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Go to town with affirmations

In 2020, I wrote a column that nakedly exposed my adoration for my youngest grandson, Jordan. I have written several columns over the years extolling him, but that one was quite specific.

Let it be noted, I love all our grandchildren. When asked, “How many do you have, I tend to say, “we have five, six or seven — depending on how the winds are blowing.” Some of you reading that will find it perplexing, but if you are in a stepped-family and your children are also step-parents, you probably understand.

In the column I wrote two years ago, I was off to spend a week being a “Nana” to 7-year-old Jordan.

“I can already envision his excited rush to my car when I roll into their driveway. The hug that always follows should be bottled and used as an anti-depressant. I bring games and coloring books/crayons (washable of course) and homemade chocolate chip cookies galore. The last time I was with Jordan for an extended period, we spent an afternoon building a multipart Lego project. The large, colorful box containing 229 pieces promised to become a quite-portly rhino with plastic companions.”

Any grandparent who has engaged in this kind of tiny-piece construction will appreciate the challenge it presents, especially a Nana who is vision-compromised. But Jordan prevailed. He had a “I can do it” attitude and successfully completed the task quite independently.

When he was almost done, I offered the phrase my parents used in acknowledgment, “You are really going to town!” He looked up at me and grinned at that statement. As he continued to build, I heard him murmur to himself repeatedly …“I’m going to town.” He later proudly told his parents, “I went to town!”

Affirmations and positive self-talk are a vital part of success at any age. Research indicates positive affirmations can “decrease stress and increase a feeling of well-being.” It has occurred to me that aging adults may want to revisit the power of personal affirmation and positive self-talk. Instead of, “I’m getting old and forgetful” maybe it could be, “I forget some things, but I remember what’s most important.” Even better, “I am strong and capable.”

Assume the goal has already been met. Be positive. As illustration, “I am an adoring and doting grandmother to all my many grandchildren.” Apparently, a critical ingredient for success is writing it down and repetition. The writing-down part I accomplish with this column.

No wait, I can do better. How about an affirming text, a complimentary email or even a letter with a commemorative stamp to each “grand” young person in our ever-growing family. I can do that. And I will.

I was reminded of the potential staying power of affirmations in a recent phone call from now 9-year-old Jordan who had just been “drafted” onto his preferred Little League baseball team. Jordan hit the ball over the fence his first time at bat. His comment to me, “I really went to town on that one Nana.”

Sharon Johnson is an associate professor emeritus, Oregon State University. Reach her at sharjohn99@gmail.com.