Have you ever seen someone who enjoys vivacious health and wondered how they do it? Or wished that YOU’D won the genetic lottery? My grandmother, Dusty, was one of those people who was a beacon of vitality. She always looked younger than her age. Whenever I was out with her everyone thought she was my mother.
Since she recently passed away at the age of 93, I decided to write a post about her life, because her way of living has impacted me in many ways, and I’d like to share how those things can make a difference to you, too. I’m especially moved by the fact that she didn’t have tremendous financial wealth, but she create an amazingly rich world for herself, which contributed to her vibrant health. She didn’t suffer much at the end of her long life, and she was able to live in her own home until just a week before she died. Even though she’s just a case study of one, here are some of her ways of being that seem well worth embracing:
- IT’S HEALTHY TO EMBRACE HEDONISM – The word, ‘hedonism’ has such a bad rep, as if it’s a leftover from the hippie era, indulgent and over the top. But when you find the sweet spot, it’s a healing, life giving part of thriving. Dusty loved good food, wine and friends – but without being overly indulgent. One time, she found out I was counting calories out of curiosity. Her comment was, “I don’t see why that’s necessary. You usually know if you’re eating too much.”
- THRIVING ISN’T OPTIONAL – She couldn’t understand how people could live without books, art & music. She also loved beautiful clothes, jewelry, her pets and the people in her life. She spent money on beautiful things, and then she enjoyed them, and some of the things she enjoyed most didn’t cost anything.
- KEEP MOVING – Dusty used to walk to work every day – a full hour each way, regardless of the weather. She also took out her dogs out for daily for walks. After she retired, she walked her dog twice every day. At 88, she had a debilitating fall. Even though she was in a rehabilitation centre for 6 months, she did her physio exercises twice every day with the goal of moving back to her own house, which she did. She lived there on her own, until just a week before her passing. Looking after yourself isn’t an obligation, it’s a privilege. Why make it into a pill when it can just be part of your quality of life?
- FEEL AND EXPRESS GRATITUDE – Whenever we had a family gathering, she always thanked us for including her. Why wouldn’t we? She was great to be around!
- ENGAGE – When I used to play in cafes, she’d come to hear me often. If I added something new into my repertoire, she always noticed and commented on it. When I first started teaching yoga, she came to my classes and tried it. She always knew what her grandkids were up to, and would talk about all of our adventures with admiration. She seemed to experience so much vicarious joy from the opportunities we created for ourselves, even though she stopped travelling a long time ago.
- BE YOURSELF – Dusty had a way of just being herself. Even though she had strong opinions, she wasn’t overly vocal about them – but neither did she keep them to herself. She seemed to be pretty comfortable in her own skin, and she never lacked good company.
- LET YOURSELF LOVE – Did I mention she loved dogs? A mutual friend once said, “I want to come back as that dog!! I will never have as much love in my lifetime as she showers on that animal.” It was true. At it’s peak, her home bursted with 4 cats and 2 sheepdogs, and every single time one of them was put to sleep, she was devastated. Willing to have her heart broken again, she’d always get another pet because she loved having them around.
- BE FASCINATED – Dusty loved rocks (among other things) and found them to be ‘a comfort.’ She loved to just hold them in her hands. One time, she took a piece of white rock she’d found, strung it on a piece of leather and wore it as a necklace. When I saw it for the first time, I said, “Oh, I love your sheepdog!” She smiled and said that most people didn’t see that. We can all allow ourselves the luxury of being fascinated by whatever grabs us!
- BE TOUGH – She had neighbours who didn’t shovel their sidewalk, so she’d always shovel down 2 houses to the corner so that she wouldn’t slip. She didn’t complain about it, just did it, and it kept her strong for longer than anyone would expect. The worst thing you can tell an older person is that they’re too old to be doing the things they’re still doing, and we should all do as much as we can.
- WEAR BEAUTIFUL THINGS, JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT TO – Dusty enjoyed nice things and was always put together, even when she was dressed casually. Even people who barely knew her described her as a “classy lady.” Use the nice things you have, don’t save them for never.
I learned from Dusty that health, Self-care and life aren’t separate, they’re integral parts of the same thing. Most importantly, though, she ENJOYED her health and everything that contributed to it. She didn’t wait until she was together with others to savour a nice meal with a glass of wine, even at home. What a gift to have had such a great example of what to do in life!
If you’d like to have more of this in your world, join my list!