10 Most Important Things I Learned From My Mother- In Memorium

Mother’s Day is such an awesome day. We have an opportunity to cherish all of the mothers in our lives. I am so blessed to have so many beautifully amazing mothers surrounding me, including two of my sisters, two amazing sister in laws, step-mom, aunts and my phenomenal friends.

Mother’s Day is always a celebration of these phenomenal women, but continues to be bittersweet for me. My mother passed away 19 years ago at the age of 45. The picture of us above is at a CAL game rooting for my brother a few years before her death. My mother was very young when she had me, but even at her young age she taught me a lot about life. Our birthdays were only 3 days apart, so as Cuspians (Taurus/Gemini) we had a lot of similar qualities.

Here are a few things that she taught me. Even though I am not anal, these characteristics are engrained in my soul. If you know me well, I guess you can decide if it rings true.

1. Surrounding yourself with beauty is as important as brushing your teeth.

Clearly, my mother was gorgeous (just like her mother). The most impressive thing about her was that she was always so put together. The way she applied her makeup, the clothes she wore, the way her house was decorated, all impeccable. She loved beauty and beautiful things. Luckily I was first introduced to beauty AND gorgeous jewelry by playing in her jewelry box as a kid. I call myself a lover of beauty and I believe that she was the first to introduce me to this.

2. Always make your bed and keep your house clean because you never know who will pop by at the last minute.

I hated it at the time and I still don’t follow this rule–maybe because on Saturday when the Ryan’s and Anfinson’s would be knocking on our door, we would be vacuuming. However, now I really understand and appreciate a perfectly clean house (or apartment in my case). My mother had six children and needed help keeping up. We always joked with her cleaning ladies, saying she taught them how to clean. I hate to admit it, and even though I am not a neat freak, I find myself doing the same thing–telling my cleaning lady how to clean! Argh! Like mother like daughter!

3. Being the life of the party is a must.

Now, not to say that I am the life of the party, but I definitely have my mother’s outgoing personality. Her smile lit up a room. She really did throw the best parties. People were drawn to her and everyone really loved her. Most people remember her because of her outgoing personality, hilarious sense of humor and laugh. She was fun! More importantly, she was true as a friend, a sister, a mother and a daughter. I have really tried to emulate this in my life–laugh and all.

4. Never leave the house without your makeup on (or in your robe) because you never know when your car might break down on the side of the road.

This actually happened! My mom was always put together and would never be seen without her “FACE” on. When I was about 8 years old, my mom came to pick us up from school in her robe, sans makeup because she was running late and had a party to attend in the early evening. Wouldn’t you know it, the one day that she leaves the house without her full regalia, the freaking car breaks down with 5 young children inside. I remember being picked up in a hoop-dee after we had been walking along Bonita Canyon Road at sunset for what seemed like an hour. Even though it was probably only 5 minutes, the image of my mom in her blue robe pushing a stroller on a gravel highway with 4 other children walking behind her hand-in-hand is engrained in my memory. When we were finally picked up, she was humiliated because of her appearance. Good times. The point being, looking your best is important because it is your expression into the world and how you are received. You also never know when you might be stranded.

5. Spirituality and faith is the cornerstone of a good life.

My mom was raised Catholic and brought that tradition into our family. Even in her toughest moments when the world was crashing down around her, she always relied on her faith. While I have chosen a different route to my spirituality, it is no surprise that I am her daughter. Faith and spirituality helped us both transform and stay strong in the face of adversity–her divorce at a young age, the closing of my first business, etc. Faith and spirituality are the cornerstone and a platform for everything brilliant in my life. When you believe, something better can always come out of a difficult or challenging circumstance.

6. You are never too old to reinvent yourself.

After an extremely difficult divorce surrounded by financial distress, my mother was able to rise up and start a new life at the age of 42. I always remember how amazing she was at this time in her life–she had taken her power back, started a new career, and met her soul-mate. She was moving into the best chapter of her life. Her best years were her last 3! I think of this often especially because I am also on the other side of a complete reinvention in all areas of my life. It’s never too late to be awesome and make the best of whatever is in front of you.

7. Just Love.

Love is the only way. She loved without abandon even when she was hurt tremendously. This is the trait that I inherited from her that I value the most. I am not sure what else to say about this except that being “love” is the most important key to complete and utter happiness, regardless of my situation.

8. A life of passion and expression is the only way.

Man, if you knew her, you would understand passion. My mother lived life out loud. I hope I can even live life with a fraction of her energy. I practice being passionate every day, in my yoga practice, in my daily interaction, in my art and in my business. What is the point of even being if you can’t be passionate about something?

9. Staying young at heart is the key to a happy life.

My mom might have been one of the original cougs! Ha! When my parents got divorced, I remember that she was often asked out by men 10 years her junior. Because she was so young at heart, she looked physically young. I say that from a special place because I feel so young and I am very close to the age she was when she passed away. My mom, even in her early 40’s, was consistently mistaken for a 28 year old. I attribute that to her soul and young heart. I feel blessed that at the age of 40 I am still consistently mistaken for a 28 year old. Maybe it’s a genetic trait, but really I think it lies deeper in the spirit. “Stay young at heart, forever” is my motto. (BTW, my grandmother was mistaken for a 60 year old at the age of 90 so clearly it is a family trait).

10. LIVE every day because it might be your last!

I don’t think this is something that she really learned until the last 2 years of her life. She fell in love again and had a new career. Her soul started to shine and she really lived her life. I remember how vibrant she was in her last years. The biggest take away I have from her death is the importance of LIVING every day. Life is way too short. My life might not have evolved the way I expected, but I have myself to hold responsible for my happiness. We all have a choice to LIVE and be the best we can be in any moment.

Mom, I miss you everyday. I thank you for everything you have taught me, even when you didn’t know it. Happy Mother’s Day!

This is a reminder that everyone has a mother. Happy Mother’s Day and I wish you all a life of fantastic lessons from your mom (or mine).

I would love to hear some of the lessons that your mother taught you. Please share them in the comments below.

If you are moved by this and love your mother, please use those social media buttons to share this with your peeps.


  1. Laurie Rosenfeld on May 14, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Tracy, what a breathtaking list and gorgeous tribute to your mom! Knowing virtually as I have this last year, I see so much of what you see in your mom in you! I love the awareness you bring to these reflections and the way you have made these lessons your own. Rock on sister and Happy Mother’s Day! xoxo

    • Tracy Matthews on May 14, 2012 at 11:45 am

      Laurie, Thanks so much for commenting and for the HUGE compliment! You are always so thoughtful! I am blessed to have even had a little time with my mo so thanks for this. xo

  2. Margaret R. LeVecke on May 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Tracy, First off love the picture! Reminds me of two treasured trips I took to Cal with Aunt Carleen, they were great times and laughs! Thank you for sharing, it triggered so much of what I remember and cherish. You and your family are always in my thoughts around Mother’s Day!xoxo

    • Tracy Matthews on May 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      Thanks for commenting Margie! I know you remember her well! xo T

  3. Teresa Heinz Perlite on May 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I remember my amazing cousin Carleen. Beautiful words Tracy for your beautiful mother.. She would babysit me often with Margaret Jean. Boy did we have fun…

    • Tracy Matthews on May 14, 2012 at 1:34 pm


      Thanks for sharing that awesome memory of my mother!

      xo, Tracy

  4. Gina Hayden on May 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    So proud of you Trace and I know your mom would be too!!! You’re an amazing woman! xoxo

  5. Vanessa@Luxuria on May 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Wow! This really resonated with me Tracey as I lost my Mum too around the same time as you. In Europe Mothers Day is in March. Nonetheless I am sure I go through all the same bittersweet emotions that you do. What a lovely tribute to your wonderful Mummy x

  6. Liv on May 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Hi Tracy,
    I really enjoyed reading this! Thank you. Your mom was a wise woman.


    Sample Angel

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