Sunday, August 23, 2015

Resilience, Longevity & Moments of Joy

"The author Hermann Hesse writes that the more one matures, the younger one grows. There are many people who as they age become increasingly vigorous and energetic, more broad-minded and tolerant, living with a greater sense of freedom and assurance. It is important to remember that aging and growing old are not necessarily the same." - Daisaku Ikeda

Mom was born in 1928 in a small seaside village in the southernmost area of Japan. A middle child from a family of nine siblings, Mom is one of three still living (and thriving)! As I think about the challenges Mom faced throughout her life, I marvel at her ability to maintain a resilient spirit in the face of setbacks. Prior to the second World War, my grandfather passed away at the age of 39 while Mom was in elementary school. With many children to care for, grandmother had to go out and find work. Consequently, Mom left school to become a caregiver to her younger siblings. World War II brought about even greater challenges as food became scarce and rationing became the norm. 

In the course of her life, Mom has faced various hardships including losing her husband (my father) in 2010 and losing her closest friend late last year. Mom turned 87 this week, and I'm grateful that she is healthy, independent (still drives and is able to travel overseas on her own), and partakes in activities that are both meaningful and joyful.

Today there are many Internet articles offering theories and/or personal views on healthy aging, so I decided to list what I think may be Mom's "secrets": Singing without a care if anyone hears; Laughing heartily at jokes made by her favorite comedians; Walking everyday for exercise and for errands; Cooking lots of food and experimenting with new recipes; Not dwelling on trivial matter; Being open to learning something new.

Mom aspires to become a centenarian, and I'm beginning to realize that perhaps achieving a healthy, long life requires big heartedness and unwavering optimism. These are qualities that Mom seems to possess in abundance. Thank you for taking the time to read my post! 

My mom and family friend enjoying Japanese bento lunches in San Francisco

A Celebration! Mom blowing out the candle on her birthday dessert!  

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