What Trait Do you Love about Yourself that Came from Your Mother

Maria Killam and Mom (Hellen Junttila)

I’ve been working with my Mom on a refresh for her kitchen/sitting room. She has never really loved the blue I chose for her six years ago when she moved in.

Recently we painted it a coral shade and she loves it! You can see a sneak peek on her Instagram account here. When I drive up in the early morning hours to have coffee with her, I can see the pink glow from the driveway.

Unfortunately, I ran out of time to get it ready for a Mother’s Day post, so it’s coming later.

Here we were in Palm Springs this past January (above)

When Terreeia and I talked about what my Mother’s Day post should be, she came up with this idea, so I polled a few of my friends and here are some of the responses I got.

I’ll start with which trait my Mom likes about herself that she learned from her Mom:

I grew up in a simple farmhouse in Finland with lots of land and space around me. I loved walking, riding my bike and taking care of the animals. As a child I had a lot of freedom, my Mother was a gentle soul and I didn’t grow up with a lot of rules and pressure to BE SOMETHING or SOMEONE. I got my free spirited personality from my Mother. While other people follow, I learned that just being myself was the best way to be.

Everything we ate in our home, we grew or raised ourselves. This has been a huge impact for me in my life. How it was so simple but so abundant. As a mother, in our home, there was always lots of food.

Thanks Mom, I love you so much and am so lucky you are my Mom!

When I was a newlywed many years ago. My ex-husband and I had just moved into our house. The movers had left and I sat down on the sofa. Then, I looked up and noticed the ugly, dated curtains.

Immediately, I jumped up to start taking them down.

He looked at me, exasperated and said “Do you have to do EVERYTHING not NOW but RIGHT NOW?”

Why YES, actually.

That trait, I got from my Mother. She is full of energy and life and around my Mother, things happen fast and with velocity.

I’m sure that’s one of the reasons we are such good friends.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have their Mom as a friend, I am truly grateful. I hope she lives forever and ever.

Lea, Elizabeth, Anita & Maria

Here’s a picture of all four of us sisters just a few short years ago, haha. I’m the oldest, then Lea, then Anita and Elizabeth is our baby sister.

Lea said, Mom’s generous, giving heart!

“She inspires me all the time to be more like that, it’s a hard act to follow. Mom is so, so giving.”

This is from Elizabeth:

I remember mom always being in the kitchen. When people came over we would sit in the kitchen and mom would make all kinds of food. People would rave about her food, how flavorful and heathy it was. 

My mother taught me how to take care of people and if anyone comes to my house they know they will be eating something healthy and delicious.

Irene Hill who is the editor of both my eBooks, came directly to me, like God sent her.  I did not have to look for her.  She attended one of my Specify Colour with Confidence workshops, years ago, took one look at my workbook  (which needed serious help back in the day) and knew that I needed her unique gifts.

Shortly after the course, she came to my house and said “You need an assistant, and that person is me”. I said ‘Okay’, and that was it. Irene has a gift for pretty much getting anyone to do anything she wants.

Today, she raises money for a charity that specializes in helping teens get off the streets. And on the side, she still freelance writes for me.

This is from Irene:

My mom always thinks about how she can bless others. Partly it’s her personality; partly it’s in the DNA of the family she grew up in. She has three sisters ­— they love each other deeply and love to be kind and generous to each other. It’s not that these are perfect people; it’s just that they absolutely delight in taking care of, pleasing, and surprising each other. When my Opa and Oma died and it came time to distribute the accumulated “stuff” in their home, my mom and her three sisters got together to decide who would get what. 

These types of conversations can get heated and argumentative, but the only “argument” between them went like this, “Oh, Annie, you should have Mom’s good dishes — you always loved them!” To which Annie would reply, “No, Marie should have them — they would be so lovely in her china cabinet!” On and on it went, each sister thinking of a good reason why another sister should enjoy the favourite legacies of their parents.

I am so grateful that my mom passed this trait along to me. My three sisters and I love to give to and take care of each other — whether it’s the bigger slice of cake, the “pass” on doing the dishes, the comfier spot on the couch, it’s our secret delight to give better than to take. Of course the truth is, that when you all think it’s the most fun thing in the world to give, it’s inevitable that you will be the recipient of care and thought and blessings, all wrapped up in love.

Kelly with her Mom (left) and her Grandma (right).

Kelly Parkinson, was a lot harder to find. Terreeia and I interviewed for almost two years and when she finally walked into my studio, I knew almost immediately, that she was THE ONE.

Kelly is 28 years old and I feel like my daughter is walking around the studio. She knows all the programs and is so quick with everything. When I poke at my phone in frustration because I can’t figure something out, she calmly walks over and a few minutes later, it’s fixed.

This helps my relationship too because I’m not walking into Terreeia’s office with a helpless–please fix it–look on my face.

This is from Kelly:

“I am most proud that my Mom taught me and my older sister to be strong independent women and to approach life with confidence. She always wanted us to be able to take care of ourselves and our family should something happen to our spouse, and to not to be dependent on others. While I’ve always been shy with an introvert type personality I am learning everyday about self confidence and to live every day to the fullest.”

Terrence Murtagh, Maria Killam, Tricia Firmaniuk

Tricia Firmaniuk (above right) is an Artist and True Colour Expert with a great eye and classic aesthetic. When Tricia applied for my Virtual Assistant position almost two years ago, I was thrilled. I had already been watching her post answers to other True Colour Expert dilemmas on our Private Facebook page for a while and often found myself nodding in agreement.

I hired her immediately.

When we discuss our eDesign clients, she pushes back often because her eye for undertones is honed from her many years of experience as an artist.

 I have helped many artists with their colours. It’s not often that working with colour and a brush translates to an instinctive knowledge of how colour will look on walls and hard finishes. Tricia has this gift in spades and I am lucky to have her running this department.

And she is a great writer too! When I’m strapped for time to write a post, Tricia will often save the day with a totally informative post like the last one she wrote here.

This is what Tricia said she got from her Mom,

“My mom gave me the gift of resourceful creativity. She could always make something out of not much, whether it was a craft, a costume, a meal or an event. She could use what was at hand to make it work. I learned to see possibilities and the value of a bit of effort and creative problem solving. Thanks to her example, I trust the creative process to eventually get me where I need to go.”

Terrence (above pic, left) is my website developer. Transferring such a big site early this year and getting it up and running, with the kind of traffic I get, was not an easy task.

As many of you know, I have a short temper. When I would look at my site and start feeling dispair because something looked desperately wrong, Terrence would be completely unfazed. He brings calm and order to the world of the internet for me and I am truly grateful that he is my go-to fix-it guy.

You’ll find the link to his site at the bottom of my website, here’s a blog he’s recently started because he loves to make a difference with people too!

Here’s what Terrence learned from his Mom:

“My single mother of 4 once lost her job. I recall her coming home that day, she cried and had her moment with it. The next day she woke up and left the house. Before leaving she told us that she wasn’t coming home until she had a new job. Later that day she came home and had a new employer… making more than she did previously.

I definitely get my drive and determination from my mom. She wasn’t very smart having only graduated 7th grade (she was from a different time in the South where education wasn’t a requirement), however, she was very motivated to succeed and sacrificed for her family. 

I also get my entrepreneurial spirit from my mom. She had her own janitorial service, called Jeannie’s Janitorial, when she was in her 20s/30s (I believe). She sparked the idea for me that someone can be their own boss.”

Tami and her Mom Elaine

Tami Rode is one of my best friends and is also one of the most generous people I’ve ever known.

I first met Tami at Landmark Education when she was the Finance Director in 1998. Now she is the Centre Manager for Western Canada.

The trait Tami likes about herself that she got from her Mom is:  Sense of Family & Hosting People

When I was growing up, my Mom and Dad were always having people over and entertaining their friends.  My Mom should have been a decorator because everything from the flowers to the place setting to the environment was always perfect. Entertaining friends was as an opportunity to create and make everyone feel welcome and loved. 

My home has also become the place where my friends gather for great meals and lots of love!

Thanks sweet friend for contributing to this post!

I met Terreeia participating in this work and we give a lot of credit to Landmark for the success we’ve had in our business.

We get a lot of great feedback on how smoothly our courses go and I give a lot of credit to Landmark for my communications skills since that’s one of the hallmarks of their training. How to communicate in a way that brings out the best in others. Learning that you are responsible for everything that happens in your life is a really powerful way to operate.

Tamara, Jan and Tanya

Jan Romanuk and I were business partners for two years right before I started writing this blog in 2008. She was my mentor before that and continues to be today. She is also one of my best friends! So generous with her time and her advice!

Jan has been decorating and renovating homes for more than 40 years. There are very few questions about renovating that Jan doesn’t know how to answer.

She helped to design my white kitchen as well as the millwork for my bathroom renovations coming up this summer!

Jan Romanuk on Instagram

Jan helped design all the millwork for the recent project I just had photographed (above). My client Crystal remarked the other day “Jan is always so stylish, I love the way she swoops in and just tells people exactly what to do and swoops out”.

This is what Jan learned from her Mom:

“My mom taught me how to love my girls, my daughters have been and continue to be the light and love of my life, loving them has brought me so much joy and whenever I was with my mom I felt that kind of love and joy from her.  I miss her everyday and often think about the fun and joyful times we had together.”

Amber Welton and her two girls

I met Amber when I taught colour theory at Vancouver Community College, she was one of my students. Amber is also a designer and True Colour Expert. She followed a similar path as I did, she also worked at Benjamin Moore for a few years as a colour consultant and now works for a design/build firm managing fixed price home renovations.

Amber is one of the funniest women I know. Her children are small and she is a very busy working mother so I don’t get to see her as often as I would like but I truly treasure our times together.

This is what Amber got from her Mom:

“Words of affirmation for my children, that’s what I like most about myself as a mother. Every time I catch myself sitting one of my girls down to tell her something I really appreciate about her I remember all the times my mom did that for me. I remember every time she did with such sincerity and it always filled my love bucket to the brim.”

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this post! Mother’s Day is about remembering our Mom’s whether they are with us or not!

Over to you my lovelies, what trait do you like about yourself that came from your Mother?

Related posts:

Sometimes I am My Mother

Mom’s Share Their Best Parenting Advice

The Best Mother’s Day Flowers

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  1. Such a lovely Mother’s Day post, Maria!

    My mother is a woman of faith and prayer, and that’s what she passed on to me. She is still alive at 93, and I am very grateful for her.

  2. Very touching post, and such a wonderful, accomplished staff. But I must say that Terrance’s mom WAS smart, she just wasn’t well educated. Huge difference.

    My Mother was very creative and artistic. and I grew up watching her make most of our clothes and always being involved in painting and crafts. She also loved art, theater, travel, books and learning. I think I got that from her, along with an analytical mind from my Dad. She died at age 56 nearly 23 years ago and I miss here dearly.

    • I was struck by the same thought, that Terrance’s Mom was intelligent and smart, just not well educated. And, of course, that is what Terrance meant.

  3. I love your moms new colour! It’s rich and warm like you describe her!
    Loved this post! Thank you! Your ideas are inspiring.

  4. This is the first mother’s day with out my mom, I miss her so much. Cried at her graveside today, but also can be thankful for having her in my life for such a long time. She was an amazing, hardworking, loving mom-who taught me so many life lessons. Thanks for sharing all of these lovely stories.

  5. Thank you so much for this question Maria. I put it on my Facebook with wonderful tributes to their mothers ❤

  6. Now 92, my Mother can; sew beautifully, is an amazing cook, an incredible baker, has always kept a gorgeous kitchen and flower garden, and still keeps up her own home while being Dad’s primary care giver. From her I learned not only how to survive through the toughest of times, but that if I work extremely hard every day, I can realize my dreams. She is my inspiration.

  7. What a lovely post! Loved everyone’s stories about their moms! I am so grateful to my mom for her great attitude and that happy gene, that she passed on. She’s a joy to be around and she is so young in spirit! We laugh and have the most wonderful time, together! But I am also grateful to my Gram, who gave me security, a sense of fairness, and the cleaning gene! Miss you. Thank you to both of my moms. And thanks Maria and Terreeia for giving al of us, a great outlet to show our appreciation! XXOO

  8. Awesome post and idea! The flowers and candy will be forgotten (and are just a marketing ploy anyway). Write your mom a letter telling her why she’s special and why you love her–it will touch her heart like few gifts ever have. Thank you for giving us a window into the important people in your life, Maria! I did not have a mother like yours, but I do have a mother-in-law that is warm, funny and loving. I need to tell her that in her upcoming birthday card (her 93rd birthday)… and every card in the future.

  9. What a lovely post! My mother is so curious, always taking classes, going to museums, attending lectures. She is truly a life long learner. I got that from her and it has helped me many a time and always keeps me moving through life from one challenge to another. If something seems hard, I don’t worry. I just think oh I can read a book or take a class. How hard can it be?

  10. This post is so inspiring! It is not often that you can verbally honor your parents. I enjoyed each testimony of your staff and friends. I love yours especially Maria. Your mom has been such a big part of your life. You are blessed to have her all these years and to have her so close by. My own mom was such an inspiration to me also. We were disciplined with love and taught respect. My mom was very health minded and we too had a garden and ate healthy food. Because I was tall she always told me to stand up straight. My father was an entrepreneur and an artist with a great sense of humor. We always had laughter and a lot of love. I was taught that I could do anything that I put my mind to. I miss them both so much!

  11. Maria, this was a really sweet post. I too reflect on the similarities between my mum and me which I am now very grateful for :). Your appreciation for the people in your life also shines through.

  12. Love all these wonderful words of appreciation of their mothers.
    My mother was such a hard working lady and she taught me the same.
    However, the most important thing she taught me was to stand up for doing the right thing, even if he means you are not liked. With the risk of being fired, she stood up for doing the right thing and, at her funeral, the gentleman who spoke had worked with my mother when he was a young man. His declaration of my mother was, “she would not compromise quality for quantity, and had no fear confronting those above her who wanted her to compromise.”
    I am blessed.