Those of you who know me really well know that I am extremely close with my mother. I call her ever day still and she is still one of my best friends. Just for the record, yes, I have a father as well and love him very much. However, Dad’s role is different than Mom’s in my family.

My mom was born in Saigon, Vietnam and moved to the United States in 1980 after the Vietnam War. They immigrated here by a boat, and my brother was born on the way. My mom never went to school and didn’t work until my brother and I were teenagers. Her job was to raise the kids and make sure we didn’t become spoiled douchebags. I think that’s why I get a bit offended when people say bad things about homemakers. It is the most important job ever, not to say one shouldn’t have the opportunity to do something else. I’m sure if I had a sister, my mom would have made her go to college too.

Here are some lessons I have learned from my mom.

Stay humble

Always stay humble, regardless of what successes you achieve. Remember to thank the people who help you get there and never forget about them. Don’t act like you are entitled to anything.

Do not be afraid of death

I’ve always had a very open conversation with my mom about death. We both know that it will happen, and not know when. However, we believe that death is just a part of life, and that’s why life is so precious. I remember talking to her about this a lot when I lost my best friend suddenly at the age of 26. She told me that the only way you can keep people alive is through your spirit and in the way you live your life. Honor those you have lost with your life. I often think she is prepping me for the time it is for her to pass (or if I die suddenly before her, the other way around).

I am not afraid of death, but it motivates me to live.

Love animals

Our family has always owned animals and if I ever have kids (probably not though) I would raise them with pets. Animals teach us to show love and be responsible for someone else other than us. This is a photo of my mom with my brother’s two cats. No pictured: her two kids! Every time Mom visits, she says hi to the pets first, or as we call, the grandcats.

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Simplicity

Live a simple life. Materialistic things go away in the end, so don’t hold on to them or be controlled by them.

Believe in something. Anything.

I was raised Roman Catholic, but I don’t think this has to apply to religion. My mom always taught us to believe in something and have a devotion to it. It is something I think about when designing—to give one’s self up to crafting the best thing possible. Whether you get ethics and morals from an organized religion, Star Wars, or any other source, believe in something.

You can do anything if you put the work into it

For the 29 years of existence on this Earth, I don’t think I’ve ever heard my mom tell me I couldn’t do something. Now, she definitely told me that if I wanted something, I’d have to work my ass off to get it, and nothing would be handed to me. However, the point hit home, that I could achieve or live my life any way I want if I put my mind to it and committed to the work.

Thank you, Mom.