I miss my mom. She passed away from complications of her multiple sclerosis in 2014.  These feelings are epitomized in a current pop song by Luke Graham titled “You’re Not There,”  when he sings:  

You’re not there

To celebrate the man that you made

You’re not there

To share in my success and mistakes

Is it fair?

You’ll never know the person I’ll be

You’re not there

With me…

If you aren’t familiar with the song, you can listen to it here.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC-bSbXZBcU[/embedyt]

Though my mom, Pamela Ruth Smith, is gone from the world, her lessons have made me the woman that I am today; I will continue to strive to pass on her wisdom to others as a writer and instructor. Here are 5 of the things that I learned from my mother.

Be Yourself

My mom was an original; she loved purple. The more purple, the better was her motto. Sometimes all the purples she wore together clashed, but she didn’t care. Purple hat, purple earrings, purple bracelets, purple rings, a purple necklace, purple shirt, purple pants, purple shoes, purple bag…She loved them all!


Like most people, I want to fit in. I want to be stylish and attractive. I want to be liked.  Nonetheless, at the end of the day, the most important thing to me is to be true to myself, to my values, and to my preferences.

This is a lesson that we could all take to heart. If you or I love something, and it doesn’t hurt others, we should embrace it! We should make the most of our individuality even if it doesn’t fit in what others think is right.

Be Creative

My mom was a creative innovator. She knitted and crocheted; she sewed and painted ceramics; she baked and canned; she even did decoupage! She was the first in our neighbor to have a microwave, and she used one of the very first home computers on the market.

From her, I learned that having a creative outlet was an important aspect of life and that that I shouldn’t be afraid to try new things.

Often times we get caught up in the minutia of the daily grind. Go to work, do the chores, get some rest and then repeat day after day. We should all remember to find time for creation, however big or small it is. Find your creativity, and you’ll live a happier life!

Be Kind

My mother taught me to give. She gave her time, her possessions, and her love. She gave to her family, to her friends, to her church, and even to strangers. She didn’t judge others for their differences but accepted them as they were. My mother was a kind caring woman whom I can only attempt to emulate.

In today’s antagonistic America, being kind to others is under-rated. I get it. I get frustrated with traffic and students not following directions. I snap at others daily. I let the stresses of life affect me. 

There are many areas in which I could be kinder to others. More kindness is never amiss. I could choose to give others the benefit of the doubt as much as possible. I could choose to be kind not only with my deeds but with my words as well. In what ways could you be kind to others in your life?

Always Continue to Learn

My mom was a reader. Even though she never went to college, she never stopped learning. If she didn’t know how to do something, she would get a book and learn. She believed that anything could be accomplished with knowledge and education.

Going to school is just one avenue for learning, and yes, it is an important one! As a college instructor, I clearly believe in the value of a classroom education, yet learning does not have to take place in a classroom.

We can, and should, learn from everything in our lives. I am learning something new right now: how to start my own business. I am sure I will make many mistakes, but like my mom, I will never stop learning. I hope you also continue to learn in whatever way that suits you!

Always Do Your Best

Before her illness forced her to quit, my mom was a secretary; today, she would be called a personal assistant. She ran the office lives of several businessmen. They would have been less successful without her unceasing efforts. Much of what she did was behind the scenes, and no one realized the sheer amount of work it took. Nevertheless, she always did her best even when no one saw or appreciated her work.  Through her actions, my mom demonstrated how to pursue excellence.

Teaching is often a thankless task. Hours of preparation go into a lesson, a class, or a conference and then it is over with little to no feedback on the materials or any clear connection to any tangible result. It is so easy to just slide by and just give a minimal effort rather than what is really required for excellence. There are many jobs like this today, including being a student.

There is no doubt that it is exhausting to always do one’s best and most students only do so on the big graded assignments, yet the continued pursuit of excellence, every day and every assignment, is what leads to academic success. I try to do my best in whatever I pursue whether or not I get credit and whether or not anyone is watching. This is a great lesson for us all.

We are all products of our environments and of our past. I was fortunate to have an original, creative, driven, and kind mother in my life. While I still miss her every day and she is not here to see the results of her life’s example, I will continue to strive to be the best person I can and pass on her wisdom to others.

I hope these lessons are helpful to you as they continue to be for me.