I use the term feed people, lead people,” a lot. I don’t want to scare people away when they read the word “lead.” Many people shy away from wanting to be a leader.

After a short trip back to the Midwest to visit my Auntie Ellen in St. Louis, I think of her example of leading people and her gift of hospitality.

When it comes to leading, it doesn’t have to mean that you are a natural-born leader! I mean leading by living your life and loving others, by opening your lives to relationships in general and by stepping out of your comfort zone, or by people just observing your life as you live it in your home.

Here is a story about my Aunt. She was widowed at age 34 with 3 small children. Life was not easy, but she always put others before herself. She wanted her 3 children to succeed, so she set foot to do so herself. She remained single, focusing on her kids, and she went back to college and got her master’s degree in business and started a multi-million dollar business back in the 90’s. She literally opened her life and arms to people around her, specifically her employees. She led by example and the way she lived her life. She was a well-respected human being.

She is retired now, and remarried a year and a half ago to wonderful “Uncle Ed,” who is such a sweet man and a real asset to our family, and in her garage hang 2 huge collages. Both are filled with pictures (matted and framed in a classy way) with every employee who has ever worked for her through the years. People love her. Her life has been the epitome of hospitality and love.

In 1994 she received the Distinguished Woman Entrepreneur Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners. That says a lot right there! But her greatest joy was seeing her 3 kids graduate from college, and then her grandchildren being born.

Aunt Ellen is a person I have gleaned much from. Dinners or parties have always been about the “guest.” She has such a way of bringing people in, including them, making them feel special and unique. Of taking what you have and making something out of it. Of seeing into people lives and creating lively conversation. Of seeing talents and gifts in others and pulling those out of them.

This last weekend we had several occasions to celebrate being together. One was a big family dinner. She included my daughter in the preparations, by showing her how to make a flower arrangement. Abby felt like a floral designer when they were finished, because Aunt Ellen walked her through the steps and it became Abby’s work of art (top photo). Then the next day all of the girls in the family went to The Sisters Tea House (post to follow) and had an old-fashioned tea party. We also redecorated Aunt Ellen’s sun porch together. We always have a “project” when we are together.

It’s not always the “Auntie Ellen Show” either. She even includes her guests by inviting them to cook a meal. When I was asked to cook breakfast on Sunday morning, I had to put my thinking cap on, but I came up with one of my favorite recipes, Eggs Baked in Bacon Rings, which goes well with the South Beach Diet (recipe below).

Aunt Ellen has loved me, has taken a deep interest in my life, and has always been what my husband and I call a “balcony” person to us, always cheering us on.

She is a woman who prioritizes her life well. God, family, and her community.

China dishes or paper plates, life is always a party when Auntie Ellen is around.

Do you have a “balcony” person in your life? Balcony people lead others by the way they live, with open hearts and right spirits, and they applaud you along the way.

Who says you can’t lead?

Eggs Baked in Bacon Rings
6 strips turkey bacon
4 slices tomato, cut 1/2 inch thick
4 eggs
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325. Cook bacon slightly until it begins to shrivel, about 3 min. Spray muffin tin. Place a tomato slice in the bottom of each cup. Circle the sides of each cup with 1 1/2 strips of bacon. Break an egg into each cup and season. Fill any empty cups with warm water. Bake 20 min. YUM!