1. No matter how poor you are or hard your life is, you can always help someone else.
Someone has it worse than you (unless you are the absolute unluckiest person out of the entire world population). You always have something to give or some way to help, even if it is stopping to give someone a ride or watching someone's child. Even when we were extremely poor, my mom always found ways to help other people, teaching me that money and stability are not prerequisites for helping people. Give freely and pay forward everything you receive.
2. You can overcome anything.
My mom has been through a lot, and she has the scars (literally) to prove it. We all have baggage, but we have to keep looking forward because although some of those experiences will stay with us the rest of our lives, many of them will fade into distant memories. Keep your chin up.
3. Never stop being a dreamer.
As I said before, my mom has had some rough patches in life, and I am amazed that she hasn't turned bitter and jaded. I think that's because she is, at her core, a dreamer and a kind soul. While many parents would have told me that I needed to pursue something useful like being a doctor or lawyer (I hate math, so no one would tell me to pursue engineering), she always encouraged me to be an artist because she saw that I am one. Despite everything that has happened to her, she still remains optimistic enough to dream, and that is one of my favorite traits about her.
4. You gotta do what you gotta do.
My mom works long hours, often overnight, but she hardly ever complains. She keeps going because she has a family to provide for, so liking or not liking the job never even becomes part of the equation. She has made so many sacrifices for my sister and me, many of which I am just now learning to appreciate.
5. Always try to better yourself.
Sometimes our attempts to make our lives better don't work out, but we should never stop trying. We have to learn from those failures so that we can try again in a smarter way. There is no magic bullet for changing our lives; it happens gradually, so you should never trust anything that is trying to sell you miracle successes. Learn to appreciate small daily changes and don't get down on yourself when you don't see any changes right away.
As I grow older, I am coming to understand my mother more and more, leading to greater appreciation of her. She's an amazing person, even if she doesn't always feel like it, and one of the kindest people I have ever met. The world could use more people like her.
Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.