Not long ago, I was on a northbound train to Santa Barbara with my sister, Debi. We shared the four-hour ride together, and to my surprise, didn’t argue about a thing. I say that tongue-in-cheek, because as kids, it seemed all we did was fight. But woven into the memories of our youth, are snippets of hysterical mischief and borderline dysfunctional bonding, that has surprisingly knit our hearts together as sisters and friends. She has made me laugh, she has made me cry, and recently, she has made me proud to call her my sister. I’ve learned so much from her and she continues to inspire, encourage and challenge me to new personal heights in my life. And as a mother of two squabbling, teenage girls, this gives me much hope for them.
Debi’s knack for inspiring others developed early in life. We were about six and eight, when she wanted to do a surprise theatrical performance for our babysitter and asked me to play a major role in it. I was delighted to participate, although I’m not much of an actress. Debi sent me to the kitchen to get ketchup and a knife and without hesitation, I ran to get the requested items. She laid down in the hallway, poured the ketchup all over her neck and told me to start screaming. With her encouragement, I mustered up a winning performance, as the babysitter bought it; hook, line and sinker. We laughed so hard, we cried, but quickly realized our sitter wasn’t laughing. She was so mad, she called our parents and said she’d never babysit us again. I think we were grounded for weeks, but that didn’t stop Debi from pursuing her passions. I was daily inspired, by her brilliant ideas and creativity, to search for my own identity and passion.
One time, her expression of creativity came out in the form of acute antagonism and unfortunately for me, I was her victim. We were bored and looking for things to do, when I became an unwillingly partner in a game I didn’t want to play. I was sitting in a giant, high-back, velvet armchair that swiveled. She decided it was going to be my prison, while she played guard, refusing to let me out. Each time I tried to get up, she’d push me back down, taunting my every effort. Getting past her became my challenge and being a stubborn child, I did not want to give up. She thought it was hilarious that I was getting so angry, yet so determined.. I became a pressure cooker that exploded and then, with one single-handed push, I fell back down. She doesn’t know it, but that day taught me a lot about myself and the determination I never knew I had. Even though I didn’t succeed her strength that day, she toughened me up and taught me to use that determination to stand up for myself, a skill that I would later use to survive an abusive relationship.
As we grew older, her acting skills improved, as did my determination to stand up for myself. We were in our 20’s and had come home for the holidays. Debi went through the fridge looking for snacks while I watched her every move. She found some Harry & David cheese and began taking a bite out of each one and re-wrapping them. I was appalled by this behavior and spoke up, but she didn’t seem to care. Later, when mom saw the half-eaten cheese, naturally she wanted to know who did it. Debi immediately began her award-winning performance, “Danielle did it!” Really?!? For 20 years, I had taken blame for things I didn’t do and I wasn’t about to do it any more. So I defended myself, but to no avail. I wasn’t going give up, so my Dad stepped in and made us each take a bite from another piece of cheese to compare and find the matching teeth marks. Brilliant! Mystery solved. Thanks, Dad. Finally, I had stood up for myself and proven my innocence.
As our train neared its final destination, I realized we had just created yet another valuable memory. Sitting next to me was that same relentless sister, still endowed with the tenacity she had as a child. Except now, instead of the antagonistic pushes that held me in a chair, there was a persuasive passion that lifted me up. After all those years of shenanigans, we now share the joys of sisterhood.
Today, Debi has become an amazing actress and writer, expressing her creativity and brilliant ideas in her very own YouTube show, called www.debisdesigndiary.com; a Do-It-Yourself channel and blog that inspires, entertains, and encourages its followers. As well as equips them to find their inner artist, create beautiful things, discover and pursue their dreams with passion and determination. And yes… stand up for themselves. I am so proud of my sister.
Thank you, Debi for all the crazy memories filled with laughter & tears and for always being there for me…even when you were mad…
or when I was.
I thank God for you.
(Picture: Although this isn’t us, it seems to fit).
Visit Debi’s Website today and subscribe as a follower for updates on each new videos she makes.