The best advice my mom has given me

April 23, 2013 in Life,Philosophy

One of my friends recently remarked that she doesn’t think she’s ever seen my mom not smiling or laughing: how awesome is that? In that moment, I became so much more OK with “becoming my mother.”

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Here’s my mom’s life in a nutshell: she grew up in small town in Pennsylvania. She applied for a Rotary Club scholarship and said she’d go anywhere in the world. She was accepted for South Africa, but a month before she was supposed to leave, there were riots–so they sent her to France instead. She had never studied French, but still completed her junior year of high school in France without having to repeat–even taking her German classes! She spent a year of college in Montpelier: went to the beach, hitchhiked to Spain, the usual. She came back to Pennsylvania and became a high school French teacher. Then–no joke–she became an FBI special agent and worked on white collar crime in Baltimore before they transferred her out to California to learn Arabic at the Defense Language Institute. When the FBI then wanted to transfer her to Texas, she quit so that she could stay in California–and started working in corporate security for high-tech companies like Apple and National Semiconductor (basically, ensuring that engineers weren’t stealing or selling company secrets). After she sold her first condo, she wasn’t super impressed by the real estate agent–so she took some classes, took her real estate exam and became one of the top-selling agents in the San Jose region. When I started school, she shifted from selling homes into property management: now she owns her own business and still finds time to golf (almost) daily and travel regularly. I know, I know. The woman has some stories to tell.

 My family in Hawaii in 2007

Beyond stories, though, she has some good advice. My mom and I (and my dad, come to think of it) are pretty straight shooters, and my mom has never been afraid to give me advice. Recently, however, she told me: “I’m your mother. It’s my job to give you advice. But you’re an adult: it’s your choice whether or not to take it.” I don’t always listen to her or follow exactly in her footsteps–I don’t think I ever would have made it to Southeast Asia or New York City if that was the case!–but I definitely respect her opinion. Here are some of my favorites, as they relate to travel, business and life:

Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers. You’ll either make a friend or they’ll just think you’re just a typical loud American.

My mom told me this right before I left on my five-week solo backpacking trip around Europe. I was 21 years old, had just graduated college and had never really traveled on my own before. This bit of advice made me so much more confident in hostel common areas and on group tours: it’s a funny way of embracing a stereotype to make it work for you.

Christine Amorose and her mom in Nice, France

Make sure you have a roof over your head, but go on and treat yourself.

My mom is incredibly financially savvy: she works hard and she knows how to save her money, live frugally, invest in the right things. She’s drilled into me paying my bills on time and paying off my credit card each month, but she’s never been one to discourage a bit of relaxation. We both love magazine subscriptions, pedicures and massages, a good book by the pool. It’s that balance between work and play that keeps you happy and healthy.

Become a regular. Find a bar or a cafe, go every day with a book or the newspaper, and smile.

My mom is very big on getting off the computer and going out into the world to meet people. It’s actually a pretty stellar way to start feeling like a local really quickly: you only have to go to a place a few days in a row before you start to know the menu and recognize the staff and feel like a regular. I’ve had my “locals” in Nice, Melbourne, New York City and they were key in feeling at home there.

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If you aren’t willing to invest in yourself, who will?

Whenever I talk about the cost of redesigning my blog or going to a conference, she always tells me to just do it. You’ve got to have the confidence in your own skills and the willingness to take it further before anyone else is going to recognize that drive and potential.

My mom and grandfather in the 1980s

Always let people know that you’ve received their gifts, or else they won’t send you any more.

I definitely take this quite literally–as soon as I receive any gift, I always call or email to let the person know I’ve received and then I have a hand-written thank-you note in the mail within a week. But I’ve also found it to be really helpful in business and blogging: you have to acknowledge people, follow up with them, make them feel valued if you want to maintain the relationship. And everyone likes getting mail!

Christine Amorose and her mom at her high school prom

Everything happens for a reason.

When something goes wrong, you pick yourself up and move on to the next. Sitting around crying isn’t going to change anything.

What’s your favorite piece of advice from your mother?

  • Suzane

    “To never feel small when people talk small of you for when they talk such they are even smaller in the first place.”

  • camorose

    LOVE that!

  • Briel79

    Your mom has led quite the interesting life! So many different paths. I love the advice she’s given you!

  • DebbieB

    Enjoyed this very much. You have a very wise mother!

  • Naomi Todd

    Mams (and dads) know best – your mam sounds like a cracker! Whilst I don’t always take my parents’ advice, I know that 9 times out of 10 they are right and as we are a stubborn bunch, having to admit I was wrong and endure their ‘told you sos’ is a hard thing to do! The one particular piece of advice that my mam gives which rings true with me is: “Don’t ask, don’t get.” I sometimes shy away from asking for things as I don’t want to run the risk of sounding rude or offending (how very British of me) so this advice is often the push I need to go out and do it!

  • My Mom always says, “Fake it till you make it.” and “Chin up, boobs out.” I love both of those sayings!!! They have gotten me through a lot of hard moments. Your Mom sounds absolutely amazing! LOVE her advice!!!

  • Your mom sounds like a brilliant woman and those are all amazing pieces of advice :)

  • My mom’s always the first to remind me that it’s not all work and no play. She encourages me to see the World, dare to do new things, be active. She reminds me that the World doesn’t end when you don’t get that job or that interview… it just wasn’t meant to be.

  • love this post :) great advice! the thing that first comes to my mind isn’t an advice but something that I remember very very very often is when my parents told me (as I was leaving home for college) to never forget that I’m their daughter and no matter what I did, even if it was my fault, to come back to them and to know that they will be there for me… whenever I was confronted with decisions to make or when I found myself in unpleasant situations thinking about this made me feel a lot more secure and a lot better. :)) here’s to our parents! :))

  • What a lovely ode to your mom! She sounds like such an inspiring lady!

    I’m close to my mom too (despite wanting to gallivant the world independently) and I’m glad to hear someone else share that close relationship! Thanks for sharing Christine!

    The favourite piece of advice mom has given me is just to take things “day by day”. My mom is the calmest person I know despite having to handle a billion things a day (her job is high stress and she’s the resident Aunt Agony in the family & amongst her friends!) So whenever I’m stressed, I try to channel my mom!

  • Your mom sounds like such an incredible woman! My mom’s advice is probably to not let what other people say get to me. There can be times when I want to get the last word in or feel frustrated by other people. She encourages me to let it go. It isn’t always easy, but it is wise.

  • camorose

    Yes! It’s been very encouraging as I grew up because I’ve never been afraid of changing my mind and changing my path :)

  • camorose

    Glad you liked it! And yes, she’s definitely learned a lot in her lifetime :)

  • camorose

    I like that! My mom tells me that often too, along the lines of “what’s the worst they can say?” Usually it’s only no, and that’s not that bad!

  • camorose

    Haha my mom always say “shoulders back, chest out”–sounds like it’s in the same vein! :)

  • camorose

    Thank you! They’ve definitely been helpful in life and travel :)

  • camorose

    Yes! There have been many times when I haven’t gotten a job or a position, and my mom always tells me that everything happens for a reason–and it’s so true! Usually something better waiting.

  • camorose

    Can totally relate. When I went away to college, I asked my mom if she would bail me out of jail if I ever got arrested–and she told me that she would the first night, but never again. Was nice to know that no matter what went wrong, I had (literally) at least one get-out-of-jail-free card in my pocket :)

  • camorose

    Thanks! Super close to my mom despite being very far away all the time :) Love that day by day bit–my mom is amazing at handling whenever big things go wrong. I’m such a stress case when it comes to that, so I try to take a page out of her book :)

  • camorose

    My dad always jokes that I need to be more like a duck and let the water roll off me–I’m pretty terrible about letting what people say get to me. Definitely something to work on!

  • Your mom sounds like an awesome mom. LOVE the ‘become a regular’ advice. My mom is definitely a ‘you only live once’ kind of woman. ‘Do things I never had the chance to do at your age’ she tells me. :)

  • camorose

    My mom did a ton of cool stuff when she was young–I feel like I am trying to do just as much so that I can impress my kids when I have them. Don’t know if I’ll ever be quiiiiiiite as cool as a FBI special agent though :)

  • SincerelyKateB

    “Everything happens for a reason.” – Yes. That’s SO your mom. Just pick-up and go, you’ll figure it out. My mom was a real stickler about the TY notes too. I wasn’t even allowed to use/play with/ until a TY note was written. Even now I feel guilty using something before I send a TY note.

    This post was a very nice, and thoughtful tribute to your mom. She is one hell of a lady! :)

  • camorose

    Thank you notes are a sign of good breeding, I’m telling you! I hated it when I was a kid–we had a rule that thank you notes had to be out within a week of a gift being received–but now I’m so grateful that the routine has stuck with me.

  • This is such a lovely tribute to your mum. She sounds like an incredible woman. I loved getting to that age where you stopped all the teenage rebelliousness and began to realise how much my mum had done for me and my brothers. Her and my dad are the most supportive parents in the world and have managed to raise three incredibly open-minded and independent children in such a small close-minded town. I’m so proud of them both for teaching us to think for ourselves and chase our dreams.

  • camorose

    She’s pretty fantastic–still in awe of all that she’s accomplished!

  • Here they go: the 12 advice my mom gave me before traveling… but had a lot of Mexican sayings (I’m mexican) so for the translation can be weird.. http://tuliagonzalez.com/en/the-12-advice-my-mom-gave-me-before-traveling/

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