Happy Valentine's Day, Reader!
February invites you to share your Love with those people in your Life who spill over love right to your heart. Valentine's Day is not just for lovers, ya know...
My Grandmother passed on Valentine's Day. How perfect for her, how hard for me! She so embodied heartfelt, heart-filled, heart-driven right up to her last breath at 98. She was my teacher in so many ways. As the Matriarch in our family, she loved being at the head of the table, the center of the conversation and the party, 'owning' her well-earned respect and adoration. I suspected I was her favorite, although after several of my grandchildren had been born, I asked her if it was ok to have a favorite. "Oh, yes, Dear...you can have a favorite...as long as no one knows."
It was Cameron's 16th birthday, and all eleven of us were gathered round. I saw Jordan, 23, with his beautiful girlfriend, Carly. I saw Cindy laughing with Carly, which is a great thing. Cameron and Zach, both 16, were playing with some digital light-infested toy. Barry was deep in conversation with Juliana, who graduates and is headed for NAU in the fall. Rachel and Adam, brother and sister...daughter and son, were talking about climbing the mountain tomorrow.
Me? I was sitting by the fire, observing the snapshot of my family in this moment. I feel peace. Not so bad, I thought to myself. Each is a splendid loving human. Everyone is together and connected. I feel joy...and gratitude. I give a nod to my Grandmother, from one Matriarch to another.
Here's a true news story that will make your mouth water:
The Nonnas' project, The grandmothers' restaurant in Staten Island, was started by Joe Scaravella. The chefs are grandmothers from all over the world, from Armenia,Trinidad, Bulgaria, Japan, Greece, and, of course, Italy. Grandmothers come and cook homely food for patrons nostalgic for family and coziness. Scaravella mans the counter and the ever-ringing telephone. He says there is a special matriarchal power in the figure of the "nonna," the woman who holds the family together, and can do so by providing food and nourishment from the kitchen.
"Grandmothers are the vessels" Joe declares. "That carry our culture forward. That's how we know who we are. Grandmothers pass down languages, they pass down history, they pass down food culture. That's how you understand your heritage."
Ohhhhh, how wonderful if we were blessed enough to have Nonna's in our neighborhood. Every night a different Grandma would cook her specialty for you and your family. Bet she would get a standing ovation every night she was in the kitchen!
Now that the Matriarch in your family is You, how will you reign? What are the lessons and priorities you learned from your Matriarch Mentor? Lessons about money, style, and motherhood? What are the stories, the rituals and traditions you want to pass along? What foods define you...my family will always remember my sweet potatoes, covered in more marshmallows than potatoes!
Scoop up an extra large spoonful of sugar this month... everlasting love really does make the world go round!
Talk to me. Susan@SusanLBrooks.com.
Featured Modern Elder*
The Reverend Gay Romack
February Modern Elder
Thank you to one of my long-time readers and friend, Pam Betz, for introducing us to Gay: "She personifies a Modern Elder with the inspirational work and commitment she gives wholeheartedly to Bridges www.bridgesreentry.org. She helps erase the stigmas attached to women released from Perryville Prison."
The first second my zoom screen opened to connect me with Gay, I noticed this purple swash of hair, attempting to hide amidst her peppered spikes. She's known as the Rock Star of Perryville Prison! "I am very grateful for the work I get to do with women behind bars and beyond the gates. It is a great joy to feel wisdom, experience common sense, and vision all working together."
'Your WHY?' I asked:
"It all started with a friend's son being in jail. The moment I saw him I knew I belonged there. I've learned how to deal with bureaucracy, how to manage a team and not work alone; how to appreciate the strength of collaboration and value others; how to be loving and non-judgmental."
Share a triumph, a shining moment for you in this position:
"Seeing two women graduate from our program. They are now clearly on their way to independence and success."
Nothing is better than success to deliver results from your efforts, right?
This is Reverend Gay Romack's 11th year in the prison ministry. "I don't want to get stale...older is ok. I am present and consistent with these justice-involved women. I'm always looking for creative ways to interact with them so that they begin to see actions and words to build trust and feel unconditional love. She hasn't had money or support, no career path or vision of a future. This is THE opportunity to find meaningful employment, get a job and save money. Financial independence."
Good thing you are a Reverend, right?
"So true. Many dimensions, but it's how I know that what I'm doing is bigger than me. I couldn't do this work without God being in the mix."
Amen...and thank you for your heart-driven service, Reverend Gay Romack.
Note: Be a positive role model. A truly great Mentor is hard to find! Apply: www.bridgesreentry.org/mentor. 480-332-1500.
*Chip Conley, best-selling author and speaker, hospitality entrepreneur and leading thought leader, created The Modern Elder Academy's mission "to inspire the ability to reframe a lifetime of experience and recognize one's mastery, relevance, and value in the modern workplace." The Modern Elder* is Conley's term and effort that "liberates and inspires us to embrace wisdom as a path of growing whole, not old...The Modern Elder*marries wisdom and curiosity."
Every month this newsletter will Feature the stories and wisdom of Modern Elders*. Please send us your Modern Elders*nomination. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT