Just Like My Mother Always Said

My mom always said, “To thine own self-be true.” There is something so wonderful that comes when we learn how to love ourselves. When we can face ourselves in the mirror, when we have looked our pasts straight in the eye and accepted them, taken them in and forgiven every single mistake, every stumble and then moved forward anyway, then we discover the strength involved in self-acceptance. When you feel that strength—when you feel that power—nothing can stop you. Take that power and use it. It’s like magic. The only real magic I have ever felt in my life is the love I have given to myself. No love you ever receive from anyone else is quite like the love you give yourself. No one can make you happy; your happiness is up to you.

I have a lot on my plate, but the thing is—I put it there. Every little morsel of it is there because I have picked it up off life’s buffet table and placed it on my plate. Your decisions determine your destiny. I have three children because I wanted to be a mother. I am married because I wanted to get married. I am going to college and getting my degree because I have a plan for my future that requires me to be educated. As a veteran, I am using my GI Bill. I have only thirty-six months to get my degree and because of that, I have to take at least 18 credit hours per semester. I get asked all the time, “how do you manage it all?” Well, it’s simple enough. I make it happen.

There is no outside force that pushes me toward my goals. It all comes from within. “An empty pitcher can’t pour milk,” mom always said. “You must take care of yourself or you won’t have anything to give.” So, I eat right, and I exercise. I wake up early in the morning, just like my mother always told me I should, and I start my day off with a determination to do my best with the day presented to me. I work out for an hour, come home, and sit with a cup of tea (these small breaks with thoughtful contemplation are a must for me). The kids need dressed and fed. Lunches need to be made. Once they are off to school, so am I. I pay attention in my classes and speak up. I eat healthy foods in-between, all my fruits and veggies, just like my mother always said I should. I give myself fifteen-minute breaks to watch the clouds float by or just to sit and talk with a friend. I use my spare time to accomplish tasks and you will often catch me doing two things at once.

“Make yourself a to-do list,” my mother always said. I don’t put things off. I make to-do lists and put them in order of priority. One at a time I get them done, no excuses. Every time I mark something off that list I let it make me feel good. This is an important step, letting myself feel good for small accomplishments. Most of the time it surprises me how quickly I can get things accomplished. It’s not that I don’t watch a little tv or take time to have a picnic in the park with my daughters, but I make sure that my list is being constantly worked at.

When the kids get home, we get snacks and do homework. I make sure to spend time with them. I make their dinners each night with their help and then have them help me clean up after. Because of this, I can feel good about myself as a mother and also get things done around the house. I read to them each night, sing lullabies,  and give plenty of kisses. Once the kids are in bed, I put myself down and read. A lot of my classes require reading, and this is the perfect time for me to do that.

Life is distracting.

Things happen that catch us off guard. It’s not easy to keep yourself always heading down the right path, always moving forward toward the success we hope to reach. Being focused is just as much work as the work we are doing itself if not harder. We meet people that throw off our concentration, family issues arise, our health fails, our cars break down. Perseverance is key in almost every situation. Sometimes we fall in love. Sometimes we get our hearts broken. Sometimes, someone, we love dies. These types of circumstances are the hardest to keep working through. When things like that happen, we want to quit… sometimes all together. We want to lie down and throw our hands up, done. Too tired to continue or to move. It’s not easy to pull ourselves out of that mindset. But, if we do, if we keep fighting even when it’s hard, that is when we will see the success we set out to find. Always, keep the goal in sight, always put your best foot forward. It’s not always going to be easy, but it’s not always going to be hard either. Look up into the sky, stop to breathe and center yourself, ground yourself in the earth and remember who you are and why you are doing what you are doing.

Everything changes. Nothing in this life is permanent except for the fact that things will change. My mom always said, “This too shall pass.”  So, remember that with each passing moment. Remember that every time you feel like you will never get through the next hour, the next day, it will pass. If you believe you can do it, if you love yourself, you will.

J. Frances De La Rosa

Olive Press Editor

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