“Carlie Ruth! Get outta my flowers!” I heard this so much from my grandma when I was little that you’d think those were my other middle names.
Growing up, I was cool with my grandma, but I wasn’t as close with her as I was with my grandpa. What I did know about my grandma was that her flowers and her books were her pride and glory. She was a ridiculously intelligent, well read and proper woman who loved gardening and diet soda, but she was also really stern. My grandma didn’t play games with any of us. My grandpa on the other hand, was super playful and was as sweet as the ice cream he gave us for dinner.
It wasn’t until I got older that I was able to truly appreciate the tough, feisty, wise woman that was my Emma. When I started college, she went to live with my aunt only 20 minutes away from my campus. It was during this time that our relationship really blossomed. I would go visit weekly, sometimes even more, just to hang out, hear stories, complain, ask for advice, or just lie on the floor while she sat in her chair. Through these visits, I learned how remarkable she truly was. I realized how blessed I was to be able to call her my Emma. She was a pioneer, a dreamer, a mother, a jokester, a hard worker, gardener, chef, a devoted wife, a strong Christian woman, and so much more. Emma was everything that I can hope to be in my lifetime.
My Emma passed away two years ago. At first, I didn’t know how I was going to make it without her. She had become such an integral piece of my life. Then one day something happened and a conversation we had flashed in my mind and I realized that I don’t have to live without her. She is in my heart and in every lesson that she taught me. Now I celebrate her life, and especially her tough love. I miss her every day, but I am more grateful for the time I was blessed to spend with her. Though the lessons she taught me are innumerable and invaluable, there are three that always stay in the forefront of my mind:
One day in undergrad, I was having a really bad day, a terrible day, and decided to go visit her. It was one of those days when you just want to crawl back into bed and under your covers. On top of school stuff, my boss and I had a big disagreement at work. So I started venting. I was telling her how horrible everything had been and just when I thought she was going to stroke my hair and tell me everything was going to be okay, she said “Carlie Ruth, you know they don’t have to give you a job, right?” Pause. What grandma? She continued. “They don’t have to hire you and you don’t have to stay. You need to be grateful for what you have. If you don’t like it, change it.” This is oh so simple, yet so profound. I am reminded of this conversation every time I let situations get the best of me or I begin to feel overwhelmed. Be grateful and own your power.
Never bite off more than you can chew
Honestly, I used to scoff at the idea of having “too much on my plate.” I consider myself somewhat of a Renaissance woman and want to be great at many things. Only with growing, experience and maturity have I realized that isn’t quite what she was talking about. I can still be a Renaissance woman. I just have to focus and prioritize. It’s great to be all about your business, but “busyness” is something completely different. Prioritizing also means learning to say “no”. Be a good steward of your time and keep your eyes on the prize.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
We are all our own worst critics. I know I’m definitely mine. This is a double-edged sword because it is great to push yourself to be the best that you can be. However, this so often becomes us beating ourselves up. We tear ourselves apart and end up never feeling like we are good enough. We never feel like we do or accomplish enough. This is a huge one for me because I expect so much of myself. Expectations can be a great thing, but don’t gauge your greatness on your to-do list. We are enough, even when we fail and even when we don’t measure up to our stringent expectations.
At 26, I appreciate my Emma, her tough love and her wisdom more and more each day. I hope she knows that I am still playing in her flowerbed and reading her books. Only now, I actually understand.