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Overcoming "Disabilities"

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Release Date: 02/01/2020

The Power of Story, Part 3 show art The Power of Story, Part 3

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Emily wraps up the third episode on "the power of stories" with a chat with an executive from Scholastic, Inc.--the source of all those books sold to grade-school students from newsletters and book fairs. Their conversation took place just before World Read-Aloud Day, which framed their talk about grandparents reading aloud to their grands. THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's Essay): The Genetics of Reading   When I visited the home of my maternal grandparents, I don’t remember seeing a book in any room of the house. It was a stark contrast to our own house with books in each room and a...

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The Power of Story, Part 2 show art The Power of Story, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Continuing the theme from last episode, Emily speaks with a 93-year-old grandfather, author, and active advocate of capturing and then "unleashing" grandparent stories. His creative partner in their website adds helpful details about a program that helps grands become powerful and prolific story-makers. SHOW NOTES Jerry and Deanna's website is grandparentsunleashed.com, and  Jerry's book is The Grandest Love, available .

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The Power of Story, Part 1 show art The Power of Story, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

How well do your grands know your story? Emily travels (virtually) to Trinidad to speak with Felicia Chang, a professional in the area of capturing the personal stories of our families, with a special emphasis our elders. Your story has worth and power...and is of priceless value to your grands. EPISODE NOTES Felicia Chang's TEDx Talk about how the stories of our loved ones connect us all is . Her business has a and a . This is Felicia with her dear grandmother, the subject of her movie and the inspiration of her view on capturing stories.

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Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 2 show art Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Continuing last episode's theme, this time Emily talks with a grandparent in the US and a parent in France whose extended relationships span oceans, languages, and cultures. Adventure seasoned with selflessness is the recipe. THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's essay)   “We’re moving to Brussels.” Those words shocked me even though I was twenty-one, living in my own apartment and working on my graduate degree. My parents called from NH to inform me that my dad had taken a job in Belgium. “Where is that?” was my immediate reply. (I was in grad school for English Lit, and obviously...

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Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 1 show art Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Back in Season 2, we did an episode on Long-Distance Grandparenting which proved to be a popular subject. When the distances are really long--international--you'd think it would be harder. The pandemic has made distance less of a factor that it once was, so experienced global grandparents can teach lessons almost all of us can apply. EPISODE SHOW NOTES Learn more about Emily's guest, author Helen Ellis, at https://www.distancefamilies.com. Her book will be out in April, 2021. 

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Grandparent Educators, Part 2 show art Grandparent Educators, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Some grandparents have the time, talent, and access to become directly involved with their grands' education. Emily talks with two grandparents and a teacher who have done or seen this firsthand, which may give you ideas on how to approach this in your extended family. SHOW NOTE Learn more about Emily's third guest, Sandra Williams, from her and her book, .  

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Grandparent Educators, Part 1 show art Grandparent Educators, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Grandparents can play a range of roles in their grands' education. In Part 1 on this topic, Emily talks with a retired teacher whose journey through racial segregation in the 1950s shaped her commitment to supporting the schooling of her descendants. Emily's essay is a revealing self-portrait of a third grader, a pen pal, and a missed opportunity Emily's guest Kaaren Rodman provides details on her family's scholarship: "Our family has set up a scholarship that is awarded through the Indianapolis Urban League. Mike and I did smaller grants for several years in the 90's, one for each set of...

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Grandparent Love, Part 2 show art Grandparent Love, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

The centerpiece of this episode is Emily's interview with best-selling author Barbara Graham, who has written about the collected experiences of gifted and famous grandmothers. There are lessons to be learned from her work... and from Emily's essay about loving our grands well with the time we find. Learn more about Emily's guest and her work at .    The Stretch It Takes: Competing With Time (Emily's Essay)   If there’s one thing that this pandemic has taught me, it’s that time looks and feels different to different people, depending on their age and their...

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Grandparent Love, Part 1 show art Grandparent Love, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

To begin Season 4, Emily talks with two members of her network on how to put our love for our grands into action--with purpose, and intentionality, and clever ideas.  The payoff is a richer relationship, even when it's largely a long-distance one. To learn more about our two guests visit and .         

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Spotlight on Emily show art Spotlight on Emily

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

While we take a break between seasons of The Grand Life Podcast, we're inviting host Emily Morgan to the guest's chair for a change. With husband and producer Mike, she covers choosing content, finding guests, and balancing the living of The Grand Life with her podcasting about it.

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More Episodes

Disabilities don't have to be diminishing, when it comes to grandparenting. One of Emily's guests grew up with with two deaf grandparents, and and the other is a grandmother who is "confined" (not!) to a scooter. Emily's essay is about her own experience with chronic pain and the lessons it taught her.

 

THE STRETCH IT TAKES: DISABLING PAIN (Emily's essay)

  My husband’s grandmother, Granny Lou, had a very obvious case of arthritis. Her fingers looked almost mangled, bent at the first and second knuckles. Through it all, I hardly ever heard her complain. She would make full out meals for the family. And despite the pain that I can only imagine, she painted china for a hobby. As she aged, we could tell that the arthritis was getting worse. Her carefully crafted paintings of daisies and roses were telling the tale. The fine lines were a little thicker, the petals on the roses not so well-defined. Her creations were fired in a kiln for posterity, and now every time I look at a cup or saucer that she painted and I see the aberrations, I realize how hard the pain must have been for her to endure. 

  If you haven’t gotten to the point where you’ve experienced chronic pain of some sort, consider yourself lucky. About 6 months ago, I was struck with some sort of virus that had me literally crawling up the stairs. We didn’t know if it was Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia or Lupus. All I knew was that I was in a great deal of pain and it wouldn’t subside. I started to understand how people can get addicted to painkillers...how they snap at others, especially the ones closest to them. Every time I was with the grandchildren, it was all I could do to ignore the pain that shot through my limbs. And I started to recognize that chronic pain is life altering. And it’s not for the faint of heart.

  I love every minute I spend with our grandchildren, and so to have every visit laced with pain was torture for me. So what do we do with that?

  Well...here’s what I learned from my own experience. First, you make sure you’re not alone in the pain. People need to know what’s happening to you and to pretend it isn’t, doesn’t really help anyone. When I kept having to ask for help, I would often say,
I can’t open the cereal box or I can’t cut up this celery.” My husband started coaching me to approach my disability by stating a request, instead of repeating negative statements like “I can’t” So Instead I would say:  Can you help me open this box? Or would you mind cutting up this celery for me? He encouraged me to stay positive and open to help. What you say and think matters. Stay vulnerable and positive as much as possible. 

  Secondly, you do what you need to, to cope. If that means taking many breaks, not participating in some things in order to sleep or rest, then you need to do that. Know your boundaries. Grandchildren understand limitations. And if you have restrictions, let them know… but also, reassure them that you love them and you will do all you can to make sure they know that. If you can’t bend down on the floor, then have them join you on the couch. If you can’t sit in a chair comfortably, then invite them to lie down on the bed with you while you close your eyes and tell them a story. 

  Now, this  last thing is hard because it takes work and sometimes money. You need to get help from wherever you can. If it means ordering a supplement on line that seems like it might work, try it! If it means seeking unconventional means to help with the pain, go for it. If it requires diet and exercise that you’re not keen on, make the sacrifices. You are worth it, and your relationships are too. Being proactive will ensure that you don’t stay in victim mode. It’s important to take charge of your own health. Be your own advocate. 

  The reality for some is that it sometimes costs a lot of money to battle a chronic disease. And sometimes there is no coming back from it. I was fortunate that whatever I had only lasted 4 months, but during those months, I was miserable. When it was over, I was more grateful than ever for days when I can sleep and wake up with no pain. And it made me appreciate the plight of others and become more empathetic to those around me. My hope is that you are able to find help from good people who care and are invested in your health. And that you’ll be able to find the energy to both get the help, and to help yourself. 

  If you are battling chronic pain, and want to share your story, please write to me at [email protected] and leave a voicemail at 317-572-7876. Aging is hard. But it doesn’t have to be the end of the relationships you value most. 

© 2019 Emily Morgan