I realized I was confused about “strength” when I started reading tarot. The Strength card has a woman holding a lion by the jaw, taming him. It symbolizes strength, compassion, and the ability to take control over one’s own life. A simple enough concept, but whenever I pulled this card for myself, I didn’t really know what to think. What exactly did this mean for me?

When I think about the strongest people around me, I think of my mom. To her, family and health are most important – nothing is ever as urgent as those. The difference between my mom’s strength and what I assumed it to be as a kid is there’s so much crap that doesn’t matter and I didn’t know that yet. I thought it was just about being able to haul ass through bad times and not complain. But my mom’s strength embodies so much more wisdom. She showed me that it’s about knowing your priorities and letting them steer you.

When I look at my mom now as a grown-ass woman, I see someone who navigates experiences with so much grace, and it’s pretty awe-inspiring. She’s a full-time biz lady, a reliable friend to a lot of people, a home/car/cat owner, and a present mom above all. I can’t imagine managing all those things so effortlessly. But she does, and it’s not because she forces anything.

I’ve seen my mom express her emotions uninhibitedly. I’ve seen her cry and stress and allow things to be whatever they are, for better or worse. She’s taught me it’s okay – even important – to do that. But there’s nothing she doesn’t get through, and the reason (in my eyes) is because she’s created a life where family is the foundation, so she never loses sight of what really matters.

One of the reasons I read tarot is because it always has a way of bringing me back to remembering it’s okay to feel however I feel, and that love is my highest priority. I want to continue creating a life where that’s the foundation, like my ma. Pulling a tarot card in a moment of confusion always help me “think” my way back to ultimately remembering that.

I’m grateful that my mom set such a stellar example for me, and I understand the value of that more now as an adult. Without her, I might not have such a deep intuitive knowing that strength is love.