The most influential person in life was my Mom. She showered me in love and taught me both, how to share and accept love from others. I learned empathy through curiosity, listening to her stories and asking questions to find the root causes. Together we explored faiths or higher powers, accepting that there is a higher power or presence, but uncertain if it was a deity, multiple deities, or just a higher level of the consciousness. This lesson still continues even after her passing in September of 2015 from complications of breast cancer. Never one to quit, she won two previous battles against the malignant army, gaining another 15 years of life. I would like to say that my strength and resilience are a slight reflection of her drive and fight she had within her. Still, she teaches me to reflect, remember, and grow from both her and my past experiences. Understanding the warmth of the sunrise is just after the coldest part of the night, she would remind me that, the easy life is just past the struggle of the present. Keep moving forward, step-by-step, but don’t forget to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.
Equal to my mom, my dad’s influence was significant. My love of learning came from his dinner time games when I was a kid. I remember learning most of my US history and Science by age 5. This base of knowledge allowed me to explore deeper questions and thrive throughout my education. As my soccer coach in my early teens, he taught me the value of hard work, being responsibility for my actions, how to think clearly under pressure and how to lead in the absence of a leader. When my parents separated and got divorced I learned first-hand through his demonstration, the value of keeping your word and showing up no matter what. On reflection, he demonstrated his love and commitment through consistent action and making hard choices, unknown to my brothers or I. Through his regular charity and blood donations, I learned the value of community and giving to the less fortunate. Even in his death he taught me the honor of sacrificing of yourself so that others don’t get harmed. He passed in the spring of 2018, in an accident while landing his personal plane. His final actions ensured no one on the ground would be harmed.
My soccer coaches as a whole were another significant influence in my life. While each were slightly different, the principles they taught me were mostly similar. On several occasions I was likened to a sponge as I absorbed lessons and immediately applied them. Through multiple coaches, I learned to read the team and fill the gaps. If we needed a leader, I would step up. If we needed a person to rally behind another leader, I was your man. More experienced coach’s never saw me as a star but as the coordinator, doing all the dirty work behind the scenes. Never seeking attention, when I received accolades for my efforts I was both extremely proud and embarrassed. The good coaches saw my strength to adapt in a moment’s notice and thrive in uncertainty of the game. This still continues to serve me in my current capacity today. They taught me to trust myself and my abilities, while bringing out the best in others. It was on the soccer field and under their tutelage that I first found my confidence in myself and it was my coaches that showed me how to utilize it.