Think about your Grandmother... Who was she? What did she stand for? What is your favorite story of her's? What words of her advice do you remember most?
For me, my Grandmother was my safe harbor from a world I didn't always understand. It was her wisdom and advice that often pulled me through.
Every Grandmother has lived a life of stories, every Grandmother seems to be filled with guidance and wisdom. It always appears to be some magical anointing that shows their spirit to us. Maybe it's just her unconditional love.
Though she has lived many more years of life compared to yours, consider the light in her eyes, the golden light that gives them a unique insight and perspective we might miss. Often our world feels chaotic, too fast paced, even unsafe. Time-outs together help us all cope and breathe.
Grandmothers come in all shapes and sizes, even when they are not our own Grandmother. They can provide a fresh perspective just by listening with their hearts. No judgment. No blame or shame. Often they can be of great help in moving us forward out of troubles.
Recently, I found this tedtalk. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I've spent hours wondering how I might bring this concept to life in my own community. I was enthralled and deeply inspired. Here's the story:
"Dixon Chibanda is one of 12 psychiatrists in Zimbabwe -- for a population of more than 16 million. Realizing that his country would never be able to scale traditional methods of treating those with mental health issues, Chibanda helped to develop a beautiful solution powered by a limitless resource: grandmothers. In this extraordinary, inspirational talk, learn more about the Friendship Bench program, which trains grandmothers in evidence-based talk therapy and brings care, and hope, to those in need."
The first time I saw this video it made such an impact on me! They found in their clinical trial that Grandmothers were more effective than doctors at treating clinical depression. Grandmothers! Of course!
I haven't stopped thinking about figuring out how to make these benches a reality, somehow somewhere.
What do you think? Any ideas??
Mental illness for all ages needs to be seen and heard. Rates of anxiety and depression have climbed across the globe almost 30% in the last two years. (STAT health)
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people age 15 to 24 in the U.S. Nearly 20% of high school students report serious thoughts of suicide and 9% have made an attempt to take their lives, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Coaches, mentors, teachers, therapists for all ages are out there ready to listen, but maybe simply an available park bench in all the right places can help many people lost in the darkness of living.
I am a Modern Elder. I am a Grandmother. I love my teenage grandchildren who aren't quite adults, even though they think they are. My love allows me to be there for them, to just listen and love. The power of the Grandmother is strong indeed!
I welcome your thoughts and feedback. Maybe one day you will pass by my door and find a simple park bench out in front. And if you need to talk... I am always here to listen.
Talk to me: Susan@SusanLBrooks.com.
Featured Modern Elder*
Age Almost 82
I should have known: the setting for this interview mattered. A simple coffee shop or zoom call just wouldn't do. Jeff would want us to meet some place that brought an aesthetic ambiance to our conversation. Of course, he knew the perfect place: Zinque, a tea room and patio designed around an old oak tree for those cooler times...or sitting comfortably on any one of the textured sofas with poufy pillows ready to engage in a fireplace conversation.
Jeff is and always has been a designer of space. He brings his perspective and expertise to work together with function in the most beautiful and service-driven ways. At age 30 Jeff designed and implemented three spectacular senior living communities in upstate New York. "I never reject people for their age. I respect people for their age. This is how I was raised, surrounded by all ages of beauty and brilliance!" Jeff's mindfulness brought welcoming activities to the greenhouse in the middle of the garden, along with easy-to-hold hand rails around the property with lighting built under it. These ideas and so many others were acknowledged with his award for Top Designer for Homes for the Elderly.
Jeff loves to serve...match this intention with his innovative expertise and you have the real-deal experience of Jeff Low Design.
Did you know that he designed the Phoenician? or the Sudamayo restaurant?
Can you picture Jeff as an Uber driver? Chock full of experiences and stories from his many years living in Phoenix, his riders got to see and hear how this Valley has really grown. So kick Siri out of the driver's seat and let Jeff do what he does best: tell his story about the Indian rocks and tribal patterns on the walls of the 101. His car is an immaculate carriage for any visitor who's excited to be here.
"Make each day as kind and choice-filled as you can...tomorrow, if I make it, is a surprise!"
Perhaps you are FB friends? Jeff wins my attention with his every post. "My purpose with art is to help people feel life." Sometimes it's with a magical destination setting or one of those jaw-dropping sunsets, somewhere. Sometimes it's simply the colors or textures he puts together. His paintings, his photographs "always make you feel:...happy or sad? When you feel something...you know you are alive!"
These days, you can find Jeff in his studio, sprawled out on the floor in spite of his upcoming back surgery (I'm so excited!). His Sowing Seeds Series sold out on FB. And you don't want to miss his show on this Series being held in 2023 at the Mayo Clinic: "I am able to be creative. I keep my prices reasonable so that I can stay relevant. I love it all!"
"It was a shock when I turned 80! I learned an important lesson: I learned to shut up. Give no advice unless asked for or paid for. Know I will be brutally honest...do you really want the truth?"
Social behavior gets his ire up: "don't overdue the cologne...so many men especially need lessons in smell. Men over 65 were not meant to wear shorts...cover up those white legs! There must be a mirror shortage these days: don't just look in the mirror. Listen to what that mirror is telling you! And don't take yourself so seriously!"
"Of all the great and outrageous experiences that I helped to bring into the world, my greatest thrill and pride is the birth and growth of my children and grandchildren. They have created major change in this world already, impacting more people than they even know. Every day is a Holiday for me because of my kids!"
The message of Jeff's Sowing Seeds Series sums up his life philosophy: "Plant seeds...words of kindness, love, patience...be the best person you can be, especially during these times. Keep your spirit positive with the reality we're living through. I don't try...I just do it!!!"
*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 in your Modern Elder* nomination. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT
Today, I am 76 years old, and proud of it! Paul Simon, who is now in his 80's said it best years ago: us boomers are BORN AT THE RIGHT TIME!
Yes, I was born at the right time! I'm still a hippie from the 60's, I marched for civil rights for all humans, equal rights for women, waving my bra with the best. I am proud to be living and growing in a robust marriage of 55 years. I survived motherhood, and so did my now-adult children. I was an award-winning woman business owner when there were but a few of us. I've learned a whole bunch of lessons, and more importantly, I've earned my fair share of Wisdom, too. I am Pro-Age!
According to Chip Conley, one of today's leading thought leaders: "Experience is making a comeback. Wisdom never grows old." Chip created the hallmarks of the Modern Elder*: "learning to marry wisdom and experience with curiosity, cultivating a beginner's mind so that learning never ends, exemplifying a willingness to evolve both as a student and sage." Research shows that shifting our mindset about Aging can add 7.4 happy years to a person's life.
Proud to say I am a graduate of the Modern Elder Academy as well as an active participant in Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience, and Spirit programs. As one of the creators and hosts of the Thrive@55 event, we celebrated our female community leaders who were 55+.
As long as I'm able to have the blessings of good health and a curious mind, there's more living to do, so much more to learn, so many new ways to serve. Trailblazer that I am, and always will be, I recognize my next mission: by example and demonstration I am committed to Changing the Face of Aging: One Modern Elder* at a time!
I welcome both local and national speaking engagements as well as one-on-one coaching opportunities to delve more deeply into navigating life transitions. Email me Here.
© 2023 SUSAN L. BROOKS | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED