On this International Women’s Day, I want to thank my grandmother’s sister, my Aunt Luella. She was a woman of adventure, the first in our family to be a “career women.” The only female in a family of 11 children to forge a different path…one of her own choosing.

Her life was beyond glamorous to me. Aunt Luella traveled the world, often venturing out on her own in exotic places. She was daring, sneaking bibles into countries where it was forbidden – and dangerous. 

Aunt Luella was a colorful character and always danced to her own drum.

My aunt, together with her husband, Uncle Bob, moved away from her sisters and brothers living in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, to a fabulous apartment on 57th Street in NYC. Visiting her there was the beginning of my dream to someday live in Manhattan.

Aunt Louella was by far my favorite aunt. She gave me my first paycheck (I was maybe 6, and she paid me $2 for helping her at her travel agency). As a young child, and later as an adult, we spent amazing days together visiting NYC icons. Aunt Luella paved a very different path than the rest of my family, a path much more suited to me.

My aunt wasn’t all business by any means. We called her Aunt Lipstick – my cousins and I loved to watch her dress in elegant clothes and put on her make up much of it from Europe and Hong Kong. And, she brought us back luscious lipsticks from Paris! I can still see, smell, and taste them now (nothing like the lipsticks we got in NY).

I named my youngest daughter after my father and my beloved aunt. Louella has been gone for many years but she still inspires me to be who I am, to be adventurous, and break those barriers, no matter what others think.