Please join with me in welcoming Blaire....
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Grandma lived by those words. She embodied them. Grandma did not dwell in the negatives. She was a woman of action. She lived in the moment and thought in the future. Grandma viewed the world through the lens of realism – she saw life clearly, for what it was, and acted accordingly. This was second nature to her, deep breaths being taken in the pause between situation and solution.
As a child, I would run to Grandma when something didn’t go my way. I didn’t get the teacher I hoped for. I lost a favorite toy. The boy I had a crush on just professed his love for someone else. Grandma remained steady. She’d take a deep breath and say some version of these words: ‘It wasn’t meant to be/It happened for a reason/Something better will come along/It will all work out.’ I hated these words. I wanted her to commiserate with me, to confirm the universe’s plot to destroy my life. But she didn’t. She wouldn’t. Instead, she’d move me forward to the next thought, or task, or plan. As I grew into adulthood, the disappointments became larger, but Grandma’s response remained the same. She was steadfast in her silent refusal to join me as I swirled in my pot of self pity. I became more vocal in my annoyance at her solution-oriented thinking and her insistence that ‘everything would work out the way it was meant to’.
In retrospect, it is most remarkable that Grandma never used the word “acceptance”….instead, she modeled acceptance. She had learned, and ultimately knew in her core, that acceptance was the answer to her problems. Grandma understood that acceptance didn’t mean giving up or giving in—it means accepting the facts of a situation and then deciding what to do about it. This seemingly simple concept is monumental in both its significance and its achievement. Recovering addicts, spiritual seekers, therapy devotees and countless others struggle endlessly to achieve the peace available on the other side of the attainment of an attitude of acceptance. I was given the invaluable gift of witnessing the living embodiment of acceptance in my grandma.
Despite my stubborn efforts to the contrary, Grandma’s philosophy of acceptance slowly seeped into my being. For years I grudgingly and deliberately applied its principles to trivial circumstances. Over time, I noticed that my practiced efforts became more automatic, so I moved onto tackling larger issues. In the process, a most extraordinary thing happened—I noticed that I was less angry and resentful. My energy was decreasingly spent on ruminating about my problems and instead was focused on seeking and implementing solutions. A friend I’ve known for a decade and with whom I have shared many intimate conversations about parenting, marriage, and life struggles, recently asked me this question: “You seem like you’re always happy. Is that real? Are you happy?” I explained that ‘happy’ is not the word I would use to describe my experience. My life has been challenging, even tragic at times. However, I have learned to accept each day, whatever it may bring, and to proceed accordingly. Because of that, I feel at peace with my life and with my choices. For that I am ever grateful. Thank you Grandma.