My mom always told me that when I grew up I would take the things I liked about her and her parenting and I would use them as my own and the things I did not like so much I would leave behind. I always have admired the bravery and authenticity in this statement and admission of imperfection. That she was doing her best, the best way she knew how and it was ok if I did not agree with her 100%. I did not have to follow in her footsteps 100%.
And I have found that while growing up this has happened almost automatically. I have taken with me the things I work for my approach in life and set the rest aside. This Mother’s Day I want to share my moms top 3 pieces of advice that were ingrained into my brain. So much in fact, that now a days I just laugh when she gives me this advice. Because she still does.
Put it in Perspective.
I remember coming home from a shopping trip mad because I didn’t get the shirt I wanted, was annoyed by my sister, or complained if I had to eat peas at dinner. My mom would always respond by telling me to put it in perspective. “There are people out there who are not as fortunate as you. You should feel blessed for what you have.” And even at a young age, it was really easy to understand, and really hard and frustrating to argue, because I knew she was right. To have food, clothes and love in abundance was a luxury that some did not have. So that is where my perspective mindset began.
We have 100% control of how we view ANY situation. From the worst of the worst we have control of how we will work through it and how we will come out of it. And yes life happens and we will be faced with the unbearable at times. But on a day to day basis, I would rather put every situation in perspective to lessen misery, resentment, frustration and anger.
I do this by asking myself.
How can I turn this situation around?
Can I see this from some else’s point of view?
What do I have to be grateful for in this moment?
I know this stuff is tough and takes practice. It is something I still work on from time to time but it does become easier and require less conscious effort as you practice it. I can chose to view the world through a lens of possibility and opportunity or through the lens that everyone is out to get me make me miserable. No thanks. I’ll take the first.
Something does not have to be perfect to be beautiful.
This story could be another blog in itself but to sum it up quickly. My grandparents were traveling through Germany in the 1970’s and my grandfather wanted to buy my grandmother the ring he wished he could have given to her when they got married. So they settled on a gorgeous 2 carrot diamond set on a ever so thin band to replace the “itty bitty diamond ring that I borrowed $150 from my father to buy.” Words of Grandpa by the way. The jeweler, in being transparent, told by grandparents that while it was a beautiful stone, it did have a small flaw that you could see with the naked eye. And it did but my Grandma replied that she was still interested by saying “Something does not have to be perfect to be beautiful.” I think my Grandma was ahead of her time with her positive psychology thinking and this perspective was passed down to my mom who passed it down to my sisters and I.
I think sometimes we get so caught up in perfection, that we ignore reality and the concept that perfection is an illusion. I can’t tell you how many times I get consumed with constantly trying to do everything! Why can’t I do it all? But instead of comparing my sad looking dinner, my un photogenic closet, my failed workout, or Lulu’s never ending dog hair around the house to pictures on Pinterest, maybe I could just give myself a pat on the back and tell myself that I am doing the best I can. And that sometimes I just need to let my best be good enough.
I have to remind myself that “perfect” does not guarantee pain free living. We start to associate doing every thing right, (being perfect) with automatically bringing happiness and joy into our lives. And when we do things wrong, (when we are not perfect, act perfect, or look perfect) it represents that we are not worthy. It is ok to strive to do our best but I don’t think this works unless we have some compassion for ourselves along the way. We are all just trying our best and our best does not have to be perfect to be beautiful, to be accepted, or to get things done.
Ok so this is somewhat of a joke because my mom’s remedy for everything seems to be to soak it. Growing up whether we had a tired body, a headache, were stressed, had a blister on our toe my mom would draw up a bath and tell us to soak it. I think that was my mom’s way of saying that we can’t make everything better but we can try. And if we can just focus on the positive we can make it through with less pain and more joy.
You see, my mom is one of the kindest, most warm hearted people on the planet. She is the master at killing people with kindness with the genuine interest to make their day better. Growing up my mom would do things like this. “Let’s see if we can make this cashier smile. She looks like she is not having a good day.” I would roll my eyes in embarrassed as my mom would chat with the cashier, give them a compliment or two, and it was obvious in her approach that there was no way they could really not be nice back.
She would almost always get a smile out of the person. And you know what I did yesterday at the grocery store. I started chatting with the cashier, giving her compliment, and wishing her a great weekend. As I was walking out of the store I was thinking about how nice it is to just make connections with people. To go out of our way to give a compliment or be nice. To extend that extra gesture of kindness when we really do not have to. And it was not until I this very moment, writing this blog, that I realized exactly where I got that from. My mama.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom, and to all the mom’s out there.
I asked on and off social media for the best advice you ever received from you mom and I just love the responses I got back.
“To be a smart, confident and kind woman with manners.”
“To be ME. And to never let anyone influence me to do otherwise.”
“That a mom’s most important role is to raise good humans…no matter what they do as a career, what’s inside is what matters.”
“To go with my gut.”
“Have a kind heart to heart others and be your true genuine self.”
“Have a magnanimous heart.” ( Had to look it up. Magnaminous: generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness: noble).