1. Don’t settle.
Don’t settle just because something feels comfortable. In fact, don’t settle at all.
2. Walk fast.
I mean this literally and figuratively. My mom always walked fast. I dreaded going shopping with her because I could barely keep up. We were always in a hurry, but we got the job done and always slowed down to reward ourselves with a good dinner. We enjoyed our time together. As I got older, I became more and more OK with this. She taught me to live in the fast lane. Walk fast, but walk with intention. And never forget to stop and smell the roses from time to time.
3. Believe in whatever the hell you want to believe in.
I grew up in a very religious town. My family was one of the few families that weren’t religious. My mom never pushed religion on me and she never pushed it away from me. Even when I was a very small child, she encouraged me to believe in what I want to believe in. If I wanted to go to church on Sunday, that was fine. If I wanted to stay home and watch TV all day on Sunday, that was fine, too. All she ever asked was that I stand up for what I believe. Nothing else mattered.
I didn’t understand this one until I started college. Mom always had a book in her hand (now it’s the Kindle). Reading is part of her. She always encouraged me, recommending books and always offering to buy them. Once I actually started getting into reading, I finally understood why she did it. Books take you away for a short while. Away from the chaos of life. They help you create another reality in your head. An enjoyable reality that only makes sense to you. The imagination runs wild. And I love that.
5. Talk loud.
My mom is and always has been a little bit deaf. Sometimes I needed to speak up—and so do you. Communicate clearly. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Be confident in both.
6. The silent treatment is OK once in a while.
My mom and I have had our fair share of fights, door slamming, and silent treatments. When she gave me the silent treatment, I knew it was because she was about to burst. It was for my own good, but sometimes it would bug the hell out of me. Then one day I realized that sometimes it’s smart to keep your mouth shut and cool down. If you have nothing positive to say, the silent treatment is your best option.
7. Apologize for using the silent treatment.
Just do it. She apologizes every time, I apologize every time. It’s the right thing to do. Trust me.
8. Life will change more than once, and it will be scary.
The summer between my sophomore and junior year of college, I came crying to her about school. I didn’t want to attend that semester. I was so scared she would be mad and even more scared she would be disappointed in me. I underestimated her. She hugged me and said, “Life changes, and people change their minds on things. It’s normal. And who am I to force you to do something you don’t want to do?”
9. Go on adventures.
No matter how much money I would blow on one weekend in Seattle or on another festival, she has never once been mad or upset. She’s always been 100% for it. And when I return, I always look forward to calling her so that I can hear her say, “I’m so glad you had fun and I’m glad you’re safe.”
Stepping outside of your comfort zone and into the unknown is the only way you are truly going to see yourself for who you really are. Take long trips; make memories with the people you care about. You can gain money back; you cannot gain your youth back.
10. I will be OK.
There’s the big one. I will be OK, and when the time comes where I don’t feel OK, it will just be another lesson to learn.