Nov. 11, 2021

The Episode Every Grandparent (and New Parent) Needs to Hear with Donne Davis


Relationships can be so complicated, right?  The relationship between a new parent and their own parents can be one of the most beautiful, successful, and useful bonds when it comes to the strengthening of a family -- but it can also be a fraught and confusing relationship to get right.  

My special guest, Donne Davis, has spent the past 18 years exploring the joys (and tricky parts)  of being a grandma while also helping thousands of other grandmas do the same for themselves.  In this episode, Donne drops lots of knowledge bombs about being a grandma, navigating new relationships, aging, and living life to the fullest.  

Donne is the founder of the GaGa Sisterhood, an international membership organization for enthusiastic grandmas to connect, grow, learn and share. She founded the organization in 2003 after witnessing the birth of her first granddaughter and going completely “gaga.” When she came back down to earth, she realized she was not the first grandma to feel this way or the first grandma to be challenged by today’s new parenting methods. 

Her mission is to inspire grandmas to keep growing along with their children and grandchildren and to foster understanding between the generations. She coaches grandmas on how to build mutual respect, trust and empathy with the parents of their grandchildren so that they can be a unified team in raising the next generation.

Donne is the author of "When Being a Grandma Isn’t So Grand: 4 Keys to L.O.V.E. Your Grandchild’s Parents" — a practical guide for handling the most common grandparenting challenges. The book is available on Amazon. She writes and speaks about her experiences and observations of grandparenting on her award-winning blog at https://gagasisterhood.com, in her monthly newsletter, and to community organizations.

For more information on the Make Time for Success podcast, visit: https://www.maketimeforsuccesspodcast.com

Connect with Us!

Dr. Christine Li -
Website: https://www.procrastinationcoach.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/procrastinationcoach
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/procrastinationcoach/


Donne Davis-
Website: https://www.gagasisterhood.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gaga_sisterhood/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/GaGaSisterhood
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/donnedavis/
Get Donnie’s free resource “5 Grandma Blunders and How to Avoid Them” on her website https://www.gagasisterhood.com

Transcript

Christine Li:

Welcome back to the make time for success podcast. This is episode 48. I'm so glad you're here. I have loved bringing guest experts onto the show, because they show us how to be successful and all the different ways that life can bring to us and give to us the area focus for today's episode is how to navigate the role of new grandparent in a way that works for both the grandparent and the adult child who has recently become a parent themselves. I am so grateful to my past guest Rebecca Snowball, who gave us amazing episode number 37 about the power of yoga for suggesting that I interview her yoga student and friend, Donne Davis for this episode. Donne is a mover and a shaker in her own right she has a passion for helping grandparents and parents connect in a positive and mutually beneficial way around the care and love of the new grandchild. Donne founded the Gaga sisterhood, an international membership organization for enthusiastic grandmas in 2003. And in the past 18 years of running the Gaga sisterhood, Donne has upheld her mission of inspiring grandmas to grow along with their children and grandchildren, and to foster understanding between the generations. In this episode, Donne shares strategies for building respect and trust and avoiding intergenerational conflict that are useful for both new grandparents and new parents alike. Donne is such a bright light I'm so grateful that she came to talk with us. So let's go listen to the episode now. Hi, I'm Dr. Christine Li and I'm a psychologist and a procrastination coach. I've helped 1000s of people move past procrastination and overwhelm so they could begin working to their potential. In this podcast, you're going to learn a powerful strategies for getting your mind, body and energy to work together so that you can focus on what's really important and accomplish the goals you want to achieve. When you start living within your full power, you're going to see how being productive can be easy, and how you can create success on demand. Welcome to the make time for success podcast. Hi everyone. Today I have the old very lovely Donnie Davis. On with me on the show. Donne and I have just met a few minutes ago, we were sorting out some tech issues on the back end. And just getting to know each other very briefly. Donne was introduced to me by the lovely Rebecca Snowball, who was a recent guest on the show. And I'm excited to get to know Donne and to have her describe her expertise and wisdom with you today. Welcome to the show, Donne.

Donne Davis:

Thank you, Christine. It's so much fun to be here. I've been really excited. Ever since I heard you interview, my yoga teacher, Rebecca snowball. I said, Oh, I want to be on that show, too. So I am the founder of the Gaga sisterhood. It's a membership organization that I founded in 2003 for passionate grandma's. And we've been meeting for 18 years. In addition, I have three granddaughters, 1814 and seven. I live in Silicon Valley. I've been doing yoga for 33 years. And I'm just enjoying life.

Christine Li:

Sounds fantastic. And I can't wait to hear what the Gaga sisterhood has been like to run a group for that long. I don't think I've run anything half as long as that. And also, I'm just curious what you've learned along the way from being a grandparent, but also being the guide to several grand parents yourself.

Donne Davis:

Yes. Well, I have met 1000s of grandmas in the 18 years since I became one. And let me just start by saying how this all came about. My daughter invited me to the birth of my first grandchild. And so I was standing at the foot of her bed right beside the midwife. When that little tiny head emerged and the midwife lifted up the head and I swear, the baby's eyes were wide open I looked in those eyes and we connected. I leapt in the air. Then I went running down the hall. And I said to my husband, sonny, we're grandparents. And I didn't come back down to Earth for several days. But the funny thing was, when I came back down to earth, I realized I was not the first grandma to feel Gaga. Every Grandma I talked to was just as passionate wanted to show me just as many pictures, and just had that same kind of love and excitement, enthusiasm for the role. But then, I started to get into my role, and realized, wow, this is really different than kind of what I thought. I mean, I was fortunate I had both my grandma's in my life until I was 40. And it just seemed really natural and comfortable. They were over at my house all the time. We all lived near each other. But when I watched my daughter, everything was so different from how I raised her. First of all, she was carrying Juliet around in this rap all day long. And she was sleeping with Julia, she was breastfeeding on demand. The baby never cried. And the only thing was that my daughter kept complaining, how tired she was. Well, I kind of knew why. But I didn't want to say, Well, it seems obvious to me. And so I thought, I've got to talk to some other grandmas. And that's when I got the idea of creating an organization for grandmas like myself, who just love being grandmas. But we also need to learn from each other about how if we make mistakes, what do we do? And all the things that entail a relationship with not only your grandchildren, but more importantly, your adult children. I

Christine Li:

love this. What do you think it is about you, that situated you to be the person who would connect grandmas together?

Donne Davis:

Well, I have a very persuasive personality. And I love connecting with people. Someone once said, What's your hobby, and I could think of a hobby and then I realized my hobby is collecting people. I love to meet new people. And when I'm passionate about something, combined passion, persuasion, and just wanting to meet new people. And I guess that's, that's what it is.

Christine Li:

Okay, lovely. And what would you say, have been the top lessons you've learned from this experience of knowing 1000s of grandmas?

Donne Davis:

I would say the top lesson that I've learned and I tell grandmas this, you may go into this thinking this is all about you and your grandchild. And but it's really all about you and your grandchild's parents, you need to create a really good bond with your adult children. Mutual respect, trust and love. I made the mistake of rushing past my daughter when I would go visit to get to the baby. And she would say to me, mom, sometimes I think you just come to visit so you can see Juliet, not me. So I tell Grandma is that. I also say that you really have to be empathic. And you have to consider yourself part of the team, but definitely not the team captain anymore. It is their job to raise the children. And I just feel so lucky and so blessed that I've been an integral part of my grandchildren's lives. Because I've tried to do this. I've, I've been, you know, I've been respectful.

Christine Li:

Okay, so are there some stories about grandmas who aren't so respectful about differences of opinion and boundaries and time and space? And how do you help them to smooth out the relationship and make things a little bit easier for everyone involved?

Donne Davis:

There are a lot there's a whole group, a very sad group of alienated grandparents which is At the extreme, that is not part of my organization, although I do have a member who wrote a book about alienated grandparents because she is one. But more along the spectrum are forgetting that you're not the one in charge that you need to really help be supportive. And also, you've got to let go of your ego. You can't say, oh, gosh, we did it this way. And you know, it was so much better when we did it this way. Why don't you try it this way? No, you absolutely really have to just let go of the ego. And say, I like to think of myself as like a curious anthropologist, who's studying a new tribe. And be curious, like, Oh, I didn't know about attachment parenting. What's that all about? Or? Well, this is really a different kind of diet than I gave you. When you were growing up. What's the value of this? Be curious? don't enforce what you think is the best thing. And and if they want advice from you, they'll ask but don't give unsolicited advice as a Vegas thing.

Christine Li:

Okay, those are some great grandparent acting roles, I think so everyone who's listening and who might be on the cusp of becoming a new grandparent, I think this might be an episode that you might want to review and take notes when you do review. So thank you so much for sharing these beautiful words of wisdom. What about the adult children? What would you like them to know? The new parents? What would you like them to know about what the grandmas are going

Donne Davis:

through? We just so want to be part of life, life with the new grandchild. We want to know how we can help. And I think this is also really important expectations is, I really believe you should have a conversation with the parents before they even give birth to the baby and say, What are your expectations? What do you want from me? Tell me. And then after they tell you then say, well, that sounds good. And can I tell you my expectations, and then see if you can find a mutually beneficial agreement between all of you.

Christine Li:

That sounds like a fantastic strategic plan for making sure that the first conversation is done under really calm, reflective circumstances. So I love that I've never heard that kind of suggestion for this type of circumstance. And I love it. So thank you for that. Before we shift off the topic of the Gaga sisterhood, I would love for you to tell people how to get into the sisterhood.

Donne Davis:

Thank you will the Gaga sisterhood is my website, Gaga sisterhood.com. On my website, I write a weekly blog. I also have a newsletter called The Gaga zine, which is all kinds of features to connect with your grandchildren. We had a storyteller last month for our speaker. And she gave us some wonderful tips on how to connect with your grandchildren through storytelling. Oh, and I should say that, basically what we do in the Gaga sisterhood is we meet every month on Zoom. And I've been putting on this speaker series for 18 years, basically, to serve my mission or to fulfill my mission, which is to inspire grandmas to keep growing and learning along with their children and grandchildren. Because we're not grandmas who are sitting by the phone waiting for our grandchildren to call. I mean, of course we are in some way. But that's not all we're doing. And that's so important. We need to have lives beyond our grandchildren. But anyway, so Gaga sisterhood.com, I have a meetup group called Gaga, sisterhood calm.

Christine Li:

Sounds great. I also wanted to let our listeners know that Donne has a free resource that you can grab off her website too. And that's called Five grandma blunders and how to avoid them. Is that correct? Yes. Okay, terrific. And just give us the website address again.

Donne Davis:

Gaga sisterhood.com

Christine Li:

One Okay, now I think I'd like to shift topics because you have so many different topics that you were interested in talking about. I want to cover at least a few. The next topic is ageism. And you mentioned that you were in some sort of educational program around the topic of ageism consciousness. Please let us know what you've learned and what your eyes have been open to about the topic.

Donne Davis:

Okay. It's my new passion. I heard it talk by Ashton Applewhite, who is the author of a book called this chair rocks. And she's given one of the most popular TED talks of all times on ageism. After that talk, I had the opportunity to lead a consciousness raising group for a women's organization I belong to called Rebel. And this is for women over 50 Who revel in being that age and beyond. So I started the consciousness raising group and we've been meeting every week for three months. There's about seven of us in the group. And we're all different ages. And we talk about the blatant ageism, that exists in our culture and how invisible it is and how we've indoctrinated it within our own personalities in our own psyches. So my eyes have been opened to the cosmetics industry. The media, you know, so often, like I'm trying to change the stereotype of what grandmas are doing what modern grandmas look like. But you still see these portrayals of people. And our last conversation was all about Sandra OHS news show on Netflix, the chair. Have you seen it? I saw one episode so far. Okay, well, there are three professors that are they want to boot out. And they are shown in the worst, most ageist derogatory perception. And so we had a long talk about that.

Christine Li:

I would agree about the way they're depicted. Terrible, yes,

Donne Davis:

yes, it's very unflattering. And it's not realistic. So I think we just need to be so conscious of, well, I had a conversation with my 14 year old granddaughter. And she was saying, sometimes I feel like life is just a series of things you have to get through, you know, school, then you get a job, then you get married, then you have kids, and then you turn 50. And there was this long pause. And I said, Amelia, when I turned 50, my life changed for the better. I've been happier in this last third of my life, more creative, more excited about getting up in the morning and doing all kinds of new things, trying new things. So I said, there's life after 50 Believe me, and people are afraid of it. I know a lot of young women. I don't want to get old but guess what? If you get old, you're lucky. Consider the alternative my grandma used to say.

Christine Li:

Yes. And you're making me think that Amelia is perception that 50 was kind of near the end or there abouts is very much shaped by an ageist attitude, a just media. Absolutely. And so grateful. Amelia has you the rocking grandma in her life, which is great. So what can we do as listeners and people and women to combat

Donne Davis:

ageism? Well, I have an Instagram post that I just created to go up tomorrow. Hopefully when Instagram is working again. It's fight ageism. Stop saying senior moment. freshmen, sophomores and juniors have them too. That's just a simple thing. Everybody has senior moments, but why call them senior moments? Why not just call like, Oh, my brain is like on wiring right now or something. But to tack on the senior part of it. There's just a little things that we can be aware of saying your age. Now, I think letting your hair go gray is now becoming trendy. But I just want to say this is my natural hair color. And I don't do I haven't done anything facial surgery, this is just me naturally. And I just believe if we don't fear getting old, and we embrace the good times and realize some of the statistics, I heard that only 3% of the senior population are in nursing homes only 3%. But we have this image that when you get to this certain age, you're going to have to go into a nursing home. I mean, there are a lot of statistics, I would just say, go to the website, this chair rocks, and you'll learn a lot about ageism. Okay,

Christine Li:

thank you for that resource. And for just putting this issue in my mind and the minds of our listeners now. And I think I would just add one tip that we can thrive at any age, and that probably should be part of our list of things to do that we're maintaining a level of wellness and well being that never ends that doesn't have to end that doesn't have to go on the decline, just because our age numbers are on the rise. Well, I

Donne Davis:

read that there's five things to thrive in aging, diet, sleep, exercise, community, and number five's most important. Find a purpose. And that's what the Gaga sisterhood has done for me.

Christine Li:

Beautiful. So everyone, you can tell how Donn is a font of pieces of wisdo that are really going to hel you in your actual day to da life and in your life with you children, family, adul grandparents. So go look her u on her website, follow her joi the sisterhood if it's right fo you. And now I'm going to shif to another topic you had aske to talk about the experience o the loss of your husband thre years ago. And I would love fo you to share about him and abou what you've learned abou yourself since he's been away

Donne Davis:

Thank you. Thank you for that opportunity. I know he would be super proud of me in the three years that he's been gone. I met him when I was 21 and fell madly in love. And actually kind of stalked him in a very funny way. I told him I was a bridge teacher. And I wasn't. And then I went to his his bridge lessons. And I stood in the doorway, and the teacher invited me to come into the class. And there was only one seat available and it was crossed from him. So from that point on, we were in love, and we got married six months later. And we were together for 50 wonderful years. He was my cheerleader, my sounding board. He always was saying, Come on Donne, you can do a little bit ore you can step out of that omfort zone. And he had a idney transplant and the side ffects from the kidney ransplant really weakened his mmune system. So he had some oor health towards the end of is life. And so I knew he was ying. And one of our last onversations before he died, I tarted to cry. And I said, I on't know how I'm going to live ithout you. I was so afraid of iving alone because I've never ived alone in my life. And he aid, Donne, you love life too m ch. You're going to be fine. A d after he died, I was with h m. When he took his last b eath. I got a grief counselor a d we worked. I still meet with h r. And she came to my house e ery Friday and I just totally e braced my grief w oleheartedly. I went to grief s pport groups. I read books, I w nt to retreats. And I just i mersed myself in my grief and s owly but surely, I started to f el some joy again. I realized I kind of like living alone. I m ss him terribly. And I miss j st being able to talk about a l the wonderful things that h ve happened. But I feel really p oud of myself because I'd b come even more independent we u ed to have a relationship that w s independent, interdependent a d dependent And the things t at I depended on him were t chnology a lot. Like today w en I couldn't get on the call, b cause I didn't have Chrome. B t yeah, so I just, I'm, I'm h ppy that I've learned to t rive without him by my side.

Christine Li:

And it's great that he ended up being right that he knew that you would be fine. After his passing, because you love life, it's very clear to me that you've got a lot of life to share. And I think my experience of talking with you and getting to know you and being with you, is that you're about bonds, you're about the bonds between people, which is, I don't know if there's anything more life, pro life pro living than that. And you're really good at this stuff. So thank you for coming on the show and showing us that and being an inspiration in that particular area of our existences. So can you share with us some final words about your advice for making time for success since that's the big theme of this show?

Donne Davis:

Well, let me just say one real quick thing. It's interesting. You said Bond, because the tagline of the Gaga sisterhood is where grandma's bond, brag and benefit of it. Okay, so I have to say that I procrastinated a long time in starting the Gaga sisterhood, because I was afraid of success. I was afraid of rejection. And I just was afraid to take that step. But I have learned that what's the worst that can happen? If you don't try something? And so I've just just like what, when I wrote to you, I said, you know, I'd like to be on your show. We didn't know each other. But I thought, well, what's the worst that can happen?

Christine Li:

And look what we made a beautiful thing. Yeah, I think the worst thing that can happen is that nothing happens. So that's Donne's wonderful advice.

Donne Davis:

Take risks, you know,

Christine Li:

go for it. Take risks, live, live, live live. Yes. And don't worry so much. Because we've all got worries. But we all have needs to fulfill curiosity to pursue. And we have people to support us find those people. There are groups all around not just the sisterhood. There's I have groups, I'm in groups, you know, there are groups, you're likely apart of groups, even if you don't think of them as groups. So if you're thinking of something, putting something out that is uniquely you, like Donne has done, lease take the next step. Maybe hat's what you take out of this pisode with Donne is that you c n do one more step. You could t ll your children about it. You c uld tell your parents about i , you could tell your n ighbors about it, and go make t at idea, a reality.

Donne Davis:

Well said,

Christine Li:

I love it. Thank you so much, Donne, you've been font of wisdom and joy today. hank you so much for being on he show.

Donne Davis:

Thank you for having me, Christine.

Christine Li:

We'll see you soon. Bye. Thank you for listening to this episode of The Make Time for Success podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard, you can subscribe to make sure you get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website make time for success podcast.com for past episodes, show notes and all the resources we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me over on Instagram too. You can find me there under the name procrastination coach. Send me a DM and let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes you've been listening to. And let me know any topics that you might like me to talk about on the show. I'd love to hear all about how you're making time for success. Talk to you soon.

Donne Davis

Founder/Author/Grandma

Donne Davis is the founder of the GaGa Sisterhood, an international membership organization for enthusiastic grandmas to connect, grow, learn and share. She founded the organization in 2003 after witnessing the birth of her first granddaughter and going completely “gaga.” When she came back down to earth, she realized she was not the first grandma to feel this way. Or the first grandma to be challenged by today’s new parenting methods.
In December 2003, she hosted the first meeting of the GaGa Sisterhood with 15 other grandmas and explored what it means to be a modern grandma. They’ve continued to meet for the past 18 years. Her mission is to inspire grandmas to keep growing along with their children and grandchildren and to foster understanding between the generations.
Donne hosts a monthly speaker series on Zoom for grandmas from all over the U.S.
After eighteen years of listening to grandmas share their stories, Donne’s come to better understand the many challenges grandmas face. There’s a new dynamic that develops with their adult children and it can often get tricky to navigate this unfamiliar territory and relinquish control. She coaches grandmas on how to build mutual respect, trust, and empathy with the parents of their grandchildren so that they can be a unified team in raising the next generation.
Donne is the author of "When Being a Grandma Isn’t So Grand: 4 Keys to L.O.V.E. Your Grandchild’s Parents" — a practical guide for handling the most common grandparenting challenges. The book is available on Amazon.
She writes and speaks about her experiences and observations of grandparenting on her award-winning blog at https://gagasisterhood.com, in her monthly newsletter, and to community organizations.