jodi wrote me, “Lots of things come to mind, but here’s my current one: Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that what they did was okay, it means you no longer give it the power to hurt/control you. So forgive and move on.” And she said forgiveness takes daily practice, so I’ve been mindful of that. Jodi has the great ability to make me feel like she’s agreeing with everything I say even while she’s redirecting me a bit. She’s not trying to change my mind or anything; she just knows intuitively how to get to the core of a situation. It’s probably why she works so well with adolescents. Maintaining positive energy is a gift and she makes it look easy. I always leave her company feeling like the answers are on their way to me.

Briana…She’s kind and lovable and flexible, even as she keeps careful boundaries and a tough heart. If this were the Wild West and I was called out to Main Street for a gunfight, she’d be the one with a rifle aimed at my enemy’s heart from some window (probably the brothel above the bar). Would she shoot? Not unless I signaled or she thought I was going to die. You’re guiding your own life, but she’s always available to jump in when you need her. How did she get so strong? “Other people’s opinions do not involve me.” How’s that for a mantra? It’s finally starting to sink in with me, too. When I’ve gone to her crying about my feelings being hurt, she has often said, “Fuck ’em. Who gives a shit about them? You have a great life. Focus on that.” She also gives the best hugs and is probably one degree of separation from President Obama. I’m not kidding. She knows everyone.

Maire. What can I say about Maire? We text almost daily and see each other at least every other week. She knows me. The best advice she ever got was, “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.” Like Bri, she can be tough with me. It’s okay. I know she loves me. I also know she’s tough because if she weren’t she’d be sitting in a basement rocking back and forth. This woman volunteers her time, money and energy to animal rescue. She’s seen the sad and the ugly. Her heart is bigger than Africa and she’s taught me that you can love and still have tremendous boundaries in order to keep sane. Get the work done. You can cry later. She knows when she can push me and she knows when I just need a hug and a shoulder. When she’s blunt, I weigh what she says carefully, because I know there’s a reason for it. She’s generous and makes time for the important things.

I admire these women. I respect them immensely. They’re similar in that they are ambitious and dynamic and beautiful, but they all contribute something unique to my circle. I’m thinking I need to get them all in the same room. Maybe start a poker game…