The Beautiful No by Sheri Salata

Today I finished reading The Beautiful No, And Other Tales of Trial, Transcendence, and Transformation by Sheri Salata. In this book Sheri is transparent about challenges she has faced with her weight, not always following her happiness compass, why she doesn’t believe in work-life balance, and much more. She shares exciting stories from working as executive producer for Oprah Winfrey and learning from worldly thought leaders. She shares inspirational stories about unconditional friendship, her spiritual transformation, and how it is never too late to start a new path and follow your dreams.

Sheri made me laugh out loud and she made me cry. In her book she wrote, “Marianne was the first to put into clear and accessible language the idea that love was the force above all. It was both the call to action and the endgame.” I had to read that again. Love was the force above all. A call to action and the endgame. Love is why we show up for people and for ourselves. To choose love, to feel love and to express our love. To spread love all over the world.

Sheri reminded me that when I find myself in a rut I must intentionally seek out something new. This is especially important now, when my days run into each other and there is no real divide between work and school and home. I need to get creative and experience something NEW.

Rituals. This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. Having rituals for myself like waking up early and reading a chapter or 2, listening to a podcast, or drinking hot tea while journaling. Some kind of rituals where I can just be with my own thoughts. Other types of rituals I have been thinking about are rituals with my family. What are those things we do as a family that we look forward to, that we get energized from, and that turn into treasured memories? Times when everyone puts their electronics away and we just be with each other. Like movie night, or game night, or cooking together. Making plans and making it happen often.

It’s fall time, which is my favorite time of year, and the holidays are coming up. This will be the first holiday season without my grandmother. Christmas was one of her favorite times of the year. She loved decorating her house. She always made her famous divinity, and we all would gather at her house to celebrate, usually the weekend either before or after Christmas. She loved having everyone together, which got harder as we all grew up. The holiday season is going to feel different this year without GG. I will be thinking up some new holiday rituals for us that honor her. She will always be with us.

What are your rituals?

How do you honor loved ones you have lost?

Intimations by Zadie Smith

This past week I started my challenge of reading one book every week! I read the timely collection of essays by Zadie Smith that she wrote in the beginning months of the pandemic. The essays explore the complexities of the human experience in the midst of a crisis. She shares insights about comparing relative sufferings, privilege, race, death, and more.

The two essays that I enjoyed the most are Suffering Like Mel Gibson, where she discusses comparing relative sufferings and Contempt as a Virus, where she calls racism a virus and describes how so many people are infected. We must not become contempt. All proceeds from the book go to charities. This edition benefits The Equal Justice Initiative and The COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for New York.

Zadie inspired me to do some reflection on my own experience during lockdown. I haven’t been inside a grocery store, or any kind of store for that matter, in 6 months. Although I’ve had to adjust to working from home and figuring out what that even looks like in this new normal, I have been able to do so in the comfort of my guest bedroom. When school started this fall we had to make a choice on whether we would send our kids to school or do distance learning at home. We opted for distance learning, which wasn’t offered for pre-k students, so Ella isn’t in school yet. Dylan’s first year of middle school is being done virtually, and I have a whole lot of mom guilt because I don’t feel like I am able to help him as much as I wish I could while I am working. We have had to get creative and be resourceful while figuring out how to make all this work. Thankfully my husband has been a great deal of help getting Dylan organized and keeping him motivated.

The absolute worst thing that has happened to our family during lockdown is losing my grandmother in April. It is surreal when you lose someone without being able to see them or talk to them. I think about her everyday and wonder what she would be doing these days. What book would she be reading or what show or movie would she be watching? She loved drinking hot tea in her backyard while looking at her garden and watching the birds. When Dylan was born 11 years ago I moved back to Georgia and stayed with my grandmother for 4 months before I bought a house a couple miles away from her. She helped care for Dylan when he was young and I was working. Those two were inseparable. She was so crazy about that boy, and he was crazy about his GG. I am so grateful for her and for so many wonderful memories that I will cherish forever. Grandmothers are so special and she was the epitome of kindness and patience. She would just listen for hours. She was so thoughtful and she truly showed up for others.

My heart is still broken into a million little pieces. My mother lives in Arizona and she came here in March to be with my grandmother. She was here for about 6 months getting all my grandmother’s belongings situated and selling her house. She stayed in my grandmother’s house until the day of the closing. It was nice to be able to spend time with my mom in my grandmother’s house. I would take the kids over there just about every weekend and we would just chat for hours, eat, and watch Netflix. Most weeks that was the only place I would go. My mom bought an RV while she was out here, so we will be getting to spend more time with her.

I don’t see how things will ever go back to the way they were before. I know I am forever changed with the loss of GG. I still hear her voice saying, “Don’t work too hard, baby“.

“I won’t grandma. I won’t.