International Women’s Day has got me thinking about me and how I got here. I can not take the full credit for the woman I am today. I did a lot of work on myself, and I will give myself credit, but I also have to give some credit to the women who have helped me get to this point. They are all the strongest women I know, and I am a culmination of each and every one of them. So let me introduce you to them in no specific order.
Janet Jackson – She will tell you she is the Original. Janet came into my life, first as my boss and then as a friend I can’t live without. She was instrumental in making Single Mom Gina’s life infinitely easier with things from her words of wisdom to helping me buy my first house. The amount of money, advice, and hugs could never be repaid. Janet is the number one reason I give back to people who are less off than I am.
Alyssa Palumbo – She is so, so much more than a daughter-in-law. She now is the keeper of my chicken, Raymond. She is smart and probably the most creative person I have ever known. Her love for cats is immeasurable. She is quiet but strong. She, quite possibly, is single handily the person keeping Dr. Pepper in business. She looks after Raymond and makes me sleep easier knowing she takes care of him.
Jill Hartl – She was my first baby sister. She was always the funniest one of all of us. She is stronger than she knows. She is juggling being a single mom to 3 amazing teenagers and will sell you any house you need in Houston. She has rebuilt her life at almost 50, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
Jennifer Webb – My sister closest to me in age. She is a teacher of first graders and has more energy than I ever could. We will forever compare high blood pressures and strange pains in our joints. Last year she left a teaching job that she was at for over 20 years to teach in another school and that required bravery that I do not possess. She will go to the ends of the earth for her family and will go to school dressed like the cat in the hat.
Amanda Frey – My current baby sister. She has fought breast cancer and won. I am most envious of her running ability, and I’m pretty sure she ran so fast, cancer couldn’t keep up. She is beautiful and smart and will fix your aches and pains with the crack of a few joints.
Luyi DePrada – She married my brother, and we instantly became sisters. She is my doctor google when I’m sure I’m dying of cholera. She can 100% understand when I tell her my brother is so spoiled.
Ellen Einstein – My dear sweet fellow baker. We met when I had my bakery, and she had hers and instantly became sisters. The only thing that has changed is she still has her bakery. She is also one of the strongest women I know, holding down her bakery with her husband and at times alone when he was battling cancer. She is not only funny, but she is fun and quick to share anything from advice, food, or hugs.
Dena Fields – She is so much more than just the person who does my hair. She is my soul sister. I connect with her in such a spiritual way I can’t even begin to describe. She is also the MAIN reason my hair is still grey, as she will not let me color it ever again, except a bit of purple.
Becca Smith, Jane Lynch, and Brittany Lee – These women have made my time in show business bearable. We have traveled from Canada to every state in the US to Australia, and I couldn’t survive without them. Their combined creativity puts mine to shame, and their ability to make me laugh even when I didn’t want to is priceless. They have become my sisters.
Jeannie DePrada – My mom. There is so much to say about this woman, but to say I love her isn’t enough. Without knowing, she gave me the ability to survive as a single mother. She is always there when I call her, well except if she is doing water aerobics or playing mahjong. She has given me advice from making tomato sauce to questions about menopause. We might not have always gotten along when I was a kid, but now I don’t know what I’d do without her.
Ailsa Deitemeyer – My father’s sister and my ride or die when it comes to politics. She is probably the only one in my family where we 100% see eye to eye on any and everything that is political. I love her like she is my second mother.
Alison Palumbo – My dear sweet daughter, who in reality is much much more than just a daughter. She is my best friend. I look at her almost every day and wonder how I could have made such a sweet, compassionate, smart, and beautiful woman. She could teach anywhere she wanted but chose to teach for a public school, where she is often mistaken for a student. I could go on and on and on about her, but I won’t, except to say, she is my soul.
There is one thing all of these women have in common. They are strong. They have made me strong. My life is better because they are in it! They had all taught me to know my worth, know what I deserve, and know what I’ve earned, even when I wasn’t so sure.