It’s no secret that so much of my life is changing this year. And it’s got me thinking a lot about people I’ve known, and how they’ve helped shape me and prepare me for what’s next- a U.S./Canada RV adventure and then a huge solo trip around the world. And the person who’s influenced me most in that and every regard is my Mom.

I don’t really know how my Mom got so gutsy. She grew up in a beautiful tiny town called Hemmingford, forty-five minutes south of Montreal, where she graduated with six students in her class- a point my brother and I learned after she’d told us repeatedly how she graduated 2nd in her class and we finally thought to inquire further. ;)   But more importantly she was really sheltered- couldn’t ride a bike until she was eleven, couldn’t go anywhere without her brothers, and went to a small all girls college, all at the insistence of my Grandpa. And her family didn’t travel, except to rent a summer camp at nearby Lake Champlain. By all accounts she was raised to be afraid to do a lot of things on her own, even in her small corner of the world, and to fear people who were different from her family.

But my Mom had wanderlust, and at twenty years old eloped with my Dad and moved nearly 3,000 miles away to Los Angeles. And she didn’t subscribe to the shoulds and shouldn’ts- by the time I was two months old, we were on a plane from L.A. to Montreal to meet my family.

Within six years, my Mom was divorced with full custody and financial responsibility for my younger brother and I. Living in New England allowed us to remain in the States, but be closer to family. We lived in diverse Portland, Maine neighborhoods where my Mom, and also we, made an equally diverse group of friends. The open-mindedness my Mom modeled was in stark contrast to my Grandpa’s opinions…and I don’t think by accident.

Each Christmas she would pack up my brother and I and all the family presents, and make the often harrowing 5-7 hour drive through the slick mountainous roads so that we could spend the holidays with our family in Hemmingford. She was a young, solo female traveler, with two small, rambunctious kids in tow and she never gave any indication that this was anything but normal.  I know it wasn’t easy during those years she was with us alone, but she was resourceful, so we were able to have great experiences on a tight budget.

When she and my step-dad met, we began a series of moves every few years for his career. I’ve perpetuated that in my adulthood and have a huge appreciation for how much harder it must have been with a family of four. Growing up in this way taught me how to deal with change, and to let go of material things I don’t need.

There are times when I’ve wished I’d grown up differently. Without the financial struggle, the divorces, the moves, but these days I realize that all of that, or more aptly how my Mom handled all of that taught me such valuable lessons for where I am right now.

Four years ago, a week after my Mom had a subarachnoid hemorrhage, we celebrated Mother’s Day in a neurological intensive care unit. We actually felt so grateful to be able to celebrate, and were even more grateful when within two months, my Mom made a full recovery. Mother’s Day has had even more meaning to me since then.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I love you! Thank you for, through your own actions and words, making me feel like I can do anything I put my mind to…even the “crazy” stuff. Whenever I get scared, I’ll think of you and your fearlessness. :)

74 Responses to “Life and Travel Lessons from Mom”

Comments (74)
  1. Holy moly, your Mum looks 14 years old in that first pic.
    I am so glad to hear she’s made a full recovery. What a wonderful inspirational woman. Thanks for sharing a little bit of your Mum with us. I’m wishing her a happy Mother’s Day from Singapore!

    • thanks d.o.! i know! she looks so young- but she was about 23 there! she’s such a rock star. a mighty beast disguised as a tiny sweet woman. i read this to her today, but she’ll get to see it here tomorrow and get your happy mother’s day cheer. i know she’ll appreciate it :) and same to you!

  2. Great post! These days I feel the same like u. Went through similar stuff when I was younger, just all the moving here and there I did by myself after my parents’ divorce but anyway like u said, the moms always teach u things u realise once u r older ;)

    • thanks alexandra! glad you have a great mom too. it helps so much when dealing with the tough stuff that so many of us live through :)

  3. Wow, what an inspiring post. Thank you for sharing your story and please tell your mom we are fans. :) Happy Travels!

  4. Who is that? Your mom or your twin? Spirit of adventure and gutsiness run in the genes my dear and will come oiut whether you grew up in a sheltered environment or not. So, it’s no wonder your mom eloped, divorced, moved houses, brought up two kids and successfully battled a serious illness. It’s also hereditary, your new life and your trip will be a success…I did tell you you are your mom’s twin.

    • oh inka i love this comment! thanks so much for comparing me to her- that’s a true honor. and your confidence in my success is soooooo wonderful to hear :)

  5. Love the story and the wanderlust our mothers teach us by being willing to be gypsies


    • thanks eileen! it’s true! and we’re all still a bunch of gypsies…my mom and brother are now in arizona and here i am in california. :)

  6. What a lovely post – you’ve made me feel bad now I didn’t say anything as nice as this on mother’s day!”

  7. Wowza! Your moms is so pretty Lorna! I thought she looked 14 too in the first photo, and the two of you in the second photo look gorgeous together, like movie stars on the red carpet.

    What a sweet tribute. And I imagine she is just as proud of the daughter she raised.

    • aww thanks david! what i forgot to write here, is that when i was little i actually thought roy orbison wrote “pretty woman” about my mom! seriously! she’ll love your red carpet comment (she works in fashion, so even better than just the gorgeous part ;) ) i read this to her yesterday, she cried and she said she just feels so happy that both of her kids still love her. sweet, right? and yes- thankfully she’s a proud mom :)

  8. Very sweet. My mom was the most supportive person when I decided that I was quitting my job to travel for a year. She always knew exactly what I needed and helped me with errands as well as emotional support in the hectic days leading up to my departure.

    • thanks stephanie! that’s so sweet about your mom to help send you off into the world in that way. shows she has great faith in you too, right? beautiful! :)

  9. Mothers are pretty phenomenal creatures and sometimes we are unable to grasp how amazing they really are until we become adults. It’s then that we can truly appreciate all of the sacrifices, hardships and love that was given freely that sometimes as kids, we took for granted. We’ve always thought moms simply took off their capes at night and donned them again in the morning. We had no concept of how blessed we were. Lorna, I’m glad that you are giving your mom her flowers while she can still smell them. You’ve honored her with this amazing post and it certainly explains why your heart so closely resembles hers.

    • oh renee- thank you! i’ve missed too many opportunities to let loved ones know how i feel to let more chances slip away, so i try to be as transparent as possible with love and gratitude. can’t undo the past, but can make sure not to repeat! i agree that sometimes it takes time to realize how great we have it. i definitely was a bratty teen who needed a while on this ;) i love your cape line- yes! it’s like the work of it all is lost on us until we’re more mature. and your last line- wow- that’s s total honor. hope you had a wonderful mother’s day too! i’m sure your daughter has beautiful things to say about you as well! :)

  10. great photos of you two!
    they are an inspiring species the mum.
    hope she loved the post!

    • thanks jamie! they are! and yeah, she did. i read it to her over the phone and she cried and said she’s so glad i love her. :)

  11. My dad was in the Marines, so I spent my whole life traveling. My mom never complained but packed up four kids every couple of years and moved. To this day, I love to travel – and have no problem with packing!!

    • thanks jan! yeah, that’s what happens, right? we’re such adaptable creatures we just learn to roll with it, (or better yet- love it) but of course like you say, the moms (or dads) get the toughest work. :)

  12. Beautiful post, Lorna! Your mom sounds like an amazing and inspiring woman. Thank you for sharing your story. :)

  13. Great post, Lorna! You did your mom a great service by writing such a wonderful post about her impact in your life.

  14. I traveled with my parents when I was little but my mom hated to fly. Still does to this day. The only flight I ever took growing up was because we won a contest that flew us to Atlanta. I never flew again until I got to college. I didn’t get my love of traveling from my parents although we did vacations and road trips! :)

    • thanks jeremy! pretty sweet- winning a contest and you all got to fly? nice. our travel was pretty limited- when all your family lives far away and in one place and you don’t have a lot of money, you can be pretty sure you know what your doing with vacations, but that was just fine with me- i LOVED going to canada. didn’t really strike out beyond that until i was on my own. still, the mindset was there, you know? the adventurous spirit :)

  15. You and your mom are fabulous! What a great post Lorna. Thanks so much for sharing such a great story about your life and your mom. You definitely inherited your her wanderlust and strength! Hugs!!!

    • thanks cyn! so sweet. :) you know i think about how far she had to come to get where she is with strength and boldness and she just seems like wonder woman. i at least get to stand on her shoulders if you know what i mean. she made so much of this seem normal, when no one made it seem normal for her- in fact quite the opposite. what a trailblazer! guess i pick up where she left off in a sense by the solo RTW stuff. sheesh! what would my daughter have to do??? ;) hugs back! :)

  16. What a great post! Your mum is a strong and inspiring woman, having the courage to do all that when all she knew from home was so different. And what a gift to give to the next generation!

    • thanks christina! completely- she blazed a trail that now seems more normal to me! and can you imagine being 27 with two little kids to take care of, 6 hours away from all of your family (or their dad)? courage! :)

  17. Wow, you’re mum’s smoking hot in that first pic. Just sayin’ :)

    • right???!!! true story- my mom was always really humble and classy where that was concerned and would laugh off all the attention of the neighborhood boys and say “they’re just trying to get to you Lorna!” so one day we’re shopping in the mall (i was a teen) and these teenage boys start walking toward us. my mom mumbles, “they’re coming over Lorna!” and sure enough, one guy brushes up beside me and whispers in my ear, “your mom is HOT!!!” ahahahahahaha! :)

  18. Really awesome story. I’m not going to lie, I got a little choked up at the end. Love the pictures too. You guys are so cute together.

    • aww thanks so much randy! and you should have heard me reading it to her over the phone! boohoohoo…for us both! :)

  19. Awww I loved this! My mom raised three wild kids who love to live all over the world, but she has just recently started traveling. I’m so proud of her. Your mom is so admirable — and gorgeous!

    • thanks so much abby! good for your mom!…and you guys! :) my mom will LOVE that you said those lovely things :)

  20. I totally want to be an awesome travel guru to my kids like your mom. You guys look really fab on that photo! Glad to know that you will be spending a lot more happy years with her =)

    • thanks so much grace! can’t tell you how grateful i am to have more time with her! i haven’t lived near her for most of my adult life (sound familiar? ;) ) but she’s always only a phone call (and now skype) away. and i hear you- i want to be that awesome guru too! :)

  21. Awesome post and great mother’s day tribute!

  22. Wow, Lorna – what a beautiful post and hat tip to your mom. Reading things like this helps to remind me that parents are, above all, just people. People whose struggles and triumphs we can learn and grow from. Too bad that so many of us spend time resisting that truth when we are young. Thanks for this reminder.

    • thanks kent & caanan! so glad you related to this. i have to be honest- there was a period when i was younger where i didn’t appreciate all that she sacrificed for us. for a few years when i was a teenager i had a huge sense of entitlement and acted like i deserved the world handed to me on a silver platter and that she should be the server. ugggh. i shudder thinking about it, but fortunately i turned that around soon after high school was over. so true, they’re just human. humans with a really hard job! :)

  23. What a wonderful Mother’s Day “tribute” post to your mum!! And the two of you look gorgeous in that photo together. :)

  24. Aw, very sweet post! I’m glad to hear your mom made a complete recovery too :)

  25. Your mum looks absolutely beautiful and sweet in the photo, and am glad to hear that she’s well!:) A very heart-warming post for Mother’s Day and I loved the smiles on both of your faces;)
    It is an amazing journey, and a beautiful one with the one we call our mums ;)

    • thanks so much christy! the photo of us smiling is actually part of a few in a row where we progressively start to crack up big time. i love the series! :) yeah, it’s really pretty incredible right? wonder what it feels like for them? know it’s pretty cool on this end :)

  26. Beautiful words about your mom! I feel like as I get old and experience more of life I understand my mother more and more. Funny that we can’t appreciate what they’ve brought to our lives until we age ourselves. Glad to hear your mom has made a full recovery!

    • thanks jillian! agree that it either takes age- or i think also sometimes loss- to appreciate what we’ve got. so glad in this case it didn’t take direct loss. thanks so much for the kind words :)

  27. What a beautiful story! I am also really close to my mother, but she didn’t have wanderlust in her heart when she was young but now she’s already making plans to see me again on the road.

    • thanks ayngelina! that’s so great that your mom will join you on the road! i’m really hoping my mom will join me too! i know she’d really love to go to italy but not sure about some of the other places i have on my list. she’s funny- curious and adventurous but she likes her high heels, hair and makeup too much to rough it ;) we’ll see if i can push her limits a little! :)

  28. Thanks for sharing such an inspirational post. I got a little teary. :)

    It’s amazing that you’re so close with your mom and you can celebrate your upcoming adventures with her. I really look forward to hearing about your tales on the road.

    • aww, thanks so much cheryl! i’m excited- i’ll get to spend some good time with her on one stop of my road trip, and then i’m hoping to convince her to meet me somewhere new! really appreciate you following here :)

  29. This is awesome! I love that your mom broke out of the mold and did something completely different from how she was raised. Beautiful post :-)

    • thanks so much ali! i do too, because i’m lucky enough to get to stand on her shoulders. it’s not nearly as hard for me to go after my dreams as i imagine it was for her. :)

  30. Your mom sounds like a brave, smart woman. I am so glad that made a fully recovery…appreciate her every day.

  31. This was so lovely! Your mom is one gutsy lady.

    • thanks sally! i think so! and the comforting thing is knowing how it always worked out for her in the end even when the hard stuff came up. a good lesson in working through the tough stuff and sticking to your guns for me :)

  32. AHHH! That last picture of you and your mom is totally cute. You look so much like her.

    While my mom and I don’t get along, I have learned so much from her ability to deal with life’s lemons. I will never take that for granted. I’m also so glad that we both inherited the wanderlust!

    • thanks erica! those lessons are so important, right?! me too- so glad we got the wanderlust! i know it’ll enable us to meet up on the road soon enough too! :)

  33. awwe- very sweet. My mom is my best friend and even though she lives thousands of miles away we talk everyday. She is my rock!

  34. My mum is divorced too. We have more of a difficult relationship than you do with your mum, a tiny bit of me almost feels jealous. But more than anything else I am SO glad that you have had such an inspirational woman in your life to help and guide you! It’s a wonderful thing!!!! What a sweet tribute to her. Thank you for sharing :)

    • thanks kirsten! i’m really grateful for our relationship- you’re right, it is a wonderful thing! it’s one of the things i cherish most in life. appreciate your kind words :)

  35. Okay, yeah, your mom is a looker, but so are you. :) Sometimes our heroines are right in front of us, and truly, your mom equipped you with the tools to be the best Lorna possible. And we’re glad she gave birth to you, following your wonderful life unfold. Huzzah!

    • thanks jeannie! i’m so grateful for her…and TO her :) really appreciate your kind words and your friendship. :)

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