This past year, I had the great privilege of going with a social worker in New York City to deliver cupcakes to a 110-year-old woman named Katherine.
Yes, you read correctly. 110 years…but I shouldn’t say “old.” She is 110 years YOUNG!
110-year-young Katherine wasn’t just special; she was one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met.
While there are definite signs her body is starting to disconnect from her soul (including loose dentures that made it hard to understand her), Katherine has the vibrancy of a young child.
Squirming around, flirting, a glimmer in her eyes, a passion to meet, share, taste—she’s squeezing every possible ounce of a life that began way back in 1903.
Born in South Dakota before it became a state, Katherine had a radio talk show and moved to New York City because she wanted the big city experience.
There were sparks flying off this woman.
I want to share with you with some lessons learned in my brief but unforgettable meeting with this 110-year-young wunderkind:
1. ROCKY POWER
Katherine is now home-bound on a third-story walk-up apartment in NYC’s Upper East Side. Her priorities include human contact, sweets (i.e. cupcakes), sharing rich memories, and a sense of humor.
She has earned the right to live deep into life because she enjoys it.
She struck me as the type who wouldn’t let anything hold her back or keep her down, which might explain why she was married five times.
Now, this doesn’t mean leave your spouse.
Rather, it means, like Rocky Balboa, take life by the goddamn horns, never stay down for too long, and get after it!
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A wise one said, “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
2. TRUST YOUR JOURNEY
As goes the saying, we are not humans on a spiritual journey, but rather spirits on a human journey.
And you really got that sense from Katherine—like she was the last soul from a pack who ran around the earth for quite some time and left her behind because she demanded it!
While many seniors tend to be fearful and fragile, Katherine inherently TRUSTS people. When we walked in the door, such was Katherine’s excitement that she threw her arms in the air as if to signal “TOUCHDOWN!”
3. SENSE OF HUMOR
At one point during our encounter, the social worker thought Katherine was tired. He put his hands on her shoulders to help her lie down.
Katherine said to the social worker, “Are you propositioning me?” HA!
She’s still making X-rated jokes at 110 years young.
As Henry Beecher Ward said, “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs, jolted by every pebble in the road.”
Katherine is in a super rare group of humans called supercentenarians. Of the seven billion people on the planet, there are only sixty who are known to be 110 or older.
Most of these supercentenarians are not health nuts, nor hardcore vegans, nor fanatical exercise freaks. They share Katherine’s penchant for humor, trust, and, most importantly, a joie de vivre. The oldest women ever, Jeanne Calment, ate two pounds of chocolate per week before she died at 122. And Claude Choules, the last surviving World War 1 Veteran, went swimming in the ocean every single day until he turned 100.
To anyone who is overwhelmed by the prospect of getting old, let us take a cue from Katherine, Jeanne, and Claude and remember: “You don’t age until your regrets outnumber your dreams.”
David “Yeah Dave” Romanelli has played a major role in pioneering the modernization of wellness in the United States. He believes wellness and feeling good is so much more than fancy yoga poses, green juice, and tight-fitting clothes. Dave launched his career fusing ancient wellness practices with modern passions like exotic chocolate, fine wine, and gourmet food by creating Yoga + Chocolate, Yoga + Wine, and Yoga for Foodies. His debut book, Yeah Dave’s Guide to Livin’ the Moment, reached #1 on the Amazon Self-Help Bestseller List. Check out his new show Yeah Dave! and discover more about his journey on www.yeahdave.com.
*Image courtesy of mentalfloss.com.January 5, 2014