SEPTEMBER 7, 2009 5:53PM

When You Are Discouraged or Feel Bad

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This is not from Calvary Chapel

 

 

I knew I shouldn’t have held my breath after asking my mom to start rummaging through her boxes for letters, writings, and other random jots by my grandma. Not only is she perpetually exhausted from work and life, but she’s almost as disorganized as I am. That’s why I was so surprised last week when she produced a few of my grandma’s cards during our lunch together. A half-sized manila envelope postmarked August 30, 2006, caught my eye. I opened it up. Inside, I found a white cardboard CD mailer with an unpostmarked 87-cent Albert Sabin stamp and a return address that read “CALVARY CHAPEL.” On the outside of the mailer in blue ballpoint pen, my grandma had written the following note to my mother:

 

This is not from Calvary Chapel. It’s Melissa’s ta CD, which I think you will love. It would be a good thing to play when you are discouraged or feel bad. I played it at least ten times, myself. Your library card is enclosed, also.

 

 

Disc, letter, envelope

 

 
I looked inside. There was a white paper CD sleeve with a disc I had burned for my grandma in 2005. The red- and green-Sharpied text read:

 

Women in Leadership

05-04-05

“Jefferson Daily”

Interview Segment

 

My heart fluttered. I’d forgotten about sending my grandma that CD. We never got a chance to discuss it, so it took me by complete surprise to read her reaction to the content. I still don’t know if my mom has actually listened to the disc. She has a habit of putting things like that off, waiting for the perfect moment, which never quite seems to arrive. I suffer from putoffism myself, so I empathize completely. But to think my grandma had played it repeatedly, had actually chosen to listen to it when she felt “discouraged”—that was an awesomely humbling revelation.

 

The disc contained an excerpt from the May 4, 2005, Jefferson Daily show on Jefferson Public Radio. As presenters at an upcoming conference, a psychotherapist named Taffy and I were being interviewed by Jessica Robinson about the changing roles of women in society, the workplace, and the home. Less than twenty-four hours before the interview, a friend who was one of the conference organizers had called me up, asking if I would be willing to appear on the show. I hesitated. I’d never done anything like that before. I really wasn’t thrilled about the idea of listening to my trembling voice on the radio as I publicly humiliated myself. On the other hand, maybe it would be fun. It was pre-recorded, so any particularly embarrassing moments could be edited out if necessary. And I knew the topic of my conference talk backwards and forwards: “Don’t Think of a Patriarch: Nurturant vs. Strict Models of Leadership,” based on the Strict Father and Nurturant Parent paradigms George Lakoff outlines in Don’t Think of an Elephant and Moral Politics. I was already feeling nervous about the upcoming presentation. Maybe this would be good practice. “Oh, all right,” I said, a small flock of butterflies alighting in my stomach. “I’ll do it.”

 

That night, I was too anxious to sleep. Well, I guess I got a few hours. But I remember waking at the crack of dawn, thoughts racing through my head almost faster than I could type. Hundreds of pages of readings crystallized for me as I bashed out a surprisingly coherent synthesis of my conclusions. I’ll include them below, partly as an archival curiosity, but also because the Nurturant Parent model so perfectly describes both my mother’s and grandmother’s parenting styles that this document may offer insights into their personalities.

 

The interview was alarmingly early—something god-awful like 7:15 or 7:30. I raced through my morning routine and stopped at the library coffee shop to pick up a Bunny Hop (two ounces of Java Juice, some melted caramel, a handful of ice, and a bucket of half-and-half topped by a dollop of whipped cream).

 

Yes, I was nervous, but it turned out my second hunch was also right. It was fun. Jessica, Taffy, Deltra (the Women’s Resource Center coordinator), and I basically just sat around discussing feminism, sociopolitics, and history in a little office crammed with radio equipment. Poor Deltra got cut out of the final version when the half-hour discussion got edited down to five-and-a-half minutes. And it was strange hearing some of our statements out of context, but Jessica did a nice job. For the curious, below is an mp31 of the excerpt that played on the radio just hours after our initial conversation, starting with Taffy’s account of what it was like growing up as a woman in an earlier, more misogynistic generation (also available here in case the embedded version fails to play):

 

 

  

 

What does any of this have to do with my grandma? Good question, really. Except this interview featuring fragments of my haphazard musings about hegemony and women meant something to my grandma. And it’s no surprise, considering she forged a life of independence, leaning against the predefined roles for women she’d found so suffocating. Her unconventional interest in tools and wiring led her supervisors to appoint her the first woman electrician at the shipyard where she worked during World War II. Later, in the fifties, my grandma boldly divorced her husband, choosing to raise three children on her own rather than remain in an oppressive relationship. This meant securing a full-time job that paid below minimum wage ($1/hour instead of $1.20/hour) to support her daughter and two sons. Single mothers were a relatively rare occurrence in the fifties, and it took chutzpah to opt for this financially painful, physically exhausting, and socially ostracizing path. But she somehow managed to balance work, motherhood, and domestic responsibilities. And amazingly well, too, my mom would attest.

 

Felix the Cat DVD cover

 

 

My grandma even helped to raise me, and I far preferred her nurturant parenting to the strict patriarch I was later forced to live with when my mom married my biological father. Except for a kindergarten stint in Massachusetts, I spent the first six years of my life living with my mom and grandma in southern California. It was as wonderful a childhood as I could hope for. One of my favorite memories is of waking up with the sun and racing into the living room to tumble into my grandma’s lap. She was the only other one awake that early, and we would sit together in the plush, rocking recliner ulphostered in an autumn-colored floral print. At six a.m., Felix the Cat would come on, and we’d watch the Professor get into all kinds of fixes as the annoyingly gregarious Felix repeatedly dashed to the rescue of his enemy.

 

 

Family Zoo

 

 

Afterward, my grandma might make me Cream of Wheat or oatmeal. Sometimes, my Uncle Bobby, who lived in a detached studio in the backyard, would come in and attempt to make pancakes. My grandma and mom would sometimes tease him about his lumpy, rubbery discs, but I still enjoyed eating them with real maple syrup. Bobby, the mad scientist hermit, would bring his breakfast back to the studio he had set up as a chemistry lab for his experiments (one of which later resulted in an explosion that liberated Bobby of the two middle fingers on his left hand, but that’s another story).

 

The fragrance of sautéing onions, peppers, garlic, and mushrooms would fill the kitchen as my mother improvised a scrumptious vegetarian omelette. She and my grandma let me steal sips of coffee in between drinks of my Postum, the substitute my mom prepared to keep me from getting addicted to coffee. The three of us would sit together at the dining table, eating and talking and laughing, imagining what our day was going to be like.

 

 

Felix purses

 

 

I started getting nostalgic for Felix the Cat iconography a couple of years ago. I purchased a Felix bowling-style purse on ebay, as well as a yellow lunchbox purse that made me think of Felix’s bag of tricks. This nostalgia coincided with memories that had suddenly started flooding my mind out of nowhere, causing me to start writing a poem about my grandma three weeks before her stroke. The day after I started the poem, I received her last letter to me. It was as if we were somehow connected to one another’s thoughts, even though we hadn’t spoken for a while.

 

 

Felix crossword button

 

 

That December, I realized it would be the first Christmas I hadn’t spent time searching for the perfect gifts for my grandma—usually Jeeves and Wooster books in whatever forms I could find (CDs, cassettes, paperbacks, hardbacks). On December 12, I came across an item on ebay that was an unbelievably appropriate symbol of both my grandma and our relationship—a pin showing Felix the Cat standing in a crossword puzzle! My grandma was the veritable queen of crossword puzzling. I had been tempted by the allure of crosswords myself. Two or three times I had obsessively attacked them, learning enough about myself to know I would need to wait until retirement before allowing myself this dangerously addictive diversion.

 

That $1.99 pin was the last present I ever bought my grandma. That’s how Michael described it in the story he told after I showed him the ebay listing: the last gift. I can’t remember the details of the story—just that it was so beautiful, it made both of us cry.

 

I wear the Felix crossword pin on my black hat, which goes into regular circulation in the fall and winter. Every time I straighten my hat in the mirror and notice the pin, I think about those dawns when I’d leap onto my grandma’s lap, our voices joining as we sang the opening theme together:

 

Felix the Cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat

Whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks

 

Felix the Cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat 

You'll laugh so much your sides will ache

Your heart will go pitter pat

Watching Felix, the wonderful cat.

 

 

 


 

Footnotes

 

1. I just inserted the CD in my computer to rip the audio for this post, and the disc was identified as Somme shit2 with an album title of “Marajuana Violations” by Dj Dimeyes. Wow. That is hilarious. I’ve never even heard of that. I can’t help laughing when I think of my grandma telling my mom to play Somme shit “when you are discouraged or feel bad. I played it at least ten times, myself.”

 

2. This is the title iTunes mysteriously derived from its online database. I tried finding a copy of this song online so I could listen to it, but alas, I was unsuccessful.

 

 

 


 

Addendum

 

Notes on “Don’t Think of a Patriarch: Nurturant vs. Strict Models of Leadership”

 

As women have made the transition to leadership positions, they have tended to unconsciously adopt established models of authority.

 

In our culture, hegemony has traditionally taken a patriarchal form, or what cognitive linguist George Lakoff calls the Strict Father model.

 

The Strict Father model seats the locus of power with the patriarch of the family.

 

     This model emphasizes obedience to authority enforced through punishment.

 

     The purpose of punishment (“tough love”) is to develop self-discipline and self-reliance in the child (i.e., character).

 

     Because this is a dangerous and difficult (i.e., competitive) world, it is crucial that the child obey the father, who is responsible for supporting and protecting the family, as well as for setting and enforcing the rules.

 

     This model gets linked up with Adam Smith’s view of capitalism, which says that by everyone pursuing their own profit, the profit of all will be maximized by the invisible hand.

 

     Therefore, by pursuing your own profit, you are helping everyone.

 

     This is how morality gets linked to prosperity: the pursuit of self-interest, which requires self-discipline and self-reliance.

 

     Ultimately, this model seeks to control the child through fear.

 

Cultural institutions tend to reinforce this model: school, religion, sports, corporations, government, the media—all of these benefit from obedience to authority, controlled through the mechanism of fear of the “other,” as well as the pursuit of self-interest.

 

In “A Nation Deceived,” Andrew Bard Schmookler discusses how fear is used to control the populace.

 

     Lakoff argues that fear activates the Strict Father model in the mind, causing what Schmookler describes as a loss of tolerance for ambiguity.

 

     This leads to black-and-white thinking.

 

     Because we are afraid, we crave certainty, since uncertainty magnifies our sense of vulnerability.

 

     This makes a leader who shows no doubt, who doesn’t even think twice before acting, comforting to those conditioned by the Strict Father model.

 

     The more afraid we are, the more irrational and therefore the more manipulable we become.

 

The Strict Father model parallels the Authoritarian model presented by Diane Baumind.

 

     Like the Strict Father model, the Authoritarian model attempts to control the child’s behavior in accordance with an absolute set of standards.

 

     It values obedience, respect for authority, work, tradition, and preservation of order.

 

     The Authoritarian model discourages verbal give-and-take between parent and child.

 

     Interestingly enough, studies show that the children raised under the Authoritarian model tend to be aggressive and out of control, have low self-esteem, and exhibit less evidence of “conscience.”

 

     Because their sense of right and wrong was taught to them through punishment rather than communication, their moral orientation tends to be external.

 

     The temper-tantrum–throwing children on exhibit in shows like Nanny 911 are prime examples of the terrors that can result from the Strict Father model of parenting. It is only when the nanny teaches the parents how to communicate with their children and the kids develop a sense of collaborative responsibility for the household that the children become calmer and more respectful.

 

These principles can be easily mapped to the employer-employee relationship through the Work Reward Metaphor.

 

     The Work Reward Metaphor states that the employer is a legitimate authority; the employee is subject to that authority; work is obedience to the employer’s commands; and pay is the reward the employee receives for being obedient.

 

     As with parents and children, this approach tends to engender mistrust, resentment, and lack of respect on the part of the employees for the authoritarian employer, particularly when that Strict Father leadership is practiced by a narcissist.

 

          Bruce Gregory discusses the threat narcissism poses to sustainability in his article, “The Impact of Narcissism on Leadership and Sustainability.”

 

          Narcissists are addicted to a complete domination over the present space or situation, which derives from their sense of grandiosity and craving for power.

 

          This is the Strict Father or Authoritarian model taken to destructive extremes.

 

In my experience, some of the most salient examples of Strict Father leadership happen to be women.

 

     Often, women who have risen to positions of leadership have acquired that status by playing the game—competition, survival of the fittest, etc.—which has further conditioned them to model the Strict Father paradigm.

 

     Instead of falling into existing patterns of leadership, however, I would argue that women move to redefine dysfunctional power structures in the workplace.

 

This is where George Lakoff’s analysis of the Nurturant Parent comes into play.

 

     Unlike the Strict Father model, the Nurturant Parent model is gender-neutral.

 

     This model emphasizes love, empathy, and responsibility.

 

     Other values that follow from empathy and responsibility are:

 

          Protection

 

          To be and encourage others to be happy and fulfilled

 

          Freedom

 

          Opportunity and prosperity [because they facilitate freedom]

 

          Fairness

 

          Open, two-way communication

 

          Community-building, service, and cooperation

 

          Trust

 

     Ultimately, it comes down to building a culture of mutual respect, open communication, and trust.

 

The Nurturant Parent model is similar to Diane Baumrind’s Authoritative and Harmonious models.

 

     In the Authoritative model, there is an expectation for mature behavior from the child and clear standard-setting.

 

     There is firm enforcement of the rules through commands and sanctions when necessary.

 

     This model encourages the child’s independence and individuality.

 

     Open communication is key, as is the recognition of the rights of both the parents and children.

 

     Unlike the rebellious, detached children raised under the Strict Father model, children raised under the Authoritative or Harmonious model tend to be independent, able to function in both the cognitive and social spheres, socially responsible, and self-confident.

 

In the workplace, the Metaphor of Work Exchange applies.

 

     Work is an object of value possessed by the worker.

 

     Employment is the voluntary exchange of the worker’s work for the employer’s money.

 

     Work is a matter of trade, not obedience.

 

Mutual respect, collaboration, creativity, and trust tend to distinguish a workplace influenced by the Nurturant Parent model.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Note: If you missed the previous posts and would like to read more about my grandma, links to earlier chapters are available in the left-hand column.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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Comments

Type your comment below:
First... anything Felix The Cat is just Cool!!! Second... in the radio interview you viewpoint is interesting adding contrast to the other speaker. I'm impressed with the strength of will [attitude?] your grandmother imparted within her life. You learned the lesson well. rAted!
@Chuck:

“First... anything Felix The Cat is just Cool!!!”

I agree :-) Until recently, I hadn’t watched it since I was little, and I worried it wouldn’t hold up to adult scrutiny. But Michael and I were amazed by the utter gorgeosity of this DVD when we rented it a few months ago. Apparently, 1958–59 was a vintage period for this series. Granted, the plotlines, scripts, and characters are tediously formulaic, but the color schemes and artistry of these episodes are sumptuous.

“Second... in the radio interview you viewpoint is interesting adding contrast to the other speaker. I'm impressed with the strength of will [attitude?] your grandmother imparted within her life. You learned the lesson well. rAted!”

Thank you, Chuck! I hadn’t listened to the interview for a few years and was a bit dismayed by the number of “um”s I counted when I heard it today, but I guess it could’ve been worse :-)

—Melissa


@Harvey:

“Enjoyed the CD”

Thanks, Harvey! Good to see you again.

—Melissa
This is wonderful - first, the story about your Grandma and the CD and Felix the Cat (Felix was one of my faves growing up). Secondly, the description your Grandma's nurturant style - every child deserves such memories. She reminds me of my Grandma M., which I've probably said before.

Thirdly, the excerpt from your work on nuturant vs. strict models of leadership. I've been thinking a lot about the Work Exchange lately . . . and the costs of strict models. Not specifically in those terms, mind you, but those principles.
What a great keeper. Bless you.
You make me want to rummage.
Spend days in musty shoeboxes.
You take me backs to memories.
Your grandma would be so proud. What an extraordinary tribute.
@Owl:

“This is wonderful - first, the story about your Grandma and the CD and Felix the Cat (Felix was one of my faves growing up).”

Muchas gracias, Owl! How fun to know that you, too, were a fellow Felix lover.

“Secondly, the description your Grandma's nurturant style - every child deserves such memories. She reminds me of my Grandma M., which I've probably said before.”

I would love to read a future post about your Grandma M! She sounds delightful.

“Thirdly, the excerpt from your work on nuturant vs. strict models of leadership. I've been thinking a lot about the Work Exchange lately . . . and the costs of strict models. Not specifically in those terms, mind you, but those principles.”

Again, you’ve piqued my interest and made me want to read more about your thoughts on this matter. As I recall, you’re in a leadership position, and I’ve no doubt you’re a perfect model of the nurturant style.

—Melissa


@Arthur:

“What a great keeper. Bless you.”

Bless you, too, Arthur, and thanks for the surprise visit!

“You make me want to rummage.
Spend days in musty shoeboxes.
You take me backs to memories.”


In my quest for writings by and about my grandma, I finally got around to opening up two boxes of childhood memorabilia my mom gave me over a decade ago. I had never opened them before last weekend. That’s where I found the drawing included above (“Zoo Boo”, etc.). It was an amazing trip and one I highly recommend to others. I hope you get a chance to do that rummaging.

—Melissa


@Steve:

“Your grandma would be so proud. What an extraordinary tribute.”

You’ve been such a faithful presence, Steve. Thank you, as always, for your gracious and touching words.

—Melissa
damn, your idea of good leadership made me tear up (wonder why- weird reaction) it's a sound idea Melissa, and your respect and love for your grandmother is so nice to see- you made my day.
@Julie:

“damn, your idea of good leadership made me tear up (wonder why- weird reaction) it's a sound idea Melissa,”

Wow, that is an intriguing reaction—and moving, too. I suspect maybe it has something to do with the damage you’ve witnessed by Strict Father narcissists. Years ago, I had a boss who was so bad, one person who used to work for her (my predecessor, actually) was still having nightmares about her three years later!

“and your respect and love for your grandmother is so nice to see- you made my day.”

Aww, thanks, Julie. You made mine, too :-)

—Melissa
Melissa--I love everything about this post. I appreciate your effort to bring so many differing points of view together so that we, your readers, don't have to wonder what you're talking about (I haven't read these paradigms before and I'm fascinated--there may be some online research in my future!). And these theories certainly resonate with me, on several levels. So to say I enjoyed this is a major understatement! Thank you for continually giving us the benefit of your years of thinking, reading, observing--and for continuing to share your wonderful mom and grandma with us. I feel blessed to read your work. Rated. D

P.S.--I really love your voice! Your speaking voice, I mean--you already know I love your writing voice! :o)
@Yarn Over:

“I love everything about this post. I appreciate your effort to bring so many differing points of view together so that we, your readers, don't have to wonder what you're talking about (I haven't read these paradigms before and I'm fascinated--there may be some online research in my future!). And these theories certainly resonate with me, on several levels. So to say I enjoyed this is a major understatement! Thank you for continually giving us the benefit of your years of thinking, reading, observing--and for continuing to share your wonderful mom and grandma with us.”

What an inspiring and encouraging comment! I’ve been meaning to translate this research into an article for years but never got around to it. I’m glad my randomly jotted notes are actually coherent enough to offer insights to anyone new to these subjects :-)

“P.S.--I really love your voice! Your speaking voice, I mean--you already know I love your writing voice! :o)”

:-) I’m just glad I didn’t sound as nervous as I felt!

“I feel blessed to read your work. Rated.”

And I feel blessed to know you, D. Thank you for your continual encouragement and your bright spirit.

—Melissa
I LOVE the pictures of your grandma-she was so beautiful!
@Elena:

Elena! It’s so wonderful to see you here.

“Wow Melissa, you always come up with the best contrasts and comparisons that I have never considered before. Thank you for challenging me to think differently. I love that.”

Talk about challenging people to think differently! You are so gifted at that, these words are even more profound coming from you.

“I was a huge Felix the Cat fan too. I also remember watching it on Saturday morning with my grandmother. I loved that he could throw a hole onto the wall, crawl through it, and then pull it through with him! You brought back some of my best memories, so again, thank you so much!”

Haha! I forgot about that. What a great metaphor. Don’t you wish we had a bag of tricks with a portable hole like that? Although it sounds like you found a bit of a grace portal today. What a blessing it is to know you’re smiling again.

—Melissa


@dizedd:

“I LOVE the pictures of your grandma-she was so beautiful!”

Thank you, dizedd, and welcome! Always a delight to see a new face. So glad you enjoyed my grandma’s.

—Melissa
Melissa, I was tempted to write a clever sendup explicating how Felix the Cat is really an authoritarian leader and thus not a suitable role model, but I'm not clever enough and haven't had enough coffee (perhaps I should switch to Postum). So, instead, I'll say this: I love Grandma and this post, and she no doubt felt great pride in how you turned out under the influence of her, your mother, and the wonderful cat.
This was such a lovely and interesting post. Thanks.
I hd written here yesterdy it never got posted I see where in Dolores's n JLD's blog I kept hitting enter so it got posted eight times :(

there is so much thought here and food for thought too ...
pleased to have more verbal snapshots of your life as a child. seeing the morning eyed child scrambling onto her grannie's lap, smelling the onion frying in the kitchen, watching your Uncle Bobby leave it with his breakfast, listening to your tape - glad to know what makes you who you are. now your ID has a voice profile to it - good. post a picture of you too sometime.

get well soon.
Felix the cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat! This is wonderful...another great remembrance...xox
the love you had for her is so beautiful
I'm sure she was happy about it
Such sweet memories, and a very enlightening post. Sad about the children and the domineering father, the punishment versus communication. So sad.
Listening to the MP3 now at 3 am (fell asleep too early and woke up too early!) Anyway, thanks for this. Nice sound quality to boot!

Long live Felix!
Another timely message from Grandma through you. I was looking up positive quotes to go with something I'm working on and had run across this just before reading your post,

"A succulent wild woman is one of any age who feels free to fully express herself in every dimension of her life."
— Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (SARK) (Succulent Wild Woman)

Thank you for how you express your life, your self and share that goodness with us!
Why do I feel like I just ordered a set of Bento knives? But wait! There's more! Pictures, audio, (I got to hear your voice!) past and present, Hip-Hop battles, (wait, wrong somme) chemical mishaps and missing fingers, footnotes and an addendum, Christmas and Felix the (annoyingly gregarious!) Cat! And always, Melissa, always there's love.

You don't live in hegemony's neighborhood.
Fascinating on so many levels. I liked the mp3, but I definitely loved the reasoning you follow on your notes about patriarchal authoritarian roles, their origins, results on many scenarios (political, economic, social, even moral!). Argentinean society IS authoritarian, with all the elements you have mentioned in your analysis, and I dare say (from the little I know) that the American society also has those streaks of authoritarianism. These notes are a very intelligent and original (at least to me!) answer to the issue of patriarchal societies. You´ve broadened my horizons, thanks!
But then, this is about your grandma, the corageous and sweet woman who is an example of a nurtural parent role, and that is the other side of the coin: how these not so common family models can have beneficial effects on societies at large.
And finally, the early morning ritual of love and affection when you were a little girl, Felix the Cat, your writing on a piece of paper; those memories that are yours forever, a beautiful tribute, Melissa.
It´s been so good to read this post, like a feast for me.
Thanks! Kisses,
Marcela
Hello Melissa,
I have not had the opportunity to listen to the mp3 recording yet, but I wanted to let you know that what I so appreciate abut your stories and vignettes is the beauty and wisdom that exists in the lives of all of us ordinary people. So many are searching for glory in the wrong places, looking for validity in the vapid existences of the glitterati. I can only hope that people realise the value of living a full life with those we love, making art and poetry and beauty in our daily lives, that does not require the acknowledgement of any critics. Thanks for sharing the richness of your grandma's teaching.
Nice. Loved the addendum. Good, sharp thinking and right on the money.

Monte
You are such a dear. And Felix the cat brings back memories.
Listening to you and thinking of your wonderful Grandma and mother while I eat my oatmeal. I am so profoundly touched by the vision of your Grandma's handwriting, it makes her even more real to me than her picture. You pass on her wonderful lessons of nurturing through your writing and the way you always so kindly comment and support your fellow Osers!
Wow! This is such a beautiful post. So many things to comment on - first I love that you are continuing to find more gifts from your grandmother. That CD - what a treasure! Also love the description of time spent with your mother and grandmother as a young child - the fact that you were given such love and nurturance undoubtedly enabled you to be the intelligent, caring person you are today. Lastly I appreciated your addendum about the Strict Father vs Nurturant Parent models in leadership. Oh - and I can certainly understand about the tendency to put things off for the perfect moment - I see myself doing that with certain posts on OS that I anticipate will be really great - like this one, for example. At any rate, this is just marvelous, and I would rate it multiple times if I could. Thank you for sharing this with us.
@AtHomePilgrim:

“Melissa, I was tempted to write a clever sendup explicating how Felix the Cat is really an authoritarian leader and thus not a suitable role model, but I'm not clever enough and haven't had enough coffee (perhaps I should switch to Postum).”

Hahaha! That would be hilarious. I could see making that argument based on Felix’s heroic status, which causes multitudes to adopt a worshipful, obedient attitude toward him. Of course, he’s too dang sweet to be truly authoritarian, but perhaps he practices a tyranny of niceness?

“So, instead, I'll say this: I love Grandma and this post, and she no doubt felt great pride in how you turned out under the influence of her, your mother, and the wonderful cat.”

You’re so generous, AtHomePilgrim. Thank you for your affirming words and your continual kindness.

—Melissa


@Cocoalfresco:

“This was such a lovely and interesting post. Thanks.”

And thank you for being here, Cocoalfresco! Welcome, and I appreciate the encouraging comment.

—Melissa
@Nabina:

“I hd written here yesterdy it never got posted I see where in Dolores's n JLD's blog I kept hitting enter so it got posted eight times :( ”

Doh! How frustrating :-( I’m always grateful to see you, whether yesterday, today, or tomorrow :-)

“pleased to have more verbal snapshots of your life as a child. seeing the morning eyed child scrambling onto her grannie's lap, smelling the onion frying in the kitchen, watching your Uncle Bobby leave it with his breakfast, listening to your tape - glad to know what makes you who you are.”

Thank you, Nabina—although it’s nowhere near as rich and stirring as the sensory feast in “the way I grew up,” which is still one of my favorite pieces at OS.

“now your ID has a voice profile to it - good. post a picture of you too sometime.”

Part II of the poetry video is coming next, so that will be more than just a picture :-)

“get well soon.”

Thanks, Nabina. Finally feeling better. Just trying to climb out from under the todo piles now :-)

—Melissa


@Robin S.:

“Felix the cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat! This is wonderful...another great remembrance...xox”

Hehe :-) Thanks for the kind words, Robin, and especially for favoriting me—that was very touching.

oxox,

Melissa
@Kathy:

“the love you had for her is so beautiful
I'm sure she was happy about it”


I love how you structure your comments like poems, Kathy! The form imbues each word with an even deeper significance. Thank you again for being here and taking a moment to share these kind thoughts.

—Melissa


@latethink:

“Such sweet memories, and a very enlightening post.”

Thank you, latethink! So wonderful to see you.

“Sad about the children and the domineering father, the punishment versus communication. So sad.”

I wholeheartedly agree, especially when you look at how much damage such attitudes have caused not only individuals, but our entire society. Suppression of feelings and stunted communication skills breed violence, fear, and bigotry, while encouraging children to express their feelings (very much like Mr. Rogers, the supreme Nurturant Parent, taught) leads to adults who can articulate their concerns and engage in open-minded discussion with their fellow human beings. So much unnecessary destruction and ignorance. But cultural paradigm shifts start with awareness, so the more people begin to identify the Strict Father versus Nurturant Parent framing in the media, in political debate, in our social structures, the more hope we have of turning the tides toward love rather than fear.

—Melissa
@Beth:

“Listening to the MP3 now at 3 am (fell asleep too early and woke up too early!) Anyway, thanks for this.”

So lovely to see you here, Beth, and thanks for the sweet note! I know all too much about wacky sleeping schedules—it’s especially bad when I get all out of synch on the weekends and then need to reign myself into a more regular sleeping schedule for the work week.

“Nice sound quality to boot!”

Yes, I was surprised to see Jessica using a simple portable CD recorder for her interviews, but it seemed to work perfectly well for radio purposes.

“Long live Felix!”

:-)

Hang 10,

Melissa


@Robin:

“Another timely message from Grandma through you. I was looking up positive quotes to go with something I'm working on and had run across this just before reading your post: ‘A succulent wild woman is one of any age who feels free to fully express herself in every dimension of her life.’”

I’m not familiar with SARK, so thanks for this intriguing quote! By that definition, my grandma definitely qualifies :-)

“Thank you for how you express your life, your self and share that goodness with us!”

Indeed, I would say the same about you, Robin! You have such a tender, compassionate heart, and I love how you express your Christlike spirit so beautifully through your art, words, and loving being.

—Melissa
@consonantsandvowels:

“Why do I feel like I just ordered a set of Bento knives? But wait! There's more! Pictures, audio, (I got to hear your voice!) past and present, Hip-Hop battles, (wait, wrong somme) chemical mishaps and missing fingers, footnotes and an addendum, Christmas and Felix the (annoyingly gregarious!) Cat!”

Hahaha! I’m sometimes amazed at the patience of my readers when I page down through my posts and realize how verbose and meandering I’ve been. I’m just grateful you actually viewed these as bonuses instead of yet more burdensome material to slog through ;-) (Another near-parapraxis: “greatful”!)

“And always, Melissa, always there's love.”

As I see in your writing and your ever-wonderful comments, consonantsandvowels.

“You don't live in hegemony's neighborhood.”

Thank God for that!

—Melissa
@Marcela:

“Fascinating on so many levels. I liked the mp3, but I definitely loved the reasoning you follow on your notes about patriarchal authoritarian roles, their origins, results on many scenarios (political, economic, social, even moral!). Argentinean society IS authoritarian, with all the elements you have mentioned in your analysis, and I dare say (from the little I know) that the American society also has those streaks of authoritarianism. These notes are a very intelligent and original (at least to me!) answer to the issue of patriarchal societies. You´ve broadened my horizons, thanks!”

Thank you, Marcela, for this thought-provoking comment! American society does indeed follow the Strict Father model, and I daresay that’s at the heart of our darkest and most imperialistic actions, just as it was in the Third Reich and Stalinist Russia. Lakoff maps the more recent spread of this parenting model to James Dobson’s propaganda empire. It gets especially fascinating when Lakoff identifies how this framing is used to manipulate the political debate, which is painfully relevant when we examine how the neocons seized and are now attempting to reclaim the reigns of power.

“But then, this is about your grandma, the corageous and sweet woman who is an example of a nurtural parent role, and that is the other side of the coin: how these not so common family models can have beneficial effects on societies at large.”

Yes, there is definitely a ripple effect, and I’d much rather see waves of nurturing love wash over families and communities than torrents of fearful hatred.

“And finally, the early morning ritual of love and affection when you were a little girl, Felix the Cat, your writing on a piece of paper; those memories that are yours forever, a beautiful tribute, Melissa. It´s been so good to read this post, like a feast for me.”

I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Marcela.

Besos,

Melissa
@Hazel:

“I have not had the opportunity to listen to the mp3 recording yet, but I wanted to let you know that what I so appreciate abut your stories and vignettes is the beauty and wisdom that exists in the lives of all of us ordinary people.”

That is especially meaningful, considering how much I value the ordinary.

“So many are searching for glory in the wrong places, looking for validity in the vapid existences of the glitterati. I can only hope that people realise the value of living a full life with those we love, making art and poetry and beauty in our daily lives, that does not require the acknowledgement of any critics. Thanks for sharing the richness of your grandma's teaching.”

Beautifully stated. Thank you for your moving and wise words, Hazel.

I’ve been thinking about you and Newton lately, as I’m in the middle of listening to Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country. Someday, I would love to read vignettes by both of you about your experiences of growing up in South Africa.

—Melissa


@Monte:

“Nice. Loved the addendum. Good, sharp thinking and right on the money.”

Thank you so much, Monte! It’s especially touching seeing you here when I know you’re trying to find balance in your life outside of OS. And yet you’ve already written two new posts I haven’t had a chance to read yet. You’re amazing!

—Melissa
@zumalicious:

“You are such a dear. And Felix the cat brings back memories.”

Aww, thanks, zuma :-) Hope those are happy memories for you. So wonderful to see you here. Love the new do ;-)

—Melissa


@Melissa:

“Listening to you and thinking of your wonderful Grandma and mother while I eat my oatmeal.”

You always make me crave oatmeal!

“I am so profoundly touched by the vision of your Grandma's handwriting, it makes her even more real to me than her picture.”

I’ve been meaning to include images of her handwriting for a while, so I’m glad you enjoyed those snippets.

“You pass on her wonderful lessons of nurturing through your writing and the way you always so kindly comment and support your fellow Osers!”

Thank you, Melissa :-) I’ve been sorely failing my OS duties as Michael and I took turns dealing with bouts of the flu and other miscellaneous life/work demands. I hope to begin catching up soon, but the backlog is quite daunting! I had installed an RSS feeder on my iPhone so I could track posts by some of our close friends, and it was up to 141 this morning. In a grave interface design error, the app allows you to “Mark All Read” without any kind of “Are you sure?” dialog box, so casually brushing my finger over the buttons on the bottom caused me to lose my entire list of posts to read!!! I guess that’s one way of forcing me to start fresh, but so disappointing. I do know that yours was one of them, so I most definitely look forward to getting to that sometime this weekend!

—Melissa
@dustbowldiva:

“Wow! This is such a beautiful post. So many things to comment on - first I love that you are continuing to find more gifts from your grandmother.”

Thanks, dustbowldiva! I, too, love these ongoing gifts and am continually grateful for and surprised by them.

“That CD - what a treasure! Also love the description of time spent with your mother and grandmother as a young child - the fact that you were given such love and nurturance undoubtedly enabled you to be the intelligent, caring person you are today.”

How kind of you to say so! I definitely credit my mom and grandma with providing that foundational nurturing at such a crucial period in my development. I was already quite independent and had a far greater appreciation for the Nurturant Parenting style by the time my father came into my life, which no doubt made it incredibly difficult (impossible, really) for him to garner my respect by practicing Strict Father behavior with me. I have more empathy for his predicament now that I’m older, but I had absolutely no patience for him as a child.

“Lastly I appreciated your addendum about the Strict Father vs Nurturant Parent models in leadership.”

Now I’m glad I included it, as it has generated a lot of interesting discussion in the comments.

“Oh - and I can certainly understand about the tendency to put things off for the perfect moment - I see myself doing that with certain posts on OS that I anticipate will be really great - like this one, for example.”

I do the same thing, too! I consider that an honor and am always delighted to see your lovely comments, no matter how long after the initial posting.

“At any rate, this is just marvelous, and I would rate it multiple times if I could. Thank you for sharing this with us.”

That’s so sweet of you to say so, dustbowldiva. Thank you again for your enthusiastic support and for your warm, thoughtful comments.

—Melissa
So many things going on here:

First and fore most "This is not from Calvary Chapel. It’s Melissa’s CD, which I think you will love. It would be a good thing to play when you are discouraged or feel bad. I played it at least ten times, myself." That right there is the best review ever written!

As a messy pack rat myself I love the hodge-podge of mementos from your Grandma. My most recent post had a brief section about some of the mementos my father had saved. It is amazing what a sense of connection these simple items can provide.

Finally listening to your radio program and reading your notes is a challenging lesson. I am at the last of my Dad time. It is sobering to reflect on my successes and failures raising my children. Your insights provide me with much to digest and learn as I enter my Grandpa years. I hope I can incorporate some of your Grandma verve into my own life.

and on a trivial note don't worry about the "ums". I once listened to a lecture I had given and I swear that I started and ended every sentence with "you know?".
Another beautiful tale about your grandma. Loved the morning stories..
@TheObsoleteMan:

“That right there is the best review ever written!”

That’s why I was so bowled over when I read that! My grandma was not particularly effusive in her praise, so when she had something positive to say, it carried all the more weight.

“As a messy pack rat myself I love the hodge-podge of mementos from your Grandma.”

I am so relieved to hear you are a fellow pack rat. Our weakness is books, and you could arguably say more room is devoted to books in our home than to anything else—if you don’t count the upstairs, which has been annexed by our starlings, Franny and Zooey.

“My most recent post had a brief section about some of the mementos my father had saved. It is amazing what a sense of connection these simple items can provide.”

Absolutely. I used to be relatively unsentimental about such things, and now I regret it. Like recycling the envelopes on my grandma’s letters. What was I thinking? I kept some, recycled others, but the lost postmarks and stamps will never be retrieved, so I’ve taken that as a lesson to be more protective of such precious items in the future. Your observation reminds me of “What We Lost,” one of my favorite poems by Eavan Boland, which I cited in full in a comment at this post.

“Finally listening to your radio program and reading your notes is a challenging lesson. I am at the last of my Dad time. It is sobering to reflect on my successes and failures raising my children. Your insights provide me with much to digest and learn as I enter my Grandpa years. I hope I can incorporate some of your Grandma verve into my own life.”

I’m both honored and touched that anything I’ve shared could inspire you as you embark on grandpahood. I am certain your sensitive soul and thoughtful kindness will make you exceptional in this role.

“and on a trivial note don't worry about the ‘ums’. I once listened to a lecture I had given and I swear that I started and ended every sentence with ‘you know?’.”

Haha! It was especially noticeable as I have (or at least I think I have) completely excised that word from my speaking vocabulary, but I think because I was more self-conscious about speaking publicly, the “um”s flowed more freely than usual. As for the “you know”s, don’t feel badly about those. I once interviewed a well-respected author who laughed at himself when he read all the “you know”s in the initial draft of the interview transcript.

—Melissa

P.S. I have been saving your most recent post (along with Monte’s, fireeyes’s, Delia’s, zumalicious’s, Steve’s, Annette’s, Newton’s, AtHomePilgrim’s, scoubidou’s, and oh so many others) for Sunday reading, but I’m coming down with yet another migraine, so I apologize if I don’t get to it as soon as I hope to.


@fireeyes:

“Another beautiful tale about your grandma. Loved the morning stories.”

Thank you, fireeyes, and so delightful to see you here! I really enjoy reading about your early memories, as well.

—Melissa
What a great bond you shared with your grandmother... I never knew my grandmothers they passed when I was very young. I only know them through the stories I am told from my parents and older siblings. You are very very blessed indeed.
Melissa - I love hearing your memories of your grandmother and the time you spent with her. I had a very strong bond with my grandmother, too, and your posts bring back my memories of her in such a powerful way. Thank you for this.
These are by far the most beautiful writings I have read yet. I actually have to prepare myself whenever I come to read them because I will be weeping uncontrollably because of the love shown here and the current torment of my own life. These are perfect.
rated
You are such a writer and person. Lovely to hear this interview and how appropriately it relates to Grandma - Love, Irie
Thank you for sending this on to me. I did a double take because mostly people send only their latest and even then consider it bad form, apologize etc. I would never have read this had you not sent it to me. In today's world of busi-ness it gets tough to get to everything one even knows of much less what one has no clue about. So first and foremost thanks.
Right now I have not heard the interview...but I liked the
Notes on “Don’t Think of a Patriarch: Nurturant vs. Strict Models of Leadership”

btw have you thought of putting it all together as book? Well done!