Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Grandma's Rules

Growing up my Grandma always had  little bits of wisdom she'd share with me. Little nuggets of golden knowledge that she'd spew at me as easily as she'd whip up biscuits and gravy. I used to hate the repetition of morals that, at the time, I found to be no more than memorized rhetoric.

As I aged though, I have caught myself using these regularly with my own children. I find that I live my live around these expressions now. Examples include:

  • "I'm sorry, I can't hear the words you're saying, you'r actions are speaking too loudly."
  • Fear and faith can't live together, Mandy. One will always beat out the other."
  • "The only thing wrong with you is your attitude, and I can't do a thing about that."
  • "Bored is a state of mind you allow yourself to be."
  • "If He brought you to it, He'll see you through it."
  • "I can't never could"
  • "The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little 'extra'. Anything worth doing, is worth the little extra."
  • "How you do anything is how you do everything."
  • "If you don't love you, how can you expect anyone else to love you?"
  • "Practice in private, perform in public."

The list could go on and on. While each of these little bits has impacted my life in such a huge way, there is perhaps one lesson she shared with me that has shaped who I am more than the others. The lesson was this:

"If you're so angry with someone that you fear you'll regret what you'll say, if you're so angry that you want to say mean things, if you're so angry that your mouth can't keep up with your thoughts, if you're so angry that you want to make big, bold choices in anger: don't.

Instead, write them down with pen and paper. Be as mean, nasty, raw, and honest as you want. Get it all out. Then place that letter- that physical representation of your hurt- in an envelope, seal it, and sleep with it under your pillow. Carry it in your pocket. Keep those vengeful, hurtful words close to your heart and head for a full day.

Then open the letter, and reread everything you wrote. If you still feel like saying those things is the best choice, if they're still true to how you feel and you're not embarrassed by the things you would have said, give the letter to the person and walk away. The next move is theirs, and understand that they may never talk to you again."

Over the years I wrote more than a few pages heavy with ink to my grandma. In hindsight, she must have known what I was doing. I'd huff and disappear to my room for a few hours to write. I never felt peaceful after writing the letters, but I did feel justified. Most of the time I'd read the letters the next morning and find that I was ashamed, and couldn't burn them in the fireplace quickly enough. Only once did I ever deliver a letter to her. And that once, she admitted she was at fault, and deserved each of those mean nasty things I'd written. We grew from it.

This lesson has served me well over the years. I still do this today.  This lesson has saved friendships; it has allowed me to end friendships with a clear heart and head. It was strengthened my marriage, it has highlighted flaws in my personality. I'm more than thankful for this lesson.

My thoughts wander to this lesson today as I think back on Grandma and the incredible woman that she was. She was more my "mom" than my "grandma", though she hated when I'd point that out. In this way, lost my "mom" too young, just in my 20s. I miss her every single day, but more so when life gets stressful or I feel frustrated, as I do now. What I wouldn't do for a chat with her right now. But the good news is that, while she's not here, I know exactly what she'd tell me if she were.

She'd say, "Everyone is allowed a bad day. Stay in your pjs, eat ice cream, cry, leave your hair unbrushed, and feel sorry for yourself. But tomorrow morning get up, put on your big girl panties, and get to work [fixing the problem]."

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