In honour of strong women, we asked our Brazen Insiders to share a story about a woman who inspired them. Here is what Danielle learned from her female inspiration, Aneta Chencinski.

Fifteen years ago, our German Shepherds brought us together. Mine, Roman, wasn’t friendly to other dogs, so I was very careful with him. There are tennis courts near where we live, and I would go in, lock the gates, and throw him the ball for exercise. Then there was Aneta’s German Shepherd, Oz. He was so well-trained, and always listened. Oz would go off-leash outside the courts, and I would be inside, and the two dogs would race up and down the fence line, tiring each other out. They both required an awful lot of exercise to keep them knocked out. 

The dogs began our friendship but I believe it was my destiny to meet Aneta and to have my life improved by her example. Since we met, she has become my teacher, my sister, and my friend.

In fact, this woman has taught me so many life lessons that it’s hard to choose. Here are eight great ones that I have to share.

INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN: 8 LIFE LESSONS I LEARNED FROM ANETA

When you fall, get up and get back on that horse.

Oh, and do it with a smile, and with gratitude. I have fallen several times. When I do, Aneta has always been there to pick me up. She offers guidance, a hug and some wisdom over a cup of coffee, or a glass of booze. Generally speaking, I am a fairly positive person but as a real estate agent, I deal with a lot of rejection. Sometimes, it gets to me. Aneta will sit and talk with me, so that I can work out how to get past it without turning on myself. 

Show love to those who are important to you.

She always tells me how much she loves me, and how grateful she is that we met. I tell her the same. Often. Knowing somebody (not just family or your spouse who basically have to love you) values you and supports you makes you feel like there is always someone nearby who has your back. Feeling like there is always someone in your corner gives you the confidence to conquer the world.

Don’t fear doing what you want just because you are on your own.

Why wait? Follow Nike’s example and Just Do It. I have watched with admiration while Aneta does all the things she wants to do. She travels the world, travels the back country. If she’s got an interest or an itch, off she goes, so now, I do too. I travel. I take classes that interest me. I go to the gym and work my ass off. What are you waiting for? Imagine yourself 20 years from now, still hanging onto your bucket list. Watching Aneta gives me courage to check off the items in my own bucket list one by one, and the rest of it? Well, that just goes on my fuck-it list.

Conduct yourself with dignity and respect in hard times.

I watched how she behaved when she got divorced. She never bitched to her kids about him, never withheld them from him. Most people just can’t co-exist with their ex-spouse without hatred or massive doses of animosity that affect everyone in the family. I witnessed the damage that can be caused by divorce firsthand—in my own childhood. I was constantly told nasty things about each parent, and that made good relationships with them difficult, and extremely arbitrary. Agreeing with one could put you on the “shit list” with the other. Aneta would have none of that.

Feel free to choose your family.

8 Lessons I Learned from the Woman Who Inspires MePeople say you can’t choose your family; you can only choose your friends. Well, that’s bullshit. I have chosen Aneta and her family to be my family, too. Family is not always blood related. Sometimes, the relationship exists in the soul. And so we have chosen to adopt each other. Not everybody has great (or any) support within their own family and let’s face it, we all need help from people we can trust and count on.

Maintain an open door policy.

With friends and family, our door is always open. Just like hers. I can’t tell you how many impromptu dinners we have had as a result. Sure, this stew and salad will stretch to six stomachs. Why not? The more the merrier!

Bake the BEST donuts anyone has ever tasted. Like EVER.

Aneta knows how. And she GAVE ME THE RECIPE.

Be in somebody’s corner, always.

Had I not met Aneta, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. There is a saying I heard through the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) that I will never forget.  “Inspire a woman, you inspire a family. Inspire the family, you inspire a community. Inspire the community, you can change the world.” Aneta has inspired me, and I am paying it forward so I can change the world.

Danielle Swimmer Morris, author of the blog Swim In the Kitchen and the children’s book The Spicy Princess, is The Management on a facebook page of Uncommon Sense for the Moronic Masses. She is also: Wife. Mother. Friend. Reader. Writer. Real Estate Agent. Cook. Baker. Innovator. Experimentor. Traveller. She can be found in Toronto, Canada, probably wearing an apron, staring longingly at high heels, or lamenting the size of her ass. Sometimes all three. 

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