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5 Things My Mother Taught Me

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  1. It’s better to have and not need than need and not have.

    • My mom is always prepared. In her car, she always has Advil, band-aids, paper towels, plastic shopping bags, an umbrella, a hairbrush. You name it, she probably has it. This made her one excellent Girl Scout leader and child wrangler for 13 years.
  2. Don’t be late. Better yet, be 10 minutes early.

    • Her watch and every single clock in her house is set 12 minutes early just so she’ll be ahead of schedule. What some would consider impractical, she has lived by her whole life. And it’s something she has instilled in both me and my sister, so that in college, I was always early to my classes, and I have never been late to work.
  3. Know the difference between a flat head and a phillips head screwdriver.

    • My mom has never let new furniture, a flat tire, or a clogged toilet get in her way. I grew up knowing my way around the tool box, and it’s something I know I will never regret. My mom taught me that women are strong and can do anything, no matter what social expectations may exist.
  4. Make time for your family and participate.

    • I have spent my whole life attending family reunions, visiting cousins, aunts, uncles, and the like whenever we go on vacation, and I have been to so many graduations, plays, sporting events that my sister or cousins have been in. Family is important. I cherish the time I have spent with my grandparents. I love their stories. I love my crazy extended family. I don’t know what I would do without them all.
  5. Don’t let a schedule keep you from doing something spontaneous.

    • Every Saturday growing up, my mom would take my sister and me on a Saturday Adventure. She wouldn’t tell us where we were going or how long it was going to last. Once, she picked us up early from school, we packed our suitcases for anything, and we hit the road. Later she told us she hadn’t planned anything. She just headed east, and we found ourselves at the Outer Banks in North Carolina for the weekend.

I know Mother’s Day was a few weeks ago, but I hope I never let my appreciation for my mom be restricted to just one day out of the year. I value any moment I spend with her. And I know that no matter how long I’ve been away, or even how often I’ve been home… Home is my favorite place to be.

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Beauty

And my mother would say to me, ‘You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.’ And those words plagued me and bothered me. I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing I could acquire or consume. It was something that I just had to be. And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What does sustain us . . . what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and those around you. That kind of beauty inflames the heart and enchants the soul.

-Lupita Nyong’o

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Maman Araignée

I first came across Louise Bourgeois in the form of her famous Maman sculpture, an enormous spider with long spindly legs that towers above all of her spectators. Its image has been stuck in my brain for nearly 5 years now, and I don’t think I ever want it to go away. I read that Bourgeois based this upon her own mother.

The friend (the spider – why the spider?) because my best friend was my mother and she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and as useful as a spider. She could also defend herself, and me, by refusing to answer ‘stupid’, inquisitive, embarrassing, personal questions.

I shall never tire of representing her.

Something about the way it’s designed to hover, or rather cast a shadow, over the audience drew me in. It can be a little unsettling for anyone who feels less than friendly towards spiders, but I think it’s so beautiful.

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Bourgeois said that she never made art for the sake of beauty but rather to release the emotions of her past. She made art for herself. And I admire that.

Isn’t it funny how something can stay with you for such a long time after seeing it just once? And when you can’t stop going back to it, you know it’s something important.