Growing up I’ve always felt like I had two moms. It wasn’t any special type of family relationship, it was as simple as this: I had my real mom, the one who gave birth to me, who took care of me every day and then I had her sister, my aunt. Somehow my personality actually matched my aunt more than my mom, maybe because we both got the same genes from my grandfather, but my two moms, along with my grandmother played very special roles in my life. Though this month marks the one year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing, her lessons and her inspiration lives on through my moms and me. In honor of International Women’s Day (#IWD2015), here are 8 things that these amazing women I’ve been priviledged to have in my life have taught me:
- Family really is everything. If you’re lucky enough to have a family and even luckier to have a family who cares so much about your happiness and well-being that they will do anything for you, be grateful for that. Even though we live thousands of miles away, I’m blessed enough that I can always pick up the phone and call them, knowing that at the end of the line I will always find a word of encouragement, a smile, or someone who will cry with me if I need that.
- There is no substitute for love. I grew up in a communist and then post-communist country so we didn’t have much growing up in terms of material things, but we always knew we were cared for no matter how that looked. We were loved even when they didn’t agree with our choices and we were loved even when it seemed like we didn’t deserve it.
- Focus on what you have. We always lived in an attitude of gratitude. We rarely focused on what was missing and often focused on what we actually had and how to take full advantage of that.
- Give it all you have. I learned to take leaps of faith and go for what I want with everything it me. It made me determined and turned me into a person that rarely gives up and always follows her dreams.
- Enjoy the little things. Whether that means little gifts, or kind words, or the presence of a loved one around, I’ve always felt honored and grateful to find joy and wonder in the little things in life.
- Don’t just tell people you love them; show them. To this day, every time I visit them, I always get a phone call or an email beforehand asking me if they should cook me anything special. If I don’t mention anything, chances are they will have something ready for me that they know I love or at least I used to love when I was 5. My grandma would always make crepes or donuts when we would visit and to this day those two things remind me of her.
- Extend the love. If we loved someone, they loved them too. They would of course question any toxic behavior and address it, but as far as they were concerned any friends, boyfriends, girlfriends we had were loved and welcomed as long as they made us happy. However if they didn’t make us happy for any reason, then they would somehow turn into these “mother hens” and protect us as if our lives depended on it.
- When in doubt, always trust your intuition and your advisors. Life will bring you all the good and the bad in the world, it will lift you up and it will slam you into the ground, it will make you doubt yourself to the very core and it will also show you ways to get back up. While sometimes our overactive brains might not see the solution, our hearts and our intuition always know the right answer. Sometimes we find that answer by spending time with ourselves, other times we find it by talking over things with a trusted advisor.
If you look at your life, who are the women you’d like to honor, who inspired you, who shaped your life, who continues to be your role model no matter how much you grown and how much things in your life change? What were the things you learned that made a difference in the person you are today?