My sister and I recently returned from Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort in Paradise Valley, Arizona, where we went for a quick, last-minute getaway. I expected beauty, fun, and renewal.
In what can only be described as divine intervention, I got so much more, thanks to three women whose stories woke me up inside. Their tales of love, leadership, and living fully are below.
BRITTANY: Caring on Purpose
Brittany is 27 years old. She has a 6 year-old son we’ll call Paul. They both reside with 85 year-old Katherine, who lives with dementia. Brittany is a home health aide. After a brief getaway, she acknowledged how much she missed Katherine, and felt ready to go back to work. She jokes about having two children who are eighty years apart. Some days Katherine and Paul color by numbers together, and other days Katherine teaches him about the stock market. In Brittany’s line of work, she stays with people until they pass away. According to Brittany, Katherine is “healthy as a horse,” which means this young mother’s personal life is somewhat on hold. Katherine never married and has no children. “She doesn’t have anybody,” Brittany told us casually, seemingly unaware of how clearly untrue that is. She has Brittany, who – every day – gives an old woman (who currently believes it’s snowing in July) something she never had. A family.
Brittany is compassionate. Intelligent. And purpose-driven. She wants to start an affordable home health care business. I believe she will. I also trust that many lives will be changed as a result.
SUE: Just Do It
Sue is 70 years old. Her husband Al is 55, and they’ve been together for over 20 years. Sue has two sons from a previous marriage who are veterans, and disabled. Sue doesn’t look 70. She doesn’t drink or smoke, and consumes plenty of water. She is recently retired, sort of, after selling the real estate company she founded almost thirty years ago. Sue now serves as consulting broker, which she says means she doesn’t really do anything! Sue’s father was a businessman, and his father before him. While Sue didn’t go to college, she learned about business from the men in her family. The brokerage she founded has become one of the best known in the region.
Sue walked over to say hi, and what began as an easy conversation about weather quickly turned to the topic of purpose, and how powerful women are when we declare. “It’s time for women to step into their dreams,” she said. “We can do anything.” Sue believes it’s time to do more than dream; it’s time to make those dreams come true. With thoughtful plans. And discipline. And confidence.
I could tell Sue knows a lot about confidence, and that she has more than her fair share. She’s giving it away freely.
TAMMY: No Regrets
Tammy – a strikingly warm and beautiful 50-something woman from Dallas, Texas – had traveled to the spa with her husband. Four years ago, his doctor diagnosed him with advanced prostate cancer, and told the couple he had nine weeks to live. Obviously, the doctor was wrong.
Believing he now has about six months, they packed their car two weeks ago and started driving. They found themselves at the spa, and planned to stay until they felt like moving onto the next spot – New Mexico. We didn’t get to meet Tammy’s husband. He stayed in his room, because his skin is very thin and bleeds when touched. “It embarrasses him,” Tammy said, smiling. I marveled at how, however heavy the words she spoke, she continued to smile. Her goal for the day was to convince her husband to wear shorts to the car show.
Tammy and her husband have been together for 23 years and married for four. Shortly after his prognosis, he asked her to marry him, citing he didn’t want to have any regrets. With a nine-week diagnosis at the time, they wed. “Here we are, four years later,” she said, raising two fists in the air. “That’s power!” She’s grateful to be with the love of her life, for however long they have each other.
Tammy is living in the moment. With no regrets.
It was a relaxing day at the pool and spa for me and my sister, and at the same time, a busy one for my mind and heart. If I were to summarize the three lessons learned in the valley of Camelback mountain that day, I’d say:
“Every day we wake up is a chance to be more of who we desire to be, do more of what we desire to do, with and for those who mean the most.”
Every. Single. Day.
I’m thankful to the women who shared their journeys with me and who, consciously or unconsciously, added meaning and dimension to my own.
Tara Jaye Frank is VP of Multicultural Strategy for Hallmark Cards, Inc. and the author of Say Yes: A Woman’s Guide to Advancing Her Professional Purpose, written to help women from all cultural backgrounds chart a career course they can believe in and achieve. Follow her on Twitter @tarajfrank and Facebook at Facebook/tarajayefrank, or visit her at tarajayefrank.com.