Growing up, my mom and I always joked that the she taught me so much…that she was my greatest example of what not to do in life. And in truth, I would always ask her advice, and I would decide what to do, not based on what she said, but based on how I reacted to what she said.

If I whole heartedly agreed with her, I would proceed in that direction. If I was annoyed that she didn’t agree with me, I would go do my own thing because obviously I really wanted to do it.

And she wasn’t necessarily supportive of some of what I consider the best decisions I’ve made in my life…the two biggest being the decision to go to Antarctica in 2002 and later to have my first and only child at the age of 38. But she accepted my choices and eventually they grew on her.

So I guess lesson #1 would be:

  1. Do not take other people, or yourself, too seriously. Pick your battles.
  2. Be kind…especially to animals. Forgive the people you love when they aren’t.
  3. But don’t take any crap. There’s a difference between being kind and being a doormat.
  4. Where you live is more important than how you live. Travel and follow your heart. Don’t get wrapped up in status and money.
  5. But remember, wherever you go, there you are. You will always be the same person regardless of your location. You can’t run away from problems.
  6. Learn to rely on yourself because often you will find there is no one else around. She was a single mother, after all.
  7. A good education is a necessity, and it’s never too late. She went back to school for her master’s degree in her mid-40s.
  8. Know your own mind or you will be subject to the whims of fate. Make a decision and stick with it. If it was the wrong decision, correct it and move on. Don’t continue to dwell on things. DO something about it.
  9. Life is short…sometimes shorter than you expect. Take good care of yourself and surround yourself with beauty and people and things that make you happy.
  10. There is no bond like the one between a mother and her child.

So those are the 10 biggest things I’ve learned from her. Some of them she lived well, others I learned because she visibly struggled with them. Either way I’m thankful that I had such a great teacher. Love you, Mom.