Values from the Front Porch:
Remembering the Wisdom of Our Grandmothers
By Jane Middelton-Moz
An exploration of traditional grandmotherly guidance provides ageless wisdom for real life situations.
Many today lack the thread and rich hues that were once woven into the fabric which protected and held our ancestors together through challenging times. Family and community ties are often obscured today by cell phones, internet, mega-channel TV selections, video games, fear, materialism, and competition.
In Values from the Front Porch, author Jane Middelton-Moz, explores twenty-three fundamental values and the importance of being more mindful of them in our day-to-day activities. Recognizing the central role that grandmothers have played in many cultures—that of handing down traditions and values to the younger generations—each chapter centers around recollections from people revealing what their grandmothers taught them about a particular virtue, and how these teachings have aided them in their lives. Each chapter concludes with short exercises for strengthening that value in our daily lives.
Uplifting and hopeful, Values from the Front Porch provides lessons we can all incorporate in our own lives to create stronger and more joyful families and communities.
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Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher: Health Communications, Inc.
Release Date: January 15, 2006
Value One - Celebrating Life
"Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird will come."
— Chinese Proverb
On November 28, 2004, a chartered plane carrying Susan Saint James' family crashed upon takeoff. Her fourteen-year-old son, Edward Ebersol, was killed in the crash. In an interview several months later, Susan Saint James was asked if she was angry about the errors that might have caused the crash. She responded, "Holding on to resentments is like taking poison and hoping the other guy dies." Instead, she focused on her blessings: the fact that her husband and older son had been saved, the joy Edward's life had given her and all those who knew him, the heroism of her older son, and the outpouring of support her family had received from people throughout the world.
Many people suffer enormous trauma and loss in their lives, yet somehow grieve fully, let go of resentments, and enjoy and celebrate the gifts life offers. Others stay stuck in their feelings of victimization or guilt and hold on to lifelong resentments that slowly poison their lives and relationships, which can affect their physical and emotional health.
It isn't possible to live life without problems or some degree of suffering and grief. Yet there are those who focus their energy on unfairness or casting blame rather than seek a solution to their problems. The more we focus only on our problems, the bigger they become and the greater the likelihood that we miss seeing the gifts that enter our lives. A father might focus his energy on the unfairness that his neighbor has a new car and miss the joy of celebrating his child's first smile.
Early one morning a number of years ago, I was sitting on a bench in the beautiful garden of the hotel where I was staying. I was enjoying the beauty around me when an older man sat down beside me. "Ah, I so love the sounds of birds early in the morning and the sweet smell of flowers and freshly mown grass," he said, taking a deep breath.
As we talked, he told me about the diabetes that had robbed him of his sight, and I responded that it must have been difficult to lose his sight. He laughed, "Oh, yes, it was until the day I realized how fortunate I was to have discovered that my sense of smell and hearing became much more acute. You know, I used to take all this for granted," he said, gesturing to all that was around him. "For years I never smelled the grass nor heard the birds. In my loss, I have gained so much."
Later that morning, I was sitting in the restaurant of the same hotel. The couple at the next table spent their entire meal loudly complaining about the restaurant service, the laziness of the housekeeping staff, the temperature of the pool, the hardness of their mattress, the cost of their room and the weather. In fact, complaints were the sum total of their breakfast conversation.
The lesson I learned that day couldn't have been more obvious: celebration of life is not dependent on what has been received, nor is suffering always the outcome of what has been lost. Some people continually focus on what is not, whereas others live their lives celebrating what is.
Celebrating life isn't only allowing joyfulness, but it is also embracing loss, grieving fully, then letting go, all the while learning the lessons that both joy and sorrow have to teach. Loss is not optional in life; yet how we face loss, problems and suffering is a crucial element in determining the quality of our lives. Opening ourselves to joy and celebration is a priceless gift we give ourselves and our children.
© 2007. Jane Middelton-Moz. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Values From the Front Porch: Remembering the Wisdom of Our Grandmothers. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.