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Eight Vital Life Lessons From My Mother

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Laurie with her mother

By Laurie Stone

My mom is now 85 and you’d be hard-pressed to find a fitter, more adorable and adroit senior citizen. “I can’t believe her age!” is a line I hear often. And although having sturdy Irish genes never hurt, there are eight non-negotiables in my silver-haired mother’s life, which I believe help her stay fit, strong, and yes, young.

Eat Healthy

One of my mother’s favorite sayings is, “Food is medicine.” Before she came to live with us eighteen months ago, my diet was healthy most of the time, but could stand improvement. Now, thanks to her influence, I have raw vegetables with my sandwich at lunch and a nightly side salad at dinner. Not surprisingly, I’ve seen a change. And yes, Mom’s human. Her big indulgence is ice cream each night for dessert, but most of the time, she eats smart and it shows.

Keep Moving

Mom loves to walk, whether by a river or along our local beaches. With white visor and colorful knapsack, Mom walks briskly. Sometimes I’ll go with her and as we walk, we talk. About everything. I love these times, solving the world’s problems, but also getting exercise. Mom also takes several classes a week that include weights, chair yoga, lots of ladies — and the occasional outnumbered man. “Use it or lose it,” is another of her favorite sayings.

Go Outside

Nature has always called to my mother. She knows the name of every bird species in our yard — from the goldfinches to the downy woodpeckers. She watered and fertilized all my outdoor flowers this summer and our hibiscus, geraniums and roses never looked more beautiful. She notices and appreciates the big and small things — a particular iridescent green on a hummingbird or the majesty of the poplar trees in our backyard. Nature gives her strength.

Never Stop Reading And Learning

motherAs a child, many times after school, I’d find a new Dr. Seuss or The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking on my bed, much to my delight. My mother was an avid reader and still devours books today — classics, mysteries, the latest best seller, anything that strikes her fancy. We’ve always shared that love and I believe it helps keeps her young. Reading spurs curiosity and that’s what makes life interesting.

Know What’s Going On In The World 

Despite a gentle, reserved nature, Mom can be politically astute. She’ll sit there at dinner, taking in the news in her quiet way, but when asked her opinion, will give a well-thought out, insightful and sometimes unique answer. She reads several newspapers everyday on her I-Pad (including some foreign) and sometimes, to my embarrassment, knows what’s going on in the world sooner, and more thoroughly, than I do.

Stay Current With Medical Check-Ups

If I mention that I don’t feel like going for a particular medical screening, but am overdue, my mother will chastise me. “It’s important to know your numbers and where you stand,” she’ll say. “Keep up with that stuff.” And she’s right. She taught me that staying medically up to date is a form of self-care and one of the reasons I believe Mom is in such good shape. She takes her health seriously.

Get Connected

One of the first things she did when she came to live with us was join the local Y. It’s there Mom takes her exercise classes. Plus she joined a monthly book group, which she loves. Some of her fellow students are her age, but many are younger. “It’s nice to have people to say hello to and talk with,” she says often after coming home, and although shy, Mom has made friends in her own way, in her own time. I see how that makes her happy.

Have Gratitude

I asked her recently how she feels about turning 85. “Grateful,” she answered. And what more could anyone want? She knows she’s lucky. She had a long, happy marriage with my father and three healthy kids. She’s enjoyed good health most of her life. She knows to appreciate and see the simple beauty in everyday living. She doesn’t sweat the small stuff.

So just when you think you’re too old to learn anything more from your parents, they prove you wrong.

I have to raise a glass to my mom on this year — a big one. She shows me everyday how it’s done and for that I’m proud … and grateful too.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Conn. Her blog, “Musings, Rants &Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, older and (hopefully) wiser. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

5 Responses to “Eight Vital Life Lessons From My Mother”

  1. Wow. She looks incredible. And she is incredible. All of these tips are so bright and refreshing and important. My own mom is the same age as your mother but has had Parkinson’s for 35 years, locked in a body that can barely move or swallow and a voice that is hardly audible. So, as you already know because you are both focused on gratitude, you are very very fortunate to be able to take walks and have conversations with your mother. Enjoy every second. You ladies are an inspiration.

  2. I love stories like this! It’s so good to know old and decrepit don’t have to go together! Your mom looks fabulous! What an inspiration!

  3. Diane says:

    I don’t suppose she’d consider coming to live with me! 🙂

  4. Lauren says:

    You’re mom is my hero! I wish my mom were more like her. She’s the exact opposite and it breaks my heart.

  5. This is a beautiful tribute to your mother. I hope to have my children pay me such an honor when they are adults.

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