Monday, January 2, 2017

Under Renovation

My temptation is to be officially closed for renovation until further notice.  The beginning of 2017 has proved necessary to implement my own personal renovation or shakedown.  A renovation is the act of modernizing, overhauling, revamping or updating.   A shakedown, for all practical purposes, is the intent to test a new system under different operating conditions.

Let me explain.  My childhood was spent with two lovely grandmothers.  My paternal grandmother was the most doting, sweet and involved woman a child could hope to call Grandma.  She had us sleep over every Friday night, came to everything we ever did and even had a drawer in her kitchen devoted to our favorite things.  She was named appropriately, Grace.

My maternal grandmother was not nearly as enamored with her role as grandma.  We stayed with her only when she could not quickly think of a reason why we couldn’t.  She found every activity for us to do that required outside play, in spite of mosquitos the size of dogs, and we could only eat dry macaroni in her house.  Yummy!

Interestingly enough, I had a great deal of fondness and admiration for both.  Having said that, I decided long ago that when I had the opportunity to be a grandma, I was going to be Grandma Grace hands down!

There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t get to see or interact with one of my three grandchildren.  They light up the room when they enter, and my soul when they speak.  Whenever I take their tiny hands in mine, I feel like I am in a corner of heaven.

As a grandma, I do ridiculous things I did not do as mother.  I am not sure if that puts me further ahead or further behind, but we have had our share of fun.  We eat popcorn on papa’s side of the bed while watching movies.  We raised quail in the shower because they had to learn to fly if we were going to turn them out into the big harsh world. Our art projects include scissors, pins, glue and “heaven forbid” glitter.

My little grandchildren are just learning to play together and they look forward to the next time they will see each other.  It was all working out for me to live the life that Grandma Grace lived with my sisters and me, until now.  My little sidekick and his brand new baby brother are moving to Michigan.  My little Harper may also be moving to the far end of the valley.  Having contact with them will not be the daily indulgence I am used to - resulting in a course correction or shakedown - a renovation.

Grandma Grace was hands on.  She was not remote Grandma, Skype Grandma or UPS Grandma.  We played dress up in her amazing closet, hide and seek in her haunted basement, giggled at the sight of her girdles in every color and ate marshmallow peanuts after dinner.  She taught me to knit, she helped me sew and bought me a piano so that I could aggravate a string of piano teachers.  

A life different from that is difficult to wrap my head around.  I can’t even talk about it without tearing up just a little.  Of course, most people live away from their families and they seem to manage, so I am sure I will too.

Talents, gifts of expression, and precious time are 
exhausted in swimming against too many tides. 
- James E. Faust

I was recently impressed by an article in The Atlantic.   A theory was tested on the notion that anxiety could be changed to excitement by using three little words - I am excited.  The idea is that both anxiety and excitement are aroused emotions with accelerated heart rates and release of cortisol, the stress regulating hormone.  It is, therefore, much easier to transition from a state of anxiety to one of excitement than to calm body functions taking one from anxiety all the way to calm.

The words “I am excited”  change negative emotions that create a sense of threat or focus on what is wrong with a situation to opportunity, a positive emotion focusing on good things to come.  Some studies suggest improvement in ability increased between 17-22% after merely believing in excitement rather than accepting anxiety.  Sounds almost too simple to be true, but what could it hurt?

Okay then,  I am excited for what lies ahead.  My personal renovation is a shift from having things how I hoped, to having things as they are.  It can’t be changed, nor do I really want it to.  I am equally as excited for my kids opportunity and growth as I am mourning the loss of being Grandma Grace for all my grandkids.

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone 
can start today and make a new ending. — Maria Robinson

Each year, I decide on a theme around which my New Year’s resolutions are set.  Obviously, this year must be “Under Renovation.”  At the beginning of a brand new year, I have much to be excited about.   Opportunities before me are countless.  I can and will modernize, revamp and overhaul some of my roles.  Since my operating system has changed, I will quickly test out my adjusted system.  I will take the best of Grandma Grace and Grandma Wilma and send boxes and boxes of marshmallow peanuts (do they still make those?) and dried macaroni. 

I had not even considered the possibility, but does UPS deliver to Houghton, Michigan?

Happy New Year!
May we all be excited about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.  We are better people because of them - so I have been told.

photo credit: HSD backdrops
USGW archives

link to video from The Atlantic:

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