Pearl of Wisdom #28: “She was a true lady who saw the silver lining in everything.” Susan H.

April 28, 2013

Lesson learned:  “She was a gracious, charming and kind woman who possessed the social graces of a true lady.”  My friend, Susan, was not referring to Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn, well-known icons of style and grace.  Instead, she was describing her Aunt Magda, whom she greatly admired and who had passed away only a few days ago.  “And”, Susan continued, “she always saw the positive in everything.” 

Susan glowed as she reflected on the fond memories she had of her aunt, a woman in her eighties who had clearly been a special role model in her life.  While she spoke adoringly of the style of this lady, I think it was her aunt’s ability for see the “silver lining” in every situation that inspired Susan the most.  What a wonderful creed to exude and live by – this principle of positive thinking.  

Many prominent business leaders, authors and motivational speakers have included the power of positive thinking in their writings and speeches.  According to Patricia Neal, “a strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug”.  Helen Keller wrote “when one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”  Donna Karan, the fashion designer, articulated her thoughts more succinctly, “delete the negative; accentuate the positive!” 

Thank you, Aunt Magda, for inspiring and reminding us of the benefit of seeing that the glass is half full, not half empty.

Pearl of Wisdom #27: “Our family remained connected thanks to the Sunday dinner.” Bob B.

April 10, 2013

Lesson learned: I met the B & G families one morning to discuss and plan the move of Mrs. G. to a nearby retirement community.  Shortly after crossing the threshold of this tidy and attractive townhouse, I knew this family was special.  Normally, my meeting begins in the comfort of the living room, but this time I was invited into the kitchen and became acquainted with my new client, Mrs. G., her daughter, Joan, and son-in-law, Bob, over a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a plate of delicious donuts.  What a special treat, I thought.  They really know how to welcome a stranger.

As the conversation continued and we began to identify what Mrs. G. would take with her to her new home, insights into this caring and traditional family emerged.  Bob eagerly recounted with special affection the beloved family ritual that began when he was growing up in New York and continued to this day – the Sunday Dinner.  With his mother-in-law transitioning into a much smaller home, it was clear that this weekly event would shift to his and Joan’s house.  I don’t think Bob minded.

From my many Italian friends, I am familiar with how honored a tradition the Sunday dinner is.  In July 2012, Philadelphia Magazine featured an article entitled “The Sunday Dinner. One of the most beloved Italian traditions in this city is also one of the most important.”  Here we read, “in an age when life seems to move faster than ever, the South Philly Italians tether us to a civic identity that was never as winsome as it appeared, but that we nonetheless still treasure deeply, the way you do a box of old love letters.  …  There is comfort in constancy.  It’s not that we want everything to stay the same.  Just that we want the good things to.” 

Bob certainly agrees and I wouldn’t doubt for a moment that preserving this important family tradition will continue for many years in Bob and Joan’s home before their children become the newest hosts.

The article concludes with sage advice from Frank, a man the writer interviewed, “never underestimate the power of love and understanding.  People live hectic lives all week.  Kids have so many more options than I did or even you did.  But this – this is the day everyone gets to reconnect.” 

I’m touched by how passionately Frank and Bob describe this weekly culinary and family custom and also a little envious.  Pass the lasagna please!