If You’ve Got It…..!

My Nana was quite possibly the classiest lady I ever had the privilege of knowing. To our family’s misfortune, she passed away at the young age of 53, when I was just 13 years old.

I remember how softly she always spoke, even if reprimanding someone. I remember, no matter how badly she felt, she always looked like a million dollars. I remember the silky feel of her hair on my cheek when I sat on her lap as she told me stories, and I remember the lilt in her voice and her infectious smile.

The one thing that always stuck with me was a specific visit when I was 12 years old, just a few short months before she passed away. I had saved my babysitting money to buy myself a tailored suit and nice shoes. At 12, I was enamored with the “business woman’s” look of long, tailored skirts and up-swept hair. I practiced for hours upon hours with my hair to get just the right look. I wanted so much for my Nana to think I was as classy as she was and so I wore my tailored skirt and vest and rolled my hair into a classic up do just to go visit her.

My uncle, who was only five years my senior, was flabbergasted that I did not look like a 12 year old girl when I walked into the house. He began deriding me for looking far too “mature” for my age and asked my mother what she was thinking allowing me to dress in such a manner. I started to become very upset and then my Nana stopped my uncle’s lecture by simply stating, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!”

At first, I didn’t realize what my Nana was really saying. I had heard that term before, but usually in a manner that someone was showing off something they should be concealing.

My Nana went on to tell my uncle that I looked beautiful and had done a “mighty fine job” of dressing myself with class. I was just beaming that she thought I looked classy!

I realized then, that the term “If you’ve got it, flaunt it”, although often spoke in derision, simply meant that you should exploit your talents, your dreams and your individual creativity.

I am now two years younger than my Nana when she passed away. Most of my career was spent wearing tailored suits and fancy shoes. At one point, in my early twenties, I had an enormous walk-in closet full of tailored suits and over 200 pairs of fancy shoes. In fact, I usually bought the shoes first and then looked for outfits to match. Due to age and injuries, I can no longer wear those fancy shoes. Yet, I still keep a few pair that I just can’t seem to part with.

Some people would think me vain and narcissistic for collecting these suits and shoes, but to me it was all about being as classy as my Nana.

Now, I understand that class isn’t just about the clothes; it’s about your entire persona. Class is having respect for yourself and others. Class is showing love even when you’re feeling sick or in pain. Class is speaking softly and always looking for the good in people and the best in life.

I don’t think I’ll ever come close to being as classy as my Nana; but I’ll forever keep trying and I’ll forever remember her love and her class!

Anger

When I was a small child I didn’t mind being alone. I would play in my room all by myself and I was okay with that. I liked playing with my sisters, but somehow being alone was comforting to me. I often enjoyed solitude, but also enjoyed being with my family; especially family gatherings. I guess you could say I enjoyed the peace of being alone the most.

After some disturbing family events I found by my teen years that I was very angry and would often cause arguments, fights and just be downright disagreeable. I know some of that was merely teenage angst, but it was more than that.

As time went on, I would do my best to walk away from confrontation, but still found myself in the middle of it most of the time. I often said or did the exact opposite of whatever I was expected just to be obstinate for no particular reason.

There were times in my life where this behavior served my purpose, whatever that happened to be; or so I thought then. I remember being so out of control at one point with my anger that I was actually ordered to anger management classes. After being thrown out of anger management at least three times, I found someone to help me through my anger. The first three facilitators insisted I was just an angry person with no reasoning. Yes, I was angry, but I had plenty of reason and one reason grew upon the other as my life went on.

The last facilitator actually validated my anger. She told me I had every right to be angry at what had happened, but that I needed to learn to use that anger in a more productive manner. She also told me that anger is often a catalyst to achievement of a purpose. I really didn’t understand what that meant at the time, but I was to learn in a most profound way.

Another person was also instrumental in helping my anger and that was my step-dad, whom I did not have a good relationship with. Although we didn’t see eye-to-eye on most issues, something he said to me came back at me many years later. I was extremely angry at something (I really don’t remember what now) and he asked me why I would let someone else have such overpowering control of my emotions like that. He told me that I was the only one who could willingly control my emotions and should not give someone else that power.

It took me a few years to truly understand what both of those people meant. In my own experience and my studies of psychological articles on anger, I found the control I needed to set aside my intense anger that had grown since the untimely death of my younger sister when I was seven years old.

I’m not saying that I never get angry anymore, that would be completely false. Yes, I get angry, but now I do all I can to turn that anger into productive accomplishments. For example, I have experienced many deaths in my life of close family and friends. Therefore, I committed many years of my life as a funeral service professional to do all I could to help other families through a very difficult time because I understood their pain. I’ve also facilitated grief support groups for the same reasons.

Recently, after the death of my husband in the summer of 2015, I decided that I wanted to help people in their happy moments. My husband suffered miserably for years and in respect, everyone else in the family suffered along with him. The anger of what was happening overwhelmed the entire family and for a while, we all were at each other’s throats. It took quite a bit of time for me to turn my anger into a positive catalyst to improve the life events of others, but I am now in the process of doing just that.

All the wisdom of those two people earlier on in my life came catapulting into focus and I truly understood that I could have peace in my anger. Releasing that anger has not only improved my relationships with others, including my family, it has improved my mental and physical health.

I truly hope that you, my readers, can turn your angry moments into a positive channel of peace and abundance of mental and physical means.

To your wellbeing!

Communication

Communication has been an issue between people since the beginning of time. The biggest problem is as one person feels he or she is communicating articulately to another, the other person is perceiving a different story. Why is this?

There are numerous scientific articles in regard to nature vs. nurture and how it affects behavioral outcomes. Some of the information in these studies reflect how there are “environmental hotspots” which affect behavior more than genetics Nature vs. Nurture. A quick example would be that a person raised in an environmentally hostile area would not have the diplomacy that a person raised in an environmentally peaceful area would have. Therefore, communication between those two people would be very strained and most likely lead to serious misunderstandings. Neither person would be equipped to understand the other’s point of view or appreciate that person’s passion on the subject in which they are attempting to communicate. Thus, although each person is attempting to be as open and direct as possible to the other, and very likely trying to communicate the same directive, they most likely would not come to an agreement.

The above simple illustration can be viewed throughout history. Countless wars have ensued due to miscommunication, whereas merely one person did not have the understanding of the other person. In fact, there was a song written in the early 1970’s which portrayed this very fact named One Tin Soldier.

Face to face communication is always preferable in any situation as an individual is able to visually communicate his or her position through emotion and body language. Whereas these days, more and more people communicate through text, email or some type of social media, which does little to allow for emotion, facial expressions or body language. Therefore, few people are able to communicate in a way that provides a true point and position to the other person. People should also take into account the coveted, but dreaded “autocorrect”, which may inadvertently send the wrong word. One word can make all the difference in how a message is received and perceived. Sometimes the most simple word or grammatical error can change the entire meaning of the message a person is trying to communicate and could end up being disastrous. I have read through many people’s text to each other as they have asked me to agree with his or her point of view compared to the other person. In most cases, I find that each person is saying almost the same thing and actually agreeing with the other person on a solution to the issue. Yet, due to misguided perception, debauched grammar, or the inability to be compassionate to the other person’s feelings, hurt and anger supervene and there is war!

I’m sure we have all been in similar situations to the ones demonstrated above. One of the best ways I can demonstrate to you, my readers, is to show the difference between active and passive listening, which you can see in the attached image.

Becoming an active listener is an art. We all are passive listeners at heart and need to seriously work on becoming an active listener in order to have better communication skills. Increasingly, there would be less miscommunication and better relationships would be created.

Being an active listener is one of the best ways to have better communication skills. Another is to be compassionate to the other person’s thoughts and ideas. Being compassionate allows for empathy in regard to the other person’s present, past and future situations, upbringing (natural and environmental) and gives the communication increased, peaceful effort for both parties.

I myself have not always communicated in an appropriate way. Not that I was meaning to be obtuse in any way, but was merely in a poor state of mind due to either real or perceived situations happening in my life. Therefore, I was not being compassionate to the other person’s situation and was unable to listen or communication properly to assuage the issue. Most of the time, a simple “I’m sorry” will do to correct miscommunication and feelings of hurt, frustration and anger, which can result in lost relationships. Other times merely recognizing the fact that I was less than diplomatic was a lesson I needed to learn and move on, doing my best in the future not to repeat those actions.

I hope this helps with any communication issues you, my readers, may be having in your life. Just remember, living in peace with yourself allows you to live in peace with others.

 

Forgiveness

             Have you ever been so angry at someone, you just knew you’d hate that person for the rest of your life? That person did something so mean, unconscionable and unspeakable, that there was just no way you would possibly ever even accept an apology from that person. That person completely betrayed your trust, love and/or friendship. Why on earth would you even consider forgiving that person?

People make mistakes, even you do. Yet, some mistakes seem terribly unforgivable, don’t they? Well, think about the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone; and be honest with yourself. Would you forgive you?

It’s hard to forgive people when we feel hurt, betrayed, angry, etc., but remember, you are in control of your own emotions. Yet, in order to control your emotions, you need to be free of the negative, damaging emotions such as hate and anger. The only way to be free of those destructive emotions is to forgive those who hurt you.

I didn’t say this was an easy feat. In fact, it took me years of asking God every day to help me forgive someone who had hurt me so terribly. Yet, once I was able to forgive, I was able to move on and have a much healthier attitude toward everything and everybody.

In my early teens, I remember being extremely angry with someone. One day, seeing my continued anger, my step-dad asked why I would allow someone else to control my emotions in such a negative manner. I went through all the horrible things that person had done to me (according to my teenage angst), explaining to my step-dad why I had a right to be angry. He simply told me that the only person my anger was hurting was me.

His statements did not make much sense at the time, but just a few short years later struck a chord. I again was extremely angry with someone and allowed my anger to grow. Before I knew it I was getting wrinkles and gray hair, and I was only in my 20’s! My step-dad’s words rang back to me at that point and I realized just how right he was. My anger was affecting my relationships with family and friends, making me old before my time, and I ended up with an ulcer for which I had to take medication. I realized the hate and anger I was holding onto against someone who had hurt me was only hurting me more.

There are many studies, including the oldest one of all, The Bible, which warn against the health hazards of not forgiving. Just reading these studies should help you to make the decision to forgive those who hurt you so you can live a life free of the pain others inflict. If you prefer medical reference, the Mayo Clinic gives a broader explanation of the health benefits of forgiveness.

In short, forgiveness is for your benefit, not for that of the person who caused you pain. Although, you will find that your forgiveness of that person will allow others to forgive you of your mistakes. It may even bring the person who hurt you to understand and reciprocate the love that you showed in your forgiveness of their actions.  Just remember, anger begets anger, but love begets love. Even an unruly, out of control child often only needs a hug in order to calm down and become the sweet little angel you know that child really is. So remember, hate and anger tears you up; forgiveness sets you free and you can choose to share the love instead wherein lies your success!

Play Time

I grew up with nothing to do but play. I was fortunate that my mother also liked to play. I learned at a very early age that play time was quality time. I also learned that I had enough imagination to be able to securely play by myself. I know I was not the only child in this world to love being sent to my room when I misbehaved because I was comfortable with my own company (not that I intentionally misbehaved).

Children learn through play. In fact, so do most adults! Everything is more fun while playing. Some of the games I played as a child taught me many ways to manage my adult life, although I didn’t realized it at the time. Take hopscotch for example. I learned how to balance on one foot (helped with learning to walk in high heels and climb a ladder), how to count forward and backward (balancing that checkbook), how to skip to a higher level (use my experience to bypass redundant training), and I learned spatial recognition (how hard I had to throw my shoe in order to stop one of my children from a more horrible fate, like sticking their fork into the toaster).

Every schoolyard game taught valuable life lessons. Think about the life lessons your children are learning. Is it merely how to grow a large backyard (sitting on the couch watching TV) or how to swing a mean thumb (playing video games all day). If you believe either one of those activities is teaching your children anything about life, they are going to live a very sad one. Children should be making mud pies, taking nature walks, going to museums and concerts, growing a garden, building towers with blocks, learning “red light, green light”. All of these and more are a great foundation for life!

Play with your children in everything you do. Make games out of daily chores and obligations. Not only will it relieve your own frustration and stress, your children will learn teamwork, imagination, creativity, and simple self-esteem at accomplishment. So, make time to play!

Grieving a Loss

 

Most people think of a loss as losing a loved one in death. Yet, grieving can come from many types of losses or changes. Aside from grieving a death, you could grieve the loss of a marriage, a job, even a change in the weather.

Grieving takes on many forms and you may experience one, a few or even all of those forms either one at a time or all at once. Just be aware that grief can manifest at any time for many reasons and allowing yourself time to grieve will help you heal.

There are many differing opinions on the stages of grief. Some believe there are only five, others believe there are seven stages. I follow along with the seven stages merely because of the many facets of grief I have experienced.

The seven stages of grief according to www.socialworktech.com are: “1. Shock and Denial, 2. Pain and Guilt, 3. Anger and Bargaining, 4. Depression, Reflection and Loneliness, 5. The Upward Turn, 6. Acceptance and Hope, and 7. Reconstruction and Working Through.”

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, I highly suggest that you read through these stages to better help you understand that what you are experiencing are normal reactions to the loss.

In my own grief, I have realized that people often say, “It will get better in time”. That is just not true. It never gets better, you just learn in time to adjust your life to the loss and move in a different direction. There will still be times even after 10, 20, or 30 years or more when you will be overcome with that loss as though it were the day it happened.

I’m not just spouting quotes here. I was in the funeral profession for more than 20 years. I also have lost very dear family members, friends and worst of all my son and my husband. By all rights, I should be completely catatonic from the losses I have endured. Yet, I count myself blessed to have ever had those loving people in my life at all. I also believe that my faith in Jesus has pulled me through with hope that my loved ones are in Paradise and at rest from the trials and tribulations of this world.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, my firm opinion is that without faith, you have no hope; and without hope your grief will surely overrun you. Throughout my time in the funeral profession, I felt the most sorry for people who did not have any belief in a higher power. They were the ones most lost in their grief with the feeling of no escape. That my friends is the saddest grief of all.

Remember your loved ones in all that you do and don’t be afraid to speak their names aloud. All who touch your life, touch your heart and stay there, living with you forever.

Happiness

 

Happiness is the key to a prosperous life. I’m not just talking about money either, although having money to pay bills and enjoy some of the finer things life has to offer can be very nice. Some of the other ways of being prosperous include having a loving, personal relationship with someone special; having a loving relationship with your children and other family members; having a job that doesn’t feel like “work”, yet still easily covers your financial obligations; being healthy; and having trusted friends who are willing to always be by your side no matter your financial, physical, or emotional situation at any given time. These are just to name a few of the ways that prosperity can manifest.

So, if happiness is the key to a prosperous life, what is the key to happiness? My grandmothers would always tell me, “Smile, no matter what. If anything, it will make people wonder what you’re up to”, or “Smile and the world smiles with you”. In essence, they were telling me that being happy was infectious. Just like the old adage of “Misery Loves Company”, where miserable people want to surround themselves with other miserable people, happy people want to be around happy people.

These were wonderful little sayings, but how can you be happy when you feel like the world is falling apart and nothing is going your way? My grandmothers had excellent points, but it still never really sunk in until I was watching a TV show one night. One of the characters was going through an extremely traumatic time in her life. One of her co-workers asked her how she could even smile much less seem to be happy in light of her struggles. She answered very simply that with all the trauma and drama, she chose to be happy because being happy was easy. It’s been a very long time since I saw that show and I don’t remember the exact words, but I do remember her specifically saying that “happy is easy”. Apparently, her statement was so poignant in my life, that I remember it decades later. I don’t remember the character’s name or much of anything else about the show, but I think about her statement of being happy all the time.

Since that time, I’ve realized that no matter how bad circumstances or situations are in my life, there is always something positive that comes out of the turmoil. Therefore, I choose to be happy in the midst of tribulation, not just for my sake, but for the sake of others around me. Now, I didn’t say this was always easy. Sometimes you really have to work to find that happy place during extreme emotions. For example, one day I was becoming increasingly frustrated at my 18 month old grandson as he rolled around like a crocodile while I was attempting to change his dirty diaper. I finally used my grumbly voice and told him to stop squirming because he was making a mess. Out of nowhere, his three-year-old brother tosses a neck scarf over his little brother’s face and yells quite dramatically, “Grab on, I’ll pull you out!” as if to save his little brother from a terrible fate. My mood instantly changed from frustration to downright belly laughing happy. Additionally, the baby quit squirming and let me finish changing his nasty diaper.

So, choose to be happy. You’ll thank yourself and so will others around you. In fact, you just might influence the happy in those who are having a difficult day. “Smile and the world smiles with you”!

Introduction

Welcome to Gramama’s Corner, where you can share in stories about life, love, children, home, work and any other little tidbits. I don’t know about you, but my grandmothers were a wealth of information on all of the above. Now that I am a grandmother, I understand even more adamantly, how precious their little life tidbits of wisdom were. The information and experiences they shared gave me such a firm grounding for learning and growing. So now, I would like to share these with you.

Some of the experience and advice I will share will not work for everyone; we are all individuals with our own directions. Yet, it never hurts to hear something different which could allow you options to provide to you some thoughts on a more diverse level.

Gramama’s Corner is not meant to replace medical or psychological help. In fact, I highly suggest that if you have a medical or psychological issue, you contact your family physician immediately to receive the professional help you may require.

The information that I share on this site is mostly my own opinion and is not meant to be offensive or deriding in any way. We all have our own beliefs and opinions and I am merely sharing thoughts on how to make life a joy.

Just a little background about me: I was a funeral service professional for more than 20 years. I have a degree in psychology and working on a degree in sociology, am a certified celebrant and public speaker and best of all, I am a grandmother to two beautiful baby boys!

If you do not agree with something I have written, please feel free to state your own opinion; just keep it civil. People hear you better when you whisper, than when you yell. Additionally, if you have helpful information from your own grandmothers or experience, please feel free to share. Again, keep it civil and positive. This blog is meant to increase love, joy and happiness.

Thank you for sitting in Gramama’s Corner with me!

My family
My family