I intentionally started and ended my calendar with my family and, with this post, I definitely “saved the best for last”. My mom, Becky Paroubek, is the original inspiring women in my life. My mom is smart, resourceful, thrifty, creative, kind, thoughtful, humble, supportive, and fun.

My mom describes herself as “a 50-something who is too young to retire, but old enough to get a Senior Discount at Goodwill :-)”.  (This is too accurate. When she visited me last summer, she joined me on a  thrifting adventure and I asked her to help me utilize the 15% off Senior Citizen Discount! She was an amazing sport about it!)

Mom has been a woman in a non-traditional occupation, computer programming, since 1985 and has experienced gender discrimination in the workplace and job market.  She is a strong woman who sticks up for what she believes in – in the work place and beyond. As a computer programmer, my mom is quite computer savvy. In fact, for most of my life, I have called to seek her assistance on many technology related issues. (Once, I even called her from Germany to help me out when I was an exchange student.) Lately, with the creation of my online store and blog, I think I’ve gotten a little better in that department. She is always still happy to help – for which I am very grateful!

My mom supports me unconditionally. She will always listen to me if I have a decision or tough choice to make, but never pushes her opinions on me. She has that great skill of simply asking questions to help me come to the right conclusion. And, literally, no matter what I do she is supportive of my choices and decisions.  

As I’ve grown up, it’s been hard for me to identify with friends who have had overbearing or overly involved parents. (You know the type. . .parents that are not-so-subtly living vicariously through their children. Or, those who are quick to be pushy or overly assertive with their wants and demands.) This is something I have literally never experienced from my mom.

I've always loved and connected with my mom. And, I like her more and more as I grow older. While I have furthered my education and deepened my understanding about social issues, my mom has always been interested and willing to learn, too. From conversation with my peers, this is not typical. Not just every parent will read the “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria” book you give to them and talk with you about race and racial inequity in America. Unlike some parents who are concerned with keeping their parent and child power dynamics in tact, my mom often expresses how she benefits from learning from me. What an amazing, humble woman! Because, of course, I would never understand these things were it not for the education, care, and opportunities she supported or provided for me.

Like I mentioned when I highlighted her at the beginning of the month, my sister and I have a lot of very similar views about life and are two ultra-confident ladies. Although my mom doesn't have all of the same characteristics or views that we do, I am certain that the way she raised us – to love others and love ourselves—is to credit for our perspectives. My mom did so many critical things right in raising us. She talked with us, encouraged us to imagine and “play pretend”, was active with us, and was honest with us.

Nowadays, I usually catch up with my mom every few weeks over the phone. It’s fun to update her on all of my excitements and life developments because she always shares in my joy.  I am deeply fortunate to have the mom I do. I value you her so very much! She is the original inspiring woman in my life.

Read about my mom’s inspirations and advice below. . .

What do you care about deeply?

"Being a Child of God, my friends and family, social justice, the value of [life long] education and travel, continuously striving to live a balanced life, and incorporating fun into all avenues of my life whether at work, or at play."

Who are women in your life or throughout history that inspire you?

"Bernice Polivoda (Cat’s Grandmother):  Bernice was graceful and calm with a ton of class. Besides being an excellent homemaker, she was a stable, loving, and supportive influence to myself and all those around her. Bernice valued learning and placed reading and travel as high priorities in her life. She was a fantastic role model!"

"Pat Pallardy:  Pat created Set Free 2 Enjoy which is a women’s recreational group in the La Crosse, WI area.  Set Free 2 Enjoy fills a void in women’s lives by offering organized recreational activities (hiking, kayaking, biking, cross country skiing, playing cards, having dinner, seeing a play, etc.) to women who are in need of an activity partner.  The group is a community of women, young and old, who are now able to join with other women to explore and have fun!  Pat is passionate, energetic, enthusiastic, extremely knowledgeable and deeply spiritual - an awesome woman who provides incredible opportunities for women’s recreation and has created a community of love and laughter."

"Caitlin Polivoda and Lillia Polivoda (my daughters):  My two daughters are totally different yet remarkably the same when it comes to being confident young women who are smart, savvy, and exceptional.  More than that, they are each uniquely motivated by caring spirits and a true desire to help to make this world a better place - to make a difference in the world and in the lives they touch." [Thanks, Mom!]

"By watching how my daughters live their lives, learning from them, and by the power of osmosis (ha!) Cat and Lilly continuously inspire me to be the best I can be."

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be and why?

"You are worthy, and you are wonderful just the way you are:  don’t determine your self-worth from others’ opinions; rather find it in yourself.  Love yourself and embrace who you are – the way God made you!" 

"Be able to look at yourself in the mirror each morning and smile:  knowing you have stayed true to your soul."

"You cannot do it alone:  Well, you can but it probably won’t be as much fun, or as good. Self-determination and pride can be useful and also self-fulfilling.  But, it is also important to remember that there is great worth in seeking the opinion and support of trusted friends.  Asking for help can be one of the strongest things you ever do.  And, by working collaboratively, you will find that trusting others and working together will create a richer experience and produce a better outcome."

This March, I have been celebrating all the amazing women around me! Sharing women who have influenced me and make up my personal history. As the month goes on, you can see all my Inspiring Women posts here!