Tips from Old Folks/ Daily Inspiration

Today is the day for a combined post and daily inspiration. I have this fantastic book that isfull of “wisdom” from people in a nursing home and I thought I’d share some of my favorites.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Paris. Harry would say, “Wait till next year. Wait till the kids are done with college. Wait till after we get a new roof.” Wait, wait, wait, that’s all I ever heard. Then he went and had his stroke, not a week after he retired. You’ll always have plenty of reasons for putting things off. Waiting makes good sense at the time. But later you’ll see things differently. Trust me.” -Betty Seville age 76
-I am the one in our family who is always about waiting. We plan for things and at the last minute I chicken out because I hate spending money and time that could be put to better use other places. Thank goodness my husband isn’t this way too or I would’ve missed out on a lot of happy memories.

“I always had to be accomplishing something. I’m talking about every minute of every day, sunup to sundown. That’s how I was brought up. There were no idle hands in our house. Raising my family, a day was wasted unless I sewed a dress and put up a week’s worth of soup and darned a dozen socks. Then I did all this allover again, helping my daughter raise her family. Now I’m an old lady and  my hands are knotted up with arthritis. There’s hardly anything I can work on anymore. I used to wander around the house, muttering “useless hands, useless life.” I certainly couldn’t sit on a couch and say it was a good day. Lately, I’ve decided to stop fighting it. I’ve been letting my mind roam while my hands rest. You know what I’m thinking now? There’s not a thing wrong with sitting still. You just have to relax into it.”-Effie Bramfield age 81

“I was born in Springfield. I was married in Springfield. I’m going to die in Springfield. That’s the way I want it. The mayor went to elementary school with my son, I’ll have you know, and my daughter baby-sat for the postmaster’s kids. Every single family on this block remembers getting a plate of fresh baked cookies from me when they first moved in. You should’ve seen when I broke my hip. Everybody in the neighborhood rushed over to give me a hand. I never spend a holiday alone, even when my kids can’t get out here. Young people think someplace else is always better, but they’re wrong. Where nobody knows you, you’re nothing. Putting lots of time into a place- years and years- that’s what makes you count for something.” -Bo Jackson age 81
-I’m not planning on living in my house forever, but my next move will be my last. I want to be somewhere that people know me. I love traveling, and want to explore our great world, but there’s nothing better than coming home to a place you know well, that you don’t have to explore.

“One morning I was sitting at my kitchen table, staring into space. It was one of those windy days when the sun keeps coming out and going in. All of a sudden, a sunbeam crossed my kitchen table and lit up my crystal saltshaker. There were all kinds of colors and sparkles. It was one of the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen. But you know, that very same saltshaker had been on that kitchen table for over fifty years. Surely there must have been other mornings when the sun crossed the table like that, but I was just too busy getting things done. I wondered what else I’d missed. I realized this was it, this was grace.” -Martha McCallum age 86
-I will never forget one morning my mother and I went for a walk around the lake, just as the sun was coming up, and my mother, who always insists she doesn’t have an artistic or romantic bone in her body, was awestruck, just awestruck by the glistening spiderwebs. I mean, she just stood there with her mouth open, saying “look at them. Just look at all of them.” Grace comes to us at unexpected times and places for sure.

“I used to be jealous of people who could say what they were living for, who had a purpose and could say what it was. I’ve done lots of different kinds of work, always followed my interests. I’ve been blessed with a lot of success, but in terms of goals, my life seemed haphazard. I liked how I was living, but couldn’t explain it to myself or anyone. Then, when Iwas sixty or so, I saw one clear threat sunning through everything I’d done. My purpose has been to follow my heart and accept that life leads me, not the other way around.” -George Calmenson age 64
-I always say that people with intense goals are boring because there is so much going on in life, how could you focus on just one thing?? That’s not really true, because without goals n othing would ever get done. I just try to make myself feel better for not having any ambitions.

“When couples fight, most of the time neither person is listening. You’re both putting all of your energy into arguing  your own side. You’re getting caught up in the enthusiasm of blaming, which is like a reflex. It requires no effort and happens automatically unless you oppose it with all your might. But if one of you is able to stop and give the other some compassion,really try to see the other person’s hurt, the steam goes right out of the fight. Something different happens, something interesting, instead of the same old fight again and again.” -Edein French age 84
-When we get in fights a picture of my husband as a little boy always pops into my head. I’m glad it does because it takes the edge off my anger and I just want to hug him, even if I’m  still angry,

“The two of you are the center of your family. Don’t forget it. You are the ones who hold it all together. I see too many young couples today putting the kids first and each other second. That’s a big mistake. Where are you supposed to get your strength? Sure, you get love from your kids,but don’t think you won’t end up lonely if you count on that in the long run. Children don’t want to be your only happiness. This puts too much pressure on them. When they see the two of you getting along, it gets them off the hook. It makes them feel more secure. Plus. they get to see the two of you having a good time together and it gives them hope, maybe someday they’ll find somebody to be happy with. So don’t let your marriage go down the drain because you’re too budy catering to your kids.” -Sophie Goldfarb age 88
-Single greatest piece of advice…ever!

“I was always dissatisfied with my job, thinking it must be better for the guys on top. I didn’t know that 90 percent of all jobs is scut work, no matter how high or low your position. Even the guy making a million dollars a year has a lot of trash to take care of. But I had no idea this was so, and I gave up a lot, clawing my way to high places. Finally, years and years later, after there wasn’t any higher to go, I saw the lay of the land. It’s the same for theCEO as the mail clerk. It’s smarter to seek out work you really like and stay there than to chase after achievement that might be nothing special once you get there.” As CEO of a large corporation, John Cooper had attained everything he ever wanted professionally–wealth, power, and position. The cost was eighteen hour days. Retiring meant he had been released from his ambitions at last. He had hoped to make up for lost time with his two daughters and his son but by this time they were too busy with families and careers of their own. “I feel like I missed their childhoods.” he said, noticing how rarely he was present in family photographs.
-Is it just me, or does this story sound a lot like The Cat’s in the Cradle?

“People generally let themselves be driven by emotion. They speak before they give themselves a chance to think about what they want to say. They often end up regretting what comes out of their mouths. A long time ago, I taught myself to stop and think before I said anything. I still always pause and ask myself What do I really want to achieve? Usually what I’m about to say in the heat of the moment isn’t going to get me any closer to where I want to go, so I don’t say it. If you keep your eye on the target, you don’t get into trouble.” -Herb Johnson age 86
-Could I ever take a lesson from this. I always talk without thinking. I’m painfully inept at considering that things that aren’t a big deal to me may be a big deal to others.

“Here I am, an old woman already. I always thought I had a book inside me. Every year I told myself, “Next year you’ll write your book.” The years came and went. It always seemed like next year I’d start in on it, but I never did–and I’ve had a whole century. If you have a book inside you, sit down and get it written. It’s not a matter of having the time. If you want to do something badly enouogh, you do it. You set other things aside and you make it a priority. You stop giving your life away to obligations. Now my hands are twisted up with arthritis and I can’t see beyond the end of my nose. See? I have the time,but now I can’t do it.” -Matilda Johnsen age 101
-This is what I hate about A Room of One’s Own. No man or woman needs a room with peave and quiet to write. You just need the motivation.

“I spent too much of my life as a snob. My specialty was behind the back ridicule. No one escaped my harsh tongue, but I particularly despised people on welfare, people who sat back and let the government take care off them. Then when my heart attack did me in, I was only fifty-right. I had to quit work. My savings went in a flash, and my disability check didn’t even cover my mortgage.I landed in subsidized housing. My first few days,I wouldn’t even go down to get my mail. I couldn’t stand being one of them. One morning there was a knock at my door. One of my neighbors handed me a pie and welcomed me to the building. Later, another asked me if I needed anything at the store. It’s been ten years now. I’ve made the best friends I’ve ever had. My door is always open. People seek me out for advice, a shoulder to cry on, you name it. I wish I had spent my life like this. I’m making up for lots of lost time.”-Jim Wentworth age 68 People still talk about Jim Wentworth at the public housing project where he spent his last days. Once he discovered the power of kindness, first by recieving it and then by giving it many times over, he missed no opportunities. Shortly before he died, he told me, “Nothing I attained as a successful businessman comes close to what I’ve gained here, in my supposed poverty.”
This reminds me of another quote, from one of my favorite books, My Antonia: ‘After I watched Antonia and her mother go over the hill on their miserable horse, carrying our iron pot with them, I turned to grandmother, who had taken up her darning, and said I hoped that snopping old woman would n’t come to see us anymore. Grandmother chuckled and drove her bright needle across a hole in Otto’s sock. “She not old, Jim, though I expect she seems old to you. No, I would n’t mourn if she never came again. But, you see, a body never knows what traits poverty might bring out in ’em. It makes a woman grasping to see her children want for things.”‘ I know it’s hard not to judge people, no matter what kind of situation their life is in, but since you have no idea how you would act in the same situation, judgement is something that is best reserved for God to do.

“Show me someone getting on in years and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t have a lot of answers. Don’t ask me what life is for. I haven’t figured it out yet. I used to know, or thought I did. Early on, you think just because something seems a certain way to you, that’s how it is. Case closed. But as you get older, how many times are you sure of something and then it turns out you were dead wrong? Young people often think the old are set in their ways, but that’s just on the surface,  a bunch of petty habits and the like. Old people are actually the open-minded ones.” -Helmut Mayer age 68

All quotes are from the book “What Worth Knowing” by Wendy Lustbader. (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52731437-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);


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