“Never sit if you can dance,” that’s one of the lessons author and journalist Jo Giese learned from her mother and shared with members and guests at the Ebell of Los Angeles earlier this week. Giese took the expression as the title of her book, which grew out of conversations with her mother that helped her appreciate the profound impact our mothers have on each of our lives.
Giese said she wrote the book as a gift for her mother and “all mothers everywhere who laid the groundwork that shaped us, even if we didn’t exactly recognize it or appreciate it — or them — at the time.”
Like Giese, many daughters and sons don’t always appreciate the wisdom of their parents until they are adults and gain some perspective and empathy. To guide us along, Giese filled her book with sweet stories of her journey of understanding and appreciation for her parents, who grew up during the Depression, which profoundly shaped their outlook on life. She looks back on her childhood growing up in the 1950s and coming of age in the turbulent 1960s and 1970s. She adds stories about how her parents influenced her own life and work as a radio and television journalist. It’s a very personal narrative but the stories are universal as well as the lessons — like write thank you notes, be happy — it’s a choice you make every day, never show up empty-handed, and even some lessons about what not to do — like don’t be stingy with compliments, especially to your children!
The book is a breezy read that Giese hopes will inspire us children to start a conversation with our mothers while we still can, if we still can. Giese brought some of her mother’s embroidery with her and invited everyone who bought a book to also take a vintage handkerchief.
The luncheon was “chaired,” that’s the Ebell’s term for organized, by Emanuela Cariolagian, who lives just a few floors above her mother in a historic building in Windsor Square. Cariolagian thought Giese and her book would be a perfect fit for the Ebell’s celebration of Mother’s Day, especially for those who missed getting a spot at the club’s highly popular Mother’s Day Brunch, which sold out several weeks ago.
Our weekend event list this week is filled with suggestions for celebrating Mother’s Day, We hope there’s something that feels right for your family. Whatever you do, we like Giese’s suggestion of making some time to chat. Happy Mother’s Day!