This will probably be a bit rambling but I’d like to go ahead and set that as a precedent so y’all will know what to expect.

My grandmother passed away in January and I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I learned from her. So many little things she taught me on purpose. How to make Southern sweet tea, which I can no longer drink because I enjoy closing my eyes and having a normal heart rate. How to play gin rummy and how to never lose a board game (don’t, keep playing until you win or everyone else is so tired they forfeit). How to make peanut brittle and Nanny’s Bread (TM pending). I learned at her knee that “thongs” is another word for flip flops. It was a question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire once and a very confusing moment for us both. But the most valuable lesson I learned from her she never even knew she was teaching me.

My Nanny, circa 1950

Nanny taught me that getting good sleep is very important and you can do whatever it takes to make sure you get it. You see my Pop, her husband of almost 53 years, snored like he was attempting to open a portal to the underworld, which I can’t say for sure is a noisy process but I have to assume it is. For my entire life and many years before that, Nanny had a separate bedroom. The moment my dad moved out on his own, Nanny peaced out of the master bedroom and moved into daddy’s old room. It was just normal for them to have separate rooms. Turns out, not everyone knows that if your spouse is snoring or annoying, you’re allowed to bail on them. There is no law that says you must remain in the same bed and be miserable. You can love someone but not sleep next to them. I took that to heart. It used to hurt the Boy’s (my husband) feelings when I’d disappear in the middle of the night but I’m a better person when I sleep well and not resenting the one you share your life with goes a long way toward making for a better relationship.

But as I get older, I’m realizing this lesson goes so much deeper. If something in your life isn’t working for you, it’s ok to change it. Your job leaving you stressed or unfulfilled? Look for a new one. A friendship been feeling negative or draining? Take a break from it. If something or someone is making you miserable, you’re allowed to cut them out. *Unless it’s your toddler, then you’re just going to have to push through. Unfollowing people in real life is a glorious feeling. Want to run away and join the circus? I would advise thinking through it long and hard and maybe talking to a therapist, but if traveling acrobat is where your heart lies, give it a shot. I realize all of this is easier said than done but the alternative is living a life you look back on with regret. If you’re truly unhappy with your life or something in it, dig deep inside to figure out specifically what that is, pray about it, talk to someone you trust or a professional, and figure out what steps you can take toward fixing it. You are the only person who can know what it is that you need and, no matter what it feels like, you are not stuck where you are.

My grandmother is not the only example of how to make your life better that I grew up watching. Both of my parents quit their jobs, went back to school and built new careers from scratch in their forties. At 15 I didn’t understand what a huge deal that was but now, at 35, I think about how scary and overwhelming that must have been. But in the scheme of things it was a short term struggle for a long term life change. And it wasn’t just their lives or our family’s life that changed. They now affect countless lives for the better every single day. All because they took chances, took scary leaps, and found the careers that were calling to them. I’m so proud of that I still tear up just thinking about it.

So now how do I wrap this up? Seems like we’ve gone a long way from sweet tea and thongs. If it hasn’t been clear, what I’m trying to say is don’t be afraid to take a chance and do something differently. Don’t be afraid to be a little selfish and think about what it is that you need sometimes. Everyone around you will benefit from that. Life is occasionally hard and scary no matter what but it will be infinitely worse if you are suffering through the status quo because you don’t think you have a choice. You do, I promise. So make that change. Take that leap. Join Cirque du Soleil. If nothing else, I will be proud of you. And I know my Nanny would be too.

One thought on “My Grandmother’s Greatest Lesson

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