Everyone needs encouragement and advice in their life. I’ve been lucky to have several wonderful women in my life act as mentors and cheerleaders, including my aunt Linda. Linda passed away last Wednesday (April 4) after a difficult time with oral cancer and reconstructive surgeries. I hope that you’ll indulge me as I share some of the conversations and lessons we shared.
Confidence is all you need to enter any room
My aunt and uncle took me to fancy dinner with big executives in London years ago. I was excited about the amazing dinner and conversation – but I was backpacking around the world and the nicest clothes I had were jeans and a sweatshirt. I almost cancelled because I was afraid that I would be too ghetto. But my aunt explained that I had just as much right to be there as anyone else and if you carry yourself with confidence, you can fit in most places. She said that it was a lesson that she struggled to learn but I should start practicing early. And the dinner went well; we used my wardrobe to discuss my trip and I got offers of help from around the world.
IF you marry, marry for love
Linda grew up in a time and place where women were expected to marry. She had a wonderful marriage – and her husband of 46 years is devastated – but she always encouraged me to do what is right for me and not worry about societal expectations. When I decided to travel around the world on my own instead of settling down, she was supportive and marvelled at the changes in the world in a short time. When I got married, she was there to encourage me on that adventure too.
With her husband’s fancy job, we got to meet a lot of people with a lot of money and saw lots of examples of the old wives tale:
if you marry for money, you earn every penny
Find something that makes you happy for no apparent reason
There can be a lot of should in our lives. Linda and I talked about the stress of feeling like you should be doing something more worthwhile and/or doing things to appease others. We decided that everyone should have something ‘selfish’ = just something that you do for yourself.
Linda enjoyed shopping a lot and I don’t understand that past-time at all. She didn’t understand why I enjoy jogging. When we tried to describe the appeal to each other, it was impossible. Because we had no ready justifications, we concluded that was why we knew these things were just for ourselves. So everyone should find something that makes them happy for no apparent reason.
I could go on for many pages but I’ll stop now. My uncle is collecting memories about Linda for her memorial service and I don’t know how he will pick just a few special stories to showcase how special Linda was to everyone.
I chose to share the above advice because it is what I am now sharing with my young friends. I will always owe Linda for some of the better choices that I made, leading to a happy and fulfilling life.