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It Takes a Village

DISCLAIMER: this post is not design-related. It's more like a life-related post. So if you're here for some more design tips, sorry, next post. 

Lately I've been thinking about people who influence your life, for the better. (Sidenote: sometimes I get a little deep with my thoughts; I'm not a sarcastic smartass all the time :)) And when I think of those people who have impacted my life for the better and helped to make me who I am today, there are seven that stand out. As they say, it really does take a village to raise a child ... (or a child in a 32 year old's body). NOTE: this isn't the end-all-be-all list of people that mean something to me; there are plenty of others, but these seven have a special place in my heart.

1. My mom and dad
I hit the parent lottery, I swear. And apparently they did something right because when people who know me meet them, they get complimented on what a nice young lady I am. But seriously; I owe my mom and dad a ton. More than I will ever be able to repay them. They're both supportive in their own ways and never once told me that I couldn't do something (although I did get called a dumbass by my dad when I got my first tattoo).

Growing up, a famous line from my dad was "don't half-ass it." He wanted the job done right the first time. I learned hard work from both of my parents and it's the foundation that's helped me through school, through swimming and now my career. Just don't half-ass it. Work hard. 

I am definitely my father's daughter. While I did inherit his temper (something that has gotten the best of me in the past), I also got his competitive drive. This is something my mom has trouble understanding (she's super laid back). My dad has been trapshooting competitively for 40+ years. And he's good. Not just good sometimes, he's GOOD ALL THE TIME. I swear, he's got ice water in his veins. And I can tell you, when he doesn't shoot well, he's not happy. We both aren't satisfied with participating: we want to do our best and when we don't, we work harder the next time to make sure that we do. My dad, he's pretty freaking awesome. And he has a fantastic moustache. 

My mom, well she's pretty neato too. She's taught me that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you deal with it. When I was 9 she got diagnosed with MS. She never complained or wondered "why me"; she just kept plugging along. She's really good at, well, looking for the good in things. I get my creativity from her. She's a phenomenal sewer and growing up, we had the sweetest Halloween costumes in the neighborhood (sidenote: I can't sew for s**t). She's also taught me that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. She worked in a hospital for 40+ years and her famous line is "it'll get better before you get married." This meant we had to be puking, bleeding from the head or have broken something to leave school sick. (She thought my brother just needed to use the bathroom once but in reality he had appendicitis; had surgery on Friday and was back to school on Monday. No joke). 

2. My high school art teacher
This very special lady is the main reason that I am a designer today. Mrs. B took all of my right brain craziness and managed to get me to harness it into drawing. I was always drawing when I was younger and always enjoyed drawing and writing; she just took the nob and cranked it up to 11. I have learned a lot from her over these 15+ years. Now, instead of using paint or chalk to design something, I use the computer. It's a little different, but the design principles, what to look for when creating a design and how to make everything flow all still apply.

She also had this way of just making you feel important and to me, that is almost more critical than her lessons on art and design. She's my second mom and I love her dearly. She's also the reason I'm poor now: she showed me the new house I just bought (three houses down from her).

3. My high school religion teacher
I'm a Catholic school brat. Thirteen years from Kindergarten on through. Mrs. Boyle was my religion teacher my junior year of high school. And man, was she awesome. She had a couch in her classroom and that couch was the place to be before you had to go to your first class. She took different movies and songs and wove them into her lesson plans. Whenever I catch a few minutes of Hardball or With Honors, I think of her. And I can't listen to Everyday by Dave Matthews Band without thinking of her either. In addition to lessons on religion, I got lessons on life, growing up, accepting others and how to make the most of each day. She is a very special lady and a wonderful educator.

4. My high school swim coach
I could write you an entire post on Jackie. But I will simply say this; whenever I think of her, I just smile. She made me fast in the pool. Plain and simple. I loved swimming for her. I had complete faith that what she was having me do would pay off at the end of the season. If she told me that getting faster meant running through brick walls, I would have done it, no questions asked. From Jackie I learned mental toughness. I learned how to grind. And keep grinding. Swimming teaches you so many different life lessons; and Jackie was the best at delivering those lessons. Some of my best swim memories are of swimming for her.

Like with Mrs. Boyle, I have songs that take me back to high school and remind me of her. Send Me on My Way by Rusted Root. Two Step by Dave Matthews Band (the live versions from Red Rocks and Listener Supported cranked up at an obscene level). Jack Johnson's album On and On. G Love and Special Sauce's Greatest Hits album. I decided to attend Youngstown State because I wanted to continue to swim for Jackie. And while I never got the chance to experience swimming for her in college (she got married and moved to Virginia between me signing my letter of intent and the start of my freshman year), it all worked out in the end.

I feel like two paragraphs doesn't do this woman enough justice. It doesn't. But it's hard for me to verbalize how deeply Jackie impacted me. I think that if you've known people like this in your life, you're going to pick up what I'm putting down. 

5. My childhood friend
I've known Natalie for 26 years. We grew up together at the local swim club in the summers from grade school through middle school.  She's ridiculously smart. She's also the only engineer that I know who is also really creative. She got the best of both brains. We go long stretches without seeing one another, but when we do, it's like nothing has changed. We have this incredible level of comfort with each other that comes from twenty plus years of friendship. We're the same, but we're different all at the same time and I think that's what has made our friendship work. She's also the only person allowed to call me Rebecca. And she does.

6. My best friend
I met Lindsey about seven years ago when I started snowboarding. We were in a ski queen pageant together (ask me about it sometime). She is my sister from another mister. She calls me on my shit, which at times, is uncomfortable for me, but know that she does it to make me better. I have this tendency to overthink the hell out of things and she knows it. She accepts me, quirks and all (and if you've met me, you know I've got some quirks). She listens to me complain. And whine. And I do the same for her when she needs to vent. For all of you Grey's Anatomy fans out there, she's my person. Some of the best post-college memories I have involved Lindsey. She's one of the most genuine people that I know; she's a good listener and phenomenal skier. And most importantly, she is one of my dearest friends. 

In writing this, all six (well seven) of these people have one thing in common: they make me want to be better. I think that if you can find one person who makes you want to be better, you're doing pretty damn good. I have seven. If you don't have someone like this, I hope that you find one. Because I think that before you believe in yourself, someone has to believe in you. 

Ma and Pa. And Pa's fantastic moustache I've literally never seen him without.

Ma and Pa. And Pa's fantastic moustache I've literally never seen him without.

 
Mrs. B. One of my favorite people on the planet.

Mrs. B. One of my favorite people on the planet.

 
I learned much more than religion in Mrs. Boyle's classes. So. Much. More.

I learned much more than religion in Mrs. Boyle's classes. So. Much. More.

 
Jackie. So many memories that will forever bring a smile to my face.

Jackie. So many memories that will forever bring a smile to my face.

 
Natalie. Every brunette needs a ridiculously smart blonde best friend.

Natalie. Every brunette needs a ridiculously smart blonde best friend.

 
Lindsey. Dis my favorite person right here. Dis my favorite.

Lindsey. Dis my favorite person right here. Dis my favorite.