If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.
– John Quincy Adams

The word inspiration can be defined as: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation, the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions, or the act of influencing or suggesting opinions.

InnerWill’s newest series, Inspired By, is dedicated to honoring the people and practices that have uplifted and influenced us into who we are and what we do every single day.

As an InnerWill facilitator, I tell stories and ask questions about how our values were shaped and the people in our lives who helped us develop this set of guiding principles. Often our family members are our earliest teachers of values; this is certainly true in my life.

My grandmother, Mommom, practiced her core values so beautifully throughout her very long life; she was the perfect teacher for all who knew her but especially for my very large family.

The family Mommom cultivated overflows, even the largest of dinner tables, with well over forty in attendance at family events. Card tables were dressed in lace tablecloths and name cards meticulously placed to foster connections between family members and to make room at the main tabe for guests who needed a place to spend a holiday.

She was the physical embodiment of the values she taught us: family first, spirituality, and kindness. Whether it was teaching us to set a table, knit a scarf, swaddle a baby, help someone in need, or pick ourselves up after a hard time, she was always present with an ear, a hug, and a charge about what we valued.

My cousins and I share a common childhood experience around discipline; a common consequence for poor behavior would often be a conversation with or letter to be drafted to Mommom.

She was always calm, steadfast and clear about integrity, family, faith and resourcefulness.

A few stories of her commitment to values stand out among many. In response to an unplanned pregnancy in the family she said,

“We may not know how to handle some situations, but we know what to do with babies, we love them with all of our hearts.”

In my college days I made a bad decision related to underage drinking and got caught. She sent me an Easter card that included a ten-dollar bill and a note reminding me that “some life lessons are hard to learn.”

She went on to say, “Remember who you are, act in a way that matches, and all will work itself out.” She ended every letter with an XOXO, Love, Mommom.

Everyone who met Mommom would instantly understand how special she was. At my wedding shower, a very southern friend of mine exclaimed, “Oh my, I just love Mommom. I want to shrink her and put her in my pocket. The idea of a pocket Mommom was born. Thinking of how you would act if you had a tiny Mommom in your pocket is a way to remember her influence.

Mommom lived to be 92 years old, a life full of love. She left such an amazing legacy for our family and her community. After she passed we found stacks of wallet sized photos of Mommom from her church directories. A 9-year-old cousin said, “Hey look, a pocket Mommom for everyone.” Through tears and laughter we remembered our beloved Mommom.

Who do you have in your life that you would like to put in your pocket?


Britten Parker

Britten Parker

Britten Parker believes in the power of the human spirit. She is an experienced trainer, facilitator, and coach specializing in Values Based Leadership. She is talented at connecting with audiences with her energy and down-to-earth approach. She especially loves helping individuals discover their core values and helping groups gain alignment to be more effective. Britten earned a Bachelor’s of Science from James Madison University, a master’s degree in Counselor education from University of Virginia, and a certification in business coaching from North Carolina State University. She spent several years working in higher education before transitioning into the corporate environment. She works as a Senior Leadership partner working with internal audiences at Luck Companies and external clients. Britten lives in Richmond, VA with her husband, son, and three dogs. She enjoys playing with her family, running with friends and creating craft projects in her free time.

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