[And welcome to my little blog.]

I'm Amanda! So happy you are here. Grab a glass of wine, read along, and let's be friends.

What a good aunt does.

Saturday, March 19, 2011
Right now I'm taking an amazing class at Creighton as part of my MBA program that has encouraged me to spend some time reflecting about my own life, values, and those that have influenced my life.  I've taken so many really, really great courses at Creighton, but this is by far the best.  The class is called Developing Personal Leadership: The Leadership Journey, From Insight to Authenticity.  It's taught by Dr. Fransecky, a clinical psychologist, and someone who over the last 70 years has had some incredible life experiences and has worked with some of the most influential leaders and CEOs all over the world.  Check out his blog here.

One of the themes of the course is that you can't become a truly great leader until you can understand and frame your own values in the context of your life story.   As part of our class last night we completed an exercise where we wrote about a person or a place that sticks out in your memory as having a profound influence on you.  To get our ideas flowing he read an article David Duchovny wrote about high high school basketball couch.  Who knew David Duchovny could write?  The article appeared in the Wall Street Journal this week.  Very, good article, click here to read it.

After spending some time thinking back to all the people that have had an influence on me, I realized just how lucky I've been to have such overwhelmingly positive experiences and influences in my life.  So few people are gifted with great parents, but then to be surrounded by so many other positive influences, I can't express how lucky this makes me feel. One of the significant influences in my life has been my Aunt Donna.

My dad's only sister, and my godmother, my Aunt Donna is the kind of person that gives hugs that envelope your whole body and radiate unconditional love.  As kids we'd stay over at her and my Uncle Scott's house for sleepovers with my little brothers.  She'd go completely overboard and would stock the refrigerator with all of our favorite foods, filled a special drawer in the china hutch full of candy, and took us to some of our favorite places.  But it wasn't about the things she bought us or even the things she did for us, it was about knowing that she took a genuine interest in our lives and loved us unconditionally.  She never forgot a birthday or Christmas, and always gave more generously than expected.  When I was obsessed with Beanie Babies as a kid (remember those days?) her and Uncle Scott would look all over town to the find the rarest bear beanie babies, and then she would write a special poem to go along with the bear.  She took me to take your daughter to work day.  She helped buy my prom dress.  I could go on and on. 

But the thing that sticks out most to me, is how much she influenced me during my junior high and early high school days.  You know, those awkward age between 12 and 15.  I hit junior high and overnight I went from being a cute little girl, to a full-blown teenager with braces, pimples, a bad hair cut and big eyebrows.  I'm embarrassed to let these pictures see the light of day, but for the sake of painting the picture, here they are.  Eeek!

 Despite the reality of my appearance and all it's awkward glory, every time I saw my Aunt Donna, she told me I was beautiful.  And she meant it.  And I believed her.  She helped keep my fragile self esteem protected at a time when many girls are not so lucky. 

It wasn't until Dr. Fransekey encouraged us to take a moment to stop, pay attention to our lives, and reflect on our own life stories that I realized how maintaining this self esteem at a critical point in my life had a profound impact on my life.  Thank you Dr. Fransekey for this exercise, thank you to my classmates for sharing their beautiful stories, and more importantly thank you Aunt Donna for the impact you made on me.  I love you.


Anonymous said...

Great article.

Stacie said...

Your confidence is something I have always admired about you - so apparently your Aunt Donna is the one to thank! You were beautiful then and you're beautiful now!

Mom said...

Awesome Amanda! And ditto Stacie, I have always admired her confidence as well!

Steph said...

Agreed! You are beautiful inside and out! Thank God for the people who supported us through those akward phases in our lives!

MIssy said...

Thanks for sharing Amanda. You very articulately described the traits we all love about my mom but probably don't tell her enough. :)

Amanda said...

Thanks everyone for the lovely feedback. Love you all very much!

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