The Two Most Important Life Lessons My Grandma Taught Me

Shani Hillian
Shani Hillian

Loving, gentle, brave, spiritual, spicy, funny, and resilient — those are just a few words that describe my biggest supporter and the backbone of my family, my grandma. In my experience, in the black community, grandmas tend to hold a very strong position in their family's lives and unselfishly serve as being the "lifeline." They possess the knowledge and wisdom of a world we have not yet experienced and, in many cases, they carry us through this journey by teaching us the importance of heritage, tradition, self-worth, and togetherness. Ina May, my grandma, whom we all call Grandmumsy, has taught me many things that are bigger than material possession; instead they are traditions that were passed down to me in the form of life lessons. These two will be with me forever.

Honor Nature

Grandmumsy hails from St. Catherine, Jamaica, which is considered the country, the bush. Having been raised among chickens, goats, roosters, cows, and more, I'd say she knows a thing or two about appreciating animals and trees and honoring the planet entirely. Visiting the country was not something I liked as a kid, but, my goodness, do I yearn to be there right now to hear the endless stories about her childhood, how she would sing to the plants and watch them flourish. She always embedded in my brain that "nature is the ultimate healer, and when you nurture it, it will always be there to honor you back."

Plants and herbs were always in full stock at her home (aloe vera has always been one of her favorites), and her love for nature was the catalyst for my holistic upbringing. She's the source of why I still keep fresh herbs and plants in my home and the true inspiration behind my decision to follow my heart and create a holistic skincare business. Honoring nature is a tradition she passed on to me and I vow to pass on to many generations to come. Nature is our medicine, our lifeline. When we honor it, it honors us.

Family Comes First

My Grandmumsy made sure I understood the importance of family. She left her beautiful homeland in 1969, at the age of 23, separating from her children and family to come to the U.S. for opportunity. That experience can be traumatic, but not for her. The hopefulness of bettering the lives of her lineage far exceeded her fears.

Moving to the U.S. alone truly made her value the strength and power in cohesiveness. Family was the most important thing to her then, and it still is today. Since birth, I can remember spending every holiday, birthday celebration, and Sunday dinner at her house. Not a weekend went by without a night spent together. The unbreakable bond she instilled in me molded how I navigate life today. The lesson: "We cannot grow without togetherness, as this journey is not meant to be traveled alone." Family, either by blood or chosen, can help you through the roughest and toughest times. Find your tribe, dwell in them, and watch what you can accomplish.

Ina May is the epitome of grace, and to say I am lucky to have her blood pulsing through my veins is an understatement. She's taught me what it is to be understanding, kind, resilient, assertive, spicy, and irie; let life flow in the way it's supposed to. She has taught me to be assertive in what I want but refrain from controlling the outcome. The traditions I've been brought up with have been nothing short of gems. Wisdom and love will guide you, nature will honor you, your family and tribe will hold you, and your lineage will be there to carry those traditions on for generations to come.

Traditions are what connect us — both to heritage and to the future. Alongside Clorox®, we're celebrating what makes every family unique.