Updated: Dec 7, 2020
"So, who knows you in Japan?" My mother would say this whenever I felt insecure or fearful about moving out of my comfort zone. She believed in independence and didn't give a hoot what others thought. She wanted me to understand the wisdom in not minding what other people thought of me. She encouraged me to feel comfortable in being my own unique funky self. That it was okay to be different, even misunderstood because not everyone is going to get or like me. That I would one day find my own tribe. Birds of a feather flock together. She was right, of course. And now I have passed down her wisdom to my son.
Another one from mom, "There are have to do's and want to do's". Then she would follow with "You decide if this is a have to do or want to do." This statement of wisdom would allow me to come to my own realization of what was best for my highest good at the time. Mom repeatedly said these exact same words to my son. By doing so, she encouraged learning and correct action through self reflection, rather than my way - nagging. Amazingly, she was able to reach my son's common sense without an argument. What a wise woman!
"If he could change his life he would." My dad was my mentor, mental health savior, and confidante. He was my go to person every time I would get angst about my son's antics or health. Weekly hour long conversations would become our routine over three decades. "If he could change his life he would" was repeated to me many times over the years as a reminder to wake up and accept "what is". And the truth is that every time I heard this phrase a thunderbolt would shoot through me and the wisdom in my heart would say, "Yes, of course, let it go..."
"Him talking and a dog farting - same thing." The first time I heard my grandmother say this I thought I was hearing things. My mild manner, soft spoken Mama, pulled out the verbal gun when she needed to. This phrase stopped everyone in their tracks and induced hysterical laughter. Her wisdom was in getting everyone's attention with a crazy funny shocker which immediately diffused a situation. This one simple phrase, "Him (You) talking and a dog farting - same thing" has come in quite handy whenever I felt triggered, and needed to quickly let go of my anger. I have never said this out loud to anyone other than perhaps my husband.
"The main thing in life, you should love each other.... And when you love, a small room looks like a palace, and poor can be happier than rich. Because where is love, there is God."
My grandpa, Akiva Taubenslag, said this and it still makes my heart sing. So profound, simple, and true.
"Never give up and always try" is my brother Michael's saying. This has helped me soldier on when I didn't think I had an ounce of energy left in me. My son, Nick, also says this to himself religiously. He believes this to be the Taubenslag motto. Perhaps it is because I have seen my beloved elders do what they needed to do.
Wisdom from our elders; words from the "greatest generation". They lived through wars, the depression, and humbling circumstances that would make us cringe at the thought of it. They learned to let go and live according to what mattered most. And at the end of the day, I believe that the only thing that matters most is how well we loved.
Debra Taubenslag, Author
No Stone Unturned: How My Special Needs Child and I Transformed Against All Odds