When these people arrive, they never creep in. No way. They come in loud and proud, demanding your attention. You are often enthralled with their energy. You have no choice but to join them on their journey as it becomes your journey too.
One of the talents of these amazing people is that they see something in you that you didn't see in yourself. They know how to draw out qualities that you may not believe you have and help you to develop them. They become your cheerleader. They love you for who you are and who you can be.
I was lucky enough to meet one of those people a couple years ago. It was a chance meeting at a union event. Through a series of random coincidences, I ended up at a conference in Saratoga Springs, NY for NYSUT. There, I met Sonia Basko. Sonia had recently moved to the Albany area to work at the NYSUT headquarters in Latham. I wasn't sure how to take Sonia. She was brutally honest, somewhat foul-mouthed, outspoken and totally confident. Nevertheless, our paths continued to cross. Sonia liked my blog and often tweeted out the link to her large group of followers. She encouraged me to take on larger roles and to become more active in the union movement.
Sonia was a force of nature. She could move mountains and often did. She was a connector. She connected people and events. She believed passionately in social justice. She was a true unionist and incredibly knowledgeable about how to use social media to promote her causes.
Sonia was in my life for a relatively short time. For others, she was there much longer. I call her a friend because she was kind to me, made me laugh and believed in me. For so many others, she was so much more. On Saturday, we said goodbye to Sonia. Sonia lost her battle with cancer at 43 years of age. She was a bright star that burned out far too early.
Sonia's life should inspire us all. Sonia lived life out loud. She followed her passions, inspired others and believed that she could make a difference. And she did. She made a difference in my life. She made a difference for so many people that knew her and many that will never know her.
If there is any message to be learned, it is this: Take Chances. Get Messy. Believe in Yourself. Live Life out Loud. Say What You Mean. Go Beyond Yourself. Tell Others You Love Them. Be You. And, most of all, Leave this World a Little Better than You Found It. This is what we need to teach our children because this is what matters.