“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I'm glad I sweat the small stuff. My mother, a Colombian immigrant, juggled several low-paying jobs to provide for the two of us. As a child, I split most of my waking hours between school and a sitter's home. Every two weeks, on my mother's day off, we'd catch up on each other's lives and complete chores together.

Going to the laundromat was my favorite. You should have seen the pride my mother exuded while doing the laundry! She set the gold standard. While pouring Downy into the washer, she reminded me that high-quality products always achieve the best results. We spent modestly in other areas, but she wasn't willing to compromise on our laundry. She added a personal touch to each article of clothing; her work-worn hands, red from the dryer heat, painstakingly ironed each wrinkle and neatly folded every garment.

As a child, the scent of April Fresh Downy on my pristine school uniform was a constant reminder that I was loved, I was valued, and I was to strive always for excellence. I wore that uniform as my battle armour and marched bravely each day with the confidence those small details provided.

While our career paths turned out to be quite different, I find that I'm more like my mother than I thought possible. My determination, tenacity, and creativity are merely a reflection of the work ethic she displayed through her meticulous care of our laundry. Like her, I hold each of my endeavors to the highest standard, so that even in my absence, my work will have a lasting fragrance that speaks for itself.

We're taught to focus on the big picture. But for me, it's the smallest details that make everyday life smell that much sweeter.

— Shirley Cardona