My mother is the coolest chick I know.
She's a laid-back superwoman, sweet as pie with the wisdom of Ghandi, who possesses an open mind and a selfless heart.
She's an artist, writer, music lover and creative entrepreneur with an admirable work ethic I can only hope to mimic one day.
Her presence radiates a sense of comfort and acceptance, and she knows exactly how to provide enlightening advice in peaceful, yet effective ways.
In fact, she's often referred to as the "rock" of our family, steering us away from the stress of everyday life with healthy and positive encouragement.
It's safe to say my mom is a "free-spirited" woman, who taught my sister and I the importance of enjoying life to its fullest potential, while being comfortable in our own skin.
Growing up, she provided my family with level-headed advice that explored the beautiful aspects of life, rather than focusing too much on the harsh realities that often embody today's society.
As a kid, there was rarely any need to be too serious around the house because life was meant to be filled with enjoyment and laughter, and not to be followed by rigid rules with a constant strive for perfection.
I mean, "peace, love, and happiness" was the mantra of the household.
Let's put it this way: My mom is the perfect combination of laid-back and authoritative, and knew exactly how to raise happy and healthy children with deeply-enhanced opinions and colorful mindsets.
Now, at 23 years old, I am certain that having a mother so optimistic and accepting of my goals has helped mold me into the confident woman I am today. How, you ask?
1) She taught me the importance of creative self-expression.
Growing up, I was always exposed to my mother's artwork, whether she was drawing a picture or painting a mural.
Being surrounded by the consistent flow of creativity gave me a healthy outlet for my emotions, which was fully encouraged in the house.
As I grew older, I began expressing myself through other means, like music and writing, and I never had to worry about being judged for my interests.
Instead, my mother longed to be updated and involved in my creative endeavors and, therefore, gave me peace of mind toward what I spent most of my time doing as a teen during the crucial years of trying to find myself.
2) She supported my fashion choices, no matter how awkward.
Let's talk about the early 2000s.
During my younger years, I had various "looks" I tried to explore, and my mom supported my outfit choices, no matter what.
There was an Avril Lavigne stage, where mesh sleeves and spiked-belts were everyday attire, and then there were the tomboy days when I wouldn't be spotted wearing a dress.
But, no matter what kind of outfit I chose to walk to the bus stop in before school, my mom would still call me beautiful.
Of course, looking back, I now realize how silly I looked. Even so, if my mom didn't let me explore my own style, I would never have figured out what I did and didn't like to wear.
3) She showed me how to have fun, without the aid of technology.
Before iPhones, fancy tablets and MacBooks, there was this thing we all had: an imagination.
During the days of imagination, my mom always encouraged a creative pastime, rather than having us sit on the couch and stare at the TV all day long when we got bored.
Instead, we would decorate the sidewalks with chalk drawings, paint on canvases, crank up the radio and dance around the room, play charades ... you name it.
Whatever "it" was that we were doing, we had a blast as kids, and my mom loved to watch us laugh.
4) She let me make my own mistakes so I could learn from them.
My mom was never (and still isn't) the kind of woman who reprimanded me for the mistakes I made.
Instead, she let me figure out what was good or bad for me on my own, with a few exceptions, of course, so I could learn from any undesirable choices I made.
It seems to me the children with the overprotective parents who prohibit their kids from even making mistakes are the ones who end up at a roadblock somewhere down the line.
I'm thankful my mom trusted me enough so I could learn from my own decisions.
5) She understood the importance of my independence.
Let's face it: Some parents watch over their kids like hawks, and quite often, this constant shadowing interferes with the family relationship and makes the kids not want to be around their parents any more than they need to be.
I suppose my mom understood this because she always let me do what I needed to do, without feeling the need to be looking over my shoulder.
As long as I gave her a call here and there with an update, she was happy, and as a result, I was always happy to be around her when I wasn't off doing my "thing."
6) She always saw the glass half-full. Optimism is key, and my mother is the queen of positivity.
As a kid, I can only remember a handful of times when my mom was truly mad or sad.
She never let us see her sweat because she knew how important it was to set a peaceful example for her family.
Both then and now, whenever we're handed a negative situation, she cracks a joke and tries to turn it around for the better.
Having this uplifting, easy-going happiness throughout life's rough patches has helped me become a more pleasant human being, eager for what the world has in store for me.
7) She believed a messy house was a happy one.
So what if the beds aren't made or if there's a mountain of blankets in the living room being prepped for a homemade fort?
There are probably wooden Jenga pieces lining the TV room floor and popcorn kernels in the couch cushions, but it's okay,
"The kids are having fun."
To my mom, a messy house was a happy one, and she ignored anyone who thought otherwise.
Of course, we cleaned up our sh*t when she told us to, but for the most part, my house was the funnest one on the block, all thanks to my mom and her patience with our messy childhood pastimes.
8) She encouraged the pursuit of my artistic dreams.
Growing up, my mom never pointed me in the direction of a stable 9-to-5 job with a personalized cubicle and a steady income.
Instead, she's always encouraged me to pursue my artistic dreams of becoming a musician or a writer, and to venture outside of my comfort zone in pursuit of career that will ultimately make me happy.
9) She embodies happiness, and taught me the importance of laughter.
Laughing solves everything, and my mother is an expert in the realm of happiness.
As a kid, whenever I felt down and needed a pick-me-up, I would hang out with my mom, and we would do nothing but laugh.
We would talk, giggle, tell funny stories and laugh some more. It was an instant fix for happiness, no matter how sad I felt.
As an "adult," (if that's what we're called at 23), laughing is still my go-to cure for whenever I'm feeling blue, and my mom is the first person I call.
10) She let me experience love at my own risk, and offered help when needed.
As young girls may know, being in love can either be a very public experience, or a very private one, depending on who you're dating.
Sometimes you seek the attention and want to show the world your happy-go-lucky relationship, and sometimes you want to lay low and figure things out for yourself, without the opinions of friends, peers and especially, parents.
Yet, my mother has always acknowledged love in a very positive light, and usually let me date whoever I felt intrigued to pursue at the time.
Of course, she'll put her two cents of encouragement in, but typically, she will observe my love life from the sidelines, unless I come to her seeking advice or direction.
This independence, again, is helping me grow and figure out what kind of relationships are good for me.