As we are all moving through “unprecedented” times, it seems we are either grasping for what was once normal, holding out for things to change, back to what was familiar, or grappling for new direction, ideas, or inspiration. Or doing all three at various times during our lives.

Nevertheless, I experienced an extraordinary lesson earlier today from my 98 year old mother in law. And I thought I would share it with you for it seemed to inspire so much for me and maybe you may see it as well.

Carol is an exemplary human being. Not only is she a spry – independent 98 year old, her attitude is what makes her most impressive. From her lens, everything is wonderful. In fact, the phrase, “This is the best …” is pronounced multiple times during the day whether she is at the local diner [“This the best burger I have EVER had”], shopping at our local Goodwill [“This is the best Goodwill ever”], and simply, meeting friends [“She is the nicest person”]. You get the point.

In addition to seeing things from the positive, rose-colored perspective, she is also trying out new things and learning all the time. In fact, that’s what this piece is about: Today, she taught me something she had just learned: She has discovered a new grip for handwriting and it really works!

Here’s how it went down: Early this morning, following the usual piece of toast she calls “breakfast”, she moved forward with her day by tackling her address book. At 98 years old, she decided she needed to organize her friends and family addresses from her “business” contacts. All of a sudden, she takes a break from the chore and says to me, “Larry, remember that waitress at the restaurant the other night? I noticed that she held her pen differently, between her fingers like this [She shows me what is similar to the Static Tripod hold; see illustration above], and I tried it out myself. And you know, it really makes a difference. I write better and feel more in control of my writing”. She was excited about this new revelation.

So I tried it. And yes, she was right! If I rest the pen between my index and middle finger, and pinch the index and thumb together, this firms up my grip. And my non-legible writing, often too wavy for most readers, becomes easy to read. Also, my hand takes on less stress in this grip. As I am getting older, writing tends to put excessive pressure on my hand and legibility tends to fall by the wayside. I was impressed by her discovery. Yes, an old dog can teach us new tricks!

Getting back to the original point of this writing: Are we really better off by striving for “normal” and reaching for what was, or are there benefits in seeing things from a new lens? Is the pandemic a disruptive pain in the a** or are there lessons unfolding everyday for us to learn from? From the example set forth by Carol, she presents a “growth mind-set” every fricking day. And that I believe is one of life’s true lessons coming from a 98 year old who has seen a lot in her lifetime: By taking notice of one another, seeing how others live, understanding our differences, maybe we can grasp a new way we can proceed ourselves.

So I propose: As we look forward to getting back to a post-covid existence, I will take Carol’s lead and literally, get a grip.

Best Regards,

Larry