Today is my mother’s fifty-fourth birthday. For the past three years, I have been unable to celebrate with her, something that greatly saddens me. Though I am so fortunate to be in Scotland, and my mother would not have it any other way, I still wish I could be with her on her birthday to show her just how much she means to me.
Inspired by other writers, I have decided to write the life lessons my mother has taught me to show her just how much I value her wisdom and companionship. It is my hope that one day I can be half as selfless and good as she is, and I find her guidance more valuable than any material thing as I navigate this great unknown of “Twenty Something.” So, for future reference and in tribute to my favorite person, here are twenty lessons for living that have stuck with me throughout my privileged time with my mother.
1. Pay attention to the tiniest bug, ripples on a still lake, or a stray wildflower. Make up stories and personalities for them.
2. When reading aloud, always make sure each character has its own special voice.
3. If you aren’t going to snort, why even laugh?
4. Don’t be afraid to get a little sweaty and dirty, for the confidence that comes with physical strength is a thing of beauty.
5. Never seek vengeance for the hurt others have caused you. Instead, keep showing them kindness. Maybe then they will realize just how foolishly they have acted.
6. Never underestimate the value of a new pair of socks.
7. Spirituality lives in the things that make you happy, whether it be in the garden, out on a run, or being with family.
8. Always order dessert. It’s good for the soul.
9. If a writer can make you shiver with the raw power of their words, hunt down everything they’ve ever written and read voraciously.
10. Sometimes children have more wisdom than grownups do, so make sure you listen to what they have to say with interest and questions at the ready.
11. Be as wild as a hunyak (don’t ask me what it means…), even if that means chasing your dreams to the furthest reaches of the globe. Those that love you will always follow.
12. Fluff your clothes in the dryer after they’ve been hanging for maximum coziness.
13. Be prepared for the criticism that comes with being yourself. Most often those people are too scared to do what you do, so don’t let them bring you down.
14. It’s okay to let others show their appreciation for you. You would be surprised how good people can be if you let them in.
15. Invest in quality baking products like a well made wooden spoon and a Kitchen Aid.
16. Channel your passion into doing things completely and fully: love until you feel as though you will burst, demand the best version of yourself, and always follow through with whatever you start. Perhaps this passion will inspire others, so never hide it.
17. Marry your best friend. Intelligent conversation, a twisted sense of humor, and a passion for living are the foundations for everlasting love.
18. Cultivate a passion for nature. Our world is a beautiful place, so always make time to sit by the sea and soak it all in.
19. Simplify your life. If even the smallest thing can bring you overwhelming joy, your life will be fuller because of it.
20. March to the beat of your own drum. Forever and always.
Originally written 25 November 2014