5 Ways to Honor the Women Who Raised You… ALL of Them.

Growing up in the South, I have always been surrounded by strong, sure women who have taught me how to march to the beat of my own drummer and get back up every time I am tempted to stay down and have a great big pity party. It is these women who shaped my life and set me on the course for the journey ahead.

On Mother’s Day, we already know that we should celebrate our mothers and our wives (even our wives who only mother us and our dogs.) But, these are not the only women in which we need to say “Thank you for putting up with me,” “Thank you for teaching me,” and “Thank you for not pinning 20 dollars to my shirt, sitting me on the porch and wishing me good luck.”

For all these women in your life, here are 5 ways to honor the character and lessons that these women have so selflessly given to us… 

Say “Thank you.” Duh.

Number one is easy, but it comes so darn hard sometimes. It’d be much more fun to watch Game of Thrones and bury your face in a vat of popcorn, getting super fat in the process because if you eat popcorn... you have to also eat Raisenettes and 2 boxes of cheeseburger pizza because this show is ruining your life. (Curse you, Jon Snow). However, “thank you” is so important. “Thank you” covers a multitude of ungratefulness and wrongs. Even if you’ve been a giant, cranky grump for 55 years. Women remember “thank you.” In fact, ask your wife. I bet she can tell you the exact moment you last said it—even if you said “Thanks for putting toilet paper on the roll thingy in here.” (What are those things called anyway? Inquiring minds want to know.)

Reflect what you love about them in YOU.

What do you admire about your Aunt Beatrice? Did she smell a little funny? Sure. Did her mustache look like a weird caterpillar? Sure. Did she bravely push ahead of you at The Tower of Terror to plummet to her doom in sheer delight? Yep. What did you do? You said you really had to pee just to avoid the embarrassment of being the grown man who held on to his 72-year-old aunt’s arm. It’s ok. We’ve all been there. If you admire your aunt’s bravery—do something that requires courage. If you admire your childhood neighbor’s volunteer work… do good. I assure you that they obtained those characteristics from someone else too. Good qualities aren’t always in your DNA. They are learned behaviors that change us for the better.

Forgive…

Some of us have much to be forgiven for and forgive, no matter what faith or spirituality you connect to, forgiveness is good for your soul. There is an old saying that says, “Forgiveness is setting free a prisoner, and realizing that prisoner was you.”

Forgiveness is a two-way street. We can forgive others—sometimes that’s easier than forgiving ourselves. You will live with yourself ‘til the day you die. That is one of the only certain things in life. If you are the person that you have to sit with and put up with – even when no else is awake – that person deserves a break. Give it.

So why should you forgive that thing you can’t let go? Simple. You are here today because SO MANY amazing women didn’t give up on you. I know I am.

Give in a way that lasts.

Getting flowers at the door is nice… but planting a garden is nicer. Give in ways that take little effort. That doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune. In fact, planting seeds will run you under $10. Even already-bloomed plants usually cost about 10 to 20 bucks—especially if you go for something like a pansy or marigold.

It doesn’t have to be a big deal.

It doesn’t even have to take up a huge section of your yard, but every time that they see the flowers, even if you did something that you don’t really deserve to be let in the house for, they will remember that you cared enough to get in the dirt, do something you probably hate and that you did it all to impress them.

Know your worth.

There is a difference in being over-confident and knowing what you’re worth. Those important women in our lives taught us the difference. I think a lot of the problems that many of us have today stems from not realizing that we are indispensable in the universe.

You have a purpose.

You were put here in this moment and time for a reason. Many reasons.

From being down in the dumps to self-sabotaging ourselves, we are all little shards of light moving through time and space… in the dark.

Whatever you call that “dark”, darkness’ main goal is to make you feel defeated and overwhelmed. Darkness is big, after all, and even if you are 6’8, you are little when you are tossed up in space surrounded by total pitch black. However, if you ever learn what the darkness knows, you will realize that being in the middle of something hard, difficult, scary… it only increases your light if you let it. Yes—you are tiny. Yes—one little star at midnight, against the sky, it’s small—but if it were always sunny, you’d never even know that little star was there.

Who likes a cloudy night with no stars? Not me. Let’s fight the dark by reminding it that it only helps us show up, show out, and show the world our colors.

Women play an important role in nurturing us as we grow. Even if you didn’t grow up with a mother or family, even teachers and acquaintances taught us so much. Honor those women by being a man, or woman, of honor. (Yep… better stop before I go down the Star Wars rabbit-hole.)

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