Influence ... a word not to be used lightly.  The dictionary describes this word as the result a person or thing has on another.  As much as I would like to simplify such a powerful word by attaching it to any one person in my lifetime, I cannot.  I am influenced daily by my surroundings and always have been.                  
I am influenced by great leaders, beautiful voices, proficient speakers, brilliant writers, the stroke of an artist's brush, exceptional educators, prominent healers and scientists; the list doesn't end.  Understand that I'm not as impressed with their achievements as I am influenced by their decisions and their determination to make important, monumental choices for their lives.  Choices that have a tremendous impact on their own lives as well as the lives of those around them. These are people who have made life happen for them, instead of letting life happen to them. 
I'm influenced by the child who toils so laboriously over a put-to-together toy and refuses help by saying, "I can do it myself."  This reminds me to be independent and to exhaust all of my own possibilities before asking for help.
I am influenced by the homeless person sleeping in doorways, wondering where the next meal or drink will come from.  Such a sad sight gives me an even stronger will to continue making wise choices for myself.  And I am further influenced by the kindness of one who gives those poor, homeless souls a few coins.  Their compassion reminds me to have sympathy for those who are in trouble.
I'm influenced by the school janitor who isn't satisfied until his job has been completed to the best of his ability.  His dedication reminds me never to take the easy way out and to always give my undertakings an extra little boost, even when I think I've already done my best.
I am influenced by the alarming number of terminally ill children scattered around the world.  Their faith and emotional strength is of a magnitude that outshines the greatest accomplishment any man or woman could ever achieve.
I'm influenced by the teenage boy who throws a newspaper on my porch before daybreak every morning when he could be catching a few extra hours of sleep.  He has learned at an early age that little can be achieved in life by adhering to the nine-to-five schedule of those willing to simply get by.  His decision to achieve more in life than might be expected of him will make him a man of great influence.  His eagerness encourages me to turn the television off an hour earlier than I had planned to and do something worthwhile with that time.
I am influenced by the puppy who gives his love so unconditionally.  It reminds me to give of myself openly and to be more tolerant and forgiving.          
I'm influenced by the changing of seasons, especially autumn when the leaves change their colors and are delicately blown across the lawn by the on-coming winds of winter. It encourages me not to be sedentary and to keep moving. It also instills in me the importance of being able to accept change.  
I am influenced by the single rose on a rosebush.  It reminds me that it's all right to be alone when those around me seem to be showered with attention.  It teaches me that standing alone can be a thing of beauty.                                  
 So you see, the greatest influence is my life is ever-changing, yet constant.  I don't have to look back and remember what someone said to me, or did for me, that influenced my life greatly.  My influences are all around me.  All I have to do is look ... and pay attention.
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 Note from Author:                                          
Throughout my life I have learned that I cannot, and will not, deny advice that my mother drilled into my head to the point of saturation.  Advice that continues to influence me every day of my life.
"There is nothing in this world that you can't do if you want it badly enough,"
"If you want to teach, open your mouth and talk,
but if you want to learn, keep it closed."
Copyright 2012, Glenda Ivey
All Rights Reserved.