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Know Yourself to Be Grand

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Release Date: 06/15/2020

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

The better we understand ourselves, the better we can relate to our children—and the better our relationships with our grandchildren. Emily talks with author and counselor Beth Booram about the Enneagram, a great tool for self-knowledge, and the challenges of transitioning from parent to grand. We also hear from Caitlin, a young mom who is working a parallel transition with her kids’ grandparents (that is, her own mom and dad). We start the episode with another TGL production meeting, and you’re invited to the conversation on what’s next for Emily and her producer/husband Mike.

Beth Booram’s retreat center is Fall Creek Abbey; more info here.

Front of Fall Creek Abbey in Indianapolis

"The Road Back To You," which both guests mention, is a book and a podcast by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile.

 

Emily’s Essay: Beginning at The Beginning

My husband and I had spent the last 20 years of our lives nurturing, providing meals, crafting birthday experiences, and creating traditions for our brood. Our family was a tight knit group (I liked it that way), and I was the museum curator of their lives…a job I embraced wholeheartedly and which spoke to all my strengths. I had no idea that one weekend at a friend’s lake house would nearly destroy me and play to all my weaknesses.

It started out as a goodbye weekend for our son, who was heading to New Zealand for a semester abroad program. Our oldest had just returned from a semester in Oxford, England. Looking back, I know that I felt a great sense of pride for encouraging each of them to flee the nest. I was being so selfless to share them with the world.

Mind you, I am looking back on it now with a new sense of what was really happening. I saw myself as someone who selflessly served others with great zeal. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for our children...that is, as long I was in the driver’s seat.

By the time the lake house weekend was fully planned, we had added six visitors. I didn’t know what happened. Three of our daughter’s roommates from college, three significant others (whom I pretty much guessed would never be more than a memory in a few years). It went from an intimate family event to an all out house party. 

The day before we left, I found myself ugly crying in the closet of our bedroom.  Of course, I said yes. Of course, when we arrived I prepared meals for everyone including fun omelets you could boil in a Ziploc bag, a lavish burrito bar, homemade enchiladas and lots of goodies. Of course, I smiled and looked like I was having fun.  But there was a smorgasbord of hurt building up inside of me. The family send-off to New Zealand had become its own college frat/sorority party, with me as a built-in caterer and my husband as the service boy. To be clear, our children were not ungrateful, but I was still pretty ticked off.  You see, I was selfless only if it went my way, and I was given the commensurate amount of gratitude that I deemed matched my efforts; otherwise, I was resentful. I was discovering that I was really not as selfless as I thought. Ouch. This was a stretching moment, and I could really feel the burn. 

Eight years later and many counseling sessions behind me we were on a family trip that included …. fifteen humans now, including grandchildren. Everyone was with their forever spouse or significant other...a completely different picture that included no one who had joined us at the lake house.

By then, I had the benefit of counseling. I had learned that I needed to let go, to stop controlling and curating. To realize that we didn’t have to do everything as a group or everything my way. Also, I could say no if I didn’t want to do something. Boundaries were good!  I had learned that family vacations meant we could actually relax. We didn’t need to do everything I thought defined our family--things like singing together, reading plays together, and me making every meal. So I had made progress. 

But, darn. There was this box.

It had all the things in it that I thought would make it a fun week. I had packed candles for better Hygge (a Danish tradition), games, crossword puzzles for a competition…you see where I’m going. It had taken me a lot of time and thought to pack that box. My counselor made a suggestion when I told her about it: “Okay, just don’t bring the box.”

What?? I was horrified. I literally shrunk into chair, my forearms tucked into my crossed legs, head down. “I HAVE to bring the box” I said, nearly in tears. She realized the magnitude of what she was asking. After a few minutes of silence, she conceded. “Okay, bring the box, but don’t open it. Tell everyone it’s there and then don’t touch it again.”

I managed to do that. And truthfully, it was the best vacation we had ever had. Future ones have become even better. And I didn’t even need to bring the box.

Looking back, I realize that while I believed the weekend at the lake house was the beginning of the end, (it felt like it) it clearly was the beginning of the beginning for me. 

As an empty-nest-er, there is nothing better than you can give, your spouse, your children and your grandchildren than the gift of understanding yourself.

I was starting to become aware of the patterns of my responses to our children. I was learning the deep truth of who I am and what that means in terms of how I relate to others…especially the ones I love so dearly.

This is the hard work of getting to know yourself that is easy to forego. If you are struggling with the relationships with the people closest to you, end the struggle now and start again at the beginning.

--(c) 2019 Emily Morgan