This past weekend, I had the tremendous privilege to be in the company of not one, but three lovely women in their 90’s. Not one of them stood more than 5 feet tall, and if one of them weighed more than 95 pounds, I would be shocked. But never let size fool you—these are 3 of the most dynamic, powerhouse women I have ever met. It might have been a simple family gathering to them, but I took away so much more.
We have all heard these things time and again, so there definitely must be truth to them as I witnessed each of these things in a mere 6 hours.
1. If it doesn’t react negatively with medication (or driving), drink whatever you damn well please! In this case, White Russians were the clear favorite and its okay to have more than one! The same goes for pizza and cake. Life is too short; so eat the cake, drink the drink and oh yes, buy the shoes!
2. Be patient with one another. Not everyone understands everything that you do and you may need to explain something more than once. Frustration can be a wasted emotion that drains you unnecessarily. Turns out, we aren’t always frustrated with the other person, it’s with our response to them. Definitely perspective shift in your response prior to opening your mouth.
3. It’s okay to ask for help (and when a 95 year old asks you to hold her drink so she can eat her cake—you do it without batting an eyelash!) because we can’t possibly know everything and we shouldn’t have to take on the world alone; teamwork is vital to success.
4. Be an innovator and a leader: one of them speaks at support group meetings of a national foundation, two of them are WWII veterans (one of them a decorated veteran), one just attended a convention in Las Vegas (and was there during the recent tragedy) and the list goes on. Age is just a number and if you have the right mindset (and decent health), you are never too old to bring change to the world.
5. Be humble but share your stories; you never know when you will inspire another. And it’s okay to repeat that story 100 times when you make it to 90 plus!
6. Be kind but don’t take crap from anyone! It’s okay to exhibit tough love and to say “No” without always needing to explain yourself.
7. Family is everything. No matter how much chaos or grief they may present from time to time; no matter what poor decisions they may make, in the end it’s simply our job to love and support. That being said, do NOT be an enabler. It’s okay to display tough love sometimes when needed.
8. It’s okay to be having two completely different conversations between two individuals! When you both have hearing issues, conversing can be difficult but looking each other in the eye, acknowledging with nods and smiles, and just being engaged is just fine! We know that people just want to be heard; sometimes it’s simply a bit unconventional! This is not an excuse to listen only to reply without understanding; it is merely an acknowledgement that we all must adapt at times.
9. Be observant: you can learn a lot about people by watching them in conversation, how they treat a server at a resturant, and how they handle conflict. These few examples can help you to determine just how much interaction you may wish to have with a person. Train & Trust your gut as they say.
Side Note: People can sometimes struggle with small talk, but if you notice a small change such as nail polish changes from 5 days earlier, you can always find something to talk about.
10. Don’t discount the thoughts and ideas of young people. The 90 year olds can learn a lot from the 2-20 set and vice versa.
11. Don’t become so set in your ways and so cranky in old age that you miss out on a lot of great living. Do NOT become one of those “Get off my lawn” people!
12. Be a mentor to another.
13. Simple is better than showy and flashy. In the end, we all go back to dust; spend time making memories, not collecting stuff. (Also, don’t leave this junk for your family to deal with, begin the purge now!)
14. You are never to old to learn a new language, the computer or go on a great adventure. Do not be afraid of change. Look at all of the technology and innovation these ladies have experienced in almost 100 years!
15. Learn your lesson and move on from guilt, shame or regret.
16. Travel until you physically cannot.
17. Only you are in charge of your life. Your actions and decisions may have consequences—own them and do not blame others!
18. Put on your big girl (or boy) pants and take control of your life.
19. Don’t forget your childlike qualities; be silly and laugh— a lot! I suggest you come up with your own “walking song”. The 95 year old has been using it for years; and the sillier, the better.
20. Love hard, love deeply and most importantly, love who you desire to love; not one who is the “right” race, gender, ethnicity, or who has the right career path or the “perfect family”that society deems you must have. Follow your head of course, but always follow your OWN heart.