Welcome to Live Free Creative, the podcast that provides inspiration and ideas for living a creative, adventurous, and intentional lifestyle. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. And I hope that each time you listen, you feel a little bit more free to live your life exactly the way you want to live it.
Hello there. Welcome back to Live Free Creative Podcast. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. You’re listening to Episode 138: Lessons From My Grandparents.
I’m really excited about this episode. I have a few other ones that are on my list that I’ve been thinking about for a while.
And then I got a text message from my mom earlier this week. And the idea for this episode just jumped out at me. I thought it would be a fun lighthearted way to share something meaningful with you today. So hopefully you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed thinking about and preparing it.
Before we dive into the whole episode, I want to share a little magical adventure moment with you.
Magical Adventure Moment
One thing that I’ve learned over the last 12 months with my kids, it is that it does not matter how much time you spend with your kids, they always want to spend more time with you. Which is a good, it’s a good thing. It’s a wonderful thing to have kids that want to spend time with.
It is also a good reminder that, at some point, if someone ever needs to take a break that is going to have to come from my end, because it’s very rare that my kids will say, Oh, we don’t want to hang out with you anymore, mom, you can go do whatever.
I can spend literally 24 hours a day with them for months, like I have, and they still will be sad when I leave or say, Oh, we hope you don’t have to go.
So it’s been interesting as I have been spending a couple days a week working in clinics, doing vaccines for COVID, that when I get home, they are just as excited to see me as if I’ve been gone for a month when I’ve spent so much time with them.
So that’s just an aside. But this magical adventure moment happened over the last couple of weeks.
I have been spending more time away working in these clinics. There is something to that saying absence makes the heart grow fonder. I love my kids when I’m with them. And it is really nice to have some time when I’m away, that I’m focused on something else.
And when I come home, I feel that same energy of excitement and enthusiasm, and it’s fun and renewing to be away and to come home.
The other day was a day off for me. And we decided that we were going to go on a walk. Sometimes when we’re going on a walk in the neighborhood, which is a really regular occurrence, we go on a walk almost every day. But sometimes Plum wants to bring her scooter along.
This was especially fun this day because we also had the dog and, about a couple of blocks from our house, the kids decided it would be really fun to tie the leash of our dog onto the scooter handle and let Quincy Jean do the work and let her pull the kids along on the scooter for part of the walk.
Part of me felt like this was going to be an accident waiting to happen. I could see visions of the scooter crashing and Quincy getting tangled in the leash and the kids being bloodied on their knees.
And then the other part of me realized how fun this was. This is the type of thing that I would have loved to try to do when I was little. And in fact, probably did. I feel like I remember standing on a skateboard, which I am to this day not very balanced on a skateboard, and having one of our dogs leashed up and try to pull me along and I don’t know that it ended well.
But this is an especially fun moment as the sun’s shining. We’re out on a walk. And we’re just enjoying being together and watching the active curiosity and the invention and the experimentation happening as my kids are working together and making decisions and deciding which way is going to work best and taking turns.
And then watching the sort of confused, but very strong dog, start to pull the kids along and build up some speed and they’re having a great time and laughing.
And it just felt like spring time. It felt like family connection. It felt like memories being made.
I loved an idea that my friend, Brooke Romney, shared on her Instagram page the other day that this is one of those things that in 10 years, I might have a flashback memory of this exact moment of the kids being pulled by the dog on the scooter and this beautiful spring day.
And they might not remember the exact moment. They might not have the same memory. But what they will have is the relationships that these memories, as they layer together throughout our lives in the hours and the days and the weeks that we spend together, growing, building those, those relationships.
These magical adventure moments aren’t all just about the moment itself. It’s about recognizing how these moments interact to create our experience and how, when they build together, they create a really beautiful life.
Main Topic: Lessons From My Grandparents
1. A Lesson From Mamo – Unconditional Love
Last week on Sunday afternoon, I got a text message from my mom. This is not an unusual occurrence. We have a family group message. I’m sure many of you have a similar setup where we can all hear everyone’s thoughts and ideas whenever they come.
Well, this is an especially sweet message that my mom sent.
I don’t know what she was doing or what she was going through, but she had come across a note written by her mother, my grandmother, on October 26th, 1985. So I would have been just a couple years old and this might’ve been an exercise in a church class or in some sort of meeting or gathering that she was at.
This is what the letter says:
My dear children and grandchildren. I’ve been asked to write what I’d tell you if I had just five minutes. I want you to know how important love is. Unconditional love for your family. Not based on what someone does or says. But given freely and unconditionally. That’s the kind of love Jesus gave to everyone. And that’s the example we need to follow. Those in our family need to know all the time–by our voice and actions and words–that we love them and feel their worth.
With much love,
I read these words and was filled, of course, with gratitude and peace and love for my grandmother. And also all of these ideas of how she was such an example of this unconditional love that she spoke of.
I thought this is really one of her legacies: teaching by her example, showing that she recognized the value and worth inherent to every person and treating them that way. My grandma, Judy, who we called Mamo affectionately, was an only child. She was raised in California. She met my grandfather, Papa, when she was in high school.
They were high school sweethearts. And from the time they were young–15, 16, 17–they spent all of their time together. Got married early. Went on to have a family. And just were such examples of this unconditional love that they talked about.
My grandmother had five children. My mother was the oldest and as you can imagine with these five children, they didn’t all always behave or make decisions that were what my grandmother might’ve chosen for them.
In fact, there were some pretty tricky experiences to navigate along the way as my mom and her siblings lived their own lives and made choices and grew up and had to figure things out for themselves.
Something that stayed steady throughout all of the ups and downs–those that I know about, and I’m sure many, many more that I do not know about–was my grandmother’s unconditional love. Her unconditional acceptance and the idea that none of her children ever had any doubt how she felt about them.
Like she says in her letter: regardless of what they do or say, we need to show our family that we see their worth.
That is a characteristic that my grandma Judy, Mamo, definitely passed along to my mom who my kids now call Mamo. My Mamo is now their Big Mamo. That’s all a little confusing.
But I love the idea that no matter what we do or what we say, we are loved. And that it’s a tricky thing to do as a person, as a parent, because sometimes we do have ideas about what we hope for.
We have expectations for who we think people can be, and maybe sometimes even should be. And what if they aren’t, what if they don’t, what if they’re different than we know, or than we expect, can we still see their worth despite what they do and what they say? Can we love, can we share that love openly?
How do we express it? How do we withhold judgment and bar expectation? In order to enable us to freely pour out love and kindness, as Mamo says, by our voice and actions and words that we love them and feel their worth.
I’m taking this on as a renewed challenge in my own life. A good reminder that unconditional love is the way. Unconditional love is the most important thing.
2. A Lesson From Papa – Constant Curiosity
Now I’m going to share a little bit about Judy’s husband, Jay, my Papa, my mom’s dad. When I was thinking about Papa and something that I wanted to share that felt like a lesson that encompassed him. The first thing that came to mind was the idea of constant curiosity and learning.
My Papa was a biologist and a biology professor. He loved the natural world and was endlessly fascinated by it. I think all of my siblings, myself included and all of the other grandkids can’t help but think of Papa every time we see a bird that’s especially noticeable or beautiful. Or we see a frog in the spring time. Or we notice something blooming that catches our eye and we think:
If Papa were here, he would know what that is. He would know the name. He would know the region. He would know everything about it because he absorbed it and loved it.
For many years, Papa, my grandfather worked as a naturalist in Kings Canyon National Park. These were summers where he and Mamo and my mom and her siblings would live without electricity in these naturalists cabins.
They would spend their days out connecting to nature. He would be doing research and counting wildlife and checking on the populations and the areas and all of the things that needed to be managed and recorded and discovered at home in Northern California, where he lived and worked as a professor and a basketball referee at the local college.
He founded a fish hatchery. This hatchery became the site of so many of my childhood memories, as we would travel out to Northern California and spend time visiting Mamo and Papa, we would always take a trip to the hatchery.
And I remember one time we were out there where he was showing us the different pools. And inside there were these long tanks where there would be the eggs and then they would spawn and they’d have the little tiny minnows.
And then they would get big enough to be moved into the next bed and the next bed. And then eventually they would be outside in the stock tanks. And eventually the fish would be big enough that they could be moved into local ponds and rivers to support the local population and also I imagine for fishing and things like that.
We were there looking and learning about all of the different things that he was up to. And of course, beyond that, they also use the hatchery for some of the biological research. And we opened a freezer, a deep freezer, I think Papa, who was also hilarious and used humor as a tool for so many of his relationships and connections, he told us kids to run over and open the deep freezer to maybe get some fish food out.
And we opened the deep freeze and there was a Bobcat frozen with its teeth bared, looking up at us. It was being preserved for something or other. It had been maybe poached or roadkill or something. I don’t know how it got there. But our Papa knew that it would be give us a start to go open the freezer and see this bobcat looking like it was about to pounce out of the freezer for us.
I remember going on a hike with Papa when I was young and asking him about wild flowers that were in bloom and how he described each of them and talked about their interactions. A little bit of the way into the hike we came upon a little pond and Papa caught some frogs and we took home and he cooked the frog legs on the grill so that we could enjoy some local frog fare. He laughed at the faces that we made. I don’t think that I was game. I’m pretty sure I did not take a bite of the frog.
Spending time with Papa outside was like walking around with a brilliant encyclopedia of imagination and curiosity and love of nature, love of connection, love of preservation. He had both eyes wide open. He was aware and intentional. And it was so fun to see the way that he interacted and that he learned and that he passed that information on. Not through lectures or making us all sit in a circle so he could teach us, but simply by experiencing it with us.
3. Lesson From Grandma Helen – Finding Joy In Your Talents
Next I want to tell you a little bit about my grandmother, Helen. This is my father’s mother. And one of the first things that comes to mind as something that grandma Helen lived and encompassed was the idea of celebrating and having joy in your talents, recognizing something special in every person, and inviting that out of them.
Grandma Helen was an educator. She was a mother. She was a caretaker and so service oriented, creating systems in our home so that things ran smoothly. She loved and rejoiced in her family. And always created space to celebrate each of us, even though there are a lot of us. Helen and my grandpa Joe had seven children, six who are still living.
And I think that at the last count there were like 60 plus grandchildren, maybe more. And now of course there’s a gaggle of great grandchildren as well.
When I was young, my grandparents lived nearby and we would go over probably every week or two for a meal or a gathering or to watch a game. And almost every time that we were there, Grandma Helen would invite us each to take a minute and share a talent, whether it was playing a new song on the piano, or she would invite me to bring my violin, which I played when I was young or singing a song or reciting a poem, anything that we have been working on or something that we were excited about right then.
She would create space and we’d all gather around in the living room and she would give us a chance to perform. And tell us, I just love to see you sing. I just love to hear your stories. I just love to watch the talents you’re developing. It never failed to make us each feel special.
I was a middle child and I, when I was younger, especially, I love to talk about being a middle child and how starved for attention sometimes you might feel as a middle child. I always knew that grandma Helen saw me because she would call me out and invite me to share.
And I can only imagine that my siblings and cousins all felt similarly that they were seen, that they were noticed and that they were celebrated.
4. A Lesson From Grandpa Joe – Consistency
And finally, I’d love to share a little bit about something I’ve learned from my grandpa, Joe Helen’s husband, my dad’s father, and my last living grandparent. Grandpa Joe turned 103 in March of this year. And one of the things that I’ve learned from him is how to take care of yourself with consistency.
To live to be 103, you would imagine someone needs to have some good genetics and also that they have taken pretty good care of themselves.
And indeed these things apply to my grandpa, Joe. I mean, I’d guess I don’t know a whole lot about his genes, but I do know that he has been such a fantastic example through the years of taking care of himself.
He has a commitment to health and wellbeing and has recognized what things serve him and incorporated those into his life with consistency.
One of the earliest things that I learned about my grandpa is something that I remember from years and years ago was that he always ate oatmeal for breakfast, oatmeal with dried cherries. That was just the go-to. He found something that worked, that felt founded in some science with the whole grains and the fiber of the fruit.
And he didn’t add sugar. He would just eat the thing that was going to keep him healthy and well and give him the energy that he needed.
The other day I was on Instagram and I was looking at the story of one of my friends who is a high powered public speaker. She’s in her mid twenties and she was sharing about how she has recently learned about drinking hot water with lemon in the mornings that this really detoxes your system and it clears out your body and gets you ready to feel energized and to process things well during the day.
And I laughed and commented that my grandpa had heard about that a couple of years ago. And he has religiously been drinking hot water with lemon juice every morning ever since. And he just turned 103.
When my grandpa Joe was in his mid eighties I believe, he decided to ride his bicycle across America. He started in California and rode his bike in sections sometimes inviting one or more of his sons or daughters, along with him, with my grandmother, riding in the car as the sort of backup helper for food stops and pit stops along the way.
And in over the course of a couple years, he rode. From California to Virginia in sections coast to coast. He also rode from Canada to the border of Mexico, completing an entire cross country journey.
I think of Christmas presents that grandpa Joe has given me over the years and one year there was a whole collection of stretches and exercises that he had compiled and put into a binder for each of the 60+ grandchildren, encouraging us to create a consistent exercise, stretching and wellness routine in our own lives, because it would be really beneficial for us.
One of the other gifts that he gave me that has been especially memorable was the book The Gratitude Diaries, which was one of the books that I read about five years ago that really shifted the way that I thought about my life and started me on the pathway towards choosing less and being content, looking for abundance and fulfillment every day in my life, rather than waiting for it to come around the next bend.
I love that the book that really shifted the trajectory of some of my practices and my habits and my life was a gift from my grandpa whose focus on health and wellness and self care has gone way beyond and started way before the current trend.
Last year, the beginning of 2020 in January, I sat down with my grandpa, Joe for a couple of days to interview him about his life and about his childhood. And one of the questions that I asked was his secret to a long and healthy life. And he said that he thought eating healthy, getting lots of sleep, and loving your companion. That those were the things that would keep someone healthy for as long as possible.
I look over my list of things I’ve learned from my grandparents, which of course is not an exhaustive list by any means.
But one simple thing that feels really important for each of them or one thing that they’ve instilled in me in my life. And I feel so much gratitude for these wonderful people:
Mamo who lived her life in unconditional love and spread that around and passed it on to her own children who are passing it on to us.
My Papa who lived in curiosity and learning and felt inspired by his connection to nature.
My Grandma Helen, who saw everyone individually, despite the crowd and invited us to celebrate our talents.
And my Grandpa Joe has shown through a fantastic example, how we can take care of ourselves. How we can make choices for our health and wellness and make that a priority in our lives so that we’re able to continue to give and love and share.
I realized that I’ve been especially blessed that not everyone has positive associations with their grandparents, or even have relationships with their grandparents. But I would love to invite you to consider a few people, a generation or more older than you who have passed on some of their wisdom through their examples or through their words or through the lives that they lived.
I want to encourage you to write those down, to think about them. And the first things that come to mind, it doesn’t have to be big or profound or deep. Just taking note and recognizing how we’re learning from those who come before.
It also jumps out at me, as I look over my list, these people who meant so much to me and whose lives have impacted mine for good, that the lessons that they shared have nothing to do with success or with money or with building businesses or with big grand dreams.
They have to do with being good people, being kind, taking care, being thoughtful and aware. They remind me of the characteristics that are worth developing that are worth the effort that are worth stumbling through and sometimes getting it wrong so that we can learn to get it right.
I want to thank you for tuning in to Live Free Creative today. I hope that this lighthearted episode has given you something to think about, even if it’s just a reflection on some of your own relationships and some of the things that you’re learning, characteristics that you’re hoping to develop that are worth your time to dig into and to really try to learn.
Before I let you go today, I want to invite you to join me at one of my upcoming retreats. My spring creative camp happens in two weeks and it’s sold out. I’m so excited to gather together with a group of like-minded women and dig into some of our creative work.
If you are a small business owner, a writer, a mom that has some big ideas that you’d like to explore. And you can’t seem to find the time in your daily life. I would love to invite you to join me in October in Vermont at this incredible cabin in the woods for four days of deep work and creative inspiration.
Live Free Creative camp is a small group retreat meant for women to be able to dig in and bring forth some creative work that otherwise just isn’t quite possible in their everyday lives.
If that sounds like something you could use, some time away from work and from life and from the kids, I would love to invite you to visit livefreecreative.co/camp and see if it’s a good fit for you.
Now, the rest of you who aren’t building a business or writing a book or creating content, but who want to come together and connect to yourself, connect to nature, connect to each other, I want to invite you to join me at Summer Camp. Grown-up Summer Camp is happening in Southern Idaho, July 28th through 31st, 2021.
We’re gathering together at Maple Grove Hot Springs. Right on the edge of the Bear River. You can choose from a bed, a cozy bed in a glamping spot, a little cabin, or a Safari tent. Or you can choose to bring your own tent and bedding and DIY campsite with us.
All of the meals are going to be provided by an onsite caterer who’s incredible. We’re going to have daily meditation and yoga practices right outside on the water.
I’m teaching an in-person indigo workshop.
My friend Jansen Bradshaw from everyday reading is going to be hosting two book clubs and a book swap.
We’re going to be having a drawing lesson and a rituals class by local artists. And one of my good friends, Miriam Tribe.
The whole thing is going to be filled with fun water sports, soaks underneath the stars, making new friends, enjoying some time and space to yourself. And I would love to see you there.
It’s about half sold out. So if you want to come check it out, join us there and I’ll talk to you next week, friends.
See you later.