My mom, Charlene Muller, is celebrating her birthday today. My mom is awesome. Nope, not just because she is mine, but because she really is awesome. She is my best friend, my #1 role model and my first celebrant, always. I can think of no better way to honor her today than by dedicating this post to her and sharing with all of you a few lessons that I have learned from this beautiful, thoughtful, brilliant, strong woman.
- Family comes first. I think of myself as fiercely loyal – that is especially true when it comes to my family. That is a trait taken directly from my parents. My mom makes this clear at every turn; whatever action she takes, she is always thinking about the impact that it will have on her family. Whoever it is that you think of as family, be sure that your priorities are appropriately aligned so that the most important thing comes first.
- Always give more than you expect to get. Whether considering a house warming gift, a holiday present, something for a birthday, or the most precious gift of time spent, my mom is notorious for always giving more than she expects to receive in return. That is especially true when she prepares a meal – not only is the food delicious, but is plentiful… very plentiful! So, give generously – it’s as simple as that. We should all take a giving approach to our families, our work and our communities.
- Be all in. My parents are the hardest working folks I know. They have an incredible work ethic and I have modeled my own approach after theirs. For them, it is not just about working hard; rather, it is about being fully committed, fully engaged in the work they are doing. That’s how it’s been all along. I remember when my mom was the president of a not-for-profit organization, Women’s American ORT, while also working full time, she was 120 percent engaged in the work of the organization. She was passionately dedicated to the mission of the group, traveled on ORT’s behalf, gave keynote addresses, supported her members, etc. She was the face of the organization. I watched in awe and learned from her example. In her residential real estate business, that same 120 percent rule applies to each of her clients. It’s personal for my mom; she goes all in for her clientele who she comes to think of as family. I take you back to lesson #1 to remind you how she interacts with family! How do your clients perceive your level of commitment?
- Say “Thank You.” At the ripe old age of 12, as I prepared for my bat mitzvah and congratulatory presents started flowing in, my mom purchased a special gift for me. It was a big box of beautiful personalized notecards. I can still picture the crisp white sheets with a big, fuchsia “Alana” painted across the front. My mom sat down with me at our kitchen table and wrote out, long-hand, on a yellow legal tablet how to pen a thank you note. Greet the recipient; thank them for the gift; be specific about how you intend to use the item; tell them how much you appreciate them; close with a warm remark. I’m still writing thank you notes, by hand, on personalized notecards, following the structure of a thank you note, the way Mom taught me. Sage advice from a sage gal. Take it to heart.
- Tell ‘em you love ‘em every day. I talk to my mom every day; on the odd occasion that the day gets away from one of us and we do not connect, something seems to be amiss. Sometimes our conversations are lengthy as we set out to address the issues of the day; sometimes when time is scarcer, our discussions are very short. Whatever the case, every conversation ends the same way: I love you. It may seem cheesy, but I can assure you of this – I have never lacked for love and I have never doubted my mom’s adoration. She makes me feel special and important and cared for every single day. Please be sure that the people in your life know how you feel about them, too.
Yep, my mom is my personal heroine. I hope you have enjoyed this small sampling of the great lessons I have learned from her over the years and that they have relevance in your life, too. Please join me in wishing “Mommy Char” (or “Nanny Char” as my son calls her) a Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday. I’m going to go call her now; you should go call your mother or other special person in your life, too!