August 23, 2013

Remember Where You Came From

When my mom was about 15 years old, she came home from school one day to find an empty house.

The shelves were bare, the furniture was gone…and in the vast void that was left, the only thing louder than her pounding heart was the sound of silence suffocating the stifling air.

Gone were the sounds of her younger brother & sisters running upstairs, no more could she hear the bars of a half-hummed melody floating in from the kitchen on a cornbread breeze as her mama was cooking dinner.

She saw the note on the counter, and in an instant she knew… the only one she had left to count on in this world, was herself.

The letter was simple, straight to the point. The family was moving and she had chosen not to go. She was fifteen years old now, old enough to take care of herself. And quite honestly, her mama already had her hands more than full with the four little ones to take care of. It was time to be brave. It was time to grow up. It was time to start carrying her own share of the load. This is just what hard-working people do. The bills were paid through the end of the month, there was a little bit of food left in the cabinets to help get her through. A few boxes of shell macaroni and three or four cans of stewed tomatoes, to be exact.

And in the end, the letter was signed the only way her mama knew how. With two simple words that would never be enough: Good Luck.

Years later when my mom had me and I was getting to be a teenager myself, I can still remember her cooking up a batch of Macaroni & Tomatoes for herself almost weekly even though she was the only one who would ever eat it. When I was old enough to know the real story behind it, I just couldn’t understand it and I asked her Why? Why would she ever make something like that, knowing it would only remind her of such a hard time. Of so much struggle. And that if it were me, I would never want to see another plate of macaroni or a can of tomatoes in my life. What she said to me has stuck with me my entire life.

She said, “It’s good to remember where we came from. Sometimes it’s the only thing that can prove to us just how far we’ve actually come.”

Today if you’ve woken up and you feel like you’re in this thing alone, I want you to remember that too. If you’re facing hard times, if you’re finding yourself not knee deep, but neck deep in the struggle. If you’re right in the middle of your own “where you came from” and it’s starting to feel like the only one in this world you can count on is yourself. I want you to take a deep breath, burn this feeling right here into your heart, and find someway to remember it. So that you can one day celebrate it.

Because the fact is, nobody cares about a story where the person was given everything. That story is boring, and it’s been done.

Your story, the one where you had to fight for it every step of the way, that’s the one that will stick with people the rest of their lives.

So today, I hope you pull up the very first job you ever shot. I hope you read the first post you ever wrote. I hope you revisit that first website, pull out that old business card, business plan, or booking….dig through and find that mere whisper of a dream that you sketched out on the last page of your notebook one day when you dared to wish for more.

Don’t hide that stuff away. Don’t be afraid of it. And don’t bury it away from the face of the world.

Because a dream just getting started can be messy. It can be lacking for so much. And sure, it can be full of hard times and struggle.

But always, always be proud of this. For those things are the stitching of where you came from.

And they are the only things that can show you just how far you’ve come.

Rock it out friends,

  1. Gabrielle Halle

    Thanks, Mary. I can’t say thanks enough for sharing this :-)

  2. Erin Oveis Brant

    Thank you. So much. xo

  3. Rici

    Oh Mary! How I LOVE your fire posts!! They set a new flame and let me go, no run again!! Your Mom was a smart woman, love this quote! And I have the feeling you might have quoted it before. <3
    Have a great weekend!
    ~ Saluti.

  4. Tiffani D

    Mary, this is an incredible post. Thank you.

  5. Julie

    Wow, thanks so much for sharing your family’s story. It really resonates with me in where my family has come from and where I am today, in business and personally as well. ‘Rock it out’

  6. Emilia Jane

    I’m pretty sure you can make me cry faster than any other writer. Love you.

  7. rachel box

    boy am i up to my face in the struggle… this is the perfect post that i needed to read right now! mary, you are the bees freakin knees <3 xoxo

  8. Amanda Jackson

    Your posts always find a way to make my heart sing. Thanks Mary!

  9. Lynn Wisman

    What a beautiful message and thanks so much for sharing such a personal story.

  10. jenn

    so beautifully written, mary… thank you for this reminder.

  11. Laura

    These are amazing!! The light is so gorgeous…!

  12. Jessica Chavez

    LOVE every word! Thank you thank you thank you! xoxo

  13. feuza

    WOW so powerful, my mom has similiar background and I can so relate, tears! thank you for sharing and you write so beautifully. Hugs

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