“The mother’s heart is the child’s school-room.” —Henry Ward Beecher
Every day I honor and remember the lessons I’ve learned from my mother and other maternal figures in my life – lessons that have shaped my own family, career and love of helping others in the community over the years. Rae is no longer with us, but her lasting love and kindness remains present in our homes and hearts.
In honor of Mother’s Day, here are some timeless lessons she taught me:
- Make Your Bed: Long before Navy Seal William H. McRavin penned “Make Your Bed: Little Things that Can Change Your Life… and Maybe the World,” my mom had instructed everyone in our household to make our beds, each and every day. Try it and see how your room looks and feels, but – more importantly – how you feel. It’s a great task to accomplish first thing in the morning and the positive momentum will prepare you to tackle the day ahead. Not to mention that it’s heavenly to slip into a nicely made bed at the end of a long day. Think of it as self-care.
- Solve Problems; Don’t Complain: While it’s sometimes easier said than done, my mom was a role model in this area. It’s normal to feel the urge to sulk or whine when life gets you down, but that rarely solves the problem. While growing up, if something went wrong, my mom would take action to try to set our piece of the world right. If you catch yourself complaining, try reframing the situation and ask yourself “What’s not working?” This strategy can help you determine actionable solutions.
- Quality Over Quantity: Perhaps one of the most useful lessons my mom taught us was how to stretch our dollars and cents. A surprising strategy she often employed was to spend a little more on quality goods that we would enjoy for years, rather than frequently purchasing cheaper products to meet temporary needs. Beautiful winter coats that multiple siblings wore, solid furniture that was moved multiple times and a wool carpet that looked new 15+ years later are just a few of her purchases that come to mind. Think quality over quantity – it’ll save you money and help you prevent clutter in your home.
- Write a Note: Facebook, Instagram and texting may be the communications norm for younger generations, but I still cling to a lesson my mother taught me – the art of writing thoughtful, handwritten notes. Not only was my mom’s penmanship to be envied, so too were her thank you notes. The next chance you get, think about writing your own note and making someone’s day special. I treasure the ones I’ve received from clients, which are proudly displayed in my home office.
- Listen More; Talk Less: My mom could have been a terrific human resource trainer because, like them, she mastered the art of listening. Too often, problems in communication come down to the simple, but important, fact that someone was misunderstood. We can get so wrapped up in thinking about our response, that we aren’t always truly listening to what is being said. Instead of jumping in with advice, interjecting or letting yourself get distracted, sit back and just listen. You might be surprised at what you hear. I pride myself on being a great listener to really understand what my clients are telling me about their organizing challenges, and I’m thankful that my mom set such a great example for me over the years.
- Second Chances Matter: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a lesson I learned from my mother-in-law, Ann. She and my father-in-law were widowed at a young age. Despite what she had gone through, Ann took another chance on love and married an incredible man – more than doubling the size of her family. Together, they formed a Brady-like bunch and supported one another through life’s ups and downs. I won the mother-in-law lottery, all because Ann gave love another shot. To my clients and friends in the community – do not be afraid of giving yourselves and your homes second chances by getting organized. It’s never too late to live the life you deserve.
So many of life’s greatest lessons come from mothers and I will forever cherish the ones I’ve learned from mine. While I credit my mom with molding and teaching me over the years, I’ll close with an organizing lesson I taught her.
My siblings and I can recall many frantic searches for my mom’s car keys over the years – a common problem that plagues many on-the-go people. Late in life, I advised her to give her keys a home – a special place that they would live when she walked in the door every day. Voila! It worked. No more lost keys. After all the life-changing lessons she taught me over the years, I owed her one.
Thanks for everything, mom. You are missed.
If you are missing your mother, grandmother, aunt or another maternal figure in your life this Mother’s Day, take a listen to “Angels Among Us” by Alabama.
With love, Colleen