Mother Knows Best: 10 Lessons My Mom Taught Me About Life, Love, Health and Happiness

May 14, 2017



It amazes me how much the saying "mother knows best" rings true in my life. Granted, my mom isn't always right (although I'm sure she'd beg to differ), but I'd say she is about 98% of the time. Another thing that amazes me? How much I love this woman. We drive each other nuts from time to time, and we've certainly had our fair share of fights, but the connection I have with my mom is something that I can't ever find the words to explain - it's something that can only be felt. It's the connection I have with her that makes me believe in something bigger than ourselves. It keeps me motivated during the toughest times, and grateful during the darkest times. With each passing day, I grow more and more sentimental just thinking about how wonderful she is, and how lucky I am to have her in my life at all, let alone as my mom (seriously, what did I do in my past life to deserve this honor?!)

In honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to share some of the most valuable lessons my mom taught me throughout my childhood and teenage years, and the lessons she continues to teach me now in my twenties. I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating the most important woman in your life - whoever she may be.

1. If a boy really likes you, he will let you know

It happens to all of us - women and men - particularly in our teenage years: when something nice happens between us and the person we desire romantically, we try and convince ourselves that they desire us, too. Let's be honest: in middle school, if the boy you liked said hi to you in the hallway and smiled at you, you hoped for the best. Early in my pre-teen years, my mom made it a point to tell me, "if a boy really likes you, he will let you know." She went on to say that you won't spend months wondering, because he'll tell you or make it incredibly obvious (as in, he'll ask you out on a date). This harsh yet necessary piece of advice saved me a lot of embarrassment and self-loathing in my high school and college years. When I see women trying to convince themselves that a man cares for them as more than just a friend, when that man has never truly said or done anything to support that thought, I feel bad that they didn't have my mother's voice of reasoning in their head. Seriously, thank you for this, mom. 

2. Nothing can replace face-to-face contact or a phone call

In a world filled with people who are increasingly obsessed with staring at screens and hitting "like," my mom remains an advocate for real human contact and the good ole' phone call. Growing up, she didn't let computers and social media take up too much of my time (which I thank her for now, even if I threw a fit back then) and she's always reminded me that human beings have an innate thirst for face-to-face contact and human touch, and it's a thirst we need to quench.

3. The sooner you take care of your skin, eyes, posture and body, the better

When I turned 20, my mom gave me an anti-aging moisturizer. She also made the font on my phone larger, she bought me a back cushion for my desk chair, and she's always pushed me to get off my butt and get moving. Even though I tease her about all of these things, I appreciate her for reminding me that looking and feeling good in the later half of your life relies heavily on how well you treated yourself during the first half. And she's living proof of this: at almost 55, her skin looks like that of a 30 year old's.


4.  Be patient and be kind, but don't let people take advantage of you


As someone with one of the kindest hearts out there, my mom has always reminded me that we're all human beings with our own struggles. We're beautiful in our own ways, and we don't deserve to be judged or judge others by our exteriors. She taught me that kindness reciprocates, and patience is a virtue. She's also taught me that you need to be assertive in life, and you can't be too nice to the point where people take advantage of you. Stick up for yourself and be kind to yourself - no one will respect you if you don't respect yourself.


5. Put yourself out there and do what makes you happy 


One of the things I most admire about my mom (even if it sometimes makes me cringe) is that she really doesn't care what people think. If she's comfortable in an outfit, she's happy. She wasn't afraid to own the stage when she was in drama in high school, she'll happily bring the house down with karaoke and she loves to strike up conversations with people wherever she goes. Considering she's one of the happiest people I know, I think it's safe to say we should follow in her footsteps.


6. It's healthy to be a little selfish


Too tired to go out? Don't want to clean the house after you worked a 9-hour day? Not in the mood to make an hour long drive when someone could visit you? Say no. The people who love and care for you will (eventually) understand. We all deserve a break every once in a while. Don't spread yourself so thin that you aren't able to be yourself. You can always take a rain check.


7. A glass of red wine a day can help keep the stress at bay


My mom is basically the face of this movement, and I don't think I need to convince anyone that it's a movement worth joining. ;)

8. Invest time in your female friendships

My mom is amazing at fostering her friendships. She sees her best friend multiple times a week and gets together with her group of girlfriends every month (in addition to planning a big girls trip every year - without any husbands or boyfriends). Let's be honest: there comes a point where men don't understand women the way women understand women - and that's totally understandable. My mom is all about women supporting women and girls having their girl time. The older I get, the more I realize how important my female friends are ... and I love my mom for always pushing me to spend more time with them.


9. Take time to make - and preserve - your memories

I'm so grateful that my mom made it a point to be consistent with arranging family trips, friend play dates and celebrations for every birthday and holiday. She made so many of my dreams come true, and gave me an incredible, beautiful and exciting childhood that I still think about every single day. Better yet - I can relive those memories whenever I want, thanks to the fact that she was adamant about taking home videos and preserving photos in albums. A trip down memory lane is available whenever I need one.

10. Growing older is a blessing, and life is meant to be celebrated


Here comes the big lesson. The one everyone needs to read, especially during a time when bad news is all too common and, on a personal note, I'm hitting a quarter of a century in age: every year you grow older is a blessing. About to turn 30, 50, 80? You made it another year in this crazy, beautiful life, and that is something to be celebrated. Growing older is a privilege - it isn't guaranteed. You have one life, and you deserve to enjoy it, and create happiness whenever and wherever you can. Thanks to my mom, who made us celebrate her 50th birthday three separate times, I never grew up watching someone who dreaded hitting another milestone year. I saw someone who welcomed it with open arms, a big smile, and a grateful heart full of love. For this lesson, I can't thank my mom enough - and I couldn't love her more.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you!

A Month in the Life

May 11, 2017

What I'm excited about this month: a Love Actually cast reunion, bikini season must-haves, two milestone birthdays and and more. 

May got off to a weird start this year - I was in my first (and hopefully last) car accident recently, and spent the first week of the month resting and recuperating - but the next few weeks are full of celebrations: my sister's 21st birthday (which I swear I'm more excited about than she is), my 25th birthday, Mother's Day, and the official start of what I like to call "bikini season," among other things. I'm feeling a whole lot of love and excitement, and I hope this post helps you feel some, too. :)

Here are some of the things I'm loving and looking forward to this month.


Birthday Drinks "Around the World"at Disney's Epcot 



Gabbi (my sister) is turning 21 on Saturday, and let me tell you - I might be more excited about this than I was for my own 21st four years ago. She and I are really close, and the closer she's gotten to turning 21, the more irritable she gets when we're anywhere that serves alcohol (for the record, she knows and admits this, and who can blame her? 20 was a rough age). All that being said, we're counting down the minutes until the big day, where we'll be "drinking around the world" at Disney's Epcot. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this park and are wondering why someone would want to celebrate a 21st birthday there, here's your answer: the park's "world showplace" area has 11 pavilions that each represent a different country: Mexico, Norway, Germany, China, Italy, the U.S., Japan, France, Morocco, the U.K and Canada. The employees in each of the countries are almost always from that country (accent and all) and each country serves the alcoholic beverages and food they're known for. Drinking and eating our way through 11 countries in 1 day? Challenge accepted.

*Check out my guide to drinking and eating around the world at Epcot here.


The Love Actually Cast Reunion We Needed, Actually

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Every year, actors, comedians, singers and other celebrities come together to raise awareness for Red Nose Day, a fundraising campaign run by the nonprofit Comic Relief, Inc. Their vision: "a just world, free from poverty." Their mission? "To drive positive change through the power of entertainment." There's a TV special on NBC every year to raise funds for this campaign, and I'm pretty sure I cried when I first viewed the teaser announcing that the cast of Love Actually would be reuniting for a "Red Nose Day Actually" surprise. I don't know what stirs my emotions more: the musical score, the revival of that iconic Christmas Card scene, or seeing how gracefully and beautifully everyone has aged. Either way, I'm getting the shit kicked out of me by love (*real Love Actually fans will understand*).

Sweet Gifts for the Sweetest Mom

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As I mentioned before, May is one of the busiest months of the year for me, and that usually means I'm left with about a week to select Mother's Day gifts for my queen of a mama. For the past few years, she's reminded me and my sister that she already has a lot of jewelry, she doesn't want more purses, and she prefers to buy clothes on her own, which sends my sister and I searching for pretty, more heartfelt gifts that will make her smile. I fell in love with this cookie and flower bouquet from Farm & Haus and Merci Bakery, two Orlando businesses (yay, local love!). I'm surprising my mom with one on Sunday (she knows not to read this blog post until then) and plan to make this pretty DIY rose sugar scrub to complement the sweet floral theme. 


Bikinis, Beach Bags and Hats, Oh My 

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College seniors have graduated, the temperature has risen, and shorts and dresses are replacing the hangers that previously held jeans and sweaters. Summer is upon us, and even though the heat here in Florida is already unbearable at times, it's the perfect excuse to stock up on the bikinis, hats, bags, cover-ups, and espadrilles filling our Instagram feeds. I'm excited to feel the sun on my skin while decked out in cheeky statements (can't wait to wear my new hat, pictured above, this weekend) tropical prints and bright colors. Some of my favorite warm weather picks: PacSun's tropical print bikinis/bathing suits, Marc Fisher espadrilles (I purchased a less expensive, almost identical pair at Macy's), the cutest Pom Pom tote bag from Neiman Marcus, this cover-up from Old Navy and these fun rainbow sandals from Target. 

#BringBacktheRomCom


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I love movies. Like, really love movies. Whether it's a serious Oscar-winning film, a quirky and honest indie film, or, yes, a slightly cheesy, feel-good romantic comedy that you can watch over and over again, I'm all in. That being said, I've noticed the major lack of rom-coms over the past few years (remember when there were several out every year in the early/mid 2000s?) and I've been praying for them to make a comeback. Looks like my prayers might be answered, thanks to up-and-coming screenwriter and director Hallie Meyers-Shyer, whose new film Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon, hits theatres in September. Considering Meyers-Shyer is the daughter of one of my favorite screenwriters and directors, Nancy Meyers, I'm pretty damn excited about this. I love this article begging Reese Witherspoon to #SavetheRomCom. 

My 25th Birthday Gift to Myself: A Bucket List Item, Crossed Off


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I'm turning 25 next Friday, and earlier this year, I made a promise to myself that I would make 25 the age where I simply do more. There are so many things I dreamed of doing my whole life, and now that I'm about to hit a quarter of a century (can someone say early-life crisis?) I'm realizing that I don't want to waste anymore time dreaming - I'm ready for the doing. Something I always wanted to try growing up, but could never quite muster up the courage to do, was sign up for acting classes. I'm happy and proud to share that I'll finally be making that long-time goal a reality this month, as I've signed up for a highly acclaimed acting program here in Orlando. Stay tuned for more on that in a future post!

@Steph_Goenaga