In honor of Mother’s Day (and in lieu of my usual Monday post), I’d like to share with you 10 things my Mom taught me, through her words and her actions. Each line includes a link to a post that’s moved me this week.

10 Life Lessons From 1 Wonderful Mom:

1. Wherever you’re going, take snacks.

2. Give freely, and go beyond what’s expected.

3. Always bring a gift if you’ll be staying at someone else’s house. Corollary:  Don’t arrive empty-handed to a party. It can be flowers, wine, chocolate, a card. Whatever you choose, give to those who invite you to their homes. And thank-you notes matter.

4. If you have a headache, you’re probably dehydrated. If you’re cranky, you’re probably hungry or tired. Instead of popping a pill and forging on with your day when you feel a physical symptom, stop for a moment. Ask yourself what needs aren’t getting met. You might just need to press pause on your life, relax and have a good laugh.

5. Don’t settle. My mom has an amazing fitness level, and it’s because she’s made a commitment to activities she loves. She does yoga, teaches strength and fitness classes, plays tennis and goes for long walks. Through her example, she taught me to see exercise as an energy-builder, rather than an onerous chore. Likewise, my mom taught me that making healthy choices (in regards to food, exercise and life choices) allows you to give yourself the gift of good health.

6. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, make a list. Even if it’s a not-to-do list.

7. The way to grow something good is to give it time every day. My mom taught this by example; she grew her strong faith little by little, day by day. Every morning as I trudged down the stairs to get ready for school, I’d see her sitting at her desk. She’d be wrapped in an afghan, journaling, meditating and spending time with God. These times prepared her to cope with the very difficult years of my brother’s behavioral issues. She set aside time for herself each morning, and because of that sacred space, she was able to face a good deal during her days.

Corollary:  don’t give up on people you love. My parents did not give up on my brother, despite all the ways in which he did (and still does at times) wreak havoc. That doesn’t mean controlling someone else, not accepting reality, or trying to force another person to change. It simply means:  fight for your relationships, and fight for your ideals. Give them all you’ve got.

8. It will always look better in the morning. In other words:  your problems seem more terrible and insurmountable when you’re tired. Get some rest.

9. Remember the story of your birth. My mom has told me the (abridged) version of how I was born many times, and I treasure that story. It gives me a glimpse of the person I’ve always been, even as an infant, and the person I hope to be as a woman:  wide-eyed, awake, focused, present.

10. Give the gift of yourself. When I asked my mom what she wanted for Mother’s Day. After a pause, she said, “Well…write me something!” In other words, she wanted me to give her an organic gift, to celebrate her day by doing what comes naturally to me.

Mom, I hope you like your gift. Happy Mother’s Day!

Show your love by sending this along to your mom, aunt, grandmother, or another special woman in your life.

PS ~ What did your mother teach you about life? Tell me in the comments!

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  1. allisonbenotafraid May 8, 2011 at 3:19 PM - Reply

    I love this Caroline! These are wonderful life lessons! Having met your mom only briefly, I could still see where your beautiful, unassuming elegance and peace came from. Happy Mother’s Day to her!

    • Caroline McGraw May 8, 2011 at 4:03 PM - Reply

      Thank you Alli ~ I’m honored 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day to you!!!

  2. Hi Caroline,

    This is a lovely list of lessons from your mother…a gift I’m sure she will treasure more than anything else you could have purchased for her. Every year I like to pick out a meaningful card to send to my mom in addition to a small gift. Inevitably, as I am writing something on the inside cover, I always end up in tears. This year was no exception. As I was writing in the card, I was also thinking about writing a post to share with the world, much like the one you’ve written. However, being bogged down with homework and other life circumstances have kept me from giving that post the attention I feel it really deserves. I think I’ll still write that post eventually, and publish it when the time is right. 🙂

    Like your mom, mine has taught me so many valuable lessons. I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her. She has always been my pillar of support and my guiding light. If there is one lesson that I learned from her that I will treasure above everything else, it is that people need our support and encouragement more than they need our advice. Whenever I’m upset, I know a phone call to my mom will make everything better. She never give me advice or tells me what to do. She is there to lend a supportive and empathetic ear, and to remind me that I already have the strength inside me to keep going and overcome life’s challenges.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Donna May 8, 2011 at 6:29 PM - Reply

    Thank you for your awesome and wonderful gift!!! I hope others will laugh and grin remembering what their moms have handed down to them!!

    • Caroline McGraw May 8, 2011 at 6:31 PM - Reply

      I’m so glad you like it! 🙂 xoxo

    • Caroline McGraw May 8, 2011 at 6:38 PM - Reply

      Wow, thank you Adrienne! I look forward to reading your post when it comes into being.

      Very good point that, “…people need our support and encouragement more than they need our advice.” Something which occurs to me now that I didn’t write in the post: my mom would never say whether or not she was ‘a fan’ of various teenage suitors 😉 We’d talk about relationship stuff, but she’d never give direct advice on whether I should stay or go, so to speak. She wanted me to make up my own mind, and not be swayed by her opinion.

      I am so grateful that she supported me in making my own choices. It sounds like your mom gives you a similar gift on a regular basis. 🙂

  4. JenGresham May 8, 2011 at 6:52 PM - Reply

    Wonderful! My mom was so wise, though I didn’t always appreciate it at the time. Her solution to every problem was a cup of hot tea and to go to bed early. It’s only now I realize how well it works.

    Thanks for the link love!

    • Caroline McGraw May 8, 2011 at 8:46 PM - Reply

      Anytime! (Why Aren’t You Doing What You Love is one of my favs from Everyday Bright.) Thanks for contributing some wisdom from your mom as well.
      Oddly enough, I’m sipping hot tea right now…& planning to go to bed early, too 😉

  5. Brooke May 9, 2011 at 12:32 PM - Reply

    I love this post! Thanks for the link.
    For Mother’s Day I made a donation in my mom’s honor to Edna Hospital, a maternity hospital in Somaliland, Africa. You can read it about it in Nicholas Kristof’s column here:
    Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there!

  6. Mark May 9, 2011 at 1:20 PM - Reply

    “Instead of popping a pill and forging on with your day when you feel a physical symptom, stop for a moment. Ask yourself what needs aren’t getting met.”

    So wise…before there were doctors, there were mothers.

    What a kind gesture to your mama.


    • Caroline McGraw May 9, 2011 at 1:33 PM - Reply

      Thank you Mark! “Before there were doctors, there were mothers.” Love that.

  7. Mindy May 12, 2011 at 12:20 PM - Reply

    This was wonderful Caroline! Dead on. With a Mom like that it’s easy to see how you’ve become the fine young woman you are.

  8. Tanya May 12, 2011 at 6:07 PM - Reply

    I must first say, having the privilege of growing up knowing your beautiful mama, Aunt Donna is an amazing woman who has taught life lessons to so many people she meets and blesses by her wisdom! I read several of the links from this post and I especially was motivated by “the lost practice of resting one day a week”…I found it so helpful and I’ve been in the process of improving my “ability to say no” (i just “practiced” it regarding a potential outing tonight)…which i truly believe is a gift to myself AND to others in my life :):) so thank you so much for sharing!

    • Caroline McGraw May 12, 2011 at 6:10 PM - Reply

      I will DEFINITELY be showing this comment to my mom ~ she is, indeed, amazing!
      Speaking of inspiring women ~ you are inspiring in your faith & your music, and I’m so proud of you for taking the time to rest and restore yourself. It is, indeed, a gift to us all.
      (big hug)

  9. Katie May 14, 2011 at 11:44 AM - Reply

    Lovely Caroline. Your mom sounds like she did a great job. Thank you for sharing from the heart. xo

    • Caroline McGraw May 14, 2011 at 1:33 PM - Reply

      Thanks Katie ~ I’ll be sure to pass along the affirmation! This was a fun post to write 🙂 xoxo

  10. Stephanie June 2, 2011 at 8:42 PM - Reply

    Caroline –

    This is such a lovely and moving post. Far too many of us don’t take the time to appreciate the lessons our mothers have taught us through the years. One of the most important I learned is that no matter what you do, always do your best.

    My mother is fearless when it comes to facing life, and I have always respected that quality about her. Until recently, I didn’t appreciate how much of it she had instilled in me.

    Thank you for sharing these amazing lessons. I have to go call my mom now. 🙂


    • Caroline McGraw June 2, 2011 at 9:28 PM - Reply

      🙂 Thank you so much, Steph! It’s great to hear that the post inspired you to connect; your mom sounds like an amazing woman.

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