07/02/2011 11:20 am ET | Updated Sep 01, 2011


When I was a little girl, I grew up believing that I could do anything coupled with hard work and determination. As the youngest in my family, who grew up surrounded by strong independent women, I was able to build my future with insight and perseverance. My first role model in my life was my grandmother, who my older sister, Megan, and I called "Mimi." She was always bold enough to take "the road less traveled," which is why my sister and I looked at her with awe and admiration.

A small Southern farm girl from Virginia picked up and moved to the New York not knowing what to expect, but knew she had to go as she did not want to spend her life on a farm. She wanted an adventure and a life of her own, which she created with her amazing individuality, sense of fashion, confidence and heart. Her two lessons by which my sister and I abide are the foundation to our past, present and future. As I fashion a new life in New York City, I can not help but reflect and share her lessons.

Mimi Lesson I. Carve Your Own Path

My grandmother, "Mimi" was born in rural South Boston, Virginia on a 300-acre tobacco farm with nine siblings. Growing up the youngest after losing her little sister to a bus accident, she had a drive and determination to see life outside of her tobacco farm, because farm life was too provincial for her and more importantly she didn't like picking tobacco. So Mimi set out to be the first in her family to go to college, which she accomplished at Longwood, which was a part of the University of Virginia in the late 1940's. She completed extra schooling in order to pursue a career as a licensed x-ray technician. The bold endeavor for her was moving up north by herself to Summit, NJ. She came a long way from a small southern farm to make her mark, but her beauty, brains and remarkable audacity equipped her for the path that lied ahead.

As I embark on a new life, I will keep my Mimi and her life lessons close to my heart. She showed me that each individual has the opportunity to define their own path and create their own future.

Mimi Lesson II. Always Be a Lady

Mimi learned early on that she could take circumstances that were far from glamorous and invent her own style and path as she went along. Whatever she touched she refined, carrying a tradition of elegance my sister and I aspire to keep in the family. Over cocktails at our summer home in Twin Lake Village, known to close family and friends as "TLV" or "the villa," Megan and I were able to catch up with Mimi's girlfriends who would always say she was, "such a lady." We even brought them to tears as they learned what an impact she had on our lives as a glamorous grandmother. My mother had recently divvied up her jewelry, giving my sister and I her vintage jewelry that we can never seem to part with. My sister was able to carry on her fashionable legacy with Mimi's gold inscribed high school class ring with her initials "KJB" for Kathryn Jean Boyd. Also at home my sister keeps her Chanel No. 5 perfume to remind her of my grandmother's signature scent.

I found it very fitting that my grandmother would wear Chanel as she was also known for her strong, unrelenting heartbeat of courage. My special piece from her jewelry collection would be her gold Gucci vintage bangle watch with a pearl face. I love vintage as every piece comes with a history and a story so I know that I always keep a part of her with me. I was given the watch along with her chic cocktail rings that I rarely leave the house without. Her jewelry is always noticed and complimented on- in particular by men. I feel fortunate that as my fashion style changes; her pieces will always remain classic staples.

As I embark on a new life in New York City, I will keep my Mimi and her life lessons close to heart. She embodies an independent woman of great compassion for people and great joy for life. She showed me that each individual can follow their heart and with determination and
grace make her dreams come true. My grandmother was a great inspiration for me and her lessons have been stepping-stones from childhood to womanhood. Mimi is a precious part of my history and heritage, whose timeless lessons I will always take with me, as I move forward in the city, where a farm girl found adventure and romance 60 years ago.