Family Rituals

We have a weekly family ritual where we share our individual sweet, sour, spiritual, and surprise events from the week. It is an opportunity for family connection but also personal reflection. We can acknowledge what has not gone well while also framing the narrative to emphasize the positive. We are closer as a family as a result of this weekly exercise.

So, I thought I would do some of this with you!

I’ll start with a surprise: I got on a plane for the first time in nearly eight months. Is it just me, or are people kinder than they were 18 months ago? Perhaps being masked makes us feel emotionally safer and more open to each other. My other surprise occurred at my niece Eve’s wedding luncheon. There was a taco truck for the luncheon, with authentic street tacos like you get in Mexico. It was wonderful sitting in the San Diego sun on a Friday afternoon eating street tacos at an extended family gathering. Upside surprise!

It was deeply satisfying to see my niece so happy (I will share photos on Instagram), her husband’s family so delighted to have her in their family, and to see her surrounded by people who love her and to whom she gives love. American essayist, novelist, and poet Wendell Berry said —

Lovers…say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and on its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. Here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving.

My sweet for the week was being with my family. This is the first wedding of my parents’ grandchildren––my mom, brother, in-laws, cousins, nieces, and nephews were all there. Plus, I got to spend time with my son, David, who’s now in his twenties, and mostly on his own. We laughed together, learned from, and taught each other. We’re grateful for how our relationship is evolving into what it will be in the future, not adult/child, but adult/adult. When things didn’t work, we could tell each other. When things worked, we could appreciate and talk to one another. This is how I want my most important relationships to be—comfortable, collegial, and always building (yes, always in the sweet spot of the S Curve)!

Do you have a sweet, sour, spiritual, surprise, or some similar type of life inventory with your family?

Our this week is Mike Rowe, a man who has a tight-knit family. His admiration for his grandfather and a call from his mother led to the work that we know him for, most famously as the originator and host of reality TV’s Dirty Jobs.

I’ve been thinking about the importance of work and valuing every kind of work, especially the work of those who get dirty on our behalf. My conversation with Mike helped me recognize that I wasn’t appropriately valuing essential workers. I didn’t know that I felt that way. It’s ironic because I come from a long line of mechanics on my mother’s side and miners on my father’s side. But I did have a white-collar bias. Sometimes we bundle a whole host of ideas and mental models that weren’t meant to be bundled. Hard work that improves lives and that is done well with care, is valuable work, no matter what kind of work it is.

As always, thanks for being here!

My best, Whitney

P.S. We have ten signed copies of Mike’s book, , available to you–––hit return and say, “I am grateful for “dirty job” S Curves!

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