Dear Mama: A Letter to my Mother and her Words of Advice

[mom & me]

Dear mama,

How you saved on a $3 minimum wage to move us to America for a better life, I will never know.

I’ll never know how you bought me those Coach shoes I thought I needed as a teen even though we were struggling.

I will never know how defeated you felt every time we got our stuff stolen living in rough neighborhoods growing up.

I will never know how many tears you hid behind a grin.

I’ll never know the feeling of getting mugged in the parking lot on campus.

I’ll also never know how brave you were to return the day after to resume classes.

I will never know how many sleepless nights you endured to get an Accounting degree in 3 years with 4 kids.

I don’t know how you took the broken pieces of yourself and turned them into beautiful stained glass windows, like the ones we had in church on Sundays.

I do know you were waiting in the rain at bus stops commuting to and from school.

Because I saw you walk in every night drenched, but always with a smile on your face.

(You didn’t think I knew) But I knew the times you pretended to not be hungry so you could afford to celebrate our birthdays at restaurants.

I know your tunnel vision gave you a business of your own and opportunities for your kids.

I know my time on earth is dedicated to giving back.

I know how to find joy in the journey that God has set before me.

I know to never settle for anything less than I deserve.

I know forgiveness.

I know compassion.

I know the best things in life can’t be bought,

Because of you.

Dear Mama,

Thank you for the life I have now.

Your sacrifices will not be in vain.

As you can see- my mom is nothing short of amazing. She moved her family from a tiny (10 mile by 13 mile) island in the Pacific to give her children a fair shot at this thing called life.

[Map: Where we’re from to California where we currently live]

All that I am and hope to be, I owe to my mother.

So I sat down with her and asked her for a few words of advice that I can share with you all. In her own words… this is how she did it.

[Me]: What advice would you give to someone who thinks their dreams are too big?

[Her]: They say “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough”, and it’s true.

Oprah was born in poverty, but her dream made her the richest African American woman in the world.

JK Rowling was a single mother on welfare, battling depression- and has sold over 400 million copies of her books to date.

Give yourself permission to live a fairytale. You only get one life… why dream small?

(she continues)

Ask questions. What do I wanna do? Who do I wanna be? Where do I wanna live? The more I explored what I wanted in life, the hungrier I got.

Paint a picture of your dream.

Choose each color, every stroke, every single little detail of it.

My painting? I painted a picture of my family and I in America- “the land of opportunity”. In a house with big windows, and a big yard. Big ol’ trees and bushes and flowers in the front. And then…

I did it.

[Present day: California]

(continued): I even pictured taking my kids to places they’ve only seen in movies and in books.

Taking them to the snow. Like… real snow. Us islanders have never seen snow before! Even though they didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought they would (chuckles)

[Lake Tahoe, California]

I’d picture it everyday. I sat in my small house.. the roof over my head made of tin. Buckets everywhere due to the holes in the roof when it rained. I sat there and never lost sight of the vision I painted for myself.

And if anyone ever doubted me (including my own mind), I would whisper to myself:

“I can. And I will. Watch me.”

[Grand Canyon, Arizona]
[Mount Rushmore, South Dakota]

What’s your advice on getting to that big dream?

Everyone will tell you: “just work hard and you’ll get there.” That’s the most common advice.

But my advice? Two things:

: Your steps towards your goal don’t have to be grand. In fact, you’re more likely to be discouraged if your steps are too far apart.

Baby steps.

Two: Take lots of them… and take them NOW.  Do not wait for “the right moment” to take a step. There will never be a “perfect” moment to start.

Just put your foot forward in the direction that leads to your goals, and if you take a wrong step? Or you trip and fall?

Take that mistake, pull it apart, and study it.

Ask yourself “What caused me to fall? Should I have taken a right? Is there another route? What can I learn from this?”

And then when you figure it out (take as long as you need to do this),

Get back up.

Start taking steps again. And repeat. And repeat and repeat and repeat. Every time you get back up, you’re even closer to your dreams.

Remember this: the fears you do not face become your limits.

Do not stop getting back up.

When times were hard, how did you handle it?

When you ask God to help you grow and it starts raining- you can see it two different ways.

One: “When it rains it pours, why me?”

or the other: “I asked God to help me grow, so he’s sending rain to water me.”

Perception is everything.

I made God the center of my life. So when times got hard, it was my faith that got me through it.


I found a lesson in everything.

If God didn’t give me what I wanted, I knew there was a valuable lesson behind it.

I always had faith that he had a better plan for me.

Advice you’d give to your younger self?

Time waits for no one. Use it wisely!

[End of interview]

I wanna give a special shout-out to my mom for taking the time to sit down with me and do this interview! Thank you for sharing your words of advice.

I learned that life doesn’t come with a manual…

it comes with a mother.

[Mom & me]

& Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mamas out there. There are simply not enough words to express our appreciation for you! ♡

If you enjoyed her words of advice, I think you’d love my words of advice as well 😉 | Read my [Ways to Improve Self-Esteem: How I Learned to Love my Body]

One thought on “Dear Mama: A Letter to my Mother and her Words of Advice

  1. Valerie says:

    I remember your Mom. She was the sweetest lady & ALWAYS had a smile on her face. Very kind and welcoming.

    Love this post. Definitely needed to read this. Thank you.


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