Thank you to all the women in my life!


Yes!!! This year is going to be the year where I will make one of my dreams come true. I need to commit and I need to take a few minutes each day to focus on what I’m working towards. I want to start my own business. It will be ‘Designed & Shot by Elli, LLC’. Yes, this is going to happen. I will still keep my day job, which might change or might not since I do want to be a tad picky about the next opportunity I’m taking. I’m aware that getting your own business up and running will take a little while and I’m ready to hustle, to work after hours, even though I do love my free time, but it’s a dream and I want to make this dream to come true. Rich was never anything I wanted to be. I want to be happy with what I do. I want to be happy with the people I surround myself with. I want to be happy in my marriage for the rest of my life (yes, I do know that there are ups and downs). I want to never have to worry about whether we can afford the gallon of milk or not. Those are my goals in life. So far, things have worked out very well for us and we cannot complain whatsoever. We have a roof over our heads, always a full refrigerator; we have great friends and our kitties. We have hobbies that keep us active and we love the camaraderie that comes with those hobbies. I want to do good in this world. I want to help and empower people, especially young women! I have been very fortunate my entire life when it comes to surrounding myself with strong females. And I’m slightly being distracted from what the original article was supposed to be about but considering the influence these following ladies (and many more) have had on my life will help me to push for my dream of having my own business.

The first woman is of course my mom. My mom was 21 years old and 9 months pregnant with my sister when she had to put her mom to rest. I don’t think one can ever get entirely over the loss of a parent. My sister and I have been very lucky that we have not yet had to suffer through an unbearable loss like that. My mom has always worked and contributed to the household and I do believe that my sister and I do get our strong work ethic from her. Besides holding a steady job, she always made sure the house was clean, the laundry was taken care of, and that we had a warm lunch each and every day. 

After my mom comes my sister. My sister has been through quite heart-wrenching life struggles and has come out on top. I don’t think I have ever seen her not with her head held high (well, that might also be because she is an entire head taller than me) but she is one of the strongest people I know. We are very different people but yes, a sister will always be your best friend. A sister will also always tell you her honest opinion and yes, sisters do get upset and mad at each other but in the end you are still sisters. You still have a special bond that you will never have with anybody else. 

Outside of my family I have made very strong friendships with women that I look up to and have built bonds with that will never ever be destroyed. Starting my career as a graphic designer in New Jersey at Edmund Optics, I worked with this goofy, tall, funny, handsome dude. That was Joe. Going out to happy hour one night after work, he invited his wife to come out and join us. I sat next to this curly, red head at the table and I remember thinking ‘I want this woman to be my friend’. She is a strong, very intelligent, hard working and most of all an ambitious woman who has had her own business and a very successful career as an editor. She has always been encouraging and insightful whether it’s a personal question or ‘Hey, how would you approach this situation with my manager?’ She told me how to get a raise at my old job, to write down all the projects I had been working on and everything else positive I could think of. She is also always up for having a good time!! And I will leave it at that because she knows about the good times that we’ve had, that there are many more to come and this would simply become way too long if I talked about all those wine-filled nights. ;)

Another very strong woman, mentor, teacher and leader I have been fortunate enough to get to know is my friend Colleen. This woman has taught me 99% of what I know about horses and riding. She introduced me to endurance riding by completely overwhelming me with what I’d have to do and what I’d have to purchase in order to ride with her. She put me on her Arab (whom I immediately fell in love with) and watched me while I sat on that horse like a jockey. She corrected my form, my riding, my thinking about horses and everything that comes with it. After riding in the snowy fields we’d have a cup of tea or coffee and banana chips while talking about everything there is to talk about, mostly horses of course. 

And then there is my friend Courtney. Courtney is an incredibly ambitious, intelligent, hard working young woman who has made it to a director title within just a short amount of years in her career as an occupational therapist. Courtney has overcome many rough years in her young adult life but is such a strong woman who always acts in the most lady-like, down-to-earth way. Looking at her, I can see why so many other women strive to be like her or at least strive to have what she has. And she knows what I mean by that ;). 

Last but not least, and there are many more women in my life that influence me and my actions everyday, but this last one I will write about is just the cherry on top of all of this. It’s Sarah. This young, beautiful, talented, and intelligent young lady shyly smiled and waved at me from her desk when I was introduced to my new team at the Impact Partnership. I immediately thought ‘I like that girl, maybe we’ll become friends.’ And that’s how it was. Sarah was one of the youngest teammates I worked with but she was the one with the most business sense. She was always very professional and knew how to keep it together when someone was pissing her off in the workplace. I admired that and very often today, when someone in the workplace messes with me (it’s mostly my boss), I think ‘What would Sarah do’.  Sarah and I laughed until tears were streaming down or faces, we took naps in the back of her SUV (thank you mom and dad O’Kane for getting her such a big car), and we talked about frustrating situations, heartache, and homesickness. 

These women, and many more whom I’ve met in my 29 years, have all had and will always have a very strong influence in my life and I’m so very thankful for having these ladies in my life. No, I’m not drunk while I’m writing this. These are words that needed to come out after reading articles of what you want from life, what your dreams are, find what you are destined for in life and it simply came down to being thankful for the people, especially the strong women I’m so thankful for in my life. We will all make it through life just fine. I hope that one day someone sees me as a strong woman who influences their actions. Yes, I think that is one thing I aspire to be; an inspiration for young women who just need a little direction in life. I want to help, support and encourage. Let’s see what 2016 has in store for us!