30 Life Lessons My Grandma Taught Me (That I Didn't Appreciate Til I Was 30)

My Grandma on my mother’s side has always been a huge inspiration to me. A natural teacher and no-nonsense woman who, at 86 years old and 4’10” still commands respect the moment she walks in the room. Grandma Llama (so-called because until recently, she lived on family land which has served as a llama farm longer than I’ve been alive) was a big influence on me since birth. When I was a baby, my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome inhibited my fine motor skills and kept me from naturally walking and playing like a “normal child”. She’d sit on her kitchen floor with me for hours, playing pat-a-cake, manually teaching me how to clap my hand. As I progressed through school, we spent many afternoons at her kitchen table, while she tutored me in math (my worst subject, her specialty) using a chalkboard above the table to work problems out until I finally understood them. I could go on and on about the things I remember my Grandma teaching me, but it’s the passive lessons I’ve learned from watching her, the lessons of character that stick out the most.

My Grandma 'Llama'

My Grandma 'Llama'

30 Lessons Grandma Llama Taught Me, That I didn’t Appreciate Until I Was 30

  1. Drink Some Milk & Grow A Back Bone. Stand up for yourself and be assertive. A reminder to get what you need, and not lean on everyone else.
  2. Don’t Flatter Yourself. Not everyone (or anyone) is after you. You are no one’s first priority, either negatively or positively.
  3. God is mans’ greatest creation. Which doesn’t make God less real to anyone who needs him, just like any other human creation. Though, like everything spawned by humans, God is a flawed concept. Nothing is perfect or can be fully trusted or understood.
  4. Spend 20 minutes a day stretching. Even if it’s just laying on the ground with your feet on a kitchen chair. It’s good for your back and it quiets the mind.
  5. Don’t let people make you feel dumb. If they’re dumb, that’s their own fault. You don’t need to be on their level.
  6. Write stuff out. (Bonus points if it’s on a chalkboard)
  7. Be alone. It builds character, independence, and self-esteem.
  8. Travel. You’ll never run out of stories, and you’ll appreciate your home more when you return.
  9. Being small doesn’t mean being weak. You can be a 4’10” woman and run circles around “boys clubs”. It’s what motivates you that matters.
  10. Take no shit. It’s not worth relying on someone who makes you feel less-than.
  11. There is always something to do. Stay active, but eat well and get plenty of sleep.
  12. Observe Nature. There are lessons to be learned from the birds outside your kitchen window.
  13. Observe society but do not conform to practices that seem unfair or suspect.
  14. Nurture curiosity in every being. Question everything, and hear questions from others.
  15. Be firm when voicing facts.
  16. Be objective when voicing your opinion.
  17. The way each generation looks & behaves is a little different. That’s just what it is. Don’t put effort into staying “cool”, but try to keep up with the way the world’s turning.
  18.  It’s better to be respected than feared but sometimes, respect is also better than love.
  19. Don’t be scared. You only experience any particular event for a finite amount of time. This too shall pass.
  20. Invest in yourself. There’s a good chance no one else will.
  21. Ask for help. Don’t pretend to know everything.
  22. Don’t ask if help is needed. Pay attention, when help it’s needed, you’ll know.
  23. Work outside with animals or nature. The world is bigger than you.
  24. Clean your own house. You’ll be more likely to remember where you put things, less likely to make it a mess in the first place, and it serves as a reset button for your mind.
  25. Watch educational TV. If you have to watch something, grow from it.
  26. Don’t fill your mind, social life, or house with bullshit. If it’s not going to enhance your life, get rid of it.
  27. …But keep things that remind you of good times. Everyone needs a nostalgic pick-me-up occasionally.   
  28. Tell people you love them. They’ll remember if you do, and they’ll remember if you don’t.
  29. Learn how to make food you like, in portions you’ll eat and freeze some for days you can’t be bothered to prepare a meal.
  30. You’re not too stupid to figure it out. My personal daily Gma Llama mantra. If she could believe this in an era before YouTube tutorials, I can believe this now.   

I recently released a podcast interview with Grandma Llama under No Ordinary People where we dive deep into the experiences she’s had that made her such a strong, impactful woman. If you’d like to hear her story in her own words, you can listen HERE or check out No Ordinary People on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or the podcatcher of your choice.