Women Worth Knowing: Meet Renae

It is impossible not to like Renae.  Unless you are one of those people who hates other people out of sheer jealousy, it is 100% impossible not to like Renae.  Every thing about her works, even her hair.  I met Renae at a birthday party, and I liked her instantly.  She was smart, and funny, generous with her welcome–just as I’ve come to know she always is.

She is implacable, unique, and manages to be many things to many different people.

If you want to come out to someone over a tuna sandwich at lunchtime, Renae is your girl.  If you want to plan a spontaneous trip to Ireland, call Renae.  If you’re going to go camping, and a tornado is going to come through and try to tear apart your tent, and you need someone to save you from blowing away, Renae.  If you need to show up on a doorstep, sobbing, broken heart in your hands, Renae will let you in, feed you cereal, and listen while you snot your way through the unfairness of love.  Well, maybe she won’t let you in, but I know where she lives, and more importantly, I knew where she lived when I was the one doing the snotting.  And that right there is why I will always love Renae.  That, and because she actually picked my nose once.  You know someone loves you when they will pick your nose.

I do try to keep myself out of introductions.  Since I’m telling you what I like about people, it requires a certain amount of involvement, but I do try to keep it about the person you’re meeting.  With Renae, I have to tell you a little more about myself so you’ll understand why I think she is so special.

Until I met Renae, I didn’t like girls much.  I didn’t trust them.  I didn’t know many I respected. I thought they were all backstabbing brats, and more than one of them proved my point for me.  I preferred the company of men, and didn’t mind telling you so.  I had a couple of girls who had been friends since my youth, but I hadn’t made any real female friends after the age of fourteen.  Oh, I had friends who were girls, but it was more a case of me being their friend.  I rarely let anyone else be my friend.  That is, I refused to be vulnerable to another woman.

But Renae isn’t just any other woman, and I fell head over heels in friend-love with her from the get-go.  Renae was my first real adult friendship, and she was the girlfriend who made it possible for me to see the wonder of having female friends.  She allowed me to be vulnerable.  My friendship with Renae made every other friendship that came after hers possible.  I owe Amy, and Arwen, and Irene, and Nicole, and Charlcye, and all the rest of you to Renae.

Renae makes plans and she sticks to them.  She actually does what she says she is going to do.  If she tells you that her life plan entails X happening, then two years passing and Y happening, and two more years passing before Z happens, then you can set your watch to Z and not worry about missing an appointment.  She is self-disciplined and self-assured, and completely and utterly oblivious to how amazing she is.  You know that song She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful?  That’s Renae.

While she is absolute to her values and morals, she is enough of a cipher to filter what she finds most interesting in her peer group though her beliefs and wear them like the latest fashion.  She is open to change.  She is open to learn.  She is open to life.

At her wedding, I toasted her saying that I was glad she never had to spend another Valentine’s Day with me as her date.  I meant that sincerely.  But you know what?  Valentine’s Day dates with Renae were always good.  I hope all of you know someone like her.

Meet Renae.

Name: Renae
Age Range: 30s—barely.
Preferred Job Title: Program Director
Industry: Non-Profit, Social Services

Describe your family: My mom and my dad are both from small, farming communities in the Texas panhandle and they are just all-around good people, and very proud of me and my sisters. I have two younger sisters. We don’t get to see each other as much as we would like but we talk every week. Both are married to great guys and so I feel like I have two brothers now, as well. My middle sister has a one-year-old daughter, and both of my sisters are currently pregnant. Yay! I love being an aunt…I can give a lot of love but I don’t have to worry about how to pay for their education. Much to my parents’ delight, I am married to a great man. He’s funny, hard working and at any given moment has at least three new projects or hobbies. I’ve learned about wine, rock climbing, flying, gardening, cooking, and playing guitar, to name a few things just by being around him. His favorite interest, though, never changes. He loves me and wants to make me happy. He succeeds. We have two incredible children together, a high-spirited daughter who’s two and my little man, a beautiful son who’s five months old. I could write about them forever. Let’s just say I’m smitten and think they are pretty terrific. I really hit the jackpot with my in-laws, too. I adore my mother-in-law, and I’ve grown to think of his family as simply my own. I have great friends who I consider family. I also have Zoe, a dachshund I’ve had for nearly 10 years. She’s seen me through turning 30 as a single woman, getting married, two pregnancies, two babies and now tolerates being covered in Disney stickers by a two-year old. She would be very angry if I didn’t include her in this [ed. note:  she’s not kidding.]

What does the first hour of your day look like? Prior to the baby, I would wake up and head to the Y for a run first thing in the morning. Now, while he’s still waking during the night and I’m feeding him at odd times, that’s much more sporadic. He’s usually my alarm clock. He wakes me up and I feed him, dress him, shower and get myself ready while my husband is getting our breakfast and getting all the “stuff” our kiddos need ready. We get our two-year old dressed and fed and all four of us are out the door by 7am.

The last hour? Making sure our two-year-old is in bed asleep, feeding the baby, watching something we’ve recorded on tv and just basking in the glow of surviving another day with two young children.

What makes you feel successful? I enjoy my work and I’ve found that since having children, my time away from them is very valuable-I want it to count for something. I feel successful when I’ve done something that will further the mission of my agency and when I’ve personally helped someone make life better. I feel successful each day when I prepare the bottles of breastmilk for my baby for the following day—any working, breastfeeding mom who pumps knows that sense of accomplishment! It is a big deal. Overall, my idea of success has changed since I’ve had children. They are my successes. Oh, yeah, I do feel pretty successful when I finish a run, whether it’s a half-marathon, 10k or even 5k. Being included in this project with these other great women feels pretty good, too!

What brings you joy? A note from my husband in my lunch box. Picking up my children in the afternoons. Seeing friends. Doing something for people I love that I know they will enjoy. Saturday mornings, in bed with hubby and both kids, just playing and talking. Watching my kids, anytime, anywhere.

What women do you admire? Oh, so many. I admire women like Corrie ten Boom, Jane Adams, the six women who founded Le Leche League, Clara Barton-women who righted wrongs and made a difference on a large scale. I also really admire the women I surround myself with…my mom, my mother-in-law, my husband’s aunt, my sisters, my friends. Some of them have overcome amazing obstacles and rather than become bitter, they are deeply feeling, caring, strong, funny, loving souls. They may not be on People Magazine’s list of remarkable women (does that really exist?) but they make a difference in the lives of the people they touch and I admire them.

What do you like best about your closest friend? I have a number of people who wear that label at different times, in different situations and what I like most is knowing I can always count on them and knowing they can make me laugh. What’s the saying? A friend will help you move, a good friend will help you move a body. I’ve got lots of good friends, even though I haven’t needed to move any bodies…yet.

What do you like best about yourself? I don’t give up. I work hard and I care about making things better. I have a good sense of humor and I try to treat others well. I think I have the ability to make other people feel good about themselves.

What advice would you give boys about girls? Having one of each, I spent some time thinking about this question. Treat them well and show them respect, knowing that’s a two-way street. It’s amazing how our thinking changes when we see everything through the eyes of “this could be my daughter or this could be my son”.

How do you overcome adversity? With equal parts of humor, determination and faith. It also helps to have good people to surround you, when needed.

How do you want to be remembered? Fondly! A good woman, daughter, wife, friend, and above all, a good mother.

One response to “Women Worth Knowing: Meet Renae”

  1. […] aisle.  You’ve already met them, but just in case you missed anyone, these are Leslieann, Renae, Jamie, and Karen.  When Sarah-Mac is old enough for me to feel comfortable posting about her on […]

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