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It feels a little bit like déjà vu. Two months ago we lost our wonderful Dad and Grandad and then four weeks ago we lost our amazing Mum and Nan. Yes, what an incredibly sad and difficult time these three months have been, made even worse because the COVID restrictions meant that we couldn’t get back to NZ either time.

Another video tribute and we had to watch Mum’s service on live stream –  I am so grateful for the technology, yet not being physically with Mum in her last days nor with the rest of our family as we celebrated her life has added an additional layer of sadness and guilt.

Without a doubt, Mum was one of the most important and influential women in my life, and our close relationship meant that the fun, experiences and conversations we shared continued to impact my life as an adult too.

I can think of at least 20 important life lessons Mum taught me, here are 3 of them.



#1 Be An Optimist

Mum modelled this, absolutely. She saw the best in people and in situations. No matter what happened Mum would always look for that patch of blue sky. And she seemed to always find it!

She showed us that optimism enables you to have a choice. When things don’t go according to plan you can feel sorry for yourself and give up, or you can feel sad for a moment and then turn to look for a way forward, to create a new path and feel the excitement of starting something new.

Optimists look for and seize, opportunities. They look for the best in people, they find happiness in the everyday. They tend to live and love life to the maximum.



#2 Set The Bar High

In many ways, Mum was the original quiet achiever. She was a brilliant communicator and connector.

She used these talents to make people feel special, to believe in themselves and to push the boundaries of what they could achieve. Mum was a brilliant teacher and so often her students did so much better than they (or their parents!) ever expected.

Mum expected people to do their best but it wasn’t a ‘demand’. She let them see in her words, her actions and her incredible ability to connect with people that they could achieve. And she would be there to guide them, support them, encourage and challenge them.

Mum always gave her best but she didn’t seek accolades.  Her reward and joy were seeing other people, especially the young people she taught in primary and high schools, doing their best. She measured herself on how much others grew and achieved, as a result of her teaching and leadership.



#3 Be A Duchess

I think Mum only said this to me once, but it really stuck. I have shared it with many friends and clients, and I know that they have benefited from this powerful little phrase too.

‘Be a Duchess’ was Mum’s way of saying ‘You cannot change everything you’d like to Di. Accept the things you can’t change, with dignity.’

Sometimes things do happen in your life that are unfair and wrong, and actually, you can’t always control them even though you’d desperately like to. You can choose to stay angry and perhaps even become bitter, or you can choose to accept the situation and respond in a way that is dignifying.

Hard as it can sometimes be, it has paid dividends for me, because it causes me to put my energy into ‘what can I do instead?’ rather than wasting energy on ‘why me?’ or ‘why not?’



The impact Mum has had on so many lives has been incredible, including on mine. I have no doubt that her legacy will live on, a fitting tribute to an extraordinary woman I was lucky enough to have as my Mum.

People often say about daughters, ‘Oh, she’s just like her mother’.  I hope people will one day say that about me because that would be the greatest honour and compliment I could wish for.

I hope these lessons Mum taught me might also resonate with you, or at least trigger you to think about some of the important lessons you have learned from the special people in your life.