05/07/2011 03:03 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

What Is Your Maternal Legacy?

I wrote "Mother-Daughter Wisdom" several years ago because, as a woman's health physician, I noticed something long ago: nothing, and I mean nothing, trumps the influence of your mother on all aspects of your life. And regardless of whether your relationship with your mom is thriving or on the rocks, if she is alive or has passed from this life, I want you to think of at least one great thing about your maternal legacy and celebrate it this Mother's Day.

For me, that legacy is, hands down, the way my mother takes on the world of physical challenges and refuses to believe that age means anything in that regard. This winter she drove her 40-foot camper out to Arizona with her best friend, who is 87. Note that many women stop driving outside their hometowns when they turn 50. They are too scared. Not my mother. At age 84, she spent weeks in Colorado training for a trek to Mt. Everest base camp -- which is 17,000 feet above sea level. She completed that trek at age 84 in May 2010.

My sister and brother-in-law went on the trek to Mt. Everest base camp with my mother for the fun. That's not my kind of fun, by the way. And it took me until I was about 50 to finally realize that I could embrace the spirit of my mother's love of the outdoors and sports, and choose how to use that same physical stamina in ways that are pleasurable for me. My pleasure simply doesn't come from carrying a heavy pack up a mountain or sleeping on a mat in a tent in the rain. Instead, it comes from dancing, Pilates, reading, and movies -- but that's OK!

And here's the common thread and the legacy. I never, for one minute, doubt my physical prowess or stamina. I never feel too old to learn anything new. That's one of the reasons I started dancing Argentine tango a few years before my 60th birthday. It's why I keep improving as a Pilates student and why I transformed my body when I was in my 50s.

Now it's your turn. What fabulous legacy has your mother handed down to you? Was it a belief in good dental health that kept you from getting cavities? A classy sense of fashion? The ability to shop for good produce or arrange flowers beautifully? The ability to cook a fabulous meal? Or simply being your biggest and best fan? Think about it. And give thanks.

Our mothers are our taproots into the earth. I'm thrilled to celebrate Mother's Day with gusto every year. Please join me!

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This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health program.