It is funny when you are faced with your own mortality, as I was earlier this year,  that you have to reflect not just on life but the people in your life and how important each one is in their own way.  I have always been a strong believer that every person that we encounter comes into our lives to teach us life lessons.  From the most intimate relationships to a person that you engage with on the street.  We learn how to be better human beings, how to cope with our lives and how to just be.

I have many people in my life who always keep me on track, give me guidance, love and support and I have been blessed to have learnt so much about myself through these relationships.

The women in my life, of which there are many, have been real inspirations for me.  Their insights, teachings and unconditional support and love have been something that I hold close in my heart and each one of them holds a special place in my life.

I sometimes think that we are too quick to underestimate the role that other people play in our lives and the impact they have on who we are.  There are of course also some amazing men in my life who are also central to my being and also have been incredible in my life especially my life partner Trevor but I wanted to focus on some of the women in my life who each day continue to inspire me.

When I turned 50 a couple of  years ago I was putting together my speech to make at the party that was held for this milestone in my life and the first draft of my speech included my musings on a number of the women who have made a difference to my life…but I found that I would have been speaking for hours and so changed the speech but these thoughts I had when I was reflecting at that time have stayed with me.

As I was laying in intensive care I did much reflecting on my journey to date and many of the women who had played a significant role in my life came into my thoughts.

Of course there is my mother who played and continues to play a significant role in my life with her guidance and support for the life choices that I have made to date.  She is a shining light in my life and though distance separates us we are in constant contact and she is never backward in coming forward with her thoughts about life. I love her with all my heart and have been blessed to have her in life for the past 52 years.

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My Mum with the family on a trip to Margaret River…

Now for the other women in my life who have made a difference to me being the man I am today….the list is long as there have been so many women who have played an important role in my life but I am going to focus on 5 who have been major players in my life and continue to be!

It is almost like doing a top 10 list of favourites but it is not really like that, it is just that when reflecting these are 5 of the women who touch my life every day in one way or another.

Jessica Howat is my daughter but she is much more than that – she is a guiding light in my life who has taught me many life lessons about being a good parent, caring for the people around me and I am so proud to see the amazing grown woman she has become.  As a gay man the decision to co parent a child is never an easy one, you think about the ramifications of societal expectations of parenthood.  When we decided to have a child it was the days before lots of gays and lesbians were having children but for us it felt right and it was one of the best decisions that we ever made in our lives because the result was one of the most amazinfg, delightful, loving, caring women that I know…she is a real inspiration to me.

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My beautiful daughter Jessica and grandson number 1!

Next on my list is Sally Rowell, the mother of our son and a truly inspiring woman who always gives 110% of herself to her life and the lives of those around her.  She is there to hold your hand through tough times with no judgement, is there with a smile, a hug and an ear to listen to what is going on for you in the most kind and considerate way.  She is so open and free in sharing her love and the lessons that she has learnt in her life that she always brings a smile to my face when I think about her.  She has been a shining light in my life now for many years and I count each day she is in my life as a real blessing.

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The wonderful Sally Rowell!

Karen Russell came into my life when our daughters were going to primary school together and from the very beginning we became fast friends straight away and to this day she remains another inspiration for me.  She has become a travel companion, along with her husband Ken, on many overseas trips that we have done and when I think about it is more like family that just a friend.  I have always thought that we are born into a family but we also, along the way make our own families and I am so blessed to have Karen as part of mine.  She is a bright shining light in the world who is always there when you need her and goes above and beyond for any of the people in her life.

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Karen Russell on our recent trip to Lombok!

Aly May and I have evolved our relationship over the past 17 years since we met at our first STYLEAID meeting and she has become a mentor, a friend, an instructor on how to live life to the fullest and a real inspiration on so many levels.  Together we have been through many life experiences, some heart breaking and some really joyous ones and I think that has made me admire her even more.  Every time we speak or see each other she fills me with a real joy for life.  She is focussed and driven in all aspects of her life and I have learnt so much from her about the importance of how good life is.  I adore every aspect of her and have been fortunate enough to learn so much from her along the way.

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Aly May and her wonderful daughter Holly…

Finally there is Tania McGuinness, my dear friend, my dance teacher, my house sitter and a wonderful woman who has had an amazing life up to this point.  I have been fortunate to have worked with Tania for lots of years and in that time her compassion, her determination to succeed and her ability to be there for the people in her life that are important have shone through.  She is a loving, caring woman who always puts others before herself and is there when you need her.  I have learnt many things from her in our time together and am thankful that she is in my life.

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Tania McGuinness and I in Sydney!

These 5 women are stars and shining lights in my life but there are so many others like Annette Hasluck, Nola McMullen, Lori Baker, Lisa Tomney, Liz Walker, Sandy Duncan, Reeena D’Souza, Anne Leaver, Rochelle Coombes, Jo Watson, Ruth Marshall and Trish Langdon who have had a significant impact on my life and continue to do so.  Their continued love and support are always there for me and I appreciate each and every on of them.  Sometimes people in our lives move on and there is some  distance between us but their impact and their love never diminishes.

On my life journey I have been truly blessed to have many wonderful women in my life and I celebrate each and every one of them. They have played a significant role in me being the man that I am today and I think them for that.

Take some time to celebrate the women in your life and let hem know just how much they mean to you!!!!