So here are four big lessons I have learned from my mother:
1. Don't burn any bridges.
I really live by this one day in and day out. My behavior is a reflection of myself and I can't control anyone else but I can decide how I show up. We never know when we will cross paths with someone again. The world may be big, but it is also surprisingly small. That one person that you said all those mean things to when you were younger or at your current job may just end up being the CEO of some business that in the future you want to try and get a job at. You just never ever know. I am not saying don't speak your truth. If someone is legitimately being rude I am a big proponent of being honest and telling those around you how their behavior effects you. But pointing your fingers at someone else doesn't solve any issue it just creates more. When I speak with "I" statements, I own my own reactions and behaviors and I work to leave any bad situation feeling as though I am on at least good terms with those who have crossed my path. Ultimately, just be kind, considerate, and respectful to everyone you meet. And speaking of respectful...
2. Say hello when you enter a room and say goodbye when you leave.
For the most part, people don't like it when they feel like they are being ignored. When you enter a room a transition has happened. A simple act of just saying hello (whether it be to a loved one, a family member, a stranger) can smooth that transition and let the other person know you come in peace. Whenever I came home or left my mother just wanted an update on whether I was there or somewhere else. When those around us have to guess what we are up to or when we are coming home or leaving a little bit of tension can be created. There is an uncertainty and an unknowing of what to expect. When you inform those around you of your presence or lack of presence they get to be at ease and not make up stories. And when you say goodbye, you are honoring the time you have just spent with that person and ease another transition happening. For example, you wouldn't just answer the phone and not say hello. The other person would probably hang up not knowing you were there. And if you don't say goodbye and just hang up you leave the other person hanging on to the experience that just happened with no definitive end. How you enter and leave a situation not only eases your life but it creates peace in those around you as well.
3. You eat an elephant a bite at a time.
I get overwhelmed easily. Whenever a new school year would start, I would look at all my syllabi and think how am I going to get this all done! (thinking I needed to get it all done the next day and forgetting I had an entire semester to complete all these tasks). I would immediately call up mother crying and looking for support. Her response was always, "Stephanie, you eat an elephant a bite at a time." Elephants are huge. And to imagine eating an entire elephant would be a daunting task. But when given permission to take as much time as needed to eat the entire elephant, the pressure is off and the ability to rise to the challenge increases. While this may be an odd image, it always helped me. Anything that feels huge, daunting, scary, overwhelming is doable. What gets in the way is our thoughts. What gets in the way is fear. Fear of mistakes, fear of failure, fear of success. When I was able to take the pressure off, I could start being creative again, rebuild my confidence, and challenge my internal voices. Nothing is too big for you. Give yourself all the time you need.
4. Have fun in your life.
I have always been an old soul. I take life pretty seriously and I work hard. I could probably view everything in my life as a task to be done and there is part of me that enjoys that because I like the feeling like I am getting things done (and yes I could challenge that but I'll save that for another post). Breaking loose from routine and the ideas of what we "should" or "should not" be doing with our time is really important. Letting go of what I think is healthy or the best for me and doing something entirely different has given me opportunities to experience life, to make mistakes, to learn lessons, to meet new people, to create memories, and to laugh. I have made the best memories around times when I drank too much, ate too much, danced, and laughed my ass off all night long. If I am stuck in worrying about a situation, I try and ask myself now would this really matter in 5 years? Usually the answer is no. To invite fun into life is a practice for me, but one that I have learned from my mother makes your soul come alive and gives your life more meaning.
I hope these lessons help you as much as they have helped me and Happy Mother's Day!!!