Virginia McLaurin will celebrate her 107th birthday tomorrow, March 12. McLaurin spread her infectious joy around the world and through cyberspace a few weeks ago when she did a happy dance with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Like my father and many of our elders, she never thought she’d live to see a black president.
This is also a good weekend, as always, to celebrate our elders. Take the time to reach out and touch, or at least call, someone in your family, around the corner or at your place of worship.
It’s also a good time to reflect on the little and big lessons we’ve learned from them and others:
Keep the faith. “One of my secrets for longevity is reading the Bible and praying daily, loving Jesus Christ, and my fellow man,” McLaurin is quoted as saying in 2014.
Take care of yourself. “I’m in pretty good health for an old lady,” says Alice Jones, 91, who like McLaurin also lives in Washington, D.C. “I go for my checkup regularly. I go to the dentist and for my eyes.”
Keep moving. Exercising for life pays off. And being physically active as you age — whether it’s dancing like McLaurin, gardening or swimming — can benefit memory and cognition, according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UCLA, published today in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Speak your mind. That’s one of things that I love about some of my Fierce elders. They will give it you straight, no chaser. (And sometimes it’s funny to watch those on the receiving end squirm!)
Eat your vegetables. “You didn’t eat junk,” Jones says. “That’s how I was raised. You didn’t go out without breakfast.” She’s also likes apples and bananas.
Take a warm bath before bedtime. This is also a reminder to relax. Turn an evening bath into regular, at-home spa moment with candles, music and whatever else you’d like to add.
Be nice to people. “There’s no one that I don’t like,” McLaurin says. “I love everybody.”
Get a good night’s sleep. The National Institutes of Health also recommends following a regular sleep schedule, including the weekends.
“Don’t bring that mess ‘round here!” We all have elders with an open heart and home, but they draw lines when necessary. The lesson? Stay out the drama zone, and manage your contact with negative people.
Stay positive. “You can be happy or miserable,” Jones says, “and I don’t intend for my last days to be that way!”
Share who’s special in your life and what you’ve learned from them!
Yanick Rice Lamb, who teaches journalism at Howard University, is co-founder of FierceforBlackWomen.com. She wrote about her 101-year-old Aunt Rose for the anthology “Aunties: .”
About Fierce Fridays — Tips for Weekend Well-Being
We each cherish those precious days off at the end of the week, but increasingly those of us who are charter members of the sisterhood of the stressed and overworked are losing our Saturday and Sunday leisure time to weekend work and domestic duties.
To make sure that you do something every weekend that’s just for you, we’ll be sharing a little advice to make those 48 hours a great time to recharge your batteries, bring a little good news into your life, or discover a quick and easy way to improve your health.