I’ve got some stuff I need to get off my chest, and it’s about my gal pals. You see, in a woman’s life, girlfriends come and they go. In every way imaginable, and for every reason under the sun. We tend to focus on the ones that stay for a lifetime and laud the indescribable and incredible part they play in our lives, as well we should, but I’ve got something to say to ALL of them, from our soul-sisters, to our childhood friends, and even those female friends that stay for the briefest of times.
You’ve all had an impact on my life, how I carry myself, and how I conduct myself on a daily basis, and on who I am.
Friends come and go in our lives, and most of the women I’ve formed a connection with over my lifetime don’t seem to truly understand what they leave behind in my life, which is a piece of themselves. So the point of this post is to tell them, to shout it out to the world, and make them understand the pivotal role in my life they have played, and the things they have taught me. So many things. I guess I feel the need to do this partly because I prefer to be a pretty solitary and introverted individual, I don’t often make the effort to stay in touch, and I’m not a great communicator. But the truth is that I think of various friends on a daily basis, and my appreciation of them is deep and lasting. So here goes!
I have a beauty regimen every day that I follow. For a girl like me, that’s nothing less than a modern miracle. Things like fashion, hair, makeup, etiquette, and just beauty in general are so far beyond my comprehension that I really (and I mean really) have to work at it. If left to my own devices, I would run around every day with crazy hair and fried skin, and wearing who knows what. OK, I’ll admit it, some days I do just that. But on the other days I get up and I put my face on and I try to match cute outfits and make sure my shoes kind of go with what I’m wearing. And ya’ know who that’s thanks to? An amazing girl named Katie that I met when we were about 12 years old and just starting junior high. We shared a love of horses, and she and her ever-tolerant family basically adopted me. Let’s face it, sometimes when we’re that age we just don’t listen to our own mothers on self-care. For me it took a super cool and pretty friend Katie to set the example. I’ll never forget Katie teaching me things like how to do each other’s hair, expertly apply glittery shades of eyeshadow, and the reason why we should end every letter to each other with LYLAS. She taught me how to fold clothes with the same method I still use, and her family took me sailing on their boat, which introduced me to one of my passions. Most importantly, Katie taught me that it was fun sometimes to be a girl, instead of a wild haired tom boy, and at a critical point in my life when I needed just that.
I’ve always been socially awkward and had a hard time fitting in. I would guess that’s pretty typical of a barefoot farm girl who has a herd of cattle and a pony for her best friends. But I was always saying or doing the wrong thing, which led to more awkward exchanges and it seemed it was a vicious cycle sometimes. Then I met a girl named Bethy. With a personality bigger than the Texas sky, this little freckle faced fighter never met a stranger in her life. We met when she came up to me at a horse show and acted like we’d known each other for years. I’ll never forget when we reconnected in our teenage years and I rode in her truck the first time. I watched her driving down the road and stared, transfixed, as she just let the music blasting from the speakers take over, and she started jamming out, singing at the top of her lungs and acting completely oblivious to the fact that I was even there. A spark lit in me right then and there, as I realized how much fun she was having, and I mimicked her ability to let go and live in the moment until I figured out how to do it myself. For me, that was the gift of a lifetime.
I can’t even count the times that one of my oldest friends Debbie has been there for me when I desperately needed it. We met very early in our junior high years and had similar interests and both came from farming families. We grew closer when we joined FFA with another country girl and close friend, Aimee. I remember one night when we were in our late teenage years Debbie and I had a big fight. I was angry and hurt, and tried to withdraw, so I jumped in my truck and drove away, refusing to talk anymore about it. She too jumped in her vehicle and followed me for what felt like hours. She proved she could be equally as hard-headed, and when I eventually pulled over and we talked it out I had a deep realization of what it meant to fight for a relationship and for those that you loved.
I met my dear friend Lybbye when we were assigned seats together on the bus, and she was really my first, best friend. We used to ride double on my pony Blaze, all over the countryside, and her family regularly took me to youth group and were a wonderful example of a good Christian family. I truly can’t even list all the things learned from Lybbye and company (including clarinet lessons from her sister, and how to set a dining room table from her mother). She’s taught me what true strength in a woman, and a mother looks like.
A new friend Lauren taught me that kindred souls will always find each other, and reminded me that kismet does exist, while my old friend Cheri taught me the importance of holding your tongue and never making assumptions, among hundreds of other things (I seriously keep a list of Cheri quotes). Another new friend Heidi moved in next door and entered my life with the fiercest Christian heart, and absolutely no judgement. She offers laughs when I need them, and watches my son when I need that, and couldn’t have laughed harder when I finally got up the courage to tell her that I was so offish at first because I have a bad habit of peppering cuss words into every conversation when I get nervous. An old friend Lisa was the first person that I told when I found out we were pregnant with Zane, despite the fact that we talk maybe once or twice a year, because she was just the person I needed to pour my heart out to right then. She’s taught me the importance of being humble and kind, and what happiness looks like. My friend Peg is somewhere in between a new and an old friend, but that woman has taught me more in a few years than she could probably guess. She’s got an incredibly kind heart, and the spirit of a fighter, and teaches me the true meaning of faith on a regular basis.
I could devote an entire chapter to family, but I know their impact is readily apparent every day to all who know me. Still, I do have to say that my mother and my sister are two of the strongest, wisest and most humble women you’ll ever meet. Also, my mother in law taught me many times over how to get through this life with your head held high and a song in your heart, no matter what hurdles you face. My daughter, well, she taught me to be and will remain the most perfect person God ever made, in my eyes.
There have been so many friendship lessons that have enriched my life that I could go on for days. Most friendships don’t last a lifetime, and that’s OK, they’re not all meant to. If I couldn’t name you, forgive me, I promise this blog is still about you. Because it’s about ALL of you, and also about the fact that I never want to forget the things you’ve taught me, and who I was before YOU forever changed my perceptions and with it, my life. So here’s to all my gal pals, those who I only connected with long enough to realize that I seriously can wear bright red lipstick if I frickin’ want, and those that stuck around throughout my entire life. You shared yourself with me, flaws and fears, dreams and accomplishments and in doing so, you ladies have helped guide me with laughter, tears, yelling and hugs…to being who I’ve always wanted to be. I owe you ladies more than you know.
Happiness and Hoofbeats,
The Gate Girl
Oh and one more thing (this is more personal than lesson-related but I had to include it):
Jen you thought I forgot you, didn’t cha? You’re it, woman. You’re the one that I can tell every secret to, who won’t BS me and who sees through it when I’m BSing myself, and you get my husband when I die. And my best horse. You know that’s all I really care about, other than the kids which I can’t give you (and you wouldn’t want, they’re ssssoooo expensive…and occasionally rotten). Since you’re coming to see me soon I’ll tell you everything you’ve taught me then (or I won’t and I’ll leave you hanging because it amuses me). But the cool thing is, I’m pretty sure you already know.