Living Life on Your Own Terms
Living Life on Your Own Terms
It’s story time!
I love sharing stories! When you share real-life experiences of people who have endured truly trying times yet had the mindset and determination to find the good in those times… and then not only prevailed but thrived… well,
I believe that encourages people.
As you read, consider these topics: longevity, happiness, hope, grit, faith, social life, art, fitness, nutrition, and relationships. And keep in mind… I’m writing about a 96-year-old woman.
For those of you who’ve been reading the Journal for a while, you may remember Elmee. For my new friends, Elmee is my grandmother (but don’t call her that because she has always been – and will always be – too young to be a grandmother!). She lives at an assisted living facility in the Bay Area where she keeps her own apartment, plays classical grand piano, takes fitness classes, and has recently begun learning to paint. She also keeps the staff on their toes, I’m sure of it!
Last Sunday, Elmee turned 96. I called her on her birthday and left a voicemail, knowing her popularity would likely prevent her from returning my call that day. I was right: she’d had a late night out with my uncle and aunt, going to dinner and attending a “wonderful concert” where they played one of her favorite Beethoven pieces. I called her the next day to be sure she got my voicemail and received the package I sent last week (yes to both!). When I wished her a happy birthday, she thanked me and said,
“It’s not hard being 96, not when you’re happy with your life.”
Ask Elmee, and she will tell you she’s had “a pretty great life” despite having endured her share of rough patches, including a challenging first marriage, the loss of her younger son in 1999, and the loss of her great love – her second husband, Henry – in 2011. While she does reflect on those experiences from time to time,
she chooses to focus on the good memories, all of her past adventures, and her current hobbies and interests.
She continues to pursue her passions (piano, reading, and writing), keep healthy (exercise and a healthy diet), and stay in touch with friends (Elmee was an elementary school principal for decades and stays in touch with her teachers who fly out to visit her). She also travels a bit, preferring the mountains, desert, and old missions. I’d say that’s a pretty full life!
Elmee provides a fantastic example of a life well-lived. At 96 years old, she does not sit idly by and let life happen to her, she doesn’t make excuses, and she’s the opposite of lazy. She is logical, takes responsibility for her choices and perspectives, keeps active and healthy, remains independent, and she doesn’t let anyone push her around (someone once told her she wouldn’t be able to play the piano past age 90, and she said to him, “You do not know to whom you are speaking. Watch me.”).
Elmee lives her life on her own terms, proudly and unapologetically so.
She is also determined to live to 100 so she can “beat Grandpa Bill” who passed away last year at 99. Nothing like some good old-fashioned competition, I guess! I said, “Well, 100 is a good goal, Elmee. Then what?” She emphatically replied, “102.” Apparently 101 isn’t even worth mentioning.
So… next time you want to skip a workout because “you just don’t feel like it,” remember Elmee’s fitness classes… and she’s 96. Next time you want to swing through a fast food spot because you’re “too tired” to make dinner, remember Elmee prepares food in her kitchen… and she’s 96. Next time you think you’re “too old” to try something new in life… remember Elmee just started painting a few months ago… and she’s 96. You get the idea 😉
Above all, remember:
YOU create your life.
YOU choose your joy.
YOU can start anything at anytime YOU want!
* For more about Elmee’s adventures and spunk, check out these posts!
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Until Next Week, Be Well and Be Good!