Work, Women, the Old and the New

Those who work (but let's be real, more like live and breath) in the digital marketing sphere are obsessed with the now: latest tech trends, social media platforms, time-saving apps and tools, and the endlessly mind-blowing daily advancements of the internet (can you believe it's been 20 years of this internet thing, by the way? Time flies when you're addicted to screens.)

I admit that I'm guilty of this. But as my grandparents are getting older on the other side of the world, I've had more time to reflect on the past, and everything I've learned from those who still haven't figured out what the internet is yet.

Although my grandfathers have past away, both of my grandmothers are in their mid 90s (93 and 95) and have the enthusiasm of a 22-year-old spin instructor. One of them didn't retire until she was 90, the other remarried at the ripe age of 85 (to her next door neighbor of 30 years, #awkward), both own their own homes and live independently, and refuse to do anything that might give away their age. Basically, they rock and I'm convinced they're going to live forever.

As we enter 2016, let's not forget about the real OGs who taught us everything we know about work, ambition, warmth and love. Here are my favorite things that I've learned from my superwoman grandmothers, Thelma and Natalie:

1. Anything worth doing is worth doing right

I was a committed slacker when it came to school growing up, so this didn't resonate with me until I was in college and embarked on a journey called being a functional adult. And it turns out, she was totally right. When I put my whole heart into something and committed myself to being the best at it (or at least better than I was yesterday), I had so much more success in my work, relationships, personal interests and self-care. It pushed me into a career that I was initially scared of but now thrive in, a relationship that I can't imagine my life without, and a city that I've learned to love. It pushed me to be a better friend, a better worker and a better self-motivator. And I learned that if I wasn't going to put my all into something, then I just wasn't going to do it or waste my time on it. Because anything worth doing is worth doing 100%.

 Natalie and I in Connecticut last year

Natalie and I in Connecticut last year


2. Don't take shit from anyone

Anyone who knows Thelma Elkins knows that she is TOUGH. Born and raised in the Bronx with Yiddish-speaking immigrant parents, she learned from an early age to be fiercely independent, never back down, and call out anyone who stands in the way of her and her goals.  She is the original Ride or Die chick. I truly believe that this strength, self-confidence and deep social intuitiveness is what has kept her spirit and lifestyle so youthful. She's a woman who knows what she wants, and this is a mentalitythat I've proudly applied to my work and personal life. 

 Thelma and I lookin BALLIN as always

Thelma and I lookin BALLIN as always


3. Never stop learning

My grandma Natalie has committed her life to learning and reading. She worked in a bookstore until the age of 90, still volunteers in her local library, and recently participated in an "X-Rated Torah" class for seniors. Basically she rocks in every way a woman could.

Whenever I push myself to take one more step in my career, take the time to read about something new, or take on challenging experiences, I think of her. I know that no matter how much I do, more can always be done, and knowing that she has done it everyday for the past 95 years pushes me to do it too.

 Natalie being Natalie

Natalie being Natalie


4. Screw everyone else and do what you want

Both Natalie and Thelma have taught me this one. I am constantly amazed by very the difficult decisions that they've made in their lives, like choosing to go abroad during World War 2 to be a nurse, moving hundreds of miles from their families, and raising many children while also working full time jobs.

This has inspired me to go against the norm in my ways, from moving to Israel, to freelancing, to pursuing a career in a "new" field and learning a foreign language. I feel very grateful for the self-confidence that they instilled in me to follow my gut, have new experiences and do what's best for me against the traditional norm.

5. Human connection is precious

Both Natalie and Thelma have mastered the art of human connection, which is a trait that I gratefully inherited. There is nothing in the world that I love more than forming relationships with people, even if it's a one minute chat with a barista at a coffee shop.

My grandmothers manage to find something special in everyone they meet, have deep and genuine interests in others' lives, and practice authenticity and warmth in their daily interactions. And for this, people truly love them. They're a core piece of people's lives, because they give others the feeling of importance and value.

Most importantly, they taught me that people are inherently good, everyone has an interesting story, and there's nothing more important than being there for the people you love. So thank you, Grandma Natalie and Grandma Thelma, for giving me everything I need to be the best version of myself.

 Thelma in 1924

Thelma in 1924