When people ask me why I seem so happy and find it easy to laugh, I tell them my INNER CHILD is working overtime! Many, many times throughout the years, different friends and relatives have remarked (in a not-so-kindly manner): “Lee, you’re the biggest kid I know! Aren’t you ever going to grow up?” (They’re all dead now!!!)
After celebrating my 96th birthday recently, I realized that “kid” (or INNER CHILD) has always influenced my thinking and my perception of life for the better!! I cannot believe I’ve been here so long! I cannot believe I have had such a great life! When people started asking me how I managed to live this long, I tried to explain my way of thinking. First of all, my INNER CHILD has always been alive and active! I was blessed with a loving, optimistic father who introduced me to humor and storytelling. He taught me to: “love my life, love God, love people” and BELIEVE IN MYSELF!!!
My mother, a good woman, pronounced herself “old” at 60 and though she lived to age 98, was a total pessimist! I was not what she had in mind for a daughter! She did not know what to do with this child who was too loud, too full of fun, too optimistic! We had about seventy-five years of conflict. I think she is responsible for me being so hard-headed and determined!! (“What doesn’t kill you toughens you!!”)
I was very lucky to have a wonderful mentor from age 34 until my seventies. She taught me to “pick myself up, brush myself off, and get on with my life” when I was hurting so deeply! “Mama” Dodge was a perfect role model for thinking young and never growing old! She lived to be 100 years young! I can definitely testify: “Loving people and being a good ACTIVE Friend” is paramount for happiness. And maintaining “The Attitude of Gratitude” is included in that advice!
My mantra is: “Lee, keep your mind on what you want and OFF of what you don’t want!!!” It works!!!! Keep your INNER CHILD alive always—with curiosity, inspiration, laughter, and learning! Most people do not know that they have 65% control of everything that happens to them in life, and 100% control over how they choose to react! Therefore, older people who have learned to keep their sense of humor, think positively, remain ACTIVE, who GENUINELY care about other people, continue to learn and are interested in life in general, truly are “Young at Heart” forever and die young even at 110!!!
I was a late bloomer and didn’t “blossom” until I was fifty. My INNER CHILD was very much alive and clicking!! Luck introduced me to a totally new profession. I took early retirement from Exxon as a secretary. Two years later and after a tremendous “learning curve”, I became a professional speaker and trainer traveling the world — motivating, inspiring, and making audiences laugh! Then, at (just) 68, I retired (at my husband’s insistence.) I WAS MISERABLE!!!!!
Within two years the idea of creating a speakers’ bureau came to me. So once again I had to learn a whole new skill set – reading, studying, and educating myself about this new business. Even though I was no longer performing, I did derive great pride and pleasure when one of my speakers awed the client and received a standing ovation! (Felt like I was there all over again!!) That adventure lasted until melanoma cancer struck and I had to undergo nine surgeries to remove and rebuild a new nose!!! I was terrified they might not put me back together like I was!! (They did!!) That took a year and a half. Afterwards, I was (just) 89, but I had lost the momentum and the zest to return to the fast pace and pressure required by the bureau. So, I retired a third time.
Being in the speakers’ bureau business brought a lot of “wannabe” speakers into my life, and with a minimum of marketing I began to coach people who wanted to become professional speakers!!! I started coaching out of my home and discovered a huge thrill in my new profession!!! Unfortunately, three years ago I had to undergo a hip replacement and since then my beautiful career life has melted down from a gushing river to a gentle trickle of a stream! Occasionally I have the opportunity to coach someone or I am asked to speak — usually on “Keeping Your Inner Child Forever.” And I still get a tremendous thrill!! (My advice: “Find what you LOVE to do and keep on doing it—as long as you possibly can!”)
Until recently I spent a lot of time with my young (30’s – 80’s) friends going out to lunch, the movies, shopping and the theatre. The terrible virus has had a huge impact on all of that!! Most of my “socializing” now is by telephone and the computer!! Fortunately, I have had some live visits (with face masks and my guests seated a few feet away), No hugs or touching! But LIVE entertainment and companionship that lifts my spirits for days afterwards!! And I have visited a few of my favorites who have not been exposed!! (These visits are priceless for my morale!!) I am praying every day–thanking God for keeping me and my loved ones safe! In the center of all this misery, I find that counting my blessings (of which there are soooooooooo many) lifts my spirits immensely. And I also ask Him to help someone create a vaccine that will really be effective and to PLEASE HURRY!!!
Beyond a shadow of a doubt I know my INNER CHILD is working overtime helping me manage the physical and emotional challenges during these
“GoldenYears”!! I WISH I COULD TELL EVERY MAN AND WOMAN ABOUT THIS BASIC TRUTH!! You will be pleased to know that MOST of me is doing remarkably well!! I told my doctors I think I’m so lucky to keep recovering from whatever hits me because of good genes, but they said it’s because I have been blessed with a strong fighting spirit and positive attitude. I have managed to overcome several major surgeries (in addition to the “nose job” and hip replacement). Example: Open heart surgery (now proudly wearing my second pacemaker). Two major back surgeries and both knees replaced (but still mobile with the help of a walker)!!! Everyone I know is very thoughtful about reminding me to wear my hearing aids!! Contact lens take the place of glasses (except for reading). I’m told my mind is still sharp, and sense of humor very much intact!! The teeth are still all mine! I am blessed with good skin and, contrary to what usually happens to most people my age, my hair is not thinning, falling out or turning white! (Can you believe it?)
I’m writing a book about my speaking career and gradually getting my affairs in order (just in case I have an address change!!) I’m only four years from celebrating the big “Double O” Birthday and REALLY WANT TO MAKE IT!!! My husband is now retired, and life is much more manageable and enjoyable than ever before. Well—–let me alter that statement a bit—Life WILL BE much more enjoyable than ever when this virus is gone!!!!
By Lee Moczygemba, Copyright 1/2021