Mothers, Teachers, Friends: The Women Who Have Changed Our Lives

It’s hard to predict what moments — and people — will end up shaping our lives. Whether it’s the beginning of a longstanding mentorship or a chance crossing of paths, the right person can change your career, your perspective, your future — or just be there to remind you to shower and brush your teeth.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked Babble staff and bloggers to share a woman who has changed their life for the better. From mothers, teachers, best friends, and mentors, the list is awe-inspiring — and may encourage you to go out of your way to thank someone’s made an impact on you.

Read about these incredible women after the jump!

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  • My mom 1 of 29
    My mom
    My mother has always influenced and guided me as a child and a parent, but one of the most important things she did was encourage me to move to New York when the magazine I was working for relocated its offices there. "Try it for a year," she said. "You don't get many opportunities to live in New York with a job waiting for you, and if you hate it, you can always move back home."
    - Shana Aborn
  • My grandmother, Nancy Orr Anderson 2 of 29
    My grandmother, Nancy Orr Anderson
    This is her working at her desk at Photoplay Magazine's Hollywood offices in about 1969. She was West Coast Editor. She was the most influential woman in my life.
    - Katie Granju
  • My mom 3 of 29
    My mom
    Story-teller, Comedian, Yogi, Cook, Passionate, Bossy, Young-at-heart, Grandmother, Protector, Married 47 years, Dark Eyes, Deep Heart, Dubbed "Harkin-Special" By Her Special-Ed Students, 10 Siblings, Irish Brawn, Worry-Wart, Take-no-prisoners, Faith Believer, Loyal, Loyal, Loyal, Colon Cancer Survivor, Liver Cancer Survivor, Survivor: All-Round Awesome.
    - Allana Harkin
  • My preschool teacher 4 of 29
    My preschool teacher
    She has remained in my life all these years and she's been a mentor and dear friend. She reminds me what's good about the world.
    - Naomi Odes Aytur
  • Jentura 5 of 29
    Jentura
    This is the woman who taught me how to apply eyeliner. So...she made a big difference in my life.
    - Casey Mullins
  • My daughter 6 of 29
    My daughter
    This may not count, seeing as the woman who changed my life isn't yet technically a woman, but for me, it's my daughter. There has not been a single person in this world who has inspired me to be better and do more the way my daughter has. She's made me the woman I am today and she inspires me to aim higher every day.
    - Tanis Miller
  • My friend and mentor, Nancy Kirk 7 of 29
    My friend and mentor, Nancy Kirk
    She has changed my life by looking at me with clear eyes and still thinking I could do it, whatever it was. I wouldn't have had the strength to find my own voice and make something of myself without her encouragement and tough love. I'll be lucky if I can be a tenth as supportive to other women as she is to me.
    - Magda Pecsenye
  • My mom 8 of 29
    My mom
    It's not just that my mom has been the emotional air in my lungs since I emerged from her womb, or that she let me stay home from school one day in ninth grade after I had a fight with a friend and couldn't bear to face her, or that she assumes I'm 900 times better at everything I do than I actually am. But she was a fifth-grade teacher for forever, and to this day I still have her former students approach me to say how she changed their lives. Watching my beautiful mom make a difference in the lives of so many people made me realize a long time ago that any genuine effort at goodness — no matter the size — will likely be worth it to someone. And that counts for a lot.
    - Meredith Carroll
  • Jen Lemen 9 of 29
    Jen Lemen
    Jen Lemen is at the same time ordinary and extraordinary ... a woman who battles bills and laundry like the rest of us and is at the same time, a change-maker. By being no more and no less than who she is, Jen has changed my life by giving me permission to believe in my dreams. In just a few years, she went from a stay at home mom without the means or courage to ask for what she really wanted to a woman traversing the globe on a photography assignment for Picture Hope, an irrepressible advocate for others, an innovator in the digital space, a poet, an artist, and the ring-leader of our unconventional band of hopeful misfits.
    - Ria Sharon
  • My daughter 10 of 29
    My daughter
    This girl, this sweetheart, she's my life. We are tethered together for eternity. I feel every emotion she feels. If she's sad, I'm sad. If she's happy, I'm happy. Is it unhealthy that my emotional state is so completely knotted up with the feelings of another human being?
    - Monica Bielanko
  • My best friend, Leela 11 of 29
    My best friend, Leela
    I'm an only child, which can be really lonely both as a child (when you want someone to play Polly Pocket with) and as an adult when you're going through a tough time. For almost my entire life she's been the person I always knew I could count on and she's shown me that it is possible to move on from situations that seem impossible to overcome. From begging our parents for sleepovers at age 7 to being roommates in adulthood, I consider her nothing less than my sister.
    - Alie Martell, Blog Coordinator
  • Chris Lesney 12 of 29
    Chris Lesney
    Christine is inspirational to me because at 3 years old she took me into her home and raised me to be a loving, caring person. I'll give it to her, raising my sister and I was not an easy task as we came with many burdens but she always stuck with us. I've written more about my journey to her throughout the years. I've had many women impact my life but she by far has made the most impact on me. She is now the Grandmother to my children a gift I could never give them.
    - Kristin Ruiz
  • My grandmother, Grace Fuss 13 of 29
    My grandmother, Grace Fuss
    She's 102 and still active and alert. Her example of optimism and endurance has changed my life.
    - Chelsea Fuss
  • Molly Barker 14 of 29
    Molly Barker
    Molly Barker is a woman who helped change my life. Molly is the founder of Girls on the Run, a non-profit character development program for elementary and middle school girls. Since she founded the program in the late 1990s, over 1/4 a million girls have gone through the program. I've volunteered with GOTR for four 'seasons' now and love the powerful and positive impact the girls have on my life. Molly is also my partner-in-crime for The Naked Face Project, an empowering blog series to help women see their real beauty, regardless of whether they're dressed up or 'naked face.'
    - Caitlin Boyle
  • My mother, Patricia Daniels 15 of 29
    My mother, Patricia Daniels
    My mother, Patricia Daniels is an everyday woman like most of us, who may not be written about in the history books, but has lived an amazingly inspiring life. She raised my sister and me single-handledly while supporting us with 2 and 3 jobs at a time. Working a nurse, she helped countless people everyday, was a pioneer in the ultrasound field (one of the first people to perform ultrasounds on pregnant patients), and specialized in high-risk pregnancies. On any given day she was getting ready us for school, trekking 5 trains up to Spanish Harlem to help her patients (many addicted and poor mothers) and then coming home to start dinner, take care of us and help her ailing mother. She'd still somehow find the time to do fun activities with us on weekends, mentor the neighborhood children, and attend to our many elderly neighbors. She is also a breast cancer survivor. Through it all, she managed to keep an honest and forgiving heart.
    - Danielle Sullivan
  • My best friend, Julie 16 of 29
    My best friend, Julie
    She changed my life just by barreling into it. I'd never had mom friends before her. It has changed my world, saved my marriage and made me a better mom.
    - Heather Sokol
  • My mother and my best friend, Debbie Byers 17 of 29
    My mother and my best friend, Debbie Byers
    Not only is she, well, the reason I exist, but she has championed, supported, and loved me unconditionally my entire life and goodness knows, I haven't made it easy on her!
    - Andrea Zimmerman, Manager, Blogs and Social Media
  • Patti Londre 18 of 29
    Patti Londre
    After spending a weekend with Patti Londre at Camp Blogaway, I knew right away that she was the role model for me. After all, in addition to everything she has accomplished in her career and personal life, she was a TV contestant on Wheel of Fortune ... and won! Patti Londre is a nationally recognized food PR and marketing expert. A graduate Home Economist and accredited public relations practitioner, she is the passionate publisher of food & travel blog Worth The Whisk, president of 29-year-old award-winning firm The Londre Company Marketing & PR and produces Camp Blogaway Bootcamp for Food & Recipe Bloggers, a weekend retreat near Big Bear.
    Patti and her husband Larry have achieved the goal of traveling to all 50 states and all 7 continents and are making the rounds again. Patti Londre is an inspiration for all women.
    - Sara O'Donnell
  • My mother and my late sister 19 of 29
    My mother and my late sister
    They helped shape my views on Woman's Rights and made me the strong advocate, I am today. They example of determination, and strength gave me the best example any woman and mother could ever ask for.
    - Danielle Elwood
  • My mom 20 of 29
    My mom
    I'm lucky to have had a strong female role model in my life since birth. That's right, this is a shout out to my mom! A true science and computer nerd (not that there's anything wrong with that), my mom has been blazing trails in a field dominated by men for my whole life — and hers. Because I've seen my mom succeed with so many odds against her, while supported by a marriage where I'd say my parents stand on truly equal ground, I've never believed that being a woman means my options are limited (they may come with extra hurdles, but that's another story). Invent something? Start a company? Take up glass blowing as a hobby? Why not, I've always thought, my mom did it. Currently the Director of Global Payments Strategy for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, she's patenting new products for global mobile commerce that will affect the future of the whole entire world. That's pretty cool. But the biggest takeaway lesson from my mom is that she's done it all with integrity, grace, and willingness to extend a hand to others whenever possible.
    - Rebecca Bohanan, Editorial intern
  • Audre Lorde 21 of 29
    Audre Lorde
    Audre Lorde began her career as writer and activist in the 1960's, and completely changed my life in the fall of 1995, three years after cancer took her life. Her work taught me that none of us are alone, that someone out there could live my exact life and fearlessly tell the tale. Her words save me over and over again, and because of her, I've found the courage to tell my own story.
    - Mr. Lady
  • My mom 22 of 29
    My mom
    She inspired my love of being creative. And she lost my dad to cancer a few years ago and has continued on finding joy in life despite losing him. She's a great friend and wonderful grandmother.
    - Jennifer Hadfield
  • Kelly Cutrone 23 of 29
    Kelly Cutrone
    Kelly Cutrone (PR maven, reality star) changed my life. She made me believe that even with 4 littles, I still could do anything. She gave me confidence and reminded me that the whole world is in my hands. Every time I talk to her or see her she shows lots of love and gives me that pep talk. She rocks!
    - Casi Densmoore-Koon
  • Mira Jacob 24 of 29
    Mira Jacob
    Honestly, Mira Jacob changed my life. She believed in me from the very beginning and inspires me to remain unapologetic about sharing my voice.
    - Lori Garcia
  • My mom and my sister 25 of 29
    My mom and my sister
    Both of them have changed my life by supporting me through some of the toughest situations and never letting me give up, even when I wanted to. I am where I am today because of them and cannot thank them enough for it.
    - Katie Loeb
  • My grandma, Madelon Woodall 26 of 29
    My grandma, Madelon Woodall
    If she was still alive she'd have turned 100 this week!
    - Julie Van Rosendaal
  • J. K. Rowling 27 of 29
    J. K. Rowling
    I wouldn't say J.K. Rowling has changed my life, but she has certainly inspired me and made me feel good about pursuing a writing/editing career. I absolutely love Rowling's modern-day rags-to-riches story — and admire her for making a huge "something" out of herself with her creativity … and mad writing skills.
    - Andrea Roxas, Associate Editor
    Photo credit: Share Quotes
  • My grandmother, Carmen Alexis 28 of 29
    My grandmother, Carmen Alexis
    She's gone now, but lived to be 102 (she was 99 when this photo was taken). I lived with her and my grandfather for 2 years when I was a teenager, and she was the epitome of patience and kindness. They were the reason I named my daughter Alexis.
    - Karen Walrond
  • My mom and my sister 29 of 29
    My mom and my sister
    These women were the first to instill a love of reading and writing from pretty much the moment I was born. Today, they remind me that it's possible to be a creative, successful, independent woman despite life's obstacles — they inspire me every day! (Also, I can usually wrangle a home-cooked meal from one of them!)
    - Jillian Capewell, Editorial Assistant

Who has changed your life? Tell us in the comments!

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