Sunday, October 22, 2023



It used to be printed on every shampoo bottle: “Lather, Rinse, Repeat”. I can remember being 14 and staying at my grandmother’s house. As a rule-follower, I did what the label said.

“You don’t need to shampoo your hair twice!” she would say, irritation in her voice. “Once is plenty; we don’t need to be wasting water.”

In that scenario and that era, repetition was considered lavish, extra, over-the-top.

Unnecessary – at least in the realm of shampoo use.

There are situations, though, that call for a healthy dose of repetition. Personally, I’m a fan of repeated family stories. If not for generations of storytelling, I’d never know Grandma once nailed a snake to the floor, or that my great uncle rescued a prized German violin from a neighbor’s attic (later, the violin would become mine).

If not for storytelling, I'd never know Grandma once nailed a snake to the floor, or that my great uncle rescued a prized violin from the neighbor's attic.

Stories grow richer and more textured with every telling. As the decades roll out, stories become the mainstay of our conversations. As we age, our heritage gets woven into our DNA, adding color and depth to the family tree.

Stories matter.

Telling them over again, should never be squelched.

And yet, I have felt a growing impatience with repetition. Have you noticed this too – this annoyance with our beloved narratives?

“You already told me that.” It’s a phrase that’s been hurled in my direction, more than once. It absolutely shuts me down. Why, I wonder, is only fresh news relevant? Yesterday’s news matters too, if you ask me.

But here’s the thing – nobody’s asking.

I can remember begging my parents to tell stories I already knew by heart. There’s nothing like hearing it over again, anticipating the laughter, hearing familiar details and welcoming them like old friends.

Something’s changed.

We even preempt our stories with “Stop me if I’ve told this before…” as a kind of apology.

Repetition is, in fact, a healthy way of processing information. It’s a way to make sense of our messy, complex lives.

Restating an event is like holding it up to the light, having a second look, finding clues. Doing this out loud is good for the soul.

And for every story retold you need a good listener.

To listen is to hold space for that human.

To listen is to show simple respect for their point of view.

To listen is to connect in a way that’s off-the-text, away from the screen.

To actually lean into a conversation is to feel the organic flow of the voice in all its expressions. It’s like your favorite song – and who doesn’t want to hear that one again and again??

Let’s get a bit more specific here: Older people have some things to process and it’s not nice to overlook us as irrelevant or passe.

During one of my jobs as an activity assistant, I sat with residents in a nursing home, listening to their stories. This one dear lady got right to the heart of the matter. She very eloquently said that she had lived several decades and acquired lots of wisdom. With a deep sigh, she confided, “I finally have some wise things to share, but nobody wants to listen.”

I find this profoundly sad and painfully true, now that I’m retired and losing traction in what’s trending and who’s who in the world of social influencers.

Truth is, we are blessed with our own influencers inside our own circles of navigation, every day.

Truth is, we are blessed with our own influencers inside our own circles of navigation, every day.

Why not lean in, linger, and listen? Honor each other’s tendency to repeat, be willing to hear it again and again. Take joy in the familiar cadence of the myths, the legends, the mundane and the splendid.

It all bears repeating. It all craves an ear to hear, a heart to listen and a voice to echo back, “Me too!”

Quit holding your affirmations with tight fists – open your hands and let them fall like confetti on needy shoulders. Then, be prepared to laugh or cry with the joy of sharing a story on repeat.


Manis With Grannies --

There’s a young visionary in Warren who goes around giving manicures to women-of-a-certain-age and inviting them to tell their stories. Her name is Tiffany Marino, and her broadcast is a gift to us all. Listen to Manis with Grannies wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find her on Facebook by searching for “Manis with Grannies” or by visiting her website, If you know a woman 70 or older with an arsenal of stories to share, be sure to get in touch with Tiffany – she’s always looking for the next conversation.

Kathy Joy is a collector of rare, splendid moments. She loves sharing these discoveries with her readers, and welcomes your feedback via email at

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