What we hear influences what we say to ourselves. Self-talk directs focus–what we think about, we bring about. Habitual thoughts determine who we become. The Grandma Message is a tool to help us be intentional about what we say, especially to those we love. Words have consequences ~ both positive and negative. Starting today we can choose our own Grandma Messages to uplift and empower the people around us.
James Allen said “As I think in my heart, so am I.”
I have a VERY dear friend, mentor and role model called Deborah Battersby; she’s a remarkable woman, as this post will confirm. Some years ago she sent me this article, asking me if I had any idea how she could share it with more people; my internet skills were sorely lacking in those days so nothing ever came of it at the time.
But this week has been very powerful for me…. The death of a close friend, thinking about the preciousness of this human life… a touching and intimate tea party at a girlfriend’s home where we celebrated each other’s impact on each other’s lives. Deb’s Grandma Message came back to me in a flash. I quickly wrote to her asking for permission to share it with you all… and of course being the humanitarian she is, she was naturally delighted.
I share it here as she wrote it.
If you appreciate its message, please take it on board and embrace it…. And pay it forward..
“We must teach the children differently,” he said to an assembly of nearly 1200.
It sounded simple, not especially profound, yet the words struck a chord that still vibrates in me. For months I awoke with the words falling off my lips or echoing in my head. I asked: What does this mean and what, if anything, am I supposed to do with it? Teach what? Teach who… and why?
Ask a question, you get an answer.
Sometimes it seems so obvious.
Teach the children; teach values and self-esteem, because beliefs and values are learned. Behaviour and emotions are learned. Hatred, prejudice and feeling unworthy are learned just as is love, tolerance, self-worth & compassion.
Imagine starting with a blank canvas, uncolored with negativity, self-doubt or limiting beliefs — free to create a masterpiece of positive beliefs & healthy self-esteem. With that thought a realization came… “YOU CAN!” You have two young granddaughters; start with them. Let them know how loved they are, how amazing they are and they don’t have to do a thing to deserve it. Help them paint a bright and beautiful self-image.
I called Marci, my daughter-in-law and shared the idea of a daily call with a special message for my grangirls. The plan was simple: I call; she rounds up the girls, puts us on speakerphone and tells them Grandma has a message for you, hence The Grandma Message. If they weren’t home I was to leave their message on voicemail and they could replay it whenever & as often as they liked. Rowan & Sylvia were 3 & 4 when we started the Grandma Messages and most of the time they were eager to hear them. I called nearly every day. It got easier to remember when I scheduled it early, usually after my workout or on my way to the office depending on what was closer to their breakfast time. It only took a couple of minutes and was a beautiful start to my day.
The calls would go like this, repeating the gist of the message each time:
“Hello, my precious angels. It’s time for your Grandma Message?
“You are smart and beautiful, brave and strong.
You are loved and loving. You are gifted and complete.
Today you will learn new things.
You can BE and DO anything in the whole wide world.
With practice and belief anything is possible.
I believe in you! Remember what we say?”
“I can! I will! I believe!” they’d shout.
Love you! Bye!
For weeks my grangirls looked forward to their daily call.
You are precious gifts and totally loved.
You are strong & brave, smart & beautiful, thoughtful & kind.
You are lots of fun to be with.
You have gifts & talents that will grow as you grow.
You can BE & DO anything in the whole wide world,
Just practice & believe. I believe in you!
What do we say?
I can! I will! I Believe!
“I can I will I believe”, a book by Beverly Buffini, inspired a song of the same title. Incorporating it in the Grandma Message was especially fitting because Beverly; a former Olympic medalist is passionate about empowering and inspiring young people.
Weeks went by: the calls became automatic and I loved making them. Some days the girls were cranky and didn’t want to talk or listen. “That’s fine. I’ll call back and leave your message on voicemail just in case you need it later.”
Sometimes Sylvia or Rowan would complain, “You always say the same thing, it’s boring.”
I laughed and told them that I was always going to tell them how amazing they are and how much they are loved. What’s funny though, they were quick to remind me if I forgot something they particularly liked hearing. Rowan would say, “What about brave Gramma? We’re really, really brave.”
Sylvia loves smart and beautiful and made sure I remembered to include that part. Marci reinforced the calls with her own version of Grandma Messages. She shared her observations as to how the girls were using them with each other.Sylvia used one to encourage Rowan to go to her preschool class when she was crying and didn’t want to go. Rowan used one to inspire Sylvia to keep trying on the monkey bars when she was frustrated & wanted to give up.
The messages were working & the girls were using them in naturally appropriate ways.
One afternoon Stephen, their dad, called and was talking to Marci. She put him on speakerphone so the girls could say hi. After talking to the girls, still on speaker, he went on to tell Marci he was having a tough challenge at work, he was extremely frustrated and he would be home late. Marci told the girls that it sounds like daddy needs a Grandma Message. They agreed and went on to tell him he is smart and strong and brave and clever. He can do anything in the whole world and they believe in him. Stephen laughed and said: “Thanks girls. I’ll be home as soon as I can.” About an hour later he called back and told Marci and the girls that they had given him just what he needed to clear his head and look at things differently.
He had solved the problem and would be home soon.
On a Sunday morning, after a sleep over, Rowan asked if she could call her mom. “Of course you can.” I dialed Marci and Rowan took the phone. She said, “Hi mommy. You are beautiful and strong, brave and smart. I love you and I believe in you.” My heart melted, unprompted she was passing it on.
Giving Grandma Messages was fun and it felt good, even when the girls were not in the mood to receive it.It was simple, easy and once initiated it began a journey of its own.
I wished I had had the insight to do this for my children. Another aha…what’s to keep me from doing it now?
I quickly called my daughter, Erin, and told her how proud I am of who she is and what she stands for. I mentioned specific things that I admire and she chuckled, “Is this my Grandma Message?” I said, “Yes, is it OK?” I could hear the smile in her voice as she replied, “Absolutely!”
I immediately made similar calls to my son my and daughter-in-law. It felt a little awkward at first yet freeing. The next time was easier. My husband was next. I called his cell phone and got voicemail. I left his Grandma Message anyway. When we spoke that night he seemed indifferent but said it was a nice gesture. I later discovered that he kept it on his voicemail for weeks. The whole family liked getting Grandma Messages.
I wondered how my friends might respond. I tested it: I called or emailed friends who came to mind while I was checking email. I was often surprised who I thought of; sometimes it was a person I hadn’t had contact with in awhile. I sent the message any way. Most often within moments of sending an email I would get a reply stating something like: you have no idea how much I needed this right now. The response was similar with voice mail messages.
I became more aware of the value of having someone believe in you, someone who is ready to remind you of your greatness.
Our hectic world has distracted our focus to the point where we rarely remember to genuinely honor and appreciate one another. The Grandma Message revealed the importance and power of this simple, intentional act. I needed to pass it on and enroll others in its practice. A close friend was expressing concerns regarding her grandson. His parents are going through a rough period and separating is a possibility. They don’t live near her and she needed a way to give extra emotional support to her grandchild without communicating any worries. I shared the Grandma Message and she cried. She’s been giving them for several weeks and says that she and her grandson are having a blast and loving the precious minutes shared each day.
I’ve had recent opportunity to speak to chapters of The Women’s Council of Realtors as well as other business and real estate groups. I have shared the Grandma Message and invited others to join in the daily uplifting of those they love, especially the children. Consider the ripple effect of these messages circulating throughout the world every day.
We can each remember someone who affected our beliefs about ourselves. If we’re lucky there was more positive input than negative. Many, if not most, adults are still trying to prove their worth to someone: themselves, a parent, a teacher, a peer, a sibling, or a phantom voice that whispers things like “you can’t” just when you desperately need to believe you can.
Clearly a strong, positive self-image is priceless, but its greater value shows up in how we treat others. If we cannot give what we do not have, then a world driven by love, respect and compassion will only come to pass when people feel love, respect and compassion for themselves. We must learn and teach that all are worthy of and deserve love. When we know that we are loved and nothing can take that away, we are free to give and to be.
May the Grandma Message find its way into your life, both in the giving and receiving? Perhaps this is one way we begin to “teach the children differently.”
With love and gratitude, Deborah Battersby. Copyright July 2005.
Deb’s Vision: The Grandma Message is embraced as a simple, easy and beautiful practice that enriches the giver as well as the receiver. It becomes a global phenomenon celebrating and reaffirming the power of unconditional love and the nurturing of our children. Let us realize and tap the power of encouragement, a resource available to and needed by, everyone. The Grandma Message becomes one of the healing gifts to come from the 9/11 disturbances in the force.
The Grandma Message is a deliberate practice. Its power is in repetition. Give it consistently regardless of behavior or performance. Give it to those you love. They need it more than you know. My own practice began in an unusual way. I first received its directive on 9/11. Share with me your emotional response.
If it touches you, begin the practice and pass it on. I am……” Deborah
And I am too through you…