My mother, like all mothers, had a big influence on me. Eighteen months before I was born, she was in the German concentration camps—she weighed 49 pounds and could not move. She did survive, however, and went back to her family in Brussels, Belgium, where her mother fed her bit by bit until six months later she had gained a normal weight. Her fiancé came back from Switzerland and they got married. Doctors had told her she could not get pregnant for at least three years; nine months later I was born.
“God saved me so I could give you life…by giving you life, you gave me my life back. You are my torch of freedom,” is what my mother wrote to me for every birthday. That can be a heavy burden…but I took it.
My mother taught me that fear is not an option, to never be a victim, and that the most important relationship in life is the one you have with yourself. That is how I lead my life and what I taught my children and my grandchildren: In order to like yourself, you must be totally honest and not delusional.
In order to like yourself, you must be demanding and never lie. In order to like yourself, you must be strict. But you can also wink at yourself and smile at your shadow. You are your own strength!