"The most important things I've learned from my mother are compassion and forgiveness. She's had a lot to handle over the years, and she didn't have to respond with forgiveness, but she did. When I faced one of the biggest challenges of my own life, she gave me some simple but powerful words. She said, 'Peace can go anywhere. It can travel across the seas and nothing can stop it.' She meant that I didn't have to hold on to anger anymore; I didn't have to let it control me, and I didn't have to be angry about the choices other people made. I could deal from a place of peace. It was a release for me then, and it taught me how to handle adverse situations and difficult people going forward. Seeing her practice that calm in her own life inspired me to be the person I am today: more tolerant, more forgiving, less judgmental. I've learned not to react to situations. I wait, step back, get perspective, and then respond. I'm in a position of taking care of my mother all the time now. She's 81 years old and is such a blessing to me. I'll never complain about anything I have to do for her. I will honor her."
Tonya's mother, Lillie D: