You can’t help but smile as you look at the old pictures. The floodgates open and the memories begin to flow. There was just something about Grandma. She had a way of making people feel welcomed, loved, and comfortable no matter where you were. The lobby at church, in the bleachers at a softball game, or standing in the aisle at the grocery store - she was able to connect with anyone.
And, if someone came by the house, invariably they would end up spending most of the time in the kitchen chatting with Grandma.
I spent many a night sitting at the kitchen table with Grandma working through all the issues life would throw my way. Looking through my own box of photos the other day, I was amazed how many of them were taken in the kitchen. But this time, something different caught my eye as I looked through the pictures. It wasn’t the memories that took center stage. What I noticed was that Grandma’s kitchen…was a mess.
Picture after picture, no matter who was at the table, no matter what angle the picture was taken from, there were piles of magazines, a sink full of dishes, a refrigerator covered with pictures, birthday cards and recipes; stuff was everywhere.
Not exactly the type of environment that would be featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine.
The pictures in the magazine are pristine with absolutely nothing out of place. It is everything you imagine a kitchen should be. A perfectly placed floral arrangement sits on the counter. Color coordinated place settings rim the hand-crafted oak table with just the right amount of coral sitting on the window sill. It is flawless.
It is also cold, sterile, and uninviting.
Yet for some reason, we feel like we need to be more like Martha’s kitchen and less like Grandma’s in order to connect with others. We put on the mask, and hope to maintain the facade long enough to attract people and build relationships. It is clear the logic in this thought process is faulty. But we do it anyways, and get frustrated when we have difficulty connecting with others.
Author Brene Brown has some tremendous advice that cuts through the haze, the mask, and the self-erected boundary of perfection that separates you from the connection you crave. “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
Grandma personified authenticity. She was real - warts and all. And what was so beautiful is she accepted you with all of yours. No games, no masks, no pretense. It’s the type of environment we strive to create here at Sunrise Center for Wellness. We’re not perfect. You’re not perfect. It’s a perfect premise to build strong, healthy relationships. Come visit and experience it for yourself.
I never noticed the mess in Grandma’s kitchen. I just remember how she made me feel - safe, understood, welcomed, and valued. There is nothing more perfect than that.