Lessons from My First & Favorite Influencer... My Mom
And a reminder to everyone that the greatest influencers are found IRL.
I’m sending this out on the Thursday before Mother’s Day. I fully recognize that this day can be really fun and special, but it can be bittersweet - for so many reasons. If this is a hard day for you, I send you an understanding hug. I wish I were planning a day with my mom… but she’s no longer here with us, so it’ll have to be in spirit.
To be honest, I’ve sort of had the Mother’s Day ads and references on “mute” as I’ve been going about my business. (A.k.a., kind of ignoring the day on purpose.) That was until last week Wednesday when I was listening to a podcast, Frugal Living Tips From The Great Depression. It made me wish I could listen to it with my mom and hear her thoughts and memories of the time. She’d often talk about what her family did to get by during the Depression, and many of those habits stayed with her for her entire life. (Hot tip, spices last at least 40 years, and I can hear her say, “This is still good” every time I clean out my fridge.)
Well, the podcast got me thinking about looking for other podcasts, YouTube, etc., that my mom would’ve liked and then writing about them.
But then it hit me:
When I thought about looking for what other influencers had to say
I realized… there’s no influencer for me that compares to my mom.
And moms in general, for that matter. Am I right?
Sure, I appreciate, share, and use the tips I learn online. But the people I learn them from aren’t a part of my (real) life.
The majority of how I live my life… is influenced by my mom’s examples and what she taught me.
The way I organize my drawers, do my laundry, am obsessed with a made bed, and believe in the importance of always having lemon drops in the car for low blood sugar moments… all came from my Mom. In addition, when I’m in a pickle or stressed out, I hear her advice in my head.
So, this week, What I’d Rather Be Talking About are the top Life Lessons from my favorite influencer… Dorothy Algiers and the importance of appreciating and being present for the real-life influencers who know and love us.
If reading this reminds you of things you learned from your mom, I invite you to share them in the comments. Even for those of us whose moms aren’t physically with us, we can keep their memories alive by sharing their advice and sheer awesomeness.
Cheers to all the moms out there,
My mom showed this in many ways - from the way she supported my dad by working as a secretary while he was in medical school to the way she encouraged him and supported his career throughout his lifetime. In addition, she supported her five kids and then the spouses and grandkids as our family grew. She always showed up for the important events in our lives (even attending one of my marathons when she was 90) and was there for the little, everyday moments as well. Her family was everything to her, and none of us doubted that for a second.
Similarly, she showed the same dedication to her friends (shoutout to Mrs. Robbe!)
Friends who get haircuts together stay together.
My mom pictured in the back, Mrs. Robbe, her lifetime twin from another mother - born on the same day and year - in the forefront.
Since my mom grew up during the Depression, she was a big believer in making food at home with what was on hand. As a result, she made great dinners with real ingredients. She made it a point to tell me, “Someday, you’re going to need to be creative and think of things to make for dinner.” While I’ve been known to be creative in the deli or by ordering out, I know she’s right, and whenever I make the food myself… it’s always better and healthier. Moreso, my mom insisted that we eat at the table together - mealtime was as important (actually more) than the meal itself.
And, if you need an excuse for having dessert - she did it right… usually homemade pies or crisps and ice cream. She lived to be 93, so I think it’s safe to say, go ahead and have that dessert when the mood strikes.
There are so many examples of my mom’s kindness that I think the world could benefit from - being nice to waitresses, clerks, and service providers. Making anyone who came over feel welcome and important. She always remembered birthdays and big moments. My mom modeled how kindness and acknowledgment mean something, even if we don’t see the results. She also taught me to be aware that people come from all sorts of circumstances we may or may not know about… if we don’t understand why they’re grumpy or unpleasant, the least we can do is be kind. It doesn’t hurt anyone and might just be the only light in that person’s day.
My mom never went to college, which is too bad because she was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. However, even during her term as CFO of the five of us kids and Head of Household, she still pursued her interests - reading, painting, community, and giving back. She was a library board member and president in her town for over 30 years and always had the dream of building a new library in Hartford, WI. That came true thanks to her relentless efforts. While she was in her 70s and 80s she was still going strong and helped lead efforts to get the library built. At around the same time, she was also a big part of the creation of the Schauer Arts and Activities Center in Hartford. The message for us all… age doesn’t matter. Pursue your dreams and passions relentlessly, whether you’re 30 or 90!
Growing up during the Depression was a foundation for how my mom managed our family’s household. My mom stressed the importance of saving for a rainy day and reminded us often that it’s not realistic to think you’re going to get everything you want or think you need.
Not wasting food was a big theme in our house. My mom wouldn’t throw out food - she’d use up condiments to the last drop, eat leftovers for lunch, and find ways to use ingredients that were expiring. If something in our house broke, the impulse wasn’t to hop on Amazon (or, in her time, go to the local store) to buy a new one - if possible, things were fixed instead. Curtains were made, not bought. She hung wallpaper herself - didn’t hire anyone to do it for her. I realize it was a different time and place, but a takeaway is to be resourceful, mindful of waste, and appreciative of what you have.
I really try to model what my mom taught me when it comes to making my house a home… for she had a special touch for keeping things beautiful, clean, and in order while at the same time feeling welcoming and comfortable. For her, this meant cleaning up after every meal. Cleaning the bathroom sink every day. Keeping things tidy and organized. (How I wish she could work her magic on my sock drawer.) The bottom line, she took a little bit of time each day to keep things “in order” (something she said often) so that the job didn’t get too overwhelming or out of control.
Just as much as my mom liked being around her family, friends, and the groups she belonged to… she also coveted her alone time. She liked the quiet - to read, “take a snooze” (her favorite nap word), pray, and just get away in the silence. She liked things quiet, so she could just "be.” She often told me I needed to try this, and she was right… when I catch myself frantically searching for a podcast or playlist to listen to during runs or walks, I try to remember that silence is sometimes pretty golden. So is not doing anything, and taking the time to meditate/pray/reflect or just zone out.
This too shall pass is something I heard my mom say a million times. Whether it was a friend crisis in 6th grade, a bad haircut, a bad relationship, a frustrating class, or any other stressful things that have happened in my life, my mom always reminded me that those moments wouldn’t last forever. This is good to remember, friends. Those tough moments do pass. But I’ll add that so do the good ones. So, take each moment for what it is and try to be there in its entirety, knowing every moment is temporary.
My sister randomly sent this quote to me this morning and told me our mom would say this. Perfect timing, so I’m going to just say my mom channeled her to bring it out at the perfect moment.
Just think about all of the things we going after in our lives… I know for me, it’s pursuing outlets for my writing, new clients, and career opportunities. It’s enough to make a girl crazy. But, using this advice, I believe that after putting in the work, those things will come to my calm, trusting shoulder. After all, if you were a butterfly, would you want to land on a nutjob that’s chasing you or one that’s chill and relaxed, just looking for a little company?
Listen to my mom, put your mind to other things, and trust that things will work out. That butterfly will come.
As I mentioned before, my mom welcomed everyone who came to visit. But of course, when one of her kids and their families came to visit, it was a special occasion. Even in her late 80s, if we came to visit, she’d make a pot of homemade soup or dinner, set the dining room table beautifully, and always have dessert and/or a loaf of banana bread to take home. Then, and this is the part I miss the most, she’d hug and kiss us goodbye and stay in the doorway smiling and waving until we were out of sight.
The tearful takeaway on that? Don’t gloss over those times you’re with your loved ones. Be present and engaged to the last minute, and always send them off knowing you were so glad they came.
I hope you enjoyed these lessons and memories. And again, for those of you struggling today, I understand and am sending a giant virtual hug.
Sending love to all the moms … here and in the great beyond.
And, as always, thank you for reading this newsletter!
Remember, if you’d like to share some advice from your mom or advice you use as a mom or mom figure… drop a note in the comments!