Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

My mom and step-dad, who are almost-70 and 77, walked in their seventh half marathon on Saturday. A half marathon! This is remarkable. For both of them. Period. But what makes it even more remarkable is that my mom needs a total hip replacement for one hip. It hurts her to walk. It hurts her to walk! And yet she walked 13 miles.

She is amazing.

Her birthday is this Saturday—it’s a milestone birthday. And of course Sunday is Mother’s Day.  So I’ve been thinking about her a lot. And the thing is, my belief in wings and whimsy? In inspiration and joy? In finding the extraordinary within the ordinary? Well, it’s all because of her. In fact, my very first post five years ago was a story about advice she gave me that turned into my life motto– just dance your way through

My mom.

Oh, my mom.  

I’m having a flash of her with her big beautiful curly brown hair and her big sunglasses and feisty spirit, and we’re painting the sidewalk with paintbrushes and water.  Or we’re picking flowers. We’re looking at the stars. We’re driving to St. Louis to see the Rolling Stones. We’re zipping down the road in her yellow VW convertible and tennis ball keychain. We’re picking out stuff for my dorm. She’s stocking our gum drawer. She’s tending to our garden. She’s painting her nails on the couch on a Sunday night. She’s buying me outfits much cooler than I would ever think to pick out for myself. Through it all, she’s filling me with the certainty that I am loved. She’s “angel whispering” me on, no matter what. She is making sure I know that whatever I want to do in this world, this world hasn’t seen anything like me yet.

And to this day, she leads me with her example. She shows me that you don’t let the world decide for you. YOU decide. You decide.

She’s scheduling her hip surgery around our family trip to the beach this summer.

Because, priorities.

If I have ever inspired anyone to believe that they are wonderful, it’s because of her.

If I have ever spiced up a room, it’s because of her.

If I have ever helped someone remember that joy is as important as anything else, it’s because of her.

If I have ever left something more beautiful than before I came to it, it’s because of her.

What an incredible gift it is, and has been, to have such a powerful and phenomenal woman show me how to live.

So… marathon today? Well, why not? Hip surgery can wait. There are flowers to be planted. Life is amazing. And life is short. Grab onto every moment and squeeze just everything you can out of it. 

Thank you, mom, for reminding me of that by the way you live. And the way you’ve taught me.

Congratulations on the Mini.  Happy Birthday. Happy Mother’s Day.  I love you.

How can you take a page from the book of Mary today, and live this day to the fullest, with joy and inspiration?


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.