In honor of Mother's Day, I thought it only fitting that I share some of the most important lessons my mom gave to me. Mother's (and father's too) are our greatest teachers, they set the stage as we grow with them. Here are my top 5 Life Lessons from my Mom:
1. Kindness, above all else:
When I was in my early twenties, my mother gave me a stone that said "Be Kind." I didn't understand fully what her intent was when she gave it to me. In my stubborn, 20-year-old way, I scoffed at it thinking she was telling me I wasn't kind and I tucked it away in a drawer. Years later, I was going through boxes from college and found the purple stone with gold lettering, "Be kind" and realized all along, it wasn't a commentary on what I was or was not doing, it was a reminder that Kindness is a gift. I have had experiences, myself, in which others were hurtful to me or I have witnessed cruelty and remembered the stone. Kindness to others is a simple thing that makes all the difference.
2. Walk a mile in another's shoes:
My mother taught me the importance and value of empathy. She said, "You never know what someone else has been through or what they go home to." I have witnessed this in my own life as a teacher and mentor to many students. Sometimes the one kid you thought was the biggest slacker in the world is the kid who suffers more than you could imagine. He goes home at night to no food and a scary home life, yet he doesn't say a word about it. I learned that instead of judging someone, it's most important to think about all of the things you don't know. Walk a mile in his/her shoes and see life from a different perspective.
3. Accept people as they are:
I have always been a bit of a control freak. And, as a result of this, there have been times that I have tried to "change" the people in my life. It has created stress and angst and conflict. On the other side of it, I have come to recognize (with my mom's help)...if I just accept others as they are...life would feel whole lot better. Expectations are a funny thing. They can be a great thing; but, they can also set us up for significant disappointment. Shift your expectations and make them REASONABLE...and apply the above lessons....kindness...empathy...Perhaps others really are just doing the best they can. It's amazing how life can feel when we think within this framework.
4. Life is an adventure:
When my brother and I were little, my mom would play music from soundtracks of movies like Superman or E.T. and we would run around the house rescuing our stuffed animals dressed like Shera the Princess of Power and the Thundercats. We would spend weekends visiting the beach in winter time or finding new parks, trails and museums. We were always outside exploring and using our imaginations. Mom made life an adventure and helped us to channel our creative sides from a very early age. Now that Jake and I are grown-ups, this has served us well in our creative endeavors of photography and music production.
5. Above all else, have Courage:
When I was very young, I went through a really difficult experience. I remember my mom buying a set of fabric butterflies and putting them up on the wall over my bed. She said, "Whenever you feel afraid, look at your butterflies and feel courage inside." And that became a word, I have always held close. Courage, to me, means being whole-hearted. Going for what it is you want; but, doing it in a way that is genuine and open. Courage means you face your fears and do right by others, no matter what. This word has stuck with me and whenever I have been struggling with a difficult decision, my mom has been on the other end of the phone reminding me, "Have Courage, babe, have Courage." Those butterflies now adorn the wall of my daughter's room and I look forward to the day that I can share this story with her too.
What lessons have you learned from your mom? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.