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Annie Kragness with her daughter and her mother.

Every time I look at the Tinkerbell tattoo on my ankle, I think of my mom. I know she would probably hate that this is the first memory I’m sharing here, but she lives 1,000 miles away, and that tattoo is my way of carrying a special little reminder of her everywhere I go.

I do often tease her about her questionable decision to not only allow me to get tattooed at 15, but actually drive me there. Looking back, though, it exemplifies who my mom is: She’s incredibly supportive, she’s free-spirited, and she’s always involved. That’s how I would’ve described her the day I got that tattoo and exactly how I’d still describe her nearly 30 years later.

While I appreciate having the reminder of her each time I look at my ankle, I certainly don’t need it — my mom is a part of my conscious. And now in this stage of life, she supports me in my own motherhood endeavors and my kids by being their “Amma.”

Mother’s Day is here again: a day to celebrate the special ladies in our lives, whether they are our moms, daughters, grandmothers, or other role models who have made an impact. While miles may mean I can’t physically be with my mom today, I want to take a moment to reflect on the influence she’s had on who I am and who I want to be.

My mom taught me to celebrate often. Every holiday deserves a celebration, whether that is by way of a picnic, riverboat cruise, or something else. She owns the moments that mean something and bring people together. As a mom of two, I’ve also embraced this — my family has even nicknamed me “Jolly” because of my over-the-top love for each holiday. That is all because of my mom, and just as I did when I was younger, the rest of my family looks forward to celebrations just the same because of her.

It’s not just the holidays though: It’s also the appreciation and gratitude she has for the simple moments that constantly surround us. For example, this past summer she had us all lie under the stars well past bedtime to watch for shooting stars — something we will now do much more often.

My mom encouraged me to explore and to trust. My mom is adventurous. She’s always wanted her kids to seize the moment and leans toward “yes” before “no” so long as safety wasn’t a real factor. She saw the very young Rolling Stones perform when she was probably way too young herself. She got into spelunking when she was a teacher. She went Class IV whitewater rafting. And on her most recent trip to Minnesota? She decided to go chase the Northern Lights in the middle of the night.

Though each of those adventures had some risk, she felt strongly about following her passions. Her faith and ability to trust have allowed me the freedom to be adventurous as well — for instance, we experienced scuba diving for the first time together.

My mom has created a moral compass in my head and taught me how I want to support my children as they get older.

My mom was always involved. As the third child, I spent a lot of time in our Astro van, a tagalong to my brothers’ sporting activities — that is until I was old enough to get involved myself.  My mom was a very social, active child herself and valued that for her family. When we found activities we enjoyed and that kept us happy and healthy, she didn’t just encourage us to be involved: She was also involved herself.

Whether it was working the stopwatch at our swim meets or recording gymnastics meets and football games on her VHS camera so we could watch and share them with others later, she was present. She also encouraged us to find ways to stay involved when we didn’t make the team if it mattered enough to us — “Be the team manager instead!” she would say.

Now, as a mom to two highly active children, I have a packed activity calendar and my mom wonders how we do it. She also worries about me, yet she forgets that I learned from the best.

Annie Kragness with her mother and her daughter.

Love Your Life, Live Your Life

As I mentioned earlier, my mom lives about 1,000 miles away, but one cool connection we have is Life Time: She has a club near her home in Ohio, and I have the work I do and the club I attend here in Minnesota.

Working on ARORA at Life Time has brought me closer to programming that is positively impacting her health — in particular, aqua fitness. She looks forward to the challenge of the class and connecting with the community every week.

And when she visits me in Minnesota, her priorities are clear: 1) Get reservations at the Life Time Crosstown ARORA Aqua classes (who welcome her back each time!) so she can continue to stay involved; 2) Take a load off of my plate in whatever way she can; 3) Find a new adventure to do with her grandkids.

I’m grateful to have had, and continue to have, this time and support from my mom. My hope is that the ways she’s inspired me may also inspire you — to celebrate, to explore, and to get involved.

Annie Kragness
Annie Kragness

Annie Kragness is the program director and co-founder of ARORA, Life Time’s community supporting healthy living for older adults.

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ARORA at Life Time

ARORA is a collection of fitness, social and educational programs designed for people who want to stay active, healthy, social — and have fun all the days of their lives.

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