Friday, February 10, 2012

The Gift of Perspective

Today is my 31st Birthday!  Happy Birthday to me!  Well, and to Abby who would like to share my day with me!  Ha ha!

Hopefully by the time this post is scheduled to go live I will be enjoying breakfast in bed after a nice long morning of sleeping in!  It's highly unlikely since Dan is working nights but a girl can dream!

I actually gave myself a pretty good birthday gift:  the gift of perspective.  Back in July, my aunt gave me 3 CDs of 'Ask Grandma Days'.  This was something my mom, her sisters, her aunts, etc would do back when my Great Grandmother was alive (I think she lived to be 150 but I'm not sure).  They would all get together and just ask her lots of questions.  A few of them were recorded on those old school tape recorders which my aunt, the family historian, had put onto CDs.  An awesome gift of family history but for some reason I had a hard time listening to them so they just sat in my car.

I don't know why but I put one in on my way to the mall.  It was hard to listen to at first since there was a lot of static but there everyone was... my Great Grandmother, my great Aunt Florence, my Mom.  Voices from the past, surrounding me as if I were sitting in a room with them.

A few things really hit me.  First, I barely recognized my Mom's voice.  Weird, right?  These were recorded over 20 years ago and she lost most of her Jersey accent throughout the years but it was so strange to hear her sound so young.  As I was listening, I noticed that certain things she said were the same.  How she told stories was the same.  I thought it would make me sad but instead I felt comforted.

Second, I was amazed at the grace in which my Great Grandmother lived her life.  The recording were taken at 2 separate 'Ask Grandma Days' and each time she reiterated that THEY had a great life.  Now, not to give you too many details but my family has faced it's share of tragedy.  My Great Grandma lost her daughter, my Grandmother, violently and suddenly.  However, she never mentions that.  No one does.  She actually says, 'We have had a good life.  You have to expect that there will be some bad but we really did have a good life.'

And that was the theme of the talks.  How good everything was.  Everything she talked about, she did so with a giggle in her voice.  I think about the times I get together with my family and all the conversations we have about someone or some drama that's going on and realize that happens all too often.  The common ground we tend to find with each other is misery.  Heres my Great Grandmother who washed clothes by hand, walked to the grocery store, and scrubbed a hallway for a break on rent yet still has not a single complaint.  Not a single why me, whoa is me, how could this be happening to me.  She accepted life for what it is, good and bad but mostly good.

That's how I want to be.  I dwell too much on what's not being done for me, what someone's doing wrong, how hard it is to deal with certain things.  It gets the best of me.  The drama can suck me in like a vortex and I find myself saying things I can't take back.

My goal, as I enter into my early 30's, is to change all that.  Enjoy people, family, for who they are without worrying about what they are not.  I want to look at my life and, regardless of the cards that I'm dealt, I want to be able to say with certainty that I had a good life.

I think I was meant to listen to those recordings now.  I don't think I would have been able to find the lesson in them until now.  They made me laugh, cry a little, and they inspired me to be better, to live better and to make life better for my girls.

Thank you Great Grandma and to the wonderful women in my family for giving me a gift that at the time you may not have known was meant for me.  Lessons learned and notes taken!


  1. Happy Birthday!!!
    What a cool gift from the matrons of your family. Your note about appreciating people for what they are not for what they aren't is something I need to remind myself of everyday. Hope you have a great day!

  2. Happy Birthday. I just turned 31 in December so we're basically the same age! I love this post so much. I need to stop focusing on what people are not and what they are. That is such great advice. Thanks!

  3. Happy birthday! Those recordings are amazing! I wish I had thought to record my mom's voice. She's on some of the videos we made of my kids, at least! I hope your day was amazing!

  4. Happy Birthday, a day late. What a wonderful gift for you. It is so easy to focus on the "whoa is me" and much harder to see the positive side of things. But I think everyone can benefit from a little more of the "I have a good life!" thoughts. I hope you had a wonderful birthday! My little girl turns 2 today, so close to your bday :)

  5. Happy happy birthday. Your great grandmother sounds like an awesome lady. Your family was wise to capture her voice and their own. And your family historian needs a serious badge of honor for converting them to disc.



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