Published On Mar 08, 2017 in
Today is International Women’s Day. While I was reflecting on all the amazing advancements of women in history, I kept coming back to one woman: my maternal grandmother. She didn’t start a company, or discover a planet, or become internet famous – but she lives her life by three main principles, important principles that may be sometimes overlooked, especially in today’s times – be gracious, be unflappable, and attitude is everything. She also raised eight kids with no more than a two year age span between them…I only have one kid and I think starting a company sounds easier! When I reflect on the incredible women I am grateful to have in my life, I think somehow they come back to her, and these principles. I am honored to share them with you.
My grandmother treats everyone she encounters with dignity, kindness and respect, regardless of their walk of life. Her door was always open, and everyone was welcome at her table. When you are setting a meal for ten, adding an extra chair or two is not a big deal! I am confident none of the other parents in the neighborhood worried about their kids, because they knew that they were at her house. No one was turned away. She continues to be a gracious hostess – she gives you her undivided attention and makes you feel warm and welcome, most importantly by being present. Even today, as she struggles with dementia, when you visit her, she is present with you even if she does not remember your name.
I know after raising eight children, nothing really phased my grandmother. There is nothing you could throw at her that she doesn’t approach with grace, calm, and a get-it-done mentality. My grandfather died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 54, leaving my grandmother with four kids still in the house that she needed to figure out how to support. Keeping her composure and without hesitation, she set to work, obtained her real estate license and re-entered the work force after running her home for 25+ years. She started a new chapter in her life at age 65 when she started working in the consumer credit department of Federated Department Stores (now Macy’s, Inc.). She worked there for over 10 years with nearly perfect attendance. When my mom complains about using the computer, I am quick to remind her that her mother did it every day for many years. She taught me the importance of being unflappable in times of crisis – something that has served me well.
Attitude is Everything
One of her favorite sayings is, “When you can’t change your situation, change your attitude towards it.” As I look back on my life and the times I have employed this approach, I realize that when I did change my attitude towards a situation, the situation surprisingly improved. This is a powerful principle, and while not always easy to do, it works. I rely on this mantra in my life and am so grateful she taught me this. Our attitudes shape our life, and she taught me that while we aren’t always in control of our circumstances, we are in control of our attitudes. We can choose to have a positive or negative attitude, and while the negative attitude can sometimes feel more comfortable, the positive attitude makes all the difference.
My grandmother will never see this post and might not be able to remember how I am connected to her as her granddaughter anymore, but I am confident she knows the impact that she’s had on my life when she smiles, looks in my eyes and squeezes my hand. I am also confident she knows that while she might not be remembered in any history books, she will be remembered by the many people whose lives she enriched by living these principles. Take some time today to remember and thank the women that have impacted your life.