Note: This article was originally published at Huffington Post.
Lao Tzu once wrote that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
I took that step, or rather that leap, the day I became a mother. My son’s birth was the awakening of a seed that lie dormant in my soul.
A beckoning light.
In one bright and seamless moment my love for him became breath to life, the most exceptional thing about me. I named him Luca. The bringer of light. A light that as it turns out would become my north star.
The truth is, in teaching him what it means to be a better man; he’s made me a better woman.
These are my lessons of heart.
1) Be Vulnerable. They’ll tell you it’s weak to cry and to fall in love. To live with an open heart. But the bravest thing you can do is let your heart be exposed for all the pain it may entail.
2) Money isn’t everything. Pursue what you’re passionate about. Find work that makes you happy. And if you can change the world in the process, all the better.
3) Find the person who can make you laugh. Few things are more important than being with someone who can make you laugh to the point of peeing yourself.
4) No means no. It’s really that simple.
5) Shake it like a Polaroid picture. Seriously. You have moves for days. No matter how awkward or uncoordinated, there is nothing cooler than a guy who isn’t afraid to get down with his bad self.
6) Travel. Learn about different cultures, customs and beliefs. No book will ever teach you what a day roaming a new country on foot will. Oh, and bring snacks. Snacks are always a good move.
8) Do the right thing. Even if no one else will ever know you did it. You will. And so will I. Because I’m your mother. And I know everything.
9) Tell the truth. No matter how difficult or painful, there is nothing more cowardly than a liar.
10) No excuses. Play like a champion. (I’m not entirely sure what this means but Vince Vaughn said it once and he rocks my world.)
11) Be brave. If you fail, learn from it and fail enthusiastically. Just as you would in success, extract everything you can out of your failures.
12) Take risks. Get in way over your head, be spontaneous. Repeat.
13) Stick up for the bullied. Speak out when you witness bigotry and racism. There is nothing braver than standing up for what’s right. So, speak your truth. Even if your voice shakes in the process.
14) Spend quality time with yourself. Demand it. Ask for it. Learn from it.
15) Bet big. The only person who can tell you no, is you. And you don’t have to listen. Remember that and your life will be limitless.
16) Just say no to drugs. This will be a lifelong lesson that I will repeat over and over again. I’ve seen what they can do to a man, so forgive me my sweet boy, but you’ll be hearing this more than most.
17) Don’t cheat. On anything, or anyone. Respect yourself enough to honor your commitments. Whatever they may be.
18) Love passionately, unconditionally and without question.
19) Never stop learning. Surround yourself with people who are smarter then you. There is nothing more humbling than learning from your peers.
20) Smile at everyone. Even if they don’t smile back. It’s the smallest gifts that have the greatest impact.
21) Give back. As often and as much as possible.
22) Be grateful. Optimism is contagious. Life is messy. Embrace it. Get dirty, and find a way to laugh at the mess. If you can find the good in life, you’ll always get the good out of it.
23) Never stop cuddling. Big spoon, little spoon, whatever floats your boat. Real men cuddle.
24) Use your words. Not your fists. Despite what you may be told, when it comes to the things that matter, nice guys always finish first.
25) Know my love. May you always know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I love you for exactly who you are, and exactly who you will become. Nothing and no one will ever change that. You are my pride, my joy, the curve of my smile, my very reason for being. One day I’ll tell you our whole story sweet boy, and when I do, just know I wouldn’t change a word of it.
So, line up little ladies (or gents). Because one day my little boy will stop learning how to be a good man and become one.
You’ll want to be first in line.
Dedicated to the love of my life, my best friend, Luca.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Courtesy of Author.