Grandma’s Wild Journey

I hesitate to add to your inbox right now, just before the mid-term elections, in the midst of notification after notification, and the relentless disturbing headlines, breaking news, and tumult that is our climate right now.  Still, this onslaught is what inspired today’s edition of Work Wild.  Because somehow, between all that swirls and sometimes tips us over, we need to continue…  to do our work; to love and be loved; to stretch, to give, to receive; and to be engaged with this complicated, but still achingly beautiful world.

There are no easy answers as to how to do this, only a simple understanding that, for whatever reason, you are here on earth right now.  And with that precious gift comes the gentle urging for you to live, really live, into who you are and what you’re made of. 

It is in this context of showing up, even when things are hard, that I share the following story with you.

My partner and I recently traveled with her 87-year-old mother, who uses a wheel chair and has many other health issues, navigating across several states to attend her only granddaughter’s wedding. The journey included figuring out how to negotiate airports and planes, rent a van with an automatic ramp, drive her across a couple more states, and manage in hotel rooms that advertised that they were accessible, but were not.  It was challenging and exhausting, complicated and eye-opening.  We did our best, figured things out on the fly, and marveled at her fierce determination to not only attend the wedding, but be part of the whole weekend’s festivities.

Strength doesn’t come from how much you can lift, or how far you can walk, or even if you can stand on your own.  Courage is easier to muster if you are fortunate enough to be able bodied and can, most of the time, count on your body to do what you ask of it.  I would put my partner’s mother in the mix of the strongest, most courageous heroes I know—witnessing her say yes to the whole experience, despite knowing she would be in all kinds of awkward and uncomfortable and truly vulnerable situations.  Accepting she would have to rely entirely on the two of us as we puzzled and MacGyver’ed our way along.  THAT is Wild courage – along, I suppose, with a pretty healthy dose of stubbornness and will.  (All recognizable traits that have been passed along to my partner.)

The moments of grace and seeing family and friends light up in her mother’s presence were magical.  Watching the bride’s grandmother wheel down the aisle in her decorated electric wheelchair, stopping to throw rose pedals as the designated “Flower Grandma” was rich with every emotion.  All of it a powerful reminder that living, staying engaged in the world, isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.

So I share Grandma’s Wild spirit with you today, as you navigate this time of such uncertainty and upheaval in the world.  Say yes whenever you can.  Get outside so you can recall where you came from.  And remember, as often as you need to be reminded, that vulnerability is a path to connection.  Discomfort is part of the deal.  And, this is your one Wild and precious life (one of my favorite Mary Oliver lines), beckoning us to walk, crawl, or roll in it, in order to savor the journey.