Throughout 2015 I had the opportunity to spend the majority of my time with women, which has not been the case throughout my professional career. Launching five Women’s Empowerment Mentor Groups blessed me with meeting some very talented, loving and sincerely caring ladies. I have learned much through each of them and they have added greatly to my life as I feel they have become more than just friends, but like sisters.

As I started aggressively attending local networking groups, I came to know many more gifted ladies, in one on one meetings and attending different events here in Orange County, California. To my surprise, I have added to my life new friends that brought depth to my relationships being engaged not just for the sake of networking, but to get to know each other and offer whatever we could to each others' lives. I am grateful for the tremendous value each woman has added to my life.

Looking forward into 2016, I have been contemplating to know, with more clarity the purpose for the gifts God has given me. I am confident it is to continue helping women live with purpose acting on what is most important to fulfill their personal mission.

This morning I was remembering all of the aspects of being born a female, and how my experiences taught me to love, respect and appreciate this gift of womanhood. With four sisters in our home ranging in age from infant to 18 we experienced together all the stages of being girls. Even though we had the same parents, we had different colored hair, eyes and skin with and without freckles. We ranged from tall to short and thin to stocky. Our personalities were very different, yet with all of these differences, we loved each other with a sisterly bond that has endured everything life can throw at you. In spite of those times of despair, pain, and health challenges we have stood by each other, connected and ready to help, fight, and serve no matter what. When one has been beaten down, the others stood in the gap praying and serving. There is nothing weak about being a woman. Just let anyone try to harm our children or each other and see the “bear” rise up to protect.

Growing up as a girl I remember we played dolls, tinker toys, army soldiers and building blocks. We sang songs and performed, drew pictures and loved reading nursery books memorizing the stories. We giggled, tickled, jumped rope, made snow angles and loved helping our mother bake deserts. We went fishing, water skiing, camping, boating and took trips on the train together. Yes, we walked to school, in the snow over our heads, but not barefoot. Our father taught us about cars, how to clean the kill from his hunting trips, and to stand up for ourselves.

As teenagers, we experimented with make-up, learned how to dance, and felt insecure about becoming a women. We doubted our beauty and who we were. We questioned if we were good enough, and shied away from things that might embarrass us. Yet, in spite of those fearful moments we plunged ahead in our schoolwork and hobbies to figure out who we were and what we were to become.

Making friends with other girls was rewarding and sometimes hurtful. Moving into marriages and becoming mothers we began experiencing a whole new world of emotions, expectations and responsibilities. Those oh-so-precious moments when you fall in love and deliver your babies and hear that first cry never leaves your heart or memories.

There was the hard work in taking on jobs and guiding our careers in different industries and the challenges of learning how to navigate a business world lead by men. It was not easy. In some cases it was abusive. Yet, we didn’t give up. We didn’t give in. We pushed on, not only for our sake but also for the sake of our daughters; after all, we grew up in the 1960’s. We paid the price and now have reaped the rewards.

In sharing this message I hope as a woman you find areas you too, can relate to. That you are reminded of those very special and splendid experiences that brought excitement, fun and challenge to your lives; that you have lived richly, welcoming and embracing all that you are, and who you are becoming. I used to complain about being in a woman’s body, because I had personality strengths as a visionary, leader, someone who took charge, never hesitated to make decisions and enjoyed even loved being in charge. No longer am I frustrated by these gifts, but passionate about using them in whatever way I can to bring value to the lives of others.

If there are areas in your life where you are unsure of what you should do or become, to begin taking responsibility for your personal growth and ongoing development, then I encourage you to reach out and seek from those you trust to learn what steps to take, what plans to make and what course to follow. Let me caution on this one note, sometimes as women we are vulnerable when we lack knowledge. Take the time to seek wisdom from others as your move forward, observing how these "advisers" live their lives and how they treat others. Review, research and do your due diligence before jumping into programs that are merely geared to take advantage of your naiveté.

Rather than quote all the standard cliché’s about planning your future let me simply say this: Until I read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, I randomly experienced success and happiness. The principles he taught, which are no different than anyone else teaches today, are undeniable. They require we take responsibility for our lives and our future. No one is going to do it for us. No one is holding us back, but our limiting mindset. I want to encourage you to:

Be brave, be courageous, and stay strong in your commitments to yourself and others. Find strength in humility and love in selflessness. Be encouraged that you are YOU for a purpose, and you are so wonderfully and uniquely designed to thrive!