I often think of my mom as an angel who was sent down from heaven and whose sole purpose on earth is to calm everyone around her. Okay, that’s probably not really her life’s purpose but my mom does have a strange ability to make everything better and lower my blood pressure. No matter how badly I’m freaking out about something (job prospects, dating prospects, friend crises, etc.), a quick phone call to my mom has me breathing more easily and somehow convinced that everything is going to be okay.

My mom is so zen-like that I am somewhat convinced she has lived several lives and at this point has seen enough of the world to know there is no point in sweating the small stuff.

My mom claims that her wisdom is just something that comes with age, but I’m convinced that her knowledge goes beyond regular life experience. Every day I strive to be more like her and here are some important lessons that she has taught me:

Think carefully about what you say
In the heat of the moment it’s easy to say things you don’t mean. In my case this usually means spouting off some kind of deeply personal insult. I use my words like daggers and they usually cut very deep. Of course, this is not a great course of action and it always ends in me sheepishly asking for forgiveness later on. My mom, on the other hand, tends to take a breather when an argument erupts. She considers her words and instead of resorting to insults and name calling, she deals calmly with the matter at hand. Over the years I’ve tried to remember this and now I often find myself saying that I need to take some time to think rather than just getting into a full-on screaming match. It takes a lot of self-control to practice this but it’s also saved me a lot of heartache.

Stop worrying and accept the path you’re on
I worry a lot. I never used to but now I am constantly worried about my future – When will my career take off? Will I ever meet the one? Will I ever get my life together? I regularly compare myself to my peers and always feel as though I’m not measuring up. Put simply, it feels like life is a race and I’m lagging behind everyone else. However, my mom continually reminds me that most things have a way of resolving themselves. It’s not quite that everything happens for a reason, but just that the timing of various life events always seems to work out. For instance, when I dropped out of photography school I felt as if my life was over. But I ended up going to a different school for an advertising program and discovered a career passion that I hadn’t even known existed. I use examples like these to remind myself that whenever I feel I should be further along in my life, there is usually an even better opportunity around the corner that I may have missed otherwise. In the meantime, I should breathe in and enjoy the ride.

Eff the haters, do what you want
Okay, my mom has never actually said, “Eff the haters.” But as a white woman who was dating a brown-skinned man in the 70s, I know that my mom had to have a ton of faith in herself and her convictions to shrug off the constant stares and comments that came along with an interracial relationship. She was a bit of a trailblazer and despite all the naysayers (everyone from colleagues, her parents’ friends and my dad’s family) she went ahead and followed her heart. It took guts to fly in the face of convention but as my mom has explained to me, she couldn’t give up the man she loved just to fit into society’s expectations.

Sometimes I forget how courageous my mom is but I try to carry her attitude with me as I make my way through life. I hope that someday I can have her patience, understanding and resolve. In the meantime I’m just thankful to know that whatever crisis I’m battling, she’s there for me.