Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Forum #4 - Women of Influence


"An ethereal fluid held to flow from the stars and to affect the actions of humans"

"An emanation of spiritual or moral force"

The lovely Mental P. Mama from The Mental Pause Chronicles came up with the lovely suggestion:
"Tell us who the most influential woman in your life was/is. And not a close relative! I love these inspirational stories. "

Wow. A rather loaded question, that.

I've been mulling this for a few days now, and think I have an answer. And, in true Baroness fashion - it shan't be just one answer. I don't want to leave anyone out.

And, just to clear up any preconceived ideas - my woman of influence isn't her.

And definitely not her.

Not that there's anything wrong with them. They just didn't fit with me personally.

I have to say that the proviso that threw me for a loop here was the "and not a close relative". Because, hands down that would have been my amazing mom.

I would imagine, though, if I were to scroll through the list of women in my life, I would have to say that there are a great deal whose spirits have flown in an ethereal manner, down from the stars and directly into my heart.

There was my uncle's girlfriend Marina, who treated me not as some bothersome teenager but as a peer. She told me that I could do anything that I wanted to. I suppose I could have looked at it as yet another adult platitude, but she said it with such conviction and passion, I had no choice but to believe her.

And, to some degree, she has been right.

Whenever I face adversity, I just fall back to that evening, walking along the train tracks at dusk, when she spoke those words. I had never had anyone say something so positive and personal to me in my life to that point. It was a pivotal moment. That single phrase resonated through to my very core.

In my writing, there are two very prevalent influences - and I initially had my blog subtitle as a loving nod to both of them - Baroness von Bloggenschtern - the love child of Erma Bombeck and Fran Lebowitz. If, you know, Erma liked women, and Fran would have ever considered conception.

I began reading Erma from an early age. I liked her voice, and I liked her realistic portrait of a 20th century family. She managed to be classy and down to earth at the same time.

As for Miss Fran, I read Metropolitan Life as an early adult, and it slayed me. Everything about her writing appealed to me. Ever the cool NY urbanite. So sardonic. So wry. So the kind of writer I wanted to be (minus all the smoking - asthma, ya know?)

Revisiting the book a few years ago, it still holds the same magical appeal.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the spiritual and moral forces I call my friends and their influences on me. They are all, to the one, graceful as ballerinas in their daily rounds, and to me appear to create a wondrous dance around all the obstacles in their lives. I can't imagine the person I would be without having the privilege of knowing and observing them.

My friend Darcy, who with her genius and wild creativity, fills my silly bucket to overflowing, and shows me how to remain exquisitely grounded, yet still fly like a rubber chicken.

My friend Jery, the original Greenster - green long before ecological matters became the vogue - some of the smallest carbon footprints I've ever seen. She gave me a glimpse into what adult life should be like, and how to balance work and enjoyment. She's practical and taught me the art of being a raconteur. One of the best ever.

My friend Patty. She is my uber-mentor. Anything I'm facing, she has been there, done that, all with grace and compassion. She rarely does the "I Told you so" dance, and if she does, it's set to either polka music or Dean Martin. I am constantly emulating her people skills (of which her talents are boundless) - and guess what? Every time I have a "What Would Patty Do?" moment, and react accordingly, things always, always, always work out.

Kathe. She is the embodiment of everything a friend should be, and has opened my eyes to unselfish giving. Through her words and actions, she has shown me countless times what to do, when to do it, and how to always do it with love and heart.

Cathy. Here is a woman who influences me greatly, just by my watching her go about her daily rounds. Frequently, she is the eye of the storm, and manages to gracefully move through with conviction, compassion, and unfailing empathy. She constantly puts others' needs above her own, and does so in the most immaculate way I have ever seen. She's a true wonder, that one.

Sue. Influences the way I look at my community, my neighborhood, my family. Has taught me to look for treasures in my own back yard.

Jean. One of the most sensible people I have ever met in my life, and possesses (I believe) most of the world's common sense. She's an expert in damn well near everything, and if I were ever lost in the woods, I'd want her with me.

Anna. Bar none, one of the most blazingly, terrifyingly, intelligent woman I have ever met. I will always aspire to match her, but I don't have a chance.

I'm sure I'll hear from the ones I've missed. Sorry, misses - I'm working on decaf today, so not all the cylinders are firing. You know I love you. Blame it on the chemo...

Just as I can see at least one redeeming quality in every movie I watch, I am constantly amazed and influenced by the real-life movies of every woman I have the pleasure to know.

Each one has their story, and their beauty and their strength, and it is the learning from these which I am so grateful for, every damn day. It is this which influences me, spiritually and morally.

And all of you? Who are your women of influence, and why?


Tracey_iPost said...

Holy cow. This was deep. So deep that I think I need to throw you a lifeline and pull you out!

Don't know that I could think or type that much on the subject! Kudos to you!

Oh, and I surely would NOT pick HER either.

baroness von b said...

Countess Tracey: What can I say? As are most noblewomen, I am a humungous windbag. Don't get me started on Guernseys... :)

Anonymous said...

Am I excluded because I'm a "close relative"?
Ha I kid I kid.

And to be honest, I have absolutely NO CLUE who influences me.
I've actually never been so uncertain about something EVER.
But I will mull about it, and think of something inspiring. (Yeah right, keep dreaming)

I'm jealous that you're sure of your answer. haha

Baroness von B said...

Countess Schmee: Ha ha ha.


Age might have something to do with it as well - I've known Darcy since I was 16, and Jery since I was 18.

Do the math, university student!

Rest assured if it was a list of influential women whose diapers I changed, you would be #1 - with a bullet.

Anonymous said...

Possibly my aunt. I only say that because she's the kindest person I've ever met, possesses the most delightful sense of humor, and has a knack for gathering loved ones close to her.

She cracked her oncologist and his nurses up over the last two years. Her sense of the ridiculous and her ability to recongize beauty allow her to conquer any endeavor.

I have the tiniest of hopes of possibly someday mastering the smallist bit of her kindness and wit.

Mental P Mama said...

Oh thank you! I love hearing about people who made/make a difference. You are a very rich woman, indeed....

David said...

Great list and wonderful post! I am a huge "Fran" fan as well

The Queen said...

My Dear Baroness,

I see you as an amzing soul, keeping strong and confident.

And very funny!

Your humble cyber friend,

The Queen.

neutron said...

I really liked the part about Marina. She sounds like a real star.

Influential women: Mrs. Drooker, one of the best teachers I ever had.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess AG: Your aunt sounds like both a hoot and a treasure! May she inspire you for many years to come (although I gotta say, from what this eyewitness saw, you are way way up in the kind department already....)

Countess MPM: I always knew that I had an amazing group of women friends - it took getting ill to realize the depth and the magnitude of their worth. Lucky me, indeed.
Thanks for the suggestion, btw!

Count David: Yes, that Fran. I read she made a "best-dressed" list recently. Imagine that.

Your Majesty: You are too, too kind. (But keep it coming...)

Count of Ping Pong: Marina was a marvel. I miss her something fierce. And influential teachers? The best people on the planet, in my estimation - their effect can make the difference between a leader and a follower. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh Baroness, you are too kind to selfish, lazy, bad-tempered, lackadaisical me. I know I have moments but lately they are too far and few, caught up as I am in my demon spawns' travails. Love you for thinking so well of me ( along with all the other reasons that I love you).

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess Rachel: If I were to believe your thinking, your "moments" are spectacular. And not every star can burn bright all the time. You look great in both dim and bright light...

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