This past year, I had the great privilege of going with a social worker in New York City to deliver cupcakes to a 108 year old woman named Katherine.
Yes you read correctly. 108 years…but I shouldn’t say “old.” She is 108 years YOUNG!
(Note: I was not allowed to show Katherine’s photo so instead I’m sharing the above photo of the oldest woman ever, Jeanne Calment, at her 122nd birthday party. Jeanne Calment exhibited many of the characteristics of which you are about to read.)
108 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.
She’s still frisky as a teenager. When the social worker put his hands on her asking, “Do you want to lie down?” she retorted, “Are you propositioning me?” HA!
Seriously, there were sparks flying off this woman.
She truly loves being alive.
I want to share with you with some lessons learned in my brief but unforgettable meeting with this 108 year young wunderkind:
Katherine is now homebound on a 3rd story walkup apartment in NYC’s Upper East Side. Her priorities include human contact, sweets (ie 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 5 times.
Now this doesn’t mean leave your spouse.
Rather, it means, like Rocky Balboa, take life by the goddam horns, never stay down for too long, and get after it!
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 quote, “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!
She has lived an active life, a rich journey, and loves to share her moments and memories. The ups and downs, highs and lows.
And she seems to inherently TRUST 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. STAY RELEVANT
I recall one moment when she shook her hair (even at 108, she has a funky short hairdo) on her head in a fashionable way that struck me as a throwback to what must have been en vogue in the 1920’s.
Katherine knows what’s going on in the world around her, she still likes to put on her makeup, she’s still cool!
Sometimes as we get older, we dismiss trends, movements, technologies.
A huge lesson from Katherine. Stay in the game, stay curious, keep your finger on the pulse.
If you could use a little of this 108 year old’s vitality, consider jumping off with me on an odyssey. My Livin the Moment 2012 program launches this week. Our rallying cry will be a line that best summarizes Katherine approach. I should also mention it’s a line from a cheesy Disney movie, and God knows I’m a sucker for cheesy movies:
“Put life in front of you and run at it!”
If you’ve been knocked down in life, if you feel that your regrets overshadow your dreams, if you are always looking over your shoulder and being chased by your fears, doubts, and worries…
Let’s Rock 2012!