Words of wisdom for the new year

Over the past year, I have been traveling throughout my home state of Maine interviewing people 60 and above about their perspectives on aging. I call the project Conversations About Aging. You can listen here on the Catching Health blog (or read a transcript) and you can also listen on most podcast channels. Just search for the Catching Health podcast and you’ll find the conversations.

The project has been a wonderful experience and I already have several people lined up to be interviewed in 2020, so the adventure continues. What I have discovered is that everybody has a story to tell. All you have to do is ask! I ask lots of questions and one of them is about advice that can be passed along. Here we are at the end of one year and about to embark on another — the perfect time to come up with a New Year’s resolution. If you are inclined to do so, here are some words of wisdom that might offer you a bit of inspiration.

Leona Trinin, 92

Laugh. Just hang out with people who make you laugh and who you make laugh. Besides laughing, loving is important, having friends and family.

Wayne Clark, 64

Do it, do it now, whatever it is. Don’t put it off.

Emma Gilman, 86

One of the most important things is keeping active. Physically. I go for physical therapy on this knee because it’s bothering me and the reason it’s bothering me is that I’m not using it enough.

Jack Sullivan, 74

Try to stay healthy and try to keep involved in things. Try to live your life to the fullest as best you can.

Peesh McClanahan, 76

Live fully and find your own — what makes you tick — while you’re being kind to everybody else, too. I don’t mean be selfish your whole life but really focus on what it is that nurtures you and how you can nurture the world, too.

Peesh’s husband Paul

Get together as many memories as you can and live while you can still do it.

Dr. Robert McAfee, 84

Enjoy life. Every day there are so many opportunities to give and by so giving you do enjoy life more. Think of your children and grandchildren and how you can make this world a better place for them. Think of your neighbors. Just be grateful that you’re alive and that your health allows you to live as long as you have.

Sue Hoyt, 73

Look at life as an adventure. Everything you do is an adventure. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s all an adventure.

Lavon Harris, 100

Live life to the fullest but be careful what you do. Have a good time, but be careful. Love life, but be careful. That’s all I can say, I guess.

Bill Green, 65

On his recent retirement: Retirement is good. No complaints. I’m just trying to make a contribution and enjoy every day. I’m trying to make this “me time,” keeping in mind that part of me is public service.

Joy Hare, 75

Move and read. I’ve been reading books about aging since I was in my 50s and they’ve been helpful. One that I recommend is Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy by Thomas Moore.

Shirley Weaver, 82

Know yourself and be yourself.

Leona Chasse, 95

Pay your bills. Be kind to people. Help them if you can.

Bill Saltzer, 93

Just live with it [aging] the best you can.

Mary Hamblen, 98

I learned to get along with my daughters-in-law. My youngest tells a story about how at work they were talking about their mothers-in-law and someone said, “you never say anything bad about yours.” She said I can’t, I love her very much and she never criticizes and never tells me what I should do. I said that is so sweet of you and she said, well, you don’t. You don’t criticize and you don’t tell me I should do this for your son or that. She said she told them she had the perfect mother-in-law. I was right on cloud nine.

Dr. Bill Taylor, 97

The big thing is don’t sit around, keep moving and think positive. Spend some time picking the daisies and be curious and that’s it. I’m very thankful for my life, I really am.

Ernie DeRaps, 91

Live life, stay happy, love each other regardless of who they are. Love them.

Joanne Santee, 78

Try to do age gracefully. If you’re older, try to still have fun. Like I’m going to try to teach bridge this winter, see if I can get some of that going. I know myself. I’m very hyper and I need to get something going. Encourage your grandkids. I have things hanging here in my room, I’m kind of surrounded by my grandchildren. To me, that’s joy.

Paul Quinn, 80

It’s necessary to accept some things now that I would have fought desperately against 10 or 15 years ago. You kinda have to go with the flow.

Vikki Choate, 61

I think that’s where the intentional piece of life comes. What do I intend today to be? I rate the days, I give every day a number. Kind of like the patient experience survey. If you get a nine or a 10 you’re doing well and if a day is an eight or seven or six, what’s the problem with that? And it’s almost always my thinking or my perception because that I have control over. It’s so easy to want to blame people when things go wrong, but really, it might be but you.

Tom Antonik, 63

A former partner was once asked about one of my qualities and he said he really appreciated my curiosity. And I hadn’t thought of that, but I hold on to it. I think holding on to that sense of curiosity is vital. It’s part of the Buddhist practice of continuously looking in and looking in and looking in and also recognizing that everything is change. So I think we should try to hold and nurture that curiosity. I also think the advice I would give myself is to be a little more gentle on my own self.

Bob Newcomb, 94

The only really good advice I could get to would be to keep your body moving.

More advice?

If you have any words of wisdom that you’d like to pass along, please do. And if you’re interested in being interviewed for the Conversations About Aging podcast, send me an email.

Happy New Year text made out of wooden blocks.

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.