The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.––Bruce Feiler, author, The Secrets of Happy Families
Last week, my daughter, Miranda, and I took a quick trip to Gilbert, Arizona, to visit my mother.
There were many great things about this trip, beginning with the desert and the heat. Some people don't like 100 F degrees +, but I do. Perhaps it's imprinting; I have happy childhood memories of visiting family in southeastern Arizona, an area that my ancestors pioneered.
We made memories spending time with my brother's family and his delightful 13-year-old daughter. When I said to her, “I hear that you sing well,” her response was, “I do.” I don't know many thirteen-year-olds who will unabashedly own their talents; I know many adults who struggle to do so. It was refreshing. Then there was a visit to the stunning Gilbert, Arizona temple and the requisite See's Candy run.
But my favorite part of the visit was looking at photos with my mom, especially photos of my two younger brothers. They are both quite a bit younger than I am, so we weren’t as close growing up as siblings often are. And sadly, one of these brothers took his life about a decade ago, a casualty of deep, persistent depression. What I loved about these photos was seeing the delight of my brothers as children. Glimpses of who they were, who they are, and who I think they can be again. The photos filled me with hopefulness. I loved seeing my mother's modeling portfolio when she lived in San Francisco as a young woman, straight out of college. She was absolutely gorgeous. I loved seeing photos of my Uncle Alvin, who I never knew because, while serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII, he suddenly died of leukemia at age 19. And, finally, a picture of my grandfather’s business, Nuttall's Garage, in Safford, AZ. I always loved knowing that my grandfather repaired large trucks and ran a towing company.
Photos are visual reminders of where we’ve come from and who we want to be –– a sort of action board—which is why I love my 1SE (One Second Everyday) app.
But photos also help us tell stories that ground us. Whether they are good stories or not. You may have noticed in Smart Growth that I shared a few family stories. These and many others are a part of me: the good and the not so good alike.
Relationships are an S Curve. We have to work at it to stay in the sweet spot of relationships, and often quite a few relationships at a time. Some are less important than others. But all require that we spend time with each other, even if only virtually. We tell each other our stories.
Who are the people, and what are the places imprinted in your memory?
How do you capture them and pass them on to those who will follow you?
This week's podcast is with journalist Sarah Jaffe, author of Work Won't Love You Back. It was a great conversation.
One thing she raised is that we value some types of work more than others, which means people can be great at something and not be able to do it because it doesn't put food on the table. She proceeds to point out that work is not family. Family is family, and it matters more.
And I was reminded of it again this past week.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts!
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