How you became the woman or man that you are today?
I did yesterday, just randomly. I think I was blow drying my hair and fussing over my new bangs and being " just so" about how they look ( that's right I said bangs- baby has sassy hair now- pictures soon). I wondered, how did I get so anal about something so small?
The ideas began to swirl. Was it my mother? Nope, not a chance. Ma Mere hasn't even touched a blow dryer in the past 15 years. That's when I realized, it wasn't my mother - or even anyone that I ever knew well. It was a woman that I met briefly one summer when I was 18 whose last name I can't even remember (read more about her below).
This struck me as amusing- how funny that we subconsiously ( and maybe sometimes consciously) select the peices from people whom we admire and respect to help put the puzzles of our selves together. Sometimes it may even be people who we hate that shape us, be it through tribulations that they force us to weather or characteristics of theirs that we recognize as unscrupulous and spend our lives trying no to emulate.
This thought is the catalyst of todays post ; my reflection on the 10 people whom I feel shaped me into who I am (and am becoming) today. They are not particularly in the proper order but I was having a little word vomit and let the post flow as it would.
Disclaimer: Its a long one.
Here we go:
10. Sandra Kay ----?
This is the lady whose last name I cannot remember. She was the wife of the pastor at my sister's church in Tampa, Fl. Because my brother-in-law was minister of music at said church my sister spent much time with Ms. Sandra Kay and they became friends. When I was 18 I spent the entire summer with my sister and her family in Florida- just before I was introduced to Sandra Kay my sister tried to describe her to me. She didn't wax poetic about Sandra Kay's character or her kindess, or her great love of Jesus; no, my sister said to me:
"Sandra Kay is the most put together woman you will ever meet in your life, her nails are always done, her make up is flawless, and never is a hair on her head out of place". And this woman was everything my sister said- and perky, oh so perky to boot.
From that moment on, I knew this was the way that I wanted people to see me.
Practically perfect in every way.
Do I live up to it?
It is the impossible dream and it is exhausting - in real life eye makeup smudges into circles under your eyes after a long day at work, hair frizzes in the humidity, nails break and perky? Baby can't be perky all day.
Yet somehow when I'm deciding whether or not to be put together, go the extra mile, spend the extra time on myself and how I present my self, when I'm just about to lazy out of it and let my bangs do whatever I want- there's Sandra Kay whats-her-name pushing me to be the most put together Amber Lane that I can be.
9. Mrs. Helton 3rd Grade Teacher:
My third grade teacher was telling my class the story of the incident in Waco, Texas. You remember. the one with the Branch Dividians who were held hostage situation until the siege of their compound? Well, as 8 and 9 year olds we were stunned by the story of the man who believed he was God and was brainwashing children
(also why would you tell children this story?)
From the back of the room one of my classmates asked for the name of this man. Presumably my teacher must have thought that these details were unimportant to children of this age so she told us,
"I'm not going to tell you- you wont remember anyway"
I raised my hand and was called on,
"Please tell us, I'll remember - I swear"
She told us, shaking her head and quickly moved on.
I still remember the name, David Koresh and I won't forget it as long as I live.
Mrs. Helton made me realize that the more you tell me I won't/can't do something: the more I'm going to try to prove you absolutely, 100% wrong.
8. My grandma: Anna Lane
Grandma was a worrier- Amber Lane is a worrier. Right now, I' m so worked up over the swine flu I can hardly express my concern. Fears of a modern day buobonic plague are swimming around in my head and if I so much as dream of getting a stomach ache i'll be at the doctor faster than you can blink a mascarad eye. Though grandma passed when I was just 5 years old- we find that I adopted her worry- gene pure and honest. Also- Grandma's style was once described as: classic, which I loved and have strived ever since to mimic a timeless, classic, only slightly trend infused style just like my mamaw.
7. Ma Mere
Sometimes from those you love most- you learn most about who you do not want to become. I love my mother more than I could ever express, I respect her, admire her, and feel truly blessed that our relationship is significantly more than a mother daughter relationship; but also a true friendship. I would not change her for the world (well not much anyway) but through her faults and mistakes I have recognized the things that I refuse to become and the biggest of these things is afraid.
I refuse to sit back and let things happen to me, I refuse to become passive aggressive. I refuse to be stepped on. I refuse to settle for less than what I deserve simply because I fear having my voice heard or being met with opposition. Through her meekness in this arena, I have found my strength and am hoping that in turn I will be able to instill some of it on her so that in her later life she can have everything she deserves: especially love.
Please do not mistake me though, there are many positive qualities that Ma Mere positve that she has also instilled upon me: acceptance, thankfulness, adventurousness, and passion just to name a few.
6 & 5 My Sisters
Being the baby of three girls means that I have had two big sisters to mimic for the last 24.75 years. Being 18 + years younger than them means that I've had the space to define what from each of them I admire most.
Niesie has a joy that radiates from the inside out- she will probably tell you its Jesus and she's probably right (they are after all in the ministry). You can tell she's just got that special something and that draws people to her, makes them comfortable, makes them feel loved. She is kind and generous and will reach out to anyone who needs her.
Her singing voice is what first turned my eye to music and pushed me to excellance throughout my performing years. Even 20 years apart I was competing with her, always striving to be better than she was- the best part? Even if I was, even if I am -she would never have seen it as a competition, she never would have been envious- she would have been proud. I long to posess those qualities and I think if I fully could I would be a much better person.
Diana of course has always been present in my life- but it hasn't been until the past few years that I've grown to recognize what we have in common and just how she has influenced me. Diana too, is kind and generous to those she meets. Above all else though- Diana is cheerful and helpful and optomistic. I rarely hear her complain about a thing- if the going gets tough Diana gets going and that's the attitude I find myself trying to take to- although I have to admit- though I get going- I also get compleining- but at least I'm going! I find that I also have Diana's eye for detail- while its great in most areas of life, I hate to tell ya if you have a teeny stain on your white shirt, your skirt is covered in lint, or you have lipstick on your teeth- we're going to notice it- but at least we'll find a polite, non threatening way to tell you so that you may fix the problem- we'll probably even offer you the Tide pens, lint rollers, and mirrors from our own purses to get you back on track!
They are my style icons. Some people like Audrey - but I'm more of a Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Mae West kind of girl. I find that there is much to be mimicked from the gals of this era from manor of dress to attitudes towards men to how they conduct business ( in le bubblebath of course). For those of you with inner bombshells I recommend The Bombshell Manual of Style By: Laren Stover- AKA The Bible. I feel that this influence relates back to the first..... its all about the manor in which I would like to be perceived.
3. My Papaw
He is the reason I am where I am today. It was his later life that led me down the path to the career that I am in. As a junior in high school I was nearby when my papaw began to decline. In just a few short months he went from his own apartment, to a nursing home, to my mom's home. It was at this time my mother and I became his primary care givers. It soon became my responsibility to take him to doctor's appointments and on shopping trips. When he fell sick again and revisited the nursing home I got a job there to be near him (and well you know make some extra paper) it was through my time at the nursing home and with my grandpa that I became interested in the study of gerontology and began taking classes just "for fun' in this field. Little did I know that somehow this would meld with my creative background to lead me to my career. Papaw passed away when I was a junior in college but I'm sure that he would be so proud of where I am today. I have to say its been awhile since I've taken the time to reflect on this and I'm suddenly very sad that he's not here to share in my life changes of late.
2. Denise Harrison Women's Studies Professor
There were lots of things I appreciated about this woman. She was bold she expected a lot and she was going to push you until she got it. She respected that in her students as well and once commended me on my ability to bring the class back together through my writing when I spoke out about another classmate who broke the classes confidentiality agreement by making our list serv public to a friend, calling us all stupid, and accidentally posting it for everyone to read. Denise Harrison already had my attention- but then one day while we discussed a film we watched based on a same-sex couple, she remarked that as her children were growing up she never assumed that either of them would be straight or gay or made any inclination as to which she would prefer as a mother- she simply spoke about love as something that occurs between two people and let their lives run theircourses. I respected that immensly and it further cemented my views on homosexuality and same sex marriage. Just in case there is any doubt I beleive in acceptance- not tolerance, and say yes to legalizing love.
To this day hold that pearl of wisdom from a professor I only had one semmester; close to me in the jewelery box engraved motherhood for when it is my duty to guide my children through matters of the heart.
1. The Ex That Took The Cake Vrs. The One and ONLY Bennyboo (PS Bennyboo WINS!)
I don't talk about him here- or really anywhere anymore. He doesn't deserve it. But it is important to note that there is a man who I once gave my heart to that didn't deserve it. At his best he was romantic, open minded, and artistic. At his worst he was hateful, venomous, and abusive- physically abusive. He could twist beautiful words into nasty phrases that shattered my spirit and three+ years of my life. Not to mention he beat the crap out of me once and that kind of sucked too. He was a loud presence in my life who long after our demise screamed hateful words into my heart. I became bitter and hateful. Unable to give an inch in my relationships always demanding attention and respect and a certain distance from the full gift of my heart.
And Bennyboo, my sweet Bennyboo quietly stood in the spilled blood of my past relationship, treading lightly over damaged skin, yet strongly asserting his presence in my life. He stood beside me, he held me up, he showed me what it was to really be loved- with no ulterior motives, no agenda- he just accepted me- even after I had been wounded. Though I will never say he rescued me ( I feel that the abused can only truly rescue themselves lest they will always remain the abused) he did push me to be stronger, not to be a victim, and to let go of control all over again - surrender to the love, his love that I deserved.
If I faltered (and I did falter), he gave me the figurative butt whoopin' that I needed to get over my shit and move on it wasn't always pretty but it was often just what I needed to knock my off the pedastal that no woman in a relationship belongs on. My Bennyboo stood in a shadow for a long time- patiently encouraging my growth as a person, as a woman but he never let me forget that he was there. It wasn't until I had finally learned that it wasn't all about me, my past, my pain that he could fully step out of the cold shadows of my past and our relationship could fully bloom. I am so lucky and so blessed to be in the spring time of our relationship- and thoughI know winter will come from time to time- I also know we've created a shelter to weather it in together.
Miss Amber Lane