The 5 Steps To Transformation

We could all use a little transformation in our life. Whether it’s transforming from a student to a professional, single to married, from one career to another, or transforming from blasé faith to bold and adventurous faith, transformation is a necessary part of living in a changing world. Sometimes transforming is easy and other times it’s incredibly painful. But laying out the story of an intentional transformation can be incredibly helpful both to individuals and to organizations.

Dandelion

Nancy Duarte is an expert in helping people and organizations tell their stories. She recently discovered the five stages of transformation as she wrote a new book with Patti Sanchez entitled IlluminateThe book helps people lead transformation in their own lives and in their workplaces by working through its five stages. You can see the following five stages in most of the movies you see:

  1. Dream: The protagonist has a dream and wants to achieve it.
  2. Leap: The protagonist takes the leap and sets off toward the dream.
  3. Fight: The protagonist faces an epic battle or challenge and ends up going into a cave to decide weather the journey is worth the reward.
  4. Climb: The protagonist decides the journey is worth the reward and continues to climb the mountain.
  5. Arrive: The protagonist arrives at the fulfillment of the dream.

It dawned on me that the church I pastor is making its way through these very stages. Our church is 66-years-old, and as it is for many churches in a “mid-life crisis,” we stepped back to take a look at what a transition or transformation might look like. That process began when I arrived nearly four years ago:

  1. Dream: We sat and listened to each other about what our dreams, goals, and aspirations are as a congregation. We wrote them down. We came up with a mission statement that described those dreams: “A joyful community of the caring Christ.”
  2. Leap: We took the leap by making changes to our governance structure. We changed the way we planned and participated in congregational life. We created ways for grass roots activities to be easily implemented.
  3. Fight: Change is never easy. I wouldn’t say there were fights, but there were and are challenges as all this takes place. Our leadership group is currently “in a cave” making sure that the journey is worth the reward (hint: it always is when the Gospel is at stake).
  4. Climb: Climbing can be difficult. There can be growing pains. But the climb our church is embarking upon is discovering new and better ways to love and serve our immediate community. It also includes using new media to show and share the love of Jesus.
  5. Arrive: We haven’t arrived at all that…yet. But we make sure to celebrate small “victories” along the way. We’ve produced highly successful and fun events like an Oktoberfest, a sit-down dinner auction, and a 50’s style sock hop. A trivia night is in the plans.

A great exercise for all of us would be to sit down and map out these stages toward our own transformation, whatever we may dream it would be. Why not take the time to do that right now? It could mean a new and exciting transformation is in the works for you.

What would you saw are the steps or stages of transformation?

The Surprising Way Good Design Impacts Our Everyday Lives

Often without even noticing, good design has a positive impact on our daily lives. A recent episode of CBS Sunday Morning (which I’ve written about here), spent a whole episode on design. Different segments on the show revealed how good design has made our lives better with umbrellas, Q Tips, Chinese food takeout boxes, and double-decker buses. You can find out more about all of those things here.

Lights

Not much happens in this world without good design. We eat well designed meals, in well designed spaces, in well designed neighborhoods. We drive mostly well designed cars, sitting in well designed car seats, holding onto a well designed steering wheel. We read well designed books, filled with well designed fonts, wrapped by well designed covers.

Doesn’t it figure, then, that we ought to be good designers of our lives? Good things in life don’t often just happen by chance. Sure, there’s an occasional lottery winner. But you won’t win if you don’t play; and even if you do play your chances of winning are next to none. So if you want good things to happen, why don’t you design them?

There are tools available to help you do just that:

  1. Design your year. A couple of tools I have found helpful are Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want and John Lee Dumas’ book, The Freedom Journal. Both of these books will help you advance toward your goals with a clear purpose in mind. You’ll find yourself drifting far less.
  2. Design your month. At the beginning of each month review the goals that you set at the beginning of the year. If you haven’t done that yet this year, there’s no time like the present to do so. It doesn’t have to be January 1st in order for you to set goals.
  3. Design your day. Google Calendar is the easiest and most available tool around to see to it that the hours of your day are filled with purposeful things. Not only that, but you can now even post reminders regarding tasks you’d like to accomplish. They will follow you each day until you complete them.

Good design makes your life easier every day in all different kinds of ways. Why not use it to make a life that you love, too.

What designing are you doing today to move you in the direction of your goals, plans, or dreams?

One Simple Piece of Evidence That the World Needs More Joy

If you haven’t heard the name Candace Payne, you’ve probably seen her Chewbacca mask-covered face. A silly little video she posted has, at last count, brought joy to over 132 million viewers (…if you haven’t seen it you can watch it on Candace’s Facebook Page here). Candace bought herself a Chewbacca mask that actually makes that “Chewy” sound (I bet you can hear it in your head right now). She sat in her car in the Kohl’s parking lot, recorded herself unboxing the mask, proceeding to put it on, and laughing belly laugh after belly laugh until she could hardly contain herself. The video is now the most viewed Facebook live post of all time.

Joyful

Now, why do you suppose this video has been viewed over 132 million times and still counting? There are all kinds of theories behind viral videos, but I think the key to this one is simple: it’s the unbridled joy this video demonstrates. After the video began blowing up, Payne wrote on her Facebook page:

Today has been a whirlwind. I’m grateful for every kind word and comment even if I haven’t replied. Y’all. OVERWHELMED with gratitude. Let’s keep belly laughing again and again. Never imagined finding my “simple joy” would land me more VIEWS on a little FB video than Mark Zuckerberg has followers. INSANE. Find your “simple joy”!
Good Day. Now Good Night. It’s all love.

Kohl’s Department Store immediately took advantage of the fame that came from this viral video. Representatives of the store showed up at Candace’s home the next day and gifted her whole family with extra Chewy masks, Star Wars toys, and Kohl’s gift cards and bonus points. Well done, Kohl’s. Well done.

What this world needs is a little more unbridled joy. We clamor after it. We are attracted to it. We are drawn to it.

Want to get ahead in life, in business, or as a leader?

  • Encourage joy
  • Spread it
  • Share it
  • Do what you can in your workplace to make it bubble up like a spring
  • Surprise your family with it
  • Take it to church with you
  • Tell a joke
  • Come up with a pun
  • Heck, buy a few Chewbacca masks and pass them out

Then don’t hold yourself back when you feel a belly laugh coming on. Candace would approve. And so would all those who see you so serious every day.

One of the things this world could use it a little bit more unbridled joy.

How will you spread the joy today?

One Simple Trick to Declutter Your Life

Have you ever actually wanted less in your life? Greg McKeown has written a book for you entitled Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. The book shows you how to declutter your life, avoid being hijacked by the agendas of other people, and use strategies to keep yourself from being stretched too thin. That sounds like a recipe for peace that we could all use in our lives.

Mess

In a recent interview McKeown let listeners in on a secret that he uses to declutter and get rid of inessential things in his life:

  1. It begins with keeping a journal or simply making sure that your calendar is up to date each day.
  2. It continues with a one day off-site retreat all by yourself every ninety days.
  3. It culminates as you carry out for the next ninety days the decisions you’ve made on your one day retreat.

Here’s how it works. Schedule a one day retreat for yourself every ninety days. Actually put it on your calendar and make sure you do it. On the retreat this is what you do:

  1. Bring your journal and/or calendar with you.
  2. Turn off all phones and electronics.
  3. Spend the first part of your day reviewing your journal and calendar. What were the things you did that did not move you closer to your major (three or less) goals? What were the things that most effectively carried you toward them?
  4. Spend the second part of your day figuring out the inessential things you can cut out of your life that will not move you toward your three or so major goals. You might even have to make some relatively painful cuts and figure out ways to keep others from hijacking your personal agenda.
  5. Write down the three major goals you want to accomplish in the next ninety days.
  6. Put those goals in a prominent place where you will see them every day.
  7. Focus like a laser beam on those goals and cutting out the things that will not move you toward them.

Repeat this process in ninety days by scheduling your next personal retreat on your own calendar. This one personal day every quarter will give you the clarity you need to declutter the unnecessary things in your life and focus on the things that are truly important and necessary.

Why don’t you schedule your first personal, off-site retreat today?

When Joy, Money, and Flow Come Together In Perfect Harmony

I just finished reading Chris Guillebeau’s new book, Born for This. Guillebeau is a fascinating blogger, author, and entrepreneur who accomplished his own goal of visiting every single country in the world. He is featured in a portion of my upcoming book, Fully and Creatively Alive. Guillebeau has found in his own life a harmony of joy, money, and flow that come together to make him extremely well balanced and very happy in his personal and work life.

Balance

In Born for This Guillebeau explains that a perfect career for any one person is one that has joy, money, and flow in perfect harmony. Here’s how he explains the three:

  • Joy is something you like to do. It means that you enjoy what you’re doing most of the time. He says that if “you’re not sure whether your current work sparks joy, it probably doesn’t.”
  • Money is what supports and sustains you. You have to make a living. You have to pay your bills and provide for your family. Guillebeau says that money “isn’t everything…but it’s hard to love your life if you’re constantly stressed about paying the bills on time.”
  • Flow is what you’re really good at. Flow is what happens when you lose track of time immersed in a project you love. In your life there are plenty of things you could do pretty well, but flow work is different. Guillebeau says, “It comes naturally and easily to you. When you do this kind of work, other people are impressed or even amazed by how effortlessly you seem to achieve great results.”

Maybe you don’t have the harmony of those three in your life right now. That’s OK. There is always time to move toward the harmony of joy, money, and flow, no matter how old you are. As a first step you might want to pick up the book.

Beyond that, focus on what you can do today to work on one or two of the three:

  • Joy: If you can’t do what you like to do all day, find the time either at work or after work, to do something that brings you joy. Then do it again tomorrow, and the next day. Make it a habit.
  • Money: If you’ve got debt, do everything you can to get rid of it as soon as possible. Dave Ramsey has all kinds of resources to help you do this. Once you’re out of debt you will have more freedom to pursue the things you really enjoy while making the money you need to pay the bills.
  • Flow: Do you know what your flow is? Ask somebody close to you today what you do well that they couldn’t imagine doing as well as you. It will give you a good clue as to what your flow is.

After you discover and work toward these three things you will find yourself getting closer and closer to a joy, money, flow harmony. It’s a beautiful thing and something worth working toward. But more than that, the world needs the best you have to give. When you find this harmony you will find people coming to you for help in soothing the pain points in their lives.

What can you do today to work on the areas of joy, money, and flow to bring harmony and peace into your work and life?

Lessons in Handling the Unexpected from Broadway Understudies

Can you imagine being an understudy in a broadway show? You usually have to know more than one part — all the blocking, all the singing, and all the dancing — for each role. You often have very little warning before you have to go on in front of a crowd that’s expecting the very best. These understudies can teach us what it means to handle unexpected things in our own lives.

Unexpected

Recently BroadwayWorld.com spoke with two of the best understudies in the business. Sandra DeNise and Sarah Jane Shanks are covering the demanding role of Alice Murphy in the new musical Bright Star. They both have loads of experience both on Broadway tours and on Broadway itself. It’s one of the most difficult jobs in show business. The very nature of an understudy is to handle the unexpected, but to always be prepared to do so.

Here are three things understudies teach us about handling the unexpected in our own lives:

  1. Draw a distinction between how you handle things in public and how you handle them at home. It’s got to be tough being an understudy. You’d like to go on all the time. Sometimes other understudies are selected to perform instead of you. It’s all in how you handle it. When you’re not selected, the key is to be mature. It may mean less exposure and a smaller paycheck, but if you’re unprofessional you won’t work very long in the business. Sarah Jane says: “…(I)t’s important to be able to go home and feel the way you feel about it. Grieve it, be angry, whatever. But being professional means drawing a distinction between how you handle it at the theatre and how you handle it at home.” When you face something unexpected, don’t throw a temper tantrum where everyone can see. Handle it professionally in public or in the work place. Then it’s OK to go home and vent a bit. But don’t let it overcome you and keep you from showing up the next day.
  2. Trust the process. Sarah Jane understudied Sutton Foster when Shrek was in previews in Seattle. She didn’t have a chance to watch Foster at all and hadn’t even completely rehearsed the role. One day Sutton Foster called in sick and Sarah Jane had to take the stage. She was assigned an Assistant Stage Manager who told her where to go and what to do before every scene. Can you imagine being in that position? But she trusted the stage manager, trusted what she had learned about the show, and trusted her own instincts. It was a success. When you are confronted with unexpected things in life or at work remember to trust the things you have learned from your own life experience and the skills that you have naturally been given. When you trust the process and your instincts you will succeed. 
  3. Tell the story. When an understudy is thrust into a performance they have to remember that, in the end, they are storytellers. If they go out with that mindset the audience will be drawn into the story and never notice that they are seeing an understudy and not the “star.” Sarah Jane says, “The term ‘story telling’ helps steer me away from the nerve-wracking pressure to “perform” well. If I think of myself as a storyteller, rather than a performer, I don’t have to stress about living up to sky-high expectations or proving myself to myself, my castmates, or the audience. I just get to tell a story…and that, I can do.” When you tell the story of your family, your organization, your workplace, or your church, you will find others being drawn in even though you may be facing something unexpected. Keep the “story” at the forefront of what you do and it will be the key that keeps things on track.

What do you do when you find yourself confronted with something unexpected?

3 Ways the Right Friends Inspire Creativity

The other day we got a card in the mail with the envelope addressed like this: “My Good Friends – The Eggebrecht’s.” What a wonderful piece of mail to receive. Not only is it phenomenally fantastic to receive an actual handwritten piece of mail these days. It’s even more exciting to receive one addressed like that. It’s a reminder what a good idea it is to surround yourself with friends that inspire your creativity.

Friends

The card inside the envelope was proof that it’s inspirational to be around people who are “good.” The opposite is also very true. When you find yourself around people who are negative it will stifle your will to make something new. When you find yourself around people whose motives are questionable you will find yourself worrying more about the relationship than the freedom to do new things. When you find yourself around people who are always serious your brain probably won’t be able to make interesting connections.

Sometimes it’s best to simply exclude yourself if at all possible from people who bring you down. It’s not helpful for your career, your demeanor, or your creativity. You can read more about that here. The better thing to do is to surround yourself with people who are positive, loyal, and fun.

  1. The right friends are positive. The friend who sent us the aforementioned card in the mail is always positive, has a smile on her face, and is a joy to be around. Positivity breeds creativity. When those around you are positive it’s much easier to be positive when you are on your own and in need of creating something new.
  2. The right friends are loyal. Loyalty is a rare commodity. People in our lives far too often come and go. Friends that stick with us are the ones that bring a sense of stability in life. Where there is stability there is confidence. When you are confident you are much more apt to create something new and beautiful.
  3. The right friends are fun. If you can’t have fun with your friends when will you have fun? We have a group of friends that loves to hang out with each other. We go to a Trivia Night at an Irish Pub on Wednesday nights, we go out to dinner, we gather together at each other’s homes. There’s just something about a fun evening with friends that provides a boost of energy and creativity the next day.

When you find, and stick with, the right friends you will be prolific in your creativity. Creative things often have to be made in solitude. But the fuel for that creativity often comes from the people around whom we find ourselves on a regular basis.

What have the right friends taught you about creativity?

P.S. I created a t-shirt for creative people just like you. If you’d like one you can get it here.

What I Learned About You in My Annual Reader Survey

A couple of weeks ago I sent out my first annual reader survey. It was an opportunity to learn more about you and to provide content that is more tailored to your needs and interests. I was blown away by the number of responses and your willingness to use your valuable time to provide for me such terrific feedback. If you responded, thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you didn’t have the chance to do so, that’s quite alright. See if the following results apply to you.

Thank You 3

My survey showed me that if you are reading this right now you are likely to be:

  • Female
  • In your late 40’s
  • A college graduate
  • Earning around $100,000 in family income
  • Married
  • Working in some kind of white collar vocation
  • Enjoying my posts about “creativity” and “inspiration”

You are challenged by:

  • Staying motivated
  • Managing your time
  • Inspiration
  • Executing creative pursuits

When you read this blog you want:

  • Ideas
  • Inspiration
  • Encouragement
  • A different perspective

If money were no object, in the next five years you’d like to achieve:

  • Financial security
  • Travel
  • Ministry work and mission
  • Writing of some kind
  • Improvement in your teaching
  • Fulfilling a major creative pursuit

You have been reading my blog well over two years.

You tend to read my blog on your computer or phone, and tend to feel that my habit of posting three times a week is just about right.

What you really like about this blog is:

  • New ideas and information
  • Motivation
  • Passion that’s applied to real life
  • It is full of insight
  • It is uplifting, inspiring, and encouraging
  • It’s positive

You have recommended my blog to others, and I thank you for it. Would you please keep doing that?

You’d like me to write another book, provide a book full of inspirational quotes, and start a podcast. I can tell you right now that all of those are already in my thoughts and/or in the works.

You have a great deal of interest in attending a “Fully and Creatively Alive” seminar, which is also in the inner recesses of my mind and quickly becoming a reality.

Finally, your faith is very important to you.

If all of this doesn’t describe you, I am more than happy to have you read what I write. Please keep on doing so. No matter who you are or what your station in life, the time you take to read my little posts means the world to me.

So thank you, again, for reading my work so consistently. Thank you for responding to my survey. It is my goal to provide content for you that will be helpful to you in many different ways. I am always open to receiving your input and would love to hear ideas for products that would meet your specific needs. You can comment below, or feel free to email me at any time at all.

What can I do to help you?

P.S. If you’d like to purchase my brand new t-shirt designed just for you, simply click here.

Be Careful What You Ask For, You Might Just Get It

If you really want something, don’t be afraid to ask. I learned that lesson just this past week. It came as a result of some of the work I’m doing on my book before it is complete. It’s always helpful for an author to receive endorsements for a book before the book itself comes out. The endorsements can be printed on web sites, in advertising, and right on the book itself as a way to draw readers in and encourage them to purchase the book.

Pinecone

My new book, Fully and Creatively Alive: How to Live a More Joyfully Fulfilling Life, is mostly finished. It’s down to final edits and design. So I reached out via email to a number of people I consider to be “big name” authors, asking them for an endorsement. I knew an email solicitation may be a long shot, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask. The worst that could happen is that they would say “no,” or simply not respond to my request.

A couple of authors, who shall remain nameless, did what I mostly expected and never responded to my request. I don’t blame them one bit. They are busy people trying to build their business, write their books, and deal with the other pressing needs in their families and lives. They’ve got to make the best use of their time, and that may not mean reading my book and writing a short paragraph for publication.

But there was one author who shocked me by responding to my request. Jeff Goins is a bestselling author whom I have admired as I have followed his career skyrocket and as I have watched his books generate all kinds of buzz. I sent him an email knowing full well, by his own admission, that he’s not the best at keeping up with his email. I also happen to know that he’s in the midst of building his own six-figure business into a seven-figure business. Not only that, but Jeff and his wife have two young children.

Jeff is a busy guy.

One thing that Jeff always preaches on his blog is to be generous, to help other people. He says, “It’s not who you know. It’s who you help.” Helping other people, he says, goes incredibly far as you try to build an audience and influence. I wondered whether he’d put his money where his mouth is and be willing to help a little peon like me. So I sent him an email. We had met each other, and had had some prior contact, so it wasn’t like this email was coming from someone completely unknown. Nonetheless, it was a long shot for me to receive any kind of answer.

A week or two after I sent the email I got this three word response from Jeff: “Send it over!” I was shocked. This busy, busy man…this bestselling author, was going to read my book and perhaps provide an endorsement. I sent the book file over to him and waited.

Before long Jeff sent me an email with an endorsement of the book, ending with the words: “Well done, Tom!” I will never doubt Jeff’s sincerity, nor will I doubt the fact that when he says something he means it. Jeff owes me nothing. Yet he took the time not only to read my book but to provide some kind words that may lead other people to read it.

It was an extremely valuable gift. Jeff’s time is worth more than I could probably afford to pay him. He gave me a gift that I didn’t deserve and he did it purely out of the goodness of his heart.

There are a few other people who have done the same. You will see their words on the back cover of my book. They are generous beyond measure. I am incredibly grateful to them.

So here are two insights that I learned based on the generosity of Jeff Goins:

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for something; you might just get it. What can you ask for today that, in the asking, might scare you just a little bit? Why not give it a go anyway? You could be greatly surprised by the response.
  2. If someone asks you for something, you never know the impact it will have on their dream, goal, or life. What unexpected gift can you give today when someone asks for it? Why not be generous today?

When have you received an unexpected gift for which you have asked?

Why a Simple Spoon Reminds Me of My Mom

Today’s post is a guest post from my friend Jim Riedel. Jim doesn’t have his own blog but, trust me, he’s filled with opinions. Maybe those opinions will one day find their way into a blog of his own. Jim is most literally a Jack-of-all-trades. He’s helped me in more ways than I count. He is a friend of the highest order. He’s also a skilled and qualified real estate agent, amongst other things. If you’re in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area and are in need of a home, look up Jim.

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I have a spoon in the kitchen drawer that does not match the set. I will come back to this…

Mother’s day is almost here. A day set aside to appreciate the woman who brought you into this world. Nine months she carried you in her body….and then carried you on her body for even more months (too many factors involved to guess how long that was)… I was a shy little boy so she carried me for many…maybe years (not really). Anyway, nine months is about 270 days. If you gave her appreciation one day a year, she would have to live 270 years to be thanked for each day she “developed” you. But she didn’t stop there in development, did she? It is not the days in her tummy that we remember but the many years after that give us our memories of our Mom.

Coffee

The spoon might be silver or silver plated, I am not really sure. It is tarnished a little…

I was the last child born of my siblings – 6 of 6. Mom was 35 when I was born. Not young but not old in the range of moms’ ages. Over a period of ten years she carried and gave birth to her children. It left its mark – for one, a scar clear across her entire belly. Back then, a C-section was a major incision, from one side to the other. Since my brother before me was born that way, I had to be too. They didn’t think mothers could carry out a natural birth after having a C-section. Thank God the medical field keeps improving so that doesn’t still happen.

The spoon has a really cool design on it. It is one of the reasons I like it….

I don’t know how women do it. It must be pain beyond what I can understand. I assume the memory of the pain must fade or no woman would have a second child. Not all women experience motherhood…that is, not all women give birth to a child. But even some women without children of their own experience “momhood” – those who care for and raise a child. An adoption makes someone a mom or an unfortunate accident causes an aunt to raise a niece. Sometimes that person may not even be a woman – a widowed father has to play the role of a mom on occasion.

Because of its design, it stands out in the drawer, it is really easy to find it among the other spoons……

My wife, Patty, and I don’t have kids. Circumstances were such that it didn’t happen for us. Sometimes I think that is too bad. Had we had kids, I know they would have had the best Mom I know of. I have seen her with her nieces and nephews as they grew up, or our neighbors’ kids, and sometimes even someone we just met, to see how caring and loving and fun she is with children of all ages. Patty certainly is a mother type; in fact she has hundreds of kids. You see, she has been a teacher since she graduated from college. She also trains kids in leadership skills at camps every summer.

I use the spoon almost every day – it is my tea spoon. Each morning, I have a large glass of green tea and stir the honey into the tea with it. Some days I take it with me to eat a yogurt on the go.

Moms sacrifice a lot for their child. That sacrifice mostly seems to be of her time. The sacrifice takes place when she nurses a newborn or rocks a fussy toddler, reads to a kindergartner, watches a soccer match, helps explain geometry, or looks over college applications. But she also takes the unexpected calls, puts life on hold to help a frustrated college kid, comfort a broken heart, or give advice to a son about a birthday gift for his spouse.

The spoon was probably bought at a flea market or rummage sale…..  

So Thank you Mom. Thanks to all of you moms. Thank you for taking the pain, for your lack of sleep at three in the morning to welcome a scared little kid into your room, for the countless meals you made when you didn’t even know what to cook, for staying up to wrap all the Christmas gifts from Santa, etc., etc, etc.

I have almost lost that spoon on at least one occasion and searched everywhere to find it in my car or truck.

My Mom liked nice things – like jewelry, china dishware, silverware. She bought full sets and individual pieces. She passed away almost 19 years ago. The spoon was a single piece she probably got second hand. Now I have it. And I also have tea with her most every day.

Every mom is a lot like that spoon. She doesn’t match any other yet is like them all, probably has a little wear due to the worry she experiences for her children, she is the coolest design ever, and stands out to her own kids in any crowd…and you never want to lose her.

So maybe you are a mother or maybe a mother type. To all of you out there, know that you make a difference in this world when you love your children and show them love. They will remember you for the little things you did and the big things you did. They will remember when you were really mad at them….”those teenagers”….and when you made them laugh for something you always do that they think is goofy. They will remember you for the love you gave them. There is no more important role in this world than that of “Mom”.

One more thought to emphasize that last point. I actually have many “moms.” My Mom called me her baby. Yes, no matter how old I was she would introduce me that way, and for a while it annoyed this boy to no end. I would say, “I am not a baby!” But I think as a young child, I realized the importance of moms. I realized the importance so much so that throughout my life, I have collected surrogate moms: friends’ moms became mine because I would call them Mom too…and will continue to do so. I guess a shy little boy can never have too many “moms”.