Be Cool Like Giselle: Life Lessons from the Master
A rundown of the most valuable life lessons I learned from my mother, the most fabulous woman you never met.
Mother’s Day recently passed and it’s become a bittersweet day for me. While I have so much pride and joy in being a mom of two beautiful (and completely nuts) kiddos I’m reminded of all the amazing women I’ve lost in my life especially my own amazing mother. If you never knew Giselle in real life, I feel a little sad for you. My mom wasn’t just any regular lady, she was a force. She had a way of making everyone feel like they were the closest friend in her life and somehow it was actually true. She had the greatest capacity for selfless love I’ve ever encountered in any human being. Whenever people tell me, “You’re such a great mom,” my response is always, “You should’ve seen my mom.”
Throughout the 40 years that I had my mom on Earth she bestowed on my siblings and I more nuggets of wisdom than I can fit into this page. However, I’d like to share a highlight reel of her mantras that have really stuck with me over the years and that have given me the Giselle edge I need in life. This is free advice from the master and I would be honored if you adopted a few of them for yourself.
It’s better to look good than to feel good.
My mom had a myriad of health issues the last 20 years of her life but often people had no idea because of how she carried herself. I remember her recovering from massive back surgery and she had me wash her face each morning and apply bronzer and lip gloss so she felt livelier when she looked at yourself. The truth is that if you look into the mirror and feel good about what you see (with or without makeup) it will always be reflected in your attitude towards others. Just that tiny bit of effort helps you feel like you’re still in the game and fills you with an extra bit of pride and self-respect. Who knew bronzer could be so damn magical?!
It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
When in doubt, go all out! I have shown up to a million events slightly overdressed because of this motto. Just think about it, would you rather show up dressed better than everyone or stick out for looking frump? I thought so.
If I’m late at least I look good.
All that overdressing is a bitch so yeah, just get comfortable with being a little late. Some people think being late is a horrible offense and I agree to a certain extent. However, if you show up late looking fabulous and remembered to bring a hostess gift than all is usually forgiven.
We don’t light up a room, we set it on fire!
My mother’s level of self-confidence was off the charts and while she never said this to me out loud, she certainly exemplified it every day of her life. That woman was beyond memorable.
Get off your butt and be of service!
What do you do when your 3-year-old son gets diagnosed with Leukemia and then makes it into remission? You get together with his doctors and nurses to start a camp for other kids and families going through the same thing! My mother has set a legacy in the lives of my siblings and I to give back in the most selfless ways imaginable. My oldest sister is a Pastor, my other sister does hiking marathons to fundraise for Make-a-Wish, my brother is a director for the camp my mother started and I’m the camp cook! When you have more, be it health or wealth, you need to give. Get off your butt and help!
Everything feels better after a hug and a freakish number of kisses.
I’m a huge believer in “hugging-it-out” because sometimes words can’t say as much as a comforting squeeze. My mom was the queen of this and had this famous way of machine gunning a million kisses onto your cheek in the most loving way. I remember her doing this to a friend of mine who never received that kind of love at home and he was floating on a cloud for weeks afterwards.
When you’re happy feel free to sing, or dance, or both!
My mom loved a good tune and would sing her butt off whenever the mood struck. Did it matter that her voice mostly sounded like Janis Joplin with a cold? Nope! Was she amazing at singing like Louis Armstrong? You betcha! If she was especially jubilant a dance or jig went along with it! This is something so practical yet so nuts and I’ve fully embraced it as have my children. If you come to our house I can almost guarantee we’re making up a song about some kind of foolishness during your visit!
We should always be listening to music!
Just turn on the damn radio and live your best life all the time. Silence is creepy. Music is magical and makes every task more enjoyable. It’s the freaking spoonful of sugar so embrace it!
No zit is unpoppable.
I feel this one speaks for itself. Get some rubbing alcohol, Neosporin and tissues and get to work!
Purchases just feel more satisfying when you get a good deal!
My mother lived for a sale and taught me that everything feels more delicious when it’s purchased at a discount. I’ll never forget the time I bought a $1,200 set of All Clad pots and pans for $545 and immediately called my mother to discuss the combination of stacked discounts and store credits that brought me success. If we could’ve lit up a cigarette afterward we would have because that’s how fulfilling it felt to get such an insane deal. To this day I almost never pay full price even when I’m shopping at Target!
Food is love.
One of the greatest ways my mom expressed love was through food and I operate the same way. While I know I’m a better cook than my mom was (not saying much because she was incredible) I always felt how much she cared for me and loved me in every bite she made. Food is now one of my greatest love languages and my mom’s love laid that foundation.
Everyone can be a friend.
I cannot go anywhere without talking to strangers and making friends. My husband once said, “My wife falls in love every day,” and I 100% learned this from my mother. She made friends with the most unlikable people and somehow, through her friendship, they became more likable! Love begets more love and when we focus on ways to include others rather than exclude them, we can learn from each other and set an example for what true friendship and love look like.
Nobody is cooler than you. Nobody.
My mom blew so much smoke up my butt growing up that I have an incredibly healthy amount of self-esteem, just like she did. It’s one of the greatest gifts she could ever give me. No matter what I’ve done in life I have always felt completely comfortable with myself even when I’m aware I’m out of my league. I’m competitive but don’t feel like I need to win because I’m so happy as I am. I hope to give this same gift to my kiddos.
Everyone needs a nickname, even pets!
If you’re loved, you get a nickname. If you don’t have a nickname it’s because we made one up that we use behind your back when we complain about you. I don’t make up the rules, I just know this is the natural order of things.
Find a creative outlet that makes you feel like you.
My mother was talented at so many things and exercised these outlets daily. She loved to write and would wake up early every morning to journal. She loved to cook, decorate and host parties, dance, garden, and bird watch. Her greatest talent was ultimately art and while she enjoyed water colors her work with color pencils was exquisite. When she retired this became her passion and our homes are decorated with her beautiful work. She taught us to prioritize daily “me time” through her example and my siblings and I have all learned this well. It builds balance and makes us infinitely more interesting people.
Calm down and pour yourself a drink.
I cannot stress this enough! My father worked for a wine distributor for 26 years and my mother certainly reaped the benefits on a daily basis. I’ll never forget the time a friend of mine, who had a wonderful but very erratic mother, came over and commented, “Every time I come here your mom is drinking a glass of wine.” My response was simply, “Yeah, but she’s always super cool, right?” I only ever saw my mother drunk on a few occasions in my life (I’m fairly sure they were all weddings) but that lady knew the value of enjoying life’s simple pleasures and staying cool for the kids. I absolutely continue this family tradition and am a much more patient mommy for it!
Faith, prayer and meditation can give you more strength than you know.
My mother truly had faith that would not only move mountains but rearrange them in a way God himself hadn’t thought of! While I’m not as fervent in my practice of religion as she was, she certainly taught me to trust and accept life as it is because His perfect plan will always bless me in the end. This is a very hard lesson to learn, and I still struggle with it from time to time, but when I think of her perfect faith and let go I always get it right.
Don’t ever tell me I can’t do something.
Anytime someone tells me they think I can’t do something all I hear is, “You’re just a woman with tiny weak girl arms and there’s no way you’d ever be able to….” Oh man, that kind of talk always fired up my mom and my siblings and I learned from the best. Nothing brings me greater joy than proving people wrong and the list continues to grow and grow. My mother faced many obstacles in her life but never allowed them to stop her from rising to the top and enjoying every moment along the way. Her strength was inspirational and has taught us that the only thing ever stopping us is ourselves. She’d say, “If God has put something in your heart then it’s meant to happen, so just go for it!”
Always let people know when they shine.
It is so simple and joyous to make others smile and people so seldom let others know when they shine. Did you see a lady with a fabulous outfit at Starbucks? Tell her! Did your coworker really nail it on their last project? Let them know! You’d be surprised how far that goes and how fulfilling it is to let someone know that they’re amazing and you see them as they are. We could all use more of that in our lives and if you want to pay it forward the change has to begin with you.
You should always round up your age.
This is just being practical. If you’re 43 but everyone thinks you’re 45 then they’ll always say how great you look for your age! It’s a harmless, silly lie but it gives a surprising boost to your self-esteem. Additionally, it really takes the pressure off pretending to be younger and it’s so kind to allow the younger folks think they too could look as great as you at your elevated age. I just remember my mom was 50 years old for like 6 years and loved every moment of it!
Quick Recipes for Busy Bitches
I’ve made you read a great deal so far, so I’ll keep it brief with today’s recipe. I recently had a major cholesterol scare and was able to bring my numbers down significantly (52 points!) by enjoying this juice every morning for the past three months. Each batch yields 4-5 servings and you can keep them for up to a week in the fridge. The turmeric is what adds the “Gangsta” element (and a bit of bitterness), but it truly provides an incredibly energizing and nutritious start to your day. I enjoy my juice each morning with an egg white quiche (from Costco cuz I have to cut corners somewhere) and whole grain toast. The best part about this juice is that you can make a batch whenever you have a free moment since it keeps. Shout out to my friend Raine who gave me this recipe with carte blanche to adjust it any way I like! Now go get on that healthy train!
Be Cool xoxo