I'd like to create an opportunity to acknowledge my soul; the designated guardian of my wildest dreams, the most secure vault for best kept secrets, the purest source of my celestial divinity. She is a pioneer, a gypsy, a romantic, a dreamer. A house wife, a rock star, a pin up girl, an athlete. She has motherly instincts, she wants to change the world, she craves attention. She's a listener, a problem solver, a motivational speaker, a poet, and an optimist. She sings to soothe, she sings to meditate, she sings to entertain. The very essence of my soul is a sincere reflection of who I can be--who I am striving to become; the very essence of my soul was ignited by my mom. It started with her, and after weekends like my birthday weekend, I appreciate her as she sustains my existence with every laugh, every offering of advice, every snuggle, kiss, and back scratch. At the end of the day...I blame my mother.
So, as tribute to her inspiration and grace, AND as my celebration of her contributions to my birth, I'd like to reference a whole 21 things I am thankful she taught me, in these 21 years. Though 21 will hardly be a fraction of her gifts, I found it appropriate considering my age. Mom, this is for you.
1. How to properly fold towels. Maybe we are perfectionists by nature, but the edges should all be aligned--folded into fourths, then thirds, then organized by designated location of use.
2. Don't eat fruit on an empty stomach. Come to find out, she was right...it's not good for tum-tum.
3. Always bless a sneeze. It's your obligation as a human being, to bless your fellow sneezers. I've gotten in such the habit, I bless all and any bodily expressions; coughs, burps, hiccups--considered yourselves blessed.
4. Make it a habit to clean the counter after doing the dishes. Nothing looks more unsettling than a dish-less sink and a muffed up counter. AND nothing looks more complete than a scum-less counter and the hum of a freshly loaded dish washer. Everything has an order of operations, this one is especially impressive outside your own home. Cook the food, bless the food, eat the food, clean up the food, do the dishes, clean the counter, lotion your hands. Done and done.
5. Find hope in tomorrow. I couldn't even make an appropriate estimation of how many times she's referenced "tomorrow's a new day, Jess." It instinctively reminds me to finish today, and learn from today's misfortunes. Tomorrow I have a choice to make it what I will, and if I'm finding myself that frustrated with today--find hope in tomorrow. Most of the time it takes her saying it to calm my spirits, but I'm learning to incorporate that hope, daily. It is my desire to remain hopeful regardless of the outcome of today.
6. Clean your microwave with a bowl of water. Boiling a bowl of water will vaporize your microwave funk and ease the work of your paper towel. After episodes of resenting leftover scum, ignoring potential food borne illnesses, and seriously discouraging access from innocent-unprepared bystanders, you are left feeling insanely accomplished and redeemed.
7. Acknowledge the morning song of the birds outside your window. It is beauty in the simplest expression. Symbolic of peace,serenity, and celebration. I applaud her not only for the observation, but for appreciating it enough to encourage the people around her to do the same. It is my self-declared tender mercy, and I thank her for introducing me to the song.
8. Everything is funnier, with something hanging out your nose. Licorice, Cheetos, chopsticks, q-tips, pretzel rods...there is a general theme to be assumed here. If she's ever been in "a mood," rest assured there is a picture, somewhere, with her sporting something up her nose. It's hilarious, and it will still be hilarious tomorrow.
9. Take advantage of your ability to move. There is mental clarity to be had. Take a walk, my friend.
10. You can kick a habit, more than once. Whether it's curse words or Diet Coke, don't feel discouraged. We all have our vice.
11. How to eat. Whole wheat bread, vegetables of every color--what once wasn't an option, is now my personal preference. My learned reaction to a salad bar is comparable to that of my instinctive reaction to a candy shop; salivation, twisted fantasies, deep contemplation at the endless possibilities of flavorful reunions and unconventional concoctions. Let's not get started on bread...
12. "...if you love somebody, tell them often." Never am I more regretful than after missing an opportunity to express my love for someone. Whether you're simply en route to the grocery store or journeying to the furthest horizon, if you love somebody, tell them often. Mom, I love you, forever and for always.
13. How to quietly sit through sacrament meeting, without dry cereal or crossword puzzles. Though the distractions are a perk, there is something to be said about a child that can attentively engage in a church service with a reverent disposition. I have experienced such sacrament meetings, initiated by my mom's expectation and conducted with much encouraged self control. And though, out of the 4, I would definitely recognize myself to be the most socially problematic, my sisters and I were hardly ever bribed to be on our best behavior. She raised us to be respectful, regardless of diversions or rewards. It's not even as if she never resorted to "the church bag," because we had one...and well packed, at that. BUT we knew how to act without it, and that has made all the difference. Do I still carry Silly Putty in my church bag? Yes I do.
14. Experiment. Blonde hair, brown hair? Vegetarian? Carnivore? Dixie State? University of Utah? Utah Valley University? Utah State? Orthodontist? Chef? Telephone operator? Journalist? Thick Rims? Red lipstick? Rugby? Tennis? Rodeo? Painting? Eminem? Tina Turner? Logan? St. George??
15. My momma taught me how to cook, crochet, mow a lawn, and hold a baby. The best meals I've ever eaten were products of my momma's love. My most productive General Conference weekends were spent crocheting winter scarves. One of my first interaction with empowerment and independence was enjoying a freshly cut lawn. And one of the prettiest things I've ever seen is a baby in my mother's arms.
16. Moisturize your face and neck twice a day--spf 15. It is among my life ambitions to pamper my skin as my mother has taught, with the direct intention of obtaining what she has. Her face is as ageless as a new born; her skin is as innocent as a child, smooth as butter! Or, for a more realistic comparison, the woman's got the skin of a baby's butt. We've all thought it! She is the prime example of well kept personal hygiene, and the victor with the most immaculate results.
17. PRESENTATION. 'Nough said.
18. Appreciate the past. Marilyn Monroe, Duran Duran, Sean Connery. Check and Check.
19. Work with what you have. This is less about settling, and more about optimism. If your sponge-painted walls make you want to vomit, paint them; at least you have walls. If you have a considerably "plump," genetically unwavering hiney, prance around in skinny jeans; at least Sir Mix-A-Lot appreciates the gesture.
20. Take your camera everywhere, capture every memory. I will be so bold to claim that my mom's collection of photo albums has helped encourage a limitless memory. Field trips, lemonade stands, family reunions, dance recitals, childhood mischief, infinite variations of my "rabbit face." She always has her camera, I love that about her.
21. Take care of yourself. Do what's best for you and your immediate circle of influence. Treat yourself well and be thankful for what you have. Love yourself, love others, and allow others to love you back. Figure out who you are, but accept change. Don't be too hard on yourself.
The end of the list, but hardly the end. Thanks mom, for everything.