Remember back when I thought my dad visited me in the form of a small Asian man at the YMCA? Well, now I’m wondering if my mom’s been sending people my way, for years – but I just never noticed it.
Years ago, when I moved into my home in Glendale, I was struck by the generosity of my neighbor. Doris was black-haired, Greek and an amazing cook. People used to jokingly call her the casserole lady because she could always be seen delivering food to one person or another.
Luckily I made her list. She would show up the morning after she knew I’d hosted a PTA event and bring us giant platters of food saying, “You worked so hard last night, I knew you’d be tired, so I brought you guys breakfast.” Breakfast is an understatement for what she would bring. She and her daughter, Natasa would walk down the street carrying tray after tray of food offerings, as if I was friggin’ Cleopatra. There were omelets, meats, fresh fruits and vegetables. I would just look at her in awe and jokingly ask, “Did my mother send you?” She would always laugh and deny it, but I think they were in cahoots.
I’m forced to think Mom’s at it again, this time with Barbara, who works with me. She also has black hair, but is Hispanic and is my best cheerleader at my retail job. She’s the one who forced me to really think about my self-talk. She’s always patient, and supportive of me, and tells people about my blog and my baking, as proudly as if she was my mom. I honestly could not love her more if I tried.
Although Mom may be planting generous, black-haired women in my life to remind me of her, she also occasionally goes for blondes. Just last week a wonderful blonde friend, Debra, who I’ve collaborated with on freelance projects, offered me work that’s perfect right now. And there are my former neighbors Brian and Pam, who also employ me. Pam comes up with at least 15 ideas to improve my life daily.
They come in all sizes, shapes and hair colors. There’s my family that I truly lean on even though they’re two thousand miles away. And I have friends who’ve either been around for years, or re-emerged recently. We’ve created sort of a team of cheerleaders for each other. There’s Mandy, Nicol, Zoe, two Debras, Linda, Carolyn, Dawn, Denise, Chuck, Darian, and Esther – my swimming friend, who are all wonderful and the most amazing support system.
A few of us call each other, as a reminder to work on things we say we want to accomplish. It’s a good balance of support with a little tough love thrown in, along with a tons of positive reinforcement. If you don’t have this in your life, go out and recruit a few friends to do it with you. It makes a big difference when you’re held accountable to someone.
Especially if you’re in a creative field. You have to constantly reaffirm that you’re doing the right thing, even when no one seems to notice and the money isn’t immediately flowing in. You have to be your own cheerleader, which is not always easy. There are many days when you wonder why you keep pursuing something. But you do it because not doing it simply feels wrong.
Today, for some reason, I felt tearfully grateful to have these friends in my life. Not that I’m not usually appreciative, but today it really hit me how lucky I am to have such an amazing foundation. Is it luck, or is mom sending them my way?
I’ve read lots of books about how the universe wants you to get what you desire and when it’s right, everything comes together in an amazing way to make that happen. So, it could be the universe, (which I like to think of as God) or the spirit of a very determined short, Italian force feeder, named Mary — or both. Whatever it is, I’m pretty happy about it.
When my mom passed away, I definitely lost my best source of material, but more importantly, my most passionate cheerleader. Her faith in me was unshakable, and much stronger than my faith in myself. I never thought I would have anyone in my life who made me feel the way she did.
But, thank God, these angels appear again and again, propping me up when I so need it. I’ll be forever thankful to them. I’ve said before that death cannot weaken a finely honed revenge gene. Well, clearly, it can’t stop a determined cheerleader either.