I traveled to Oregon last week to attend my grandma Naomi’s memorial service, and I came home with a few little insightful gems that were worth sharing. In spending time with family and remembering her, there were 5 distinct things I feel my grandma taught me as a kid, teenager, and new mother.

Naomi and Jamie 1999Laugh Loud & Often

I was lucky (or some might say unlucky) to be blessed with a version of my grandmother’s laugh- it’s very loud, boisterous, and verges on the edge of an ear-splitting cackle. It’s very distinct and somewhat overwhelming. Some people are a bit shocked and rattled when they hear that laugh.

I’m ok with that.

Everyone knew Naomi for her laugh, and it made others bust open a smile and stop taking themselves or a situation so dang seriously. Laughter is deemed the greatest medicine, and that isn’t all bogus. It lowers our cortisol (stress hormone) levels, increases the serotonin and oxytocin (good hormones) running through our body, and puts us and others in a better mood. It relaxes us and is contagious. Why aren’t we laughing more?

If there is anything I have learned through the years:

When in doubt, laugh. It’s just as cathartic as crying.

Love Shamelessly

Jamie & Lovetts 2004I grew up watching my grandmother and grandfather express verbally their lovey-dovey sentiments to each other, and I’m so grateful. I believed my grandma thought I was the coolest little girl out there, and never felt short of love and affection from her.

I want my hubby and kids to feel the same way. I want them to know how cool and amazing I think they are, how much I love and adore them, and how proud I am of their unique selves. The only way they are going to feel and believe those things from me is if I tell them. Over and over. Again and again. It’s on me to express that love and affection to them.

Hiding the love we feel for others serves no one. Show your appreciation and gratitude so others can bloom.

Be Unique & Own Your Crazy

We are all so similar, but each of us has a few defining characteristics that make us incredibly special and unique. Naomi had red curly hair, a loud laugh, a way to welcome everyone, and a sparkly energy she shared with everyone she met. She also owned those things that made her a bit crazy: her laugh and determined and obstinate nature.

She never tried to mute who she was, even if her true self didn’t quite line up with the situation at hand. Her family and husband were frustrated with her at times, but she was true to her inner core. Everyone that met Naomi knew what she stood for and what she thought was wrong. No one had to wonder what her values were or with whom she aligned. She owned her crazy loves, likes, feelings, and values.

I believe VERY strongly that every person is beautiful, unique, and brings value to this crazy world. I stand behind my boisterous laugh, energetic presence, goofy humor, and type-A personality. I also try to own my overly anxious nature, my inability to sit still, and sometimes aggressive personality.

What defines who you are, and how do you live that every day? What makes you special and unique? How can you own and stand behind your individuality?

Read to Keep Your Wits

As a young girl, I used to think my grandma was a book and crossword puzzle hoarder. Now that I’m older, I realized that she was smart. Smart to constantly fuel her brain with romance and mystery novels, crossword and word puzzles, and comics that would make her laugh. She was also lucky in that her brain was working for her until her 97th year- even when she was blind, could barely hear, and was nearly bed-ridden.

I have gone through phases of reading in waves, but I’ve entered at time in my life where reading has been a constant companion – both for work and for fun. Research prove over and over that reading to ourselves, others, and involving groups in reading can only benefit us.

Read often, and keep that brain flexing into old age.

Women Are Strong & Impactful

Like I stated earlier: Naomi was known for her strong head, energy, and determined nature. I believe that she developed that every year of her life. She was one of six kids, lived through the Great Depression, was a single working mother at one point, owned her own salon business, beat breast cancer and numerous hip replacements, fought for causes she believed in, and was NOT one to complain… even in the thick of it.

I don’t care how strong headed and determined you are, life is going to throw crap your way that breaks your stride and brings you to your knees. It’s how and when you decide to get back up and push through it that counts, and my grandma modeled that better than many I know.

Learning more about her story helped clarify what I already know:

My grandma was a badass.

Women are badasses.

Women are unstoppable when they are determined and driven.

Decide how you are going to live each day, and be strong and determined to make it a reality.