17 Secrets for a Long & Lovely Life: Lessons from My Grandmother

Don’t have time to write much today.

I am on my way to a birthday party.

And it’s a BIG Birthday Party. :)

Friends and family from all over the country are gathering near Atlanta this weekend to be with my paternal grandmother, “Granny”, as we celebrate her 100th birthday. (I took this picture of her with daughter Maiah just last summer. She was only 98 then.:))

Seems appropriate at a time like this to think about what it is that makes life worth living – for 100 fascinating years. And the inimitable Nettie Lucille Morris Pitts McDonald has been and continues to be one of my (many) favorite teachers.

Here’s just a few things she’s taught us all about how to have a long and blessed life.

  1. Mow your own grass & rake your own leaves (or pine straw, as the case may be) as long as you possibly can.

  2. Make up your bed every single day. Everything else automatically looks better.

  3. Take time to watch people, preferably at a good, crowded place like the Burger King close by, or a big bustling Sam’s Club. People are interesting, and interesting is good.

  4. Read the paper. Watch the news. Pay attention to what’s going on in the world. You never know when a war’s going to break out. Or someone might walk on the moon.

  5. When someone invites you to travel, go, even if it’s your granddaughter, and even if she’s taking you to a third world country. Be sure to pack your sense of adventure.

  6. Add a touch of whiskey to your eggnog on New Year’s Eve. It tastes better that way.

  7. Enjoy a good laugh at yourself when you can – especially when you’ve finished off that eggnog.

  8. Don’t smoke.

  9. Save your money. You never know when life’s gonna throw you a curve ball.

  10. Take time to sit on the porch or out in the yard under the trees. Listen to the crickets. Watch the fireflies come out. Visit with your family, or your neighbors.

  11. Don’t allow yourself the indulgence of self pity, because life is hard for everyone.

  12. Don’t allow your kids the indulgence of self pity either.

  13. Do spoil your grandkids. A little ice cream at 1 a.m. never hurt anyone.

  14. Love your family with all your heart – even if they don’t act like you, think like you, look like you or sound like you. And even if they insist on having dogs in the house.

  15. Don’t brag about your faith, but hold on to it. When things get rough, sing “How Great Thou Art” as loud as you can. Even if your voice shakes.

  16. Eat grits’n’eggs for breakfast, unless, of course, you’re visiting the Detroit branch of the family. Then go back to #11, because Cream of Wheat isn’t even close.

  17. Follow #14, no matter what. Forever.

There’s probably more, if I stop and think about it… but this is a good list. And an accurate one. I’ve been blessed with examples of many strong and Courageous women in my life. My other Grandmother, Edna Mae Hill Howell Williams, had a brave story of her own, and I’ll tell that one some day.

I am who I am because of the lessons I’ve learned from these and many others, and I am grateful.

How ’bout you?

What’s YOUR Secret to a Long and Lovely Life?




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