September 12 2015

7 Lessons From My Mom by Danielle Frederick, SFTL contributing writer



  1. Make Memories and Remember Them

When I was in middle school mom found her old journal. Her friends gave it to her before she moved from Long Island to Massachusetts and began high school. I read the first few pages then started my own. Eleven notebooks now sit on a bookshelf in my room full of words that make memories. One of mom’s many favorite sayings is, “Why have a life if you can’t remember it?” This notion is slightly intimidating, what if I don’t remember everything? More than that, though, it pushes me to be fully present in every moment, to take time to write down the good and bad. To have conversations, look around, notice the views and voices that will become memories after memories.

Still, you do not have to wait for some unbelievable, out of the ordinary moment to deem worth of being remembered. It is all worth remembering. A family dinner can turn into a neighborhood dinner that lasts for hours and turns into a series of stories that morph into lessons and laughs.


2. Share, Sometimes with No Filter…

Lessons and laughs… that leads me to a disclaimer and attribute of my mom, she often has no filter. She will often announce this trait but not apologize for it. This is mom. This is her reliable honesty. What ever is going on is going on. If it exists we should confront it, not hide it and build shame around it. Once we let it all out we can work it out. Although the no filter might be alarming, it is comforting. To hear someone be honest with her thoughts shows us that we can as well, without being afraid of judgment.


3. Get Creative

Start a new job, take a new class, learn to meditate, ride a bike, start a jewelry business, discover what it means to zentangle. Get your hands, imagination and mind working together to create something that you created uniquely from an image or thought in your mind that you conjured into reality.

Over the twenty-one years of my life I watched my mom work in corporate then start businesses and go back to school. When I was in third grade she took me to a bead store to start a craft that led to a mini business where I sold necklaces at a local store. We all roll our eyes when mom brings to extra bags on trips simply to make sure we have enough art supplies and games. However, it is her insistency to generate creative energy that peaked my curiosity and shown me that determination, developing a thought process and listening to intuition can make anything possible, if not immediately at least eventually as long as commitment and care are carried through.


4. Do the Dishes Last

            Mom salvaged an old screen door because she likes to keep the doors unlocked and open but in the summer that means the potential for unwanted mosquitoes. She also liked the nostalgia of the vintage, screen door swing and creek in our old colonial home. One reason Mom espouses the Open Door Policy is because she loves having people open. Growing up I never knew who might arrive for dinner or stop by to stand around the island and sip wine, talking well past the few minutes he or she thought she might be over.

The open door subconsciously established a personality for our family. Our door is always open both literally and figuratively. Anyone is welcome and anyone stops by. With that we all learned how to be open to people and be ready to listen, discuss, learn, and guide.

Each of us developed the ability to throw our somewhat disorderly house into a comfortably presentable home. Still, despite the mess we never discouraged friends from coming over because mom, and our family, wanted to be there for them when they needed a place to stop by for the good and bad, the laughs and the sighs. Even if it was getting late and the dogs were barking or the sink was full of dinner dishes, mom reminded us that we could do the dishes later. First, we could open our doors and let a friend, or friends, old or just met a few hours before, come by and release the weight of the day or relish in its delights.


5. Surround Yourself with People Who Make You Feel Good About Yourself

When middle school drama arose and led to, ultimately, very momentary tears, blips in hindsight, mom always said, “Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself.”

It is a very simple saying but always helped me gain perspective. Why should we ever settle and allow negative energy to surround us when the world it full of a variety of people and experiences that can and will enhance our being and life.

hands up tumblir

6. Jump in the Car and Go…

Mom always said she envisioned traveling the world, back packing until she got old or having a family and sailing around the world for a year with them. Things arose that prevented her from doing either of these things but she never lost the interest in traveling. One night my freshman year of high school we were watching The Holiday. We turned to each other, “That would be really cool. We need to do that.” In her typical way, she attacked the newest idea with intense insistency. I figured this would preoccupy her for the evening then something else would require her attention. I was content to explore this musing for the night and carry it as an eventual hope. Within a few minutes we discovered the HomeExchange.com was a real network. We explored houses through pixelated images, taking us around Europe. Then we came across a one-storied ranch in Italy. Riding on one of her amusing bursts of adrenaline, she contacted the older couple who advertised the ranch.

A few days later they responded that yes they would like to live in our seaside town and would love to swap homes for August. Months later we met the couple at the Milan airport, driven around a rotary and up and down hills to the little ranch that would be ours atop the vineyards. Those weeks were spent waking up, looking at map or chatting with our friends at the Roxy Bar down the street and deciding on a day trip do a small village or taking a longer road trip south. One night we all slept in the little car because we miscalculated the distance. It was that on a whim lifestyle that proved yes, it is possible to go where ever you may want, to venture down an unknown road and embrace a moment, culture, minor detail and live it. Travel now captivates me and it, in my opinion, is worth any amount of time or monetary value it requires. Step outside your normal, feel a little uncomfortable and get to know someone else’s world, perspective and way of life.


images7. Develop Ideas

When I think about the way my mom raised my siblings and I, it was among a swirl of constant musings and day dreams, ideas being shouted out and enthused about and then moving on to next imagining, making part of it come true. Even if few of these ideas were followed through to completion, growing up in an environment that inspired thinking and wondering was inspiring. Not everything will come to fruition but never let go of the ability to develop ideas. Life is a constant brainstorm. You never know when something will click or who will pick up on your vision and support you.

Always question, always think, always talk and go overboard with creative energy. Trials and errors will lead you to your passion that you will follow and build into something beautiful and inspiring.

…& all together you begin marching to the beat of your own drum.

Danielle Frederick is a senior at Union College.

5 thoughts on “7 Lessons From My Mom by Danielle Frederick, SFTL contributing writer

  1. Danielle,

    This is beautifully written and I would have enjoyed reading it, even IF I didn’t know your fabulous mother. But since I do it means, I LOVE it! I am a writer too and think you have a great gift. Keep paper to pen. Keep the good vibes going.

  2. I loved every bit of what you’ve written not only because I love your Mom and was smiling the whole time but how well you wrote it. Your Mom will treasure that always.

  3. i have known your mom since she was a teenager and she moved with her family to a house o our street in Massachusetts .
    I have always loved Michelle from the first moment I met her.
    You Danielle are a wonderful, insightful writer. Keep up the good work.
    Yes, your mom is a very special person?

  4. Danielle
    This was beautifully written, and an absolute tribute to your mom. Thank you for sharing this and continue in your writings, and stay true to yourself, A friend of your Grandparents, Dianne

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