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I am constantly learning as a parent and I can’t help but frequently reflect on all the important life lessons my mom has taught me. As a professional photographer, I often worry about how I’m going to teach my sons the things they need to know in order to be successful. My sons are growing so fast, I worry how I’ll possibly prepare them for the real world. But then I remember that I’m not alone. My mom was always there for me (and I’ll be there for her too), just as I’ll always be there for my boys.

I could rattle off a long list of lessons she taught me. Instead, I’ll share three of the most important things that still resonate:

1. Be honest with myself. When you’re young, you want to please everyone and be what they want you to be – all good intentions, of course. I had to learn, for myself, that what everyone wanted for me wasn’t necessarily what I wanted for myself. Mom always encouraged me to do what I felt was right for me and to do the things that made me happy. She taught me that I would never feel fulfilled if I wasn’t being true to myself.

2. Work hard. From the time I was young, I always had the desire to work to get the things I wanted in life. It was something my mom instilled in me at a very early age. Working hard and having good work ethics is what helped me realize my dream of becoming a brand photographer and owning my own business.

3. Be a good listener. Mom always told me that listening is just as important as finding my voice. In fact, she said I would eventually learn just how valuable listening is throughout my life – from friendships to family, workplace to strangers – listening has always made a difference.

There are so many more lessons my mom has taught me, but these are the ones that stick with me; the ones that have truly impacted me throughout my life. That’s why I am teaching my own children these very same, important lessons. Thank you, Mom. I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. Your love, your words, and your lessons I carry with me every day of my life.