This mother-daughter duo embraces the gifts of their respective generations to empower each other and inspire the world around them. Meet Ellen and Spencer Ganus!
Ellen: I had a dream to be an important role model and loving mother to my daughter Spencer; I hoped and planned to always respect her, as a product of her generation — even if I did not completely understand what it would mean to be a millennial. I knew in my heart that I would learn from her, as she would learn from me. We established this mutual respect from the moment she was born.
Spencer: Although I have grown up in a treacherous world that increasingly values consumerism and technology, I have learned the importance of building authentic relationships from my mom. As an eighteen-year-old, attending my first year at Duke University, I recognize the way many millennials are alienated from each other and their surrounding worlds.
Both: Spencer and I believe that women of all ages are relevant! It saddens us to see the clear divide between younger and older women in the media, as though the world revolves around millennial youth. Much of our society’s marketing uses youth as a symbol of beauty and vitality, excluding the wisdom, grace, and influence of middle-aged women.
Spencer: Despite the prominence of young influencers in my life, I have learned so much from my mom. I have been lucky enough to tour with her since I was a toddler, where I witnessed the influence of her voice on large audiences, filled with young and old alike. I learned that all people, regardless of age, have a common desire to unleash their passion, discover their purpose, and contribute to making a difference. While there are clear disparities in the ways of our generations, there is so much we can learn from each other. The best way to harness our power as a single human species is to grow together, not apart, closing the generational gap.
Ellen: There is no age discrimination in the philosophy and psychology of what drives us to our ultimate fulfillment. As our basic needs remain the same, we must help each other learn to connect, listen, and be more vulnerable in our lives. This recipe for success will shift the focus from valuing one-dimensional, superficial standards of beauty, to genuine beauty, which cannot ever be destroyed; it lives internally and externally.
Spencer: Here are some things I’ve learned from my mom that I wouldn’t know from just listening to other teenagers:
- Using an old-fashioned phone call often times clarifies communication much faster than the endless sea of texts, emails, and voice memos.
- Meditation and mindfulness are essential to slowing down my brain in a rapidly moving world.
- Social media profiles aren’t always an accurate representation of someone’s life.
- Take time to be grateful.
- Tending to a friendship is more than just keeping up a Snapchat streak.
- Burying my nose in my phone prevents me from appreciating all that is around me.
- Playing the piano and dancing will always bring me more fulfillment than staring at a screen.
- Appreciating nature, tending to our garden, and bike riding on the beach restores my spirit more than checking my Instagram feed.
- I can leverage the Internet to be a successful entrepreneur, not just use it for social purposes.
- Cooking in the kitchen with my family is a lot more fun than just looking at pictures and videos of food!
- Although we may always be in a hurry, there is always time to say “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry.”
Ellen: Here are some things I learned from my daughter that I wouldn’t know from just listening to my contemporaries.
- The millennial generation desperately needs love, attention, and guidance.
- “Ghosting” is a popular way for relationships to end and often times very hurtful.
- Sharing meals together is a great way to foster needed communication.
- Time off the grid playing sports and pursuing creative arts is necessary to stay sane in a busy world.
- Accountability breeds responsibility
- Time management is important to helping this generation do what they love and do it well.
- Family still matters and makes a difference, even if you have to remind them to clean up their room more than once.
- Hugs still count and emotions need to be expressed.
- Girl’s are still fighting for equality in a boy’s world.
- Millennials, as a group, desperately want to change the world for the better.
- Young people have a profound affinity for our planet and its needs.
When all else fails, choose to believe. We can make a difference and we are stronger together. Let’s Bridge the Gap now and forever!