A tribute for all moms

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give my mom credit for all the lessons she taught me. As a mom of a 15 month old, soon to be celebrating my second Mother’s Day, I find this year is no different. Year after year, my mom continually teaches me new things but are just a few of the new and old lessons I learned that helped me in my career and everyday life, that we can all be reminded of.

Gratitude Is Important. My mom made sure I never took anything for granted. Any small gesture was to be responded to promptly with a thank you. Politeness and good manners were always expected and grace was said before each mealtime. From this, I learned the importance of gratitude and blessings. If I received a gift, I wrote a thank you note back. High school scholarships, yes, I wrote several thank you letters to those committees that picked me. The list goes on. My mom believed in gratitude, and still does. Again, as a new mom, I’m sending out thank you notes for my child and hope I can teach them this too. 

Unfortunately, today in our world, a lot of things are expected to be simply given out. However, it’s important to remember a thank you can go a long way. Even if it’s for the simplest things, don’t forget to show gratitude to those around you, your co-workers, spouse, etc.

Old Things Can Be Made New AgainSeveral years ago my mom and I started our own little hobby side business. I’m not sure how exactly it got started. I think it was when I found these bracelets I really liked online, but didn’t want to pay the hefty full price. My mom said something along the lines of “You can make that!” and here we are today, still upcycling jewelry, furniture, remaking old clothing new, and more things to sell at junk/craft shows. The truth is, my mom’s always been creative and extremely talented. She always dressed us up in cute Halloween outfits she made or put together, she always helped me make the coolest valentines card box and more recently redid furniture for our nursey.

She’s taught me in life, that old things truly can be made new. The same can be applied to marketing strategies used at your credit union. Sometimes we try so hard to come up with new ideas, we forget we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, instead just better it. Develop new titles to grab people’s attention, or add fun new images to an advertisement. Look beyond the surface and remember, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Rain or Shine, Being Outdoors is to Be Enjoyed. While my mom didn’t short on making sure we had chores to do in the house during our summers off from school, she also taught us a lot about making sure we were outside. We didn’t have social media or smart phones back in the day, but we had cable—and she made sure there were chores for us to do outside, so we didn’t sit all day and watch tv. The truth is, when we were younger, the backyard was our favorite playground. My brother and I would play on the swing set out back or go ride in the pickup with dad during spring calving season to pick crocus flowers. When summer hit, my mom made sure we were outside watering and weeding her garden; mowing the lawn; and cleaning up things around the ranch. Rain or shine, she encouraged us to know the importance of breathing fresh air and how lucky we were to be able to live where we could see the stars at night.

I’m grateful my mom taught me the importance of being outside and now I see that same excitement in my son as we love being outside. The truth is, going outside was good for my brother and I. Good for our mood, and good for our health. The same can be said about your office—don’t sit at your computer all day. Go outside for a quick walk to relieve your mind of the daily stress. Take your staff outside and play a game or better yet, host a picnic outside for your members. Be grateful you’re able to enjoy the fresh air, and don’t take it for granted.

Live Within Your Means & Take Care of What You Own. I won’t say that my family was penny pinchers, but my mom taught us to live within our means. Sure, my mom dressed me in nice clothes, made sure we had food in our bellies, roof over our heads, a reliable car to drive and a horse I could compete well on, in rodeo. They provided me many things in life I didn’t deserve and many kids would probably long for, but to this day, I’m grateful for them. With that, however, my mom often reminded me that those things we were given, our clothes we wore, and so on, had to be kept in working order, had to be kept clean, and we couldn’t abuse them. She and my dad worked hard for the money they earned. She was determined not to spend it foolishly. My mother knew how to stretch a dollar, she used coupons, and looked for a bargain. No, she didn’t always buy the cheapest items, she understood quality and would buy the best if it was at all affordable. She didn’t buy strawberries in January, because she knew they’d taste bad and would be ridiculously priced, as it wasn’t the right season for them. She was a smart shopper and knew how to take care of us. While it may have taken me into my adult years to learn, it’s that through all of this, she taught me to live within my means and take care of what I own. I learned the value of money and not to take things for granted. I’ve learned you don’t need a brand new car to drive to work each day, or the new name brand shoes. If you have kids, or even for your members, it’s important to remember while it’s fun to splurge now and then, be sure you’re saving money in case of an emergency and living a lifestyle you can afford.

Pursue Your Dreams & Be ResilientI don’t think there is one day in my life that I haven’t seen my mom work hard. She continually has something to do, and rarely, I mean rarely, sits down, unless it’s at her desk at work (or sewing machine). When she comes home from a full day at the office, she goes right to work again, helping my dad on the ranch outside with calving, cooking supper and crafts. The truth is, my mom didn’t expect my brother and I to be perfect. That’s unrealistic for anyone. However, in her house, her rules were simple and her expectations were high. She believed in us and wanted us to not only follow our dreams, but reach the full potential she knew we could. In that, she’s taught me so much about never giving up, being resilient when pursuing my goals and working hard no matter what the situation, no matter how messy or hard it might be. It should seem like a no-brainer, but if we all strived for excellence and worked hard daily, our work places might be that much better. Encourage and reward your employees when they go above and beyond, by working hard. I’m not suggesting we all need to go out there and work a bunch of overtime, but when given a task, devote your energy to accomplishing that task to the best of your abilities. Plain and simple.

Give Love and Attention. Several years ago my mom was sewing Barbie doll clothes for my little cousins for Christmas. In awe of how cute they were I said, “How come you didn’t make me Barbie clothes when I was a kid!” My mother replied, “I was too busy being your mom, reading you books, and giving you my full attention.” That statement by her really hit home that day. There’s no doubt, I had the tremendous fortune of being raised by incredibly selfless, loving, and generous parents. That’s not the case for everyone. My mother was always present, always listening and encouraging. While I might have been stubborn in my ways, and taken that for granted as a child, I truly look up to her for instilling these values in me. She didn’t give me material things, but love and attention.

While we can all constantly be consumed with our “busy lives”, it’s important not to forget to show attention to those around us. Don’t ignore your co-workers, say good morning! Ask your member how their life is going or about where their daughter has picked to go to college. Those little moments of taking a minute to get to know someone or paying attention to them, is a relationship building moment. In can further benefit your credit union. Outside of work, read a book to your kid and put your emails aside for later. Love and attention are needed for each one of us to grow, both in and out of the office.

Don’t Envy OthersNot many people like to air their dirty laundry in public. We all share certain things in our life we are comfortable with letting people know, but don’t always like to share the pain, secrets or bad things with just anyone. Which isn’t always a bad thing. There are some people who seem like they are super happy, who aren’t happy and comparing yourself to them, isn’t a way for you to find happiness. On the contrary, a person might genuinely try to be a good person, a happy person, and a considerate one. There is nothing wrong with that, the world needs more happy people, but before you go and compare yourself to someone, or tear them down for their happiness, it’s important to take a second to pause and think. That person’s life at one time might not have been so glamorous. Their happiness could be a cause from prior pain, fear or other circumstances that lead them to finally be happy in their life.

Also, as my mother liked to remind me not only in my adolescent high school teen years, but my “I’m away from home and an adult, so I know things” college years, life isn’t fair. It’s just not. I was wrong, she was right. Understanding, that life isn’t fair, is another reason to stop comparing yourself. Some people are born with a fire metabolism, a crazy talent for numbers, incredible horse training skills, wealthy parents, or social connections that helped them land that job, and that’s okay. There will always be people who have more than you in life, but there will also be those who have less. She has made me see that we’re all equal and no one is better than you. You should always remember that the person you are envying may actually be very unhappy. As much as I want it to be fair, as much hard work as I put it, it just sometimes isn’t good enough, and that’s okay. We need to learn that rather than turning to comparison, all you have to do, is be happy for others and your happiness will fall into place. Your life can be much better if you simply enjoy the things you have, instead of worrying about what you don’t have.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. This lesson still takes some learning. While it may be short and sweet, it’s not always easy to abide by, although my mother wasn’t afraid to say it: Don’t sweat the small stuff. If I let a tipped barrel, skinned knees or an elbow scratch bring me to tears, wait till my first heartbreak, car accident or more. When I worried about ruining my favorite white shirt because I got a makeup stain on it, she reminded me to be grateful that I had a nice blouse to wear and could afford to buy makeup. Talk about a wake up call. She was right. While it’s still hard not to get worked up over silly things, she’s changed my perspective about what I should and shouldn’t be worrying about in life and that some things are simply out of my control.

The number of lessons I’ve learned from both my parents is endless. Words aren’t adequate to describe my gratefulness to them both, but since we are approaching Mother’s Day, especially to my mom – thank you for all you’ve done and the lessons you’ve taught me.

As a wife and new mom myself, I know I wouldn’t be the person I am, without my mom. I can only hope I’m half the wife, and mother someday, as she is.

Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful mom, and to all the moms out there.

Katie Nehl

Katie Nehl

A born and raised ranch girl from small town North Dakota, Katie started her credit union journey six years ago, with First Community Credit Union (FCCU). After working three years ... Web: myFCCU.com Details

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