Liz Wolfe | wealth building
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"He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." Clarence Budington Kelland I saw this quote posted on Facebook on Father’s day. It reminded me of my father right away. He is a simple man, low maintenance, you might say, never wanted much more for himself or for us than to be happy, whatever that looked like. Although he did do some telling us how to live, actually, but the advice was always stemming from his love and care for us.

Growing up on the farm, my family was often featured in local newspapers. Evidently it was considered quite a novelty to be a single mother with three daughters raising sheep in the midst of cattle country in Western Pennsylvania. The articles would recount my mother’s decision to abandon city life to raise her children in the country. They would go on to describe how she started with a mere three sheep that over time swelled to 300, and the development of the cottage industry of wool and sheepskin items that we made and sold. Each retelling had its own angle and an accompanying cheesy headline like “Sheep Farming Shear Delight for Mother and Daughters” and “The Wolfes in Sheep’s Clothing” (get it?). There was one thing they all had in common however; they always got something wrong. It never failed that we were misquoted in some way, statistics were jumbled, or the article didn’t quite capture our true essence.

I ended 2013 uncharacteristically grumpy. I felt on the brink of tears or anger for much of the last couple of weeks of the year, without really being able to identify why. I found it depressing to look back at the year, knowing I didn’t accomplish all I wanted to, finding small solace in the few milestones that I could recollect. I’m not quite sure where I think I should be by now, but my feeling of dissatisfaction lingered and made me an unpleasant person to be around.

In 2007 I was diagnosed with lymphoma. In that moment when I heard the doctor say “You have a malignant, aggressive cancer” I felt as though my whole beingness collapsed in upon itself. The coming weeks were filled with tears, visits to doctors, and a tremendous sense of fear until the day I heard my oncologist say: “You will be cured.” As it turned out, he was right, and six years later I am as healthy as I was before I got diagnosed.

I have two older sisters - two brilliant, creative, beautiful, expressive and overshadowing older sisters. As the youngest, I came up behind them in school and had many of the same teachers. I endured them calling on me in class by “Jennifer” and “Ruth Anne” or being constantly compared to their talents, their schoolwork, and their grades. This impacted my upbringing so much that for my college admissions essay I wrote about an interaction that my friend had:

One day, a friend of mine told me a story about having gone to see the school nurse. This particular nurse is the type who knows almost all the students and loves to talk. During the time Mary was in the office, she mentioned that she was friends with one of the “Wolfe Girls.” The nurse was delighted. She said, “Oh, yes! Ruth Anne is so wonderful. She’s so talented and smart and is a wonderful actress. And she dances so well!”

When I was a child, we had a family friend who we would often visit on Saturdays. They had a wonderful big old house, and being scholarly types, had bookshelves full of books. There weren’t many there that were kid friendly, but one day I came upon a hardbound collection of Wonder Woman comics. I would spend hours poring over the stories of this amazing and heroic woman. In later years, when Lynda Carter starred as Wonder Woman in a TV series, I felt like I knew her personally.