Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday! It’s been an eventful weekend here in Nashville. Yesterday I had the opportunity to dress up in true Southern apparel and attend the Iroquois Steeplechase, my very first horse race! In the quest for becoming more Southern, this was a HUGE step. After the races, I switched gears and accomplished something that I’ve wanted to for a very long time: reading my poetry. I performed at Portland Brew’s “Poetry in the Brew” and recited three of my poems: Spider, Close Distance Relationships, and Favorite Passenger Song. It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. I’ll post one of them on here sometime soon!
But let’s get back to the real celebration at hand…Mother’s Day.
My mom is without a doubt one of the most incredible people that I know. Now I know that it seems like I’m just saying that, but anybody who’s met her would agree. Spend five minutes with her and you’ll know why. Even though people think that she’s my sister (you rock that perpetual youth, Mama!) she is wise beyond her years. Part of this wisdom has started rubbing off on me, and today I’d like to celebrate five of the biggest things I’ve been blessed to learn from her. Let’s do it!
Dream big. One of the things that my mom would always tell me growing up was “Jeanette, I know you’re going to do great things. You are going to change the world. I just have this feeling about it.” As much as that phrase scared me (talk about great expectations!) it encouraged me to believe that anything was possible. Growing up, I always wanted to be President, and part of me still thinks that dream is halfway possible (maybe not after watching so much House of Cards…). My mom taught me that changing the world starts in the little things, and ends up being the big things.
Give back. Let’s be real: altruism is not in our nature. Think about it—the first words a child learns are “no!” and “mine!” It is so easy to go about life doing things our own way and never stopping to consider those outside of our own lives. But whether it was going to feed the homeless or helping with a church outreach event, my mom always taught me that giving of ourselves is the way to find our true purpose in life. I’d say that the ways that I am able to give back currently are the times when I feel the most fulfilled. The pursuit of our own satisfaction can only give us so much, but investing in others creates lasting joy.
Do things that scare you. Yesterday, I performed at a poetry reading. Last week, I delivered a speech to over 2,000 parents and students at the Duke TIP Awards ceremony at Belmont. In my lifetime, I’ve spoken to hundreds of thousands of people during my experience as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen and other opportunities. But when my mom signed me up for an oratorical contest a few years ago, I could not have been more afraid. I would have rather faced certain death than get up in front a crowd of people I didn’t know. But she challenged me. She told me to do it because I was scared. “Doing things that scare you help you realize that very little is impossible once you set your mind to it.” Once I finished that first speech with knees shaking, I realized that it wasn’t as bad as I thought. If I could conquer that fear, what else could I do?
Say thank you. When I was in grade school, my mom would always make me write thank-you notes to my professors at the end of the year. I was always disgruntled (why on earth would I be grateful for all of that homework?) but did it regardless. As I began to see just how much the power of “thank you” can strengthen relationships, those notes became more and more heartfelt and genuine. Now, I look forward to the opportunities when I can recognize someone for the impact that they’ve made in my life, not only because it keeps me grateful, but there’s nothing like finding out that someone you wrote a note to still has it on their desk for days they really need it.
Love God. This is pretty much the big one. Through good times and bad, when we completely agreed with each other or we were on opposite ends of the spectrum, this is one thing that my mom has lived throughout her life every day. Her ability to deal with stress, suffering, and the many, many times that I failed to trust her as a mom were centered around her faith in God. As I grow up and see just how much her love for me was mirrored by her love for Christ, it makes me so incredibly proud. Although all of these lessons are things I will carry with me the rest of my life, this is the one that I’m most thankful for. I hope that some day I will grow up to become half of the woman that she is.
Today, I hope you’ll take some time to recognize the lessons that your mom taught you. And if you happen to be in Wisconsin, make sure that my momma gets an extra hug, okay? Wishing you a blessed Mother’s Day and another wonderful week!