Live Your Life

Tuesday, when I came home, and stopped to pick up my mail, someone had placed a poster on the community bulletin board advertising a birthday party for our neighborhood’s oldest resident – on September 12th he will have reached the Century mark.  Then, later as I browsed MSN, I caught another story – one about Bess Cooper, a woman in Georgia who on Sunday celebrated her 116th birthday.  She actually made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.  I must say, that is some achievement.  I haven’t had a chance to talk to our local hero to get his advice on a long and healthy life.  However, I must say, he is constantly on the move.

Our celebrity walks the neighborhood with a trolley, picking up whatever interesting trinkets he can find on trash day. What’s that old adage?  “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  Well, he has at least fifteen vacuum cleaners, ten stereo systems and God only knows what else; mind you we were here seven years in May (It’s a new development – we all moved in only months from each other).  Now, I named these specific things, because I have discarded such items from my garage/house and they disappeared before being picked up by the garbage men.  I know that he takes the vacuums in, repairs them, and then, I don’t know what happens from there.  In fact the other day, my husband sat out two worn and weary patio chairs that were also missing the cushions.  Now, so are the chairs.  But, if this is what keeps him going, then, so be it.  At 93 when he moved here, of course he didn’t drive, therefore he used and continues to use his garage as a workshop, and every – E V E R Y morning when I leave for work there he is tinkering with something: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.  I would have to say then, keeping yourself busy must prove a big part of a long and healthy life.

As I browsed further along MSN, just a few inches below the story of Bess Cooper, sat a poll entitled, “How Old Do You Think You’ll Live To Be?”  The ages listed were:

69 years old or less
70 – 79
80 – 89
90 – 99
100 years old or more

Do I want to speak or think of a number in my head? Wouldn’t that be the same as setting the clock or claiming that figure?  My mother used to say, when you speak it you claim it.   Anyway, Bess Cooper says the secret to her longevity has been the fact that she minds her own business – I have to say that one should be really high on the list, and she does not eat junk food.  Look at her skin, you can definitely tell she doesn’t, even at 116; eat junk food that is.  In reading this story, I’m reminded of the Raymond James Financial commercial where their character is happy she invested with them, because she has kept on living to the ripe old age of 187.  Of course, would anyone really want to live that long?  Well, maybe; if you’re like that person.  She’s sky diving, entering Ping Pong tournaments, and living the same as she did at 50.  But, again that’s all make-believe.

If my grandmother were still alive she would be 102 and my grandfather 106.  In biblical days people lived many years – Methuselah lived until the age of 969.  Then, somewhere along the way everything changed.  Honestly, I’ve never really given a lot of thought to this topic.  At least, not until now.  But, then, when you’re living – really living – you don’t have time to think of – how long.  So, let’s just live life, and enjoy the gift of each day.  I think the Italian version of – “live your life,” is so beautiful and poetic, I’ll leave you with that – Vivi la tua vita.

Photo courtesy of 123rf.com

New York On My Mind

Uptown to Queens, please

Yesterday morning a few of my twitter peeps and myself were going on about living, working, and missing New York City. Well…okay, I may have been the one who mentioned missing. When it comes to that locale, it doesn’t take much to flip my yearning switch. I need to preface what I’m about to say by explaining – having choices. What do I mean by this? If your family is from some other place, but you live in Manhattan or any of the other four boroughs – more than likely you will get the chance to visit the place from where your relatives originated. I believe this gives you a different outlook versus strictly growing up in the city; never knowing anything else.

That being said, I always knew in the back of my mind, my mother would one day return to her roots; no matter how hard I worked to keep her in the north. Once I moved to New Jersey, I began hounding her to sell the house and buy something close to me. Now, I can’t speak for any other race – I know personally there have been many articles printed lately about African-Americans returning to the south. In fact, just a month or two ago, the New York Times had one on the front page. The reasons listed in those articles, however, had nothing to do with the reason we came here. Being from the south, my mother would easily become frustrated and go on a rampage, wanting to leave the “rat race” and move. I, too treasured going on vacation. This gave me the chance to get away from the concrete, crowds, and rushing around. All of that in mind, if you stop and think about the choices, and those places other than New York, it makes the everyday annoyances of urban living a little more difficult to endure.

What are those frustrations? The guy standing behind you in the subway car with his umbrella handle poking you in your back. The never-ending stream of pedestrians that won’t stop coming, and give you a chance to make a right/left turn. The way long lines at check out, the week of Christmas. The sea of bodies that smack you in the face, and threatens to send you running in the opposite direction as you enter the Division of Motor Vehicles. I could create a list, pages long on the irritations of living in a large metropolis, but, again that’s another topic.

So now, with those confessions, wouldn’t that make one think – why on earth would she then, miss New York? Have you ever been on Fifth Avenue anytime from Noon until around 2:00 p.m. when the wave of bodies renders the concrete invisible? Or at 4:00 a.m. when the only people inhabiting the island are the ones who live there, and a lone resident is walking his dog down Fifth Avenue at 62nd Street. The craving for an omelet, pancakes, Bloody Mary, a piece of fruit or a simple cup of coffee strikes at 3:00 a.m. and all that’s needed is to walk out your front door. Enjoying the Christmas windows of Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue or Lord & Taylor while wrapped in your winter garb as you hustle along – hands filled with packages, and the falling snow validates – tis the season. Or my all-time favorite, crossing the George Washington Bridge at sunset with Manhattan in the distance.

I miss New York with a vengeance. I told someone recently, I never thought I would work or live anywhere else. My husband and I are certain we are two people meant to be in a metropolitan area. But, not just any metro, because nothing – nothing – nothing compares to the Big Shiny Apple. At this point, I have the urge to quote a line from The Wizard of Oz – “…I’m not gonna leave [insert your own text] New York] ever, ever again…there’s no place like home!”

NYC Public Library

51st St. Entry to St. Patrick's

Also, I’d like to remind my visitors to make their way over to “View From The Roads.” It’s been a new month for 14 days now. I realize I got them in somewhat late.  Also, if you’re here, leave me suggestions in the comment section as to what you’d like to see more of or topics that simply interest you. Thanks in advance.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Images courtesy of Google Earth