Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Most Inspiring 88-Year-Old I've Ever Met

Monique Purkett
Do you sometimes worry about getting older?

Meet Monique Purkett, still active, engaged and contributing to the world at 88.  When I sat down to interview her recently, I had no idea all she had been through and all that she contributed to the world. She is a role model for all of us in our later years and truly someone to admire. The story of Monique’s life could be a movie. In fact, it would be three movies!

A magical wartime love story

“Young 17-year-old French girl meets and falls in love with American soldier during the German occupation of France.” Doesn’t this sound like something right off the pages of a screenplay of a war love story from the 1940’s?

She was the oldest of three with a sister six years her junior and a brother 12 years younger. When the war ended French families invited American soldiers into their homes. At 17 Monique felt awkward doing so, but her 11-year-old sister felt no discomfort and found and invited Sam, the man who would eventually become Monique’s husband. She and Sam wed when she was 18 and he was 20.

Living abroad, then coming to America

After the war Monique and her husband remained in Europe for several years. They had two sons and a daughter. Sam worked at the military’s exchange system in Germany, Morocco and Spain.  It wasn’t until 1958 that Monique made her first trip to America, and the whole family came to live in the U.S. permanently in 1964. Monique worked hard and made sacrifices to assimilate into the American culture. She did this gladly.

Sam joined the V.A. Administration and his job took him to several locations throughout California including Santa Monica, Fresno, Pleasant Hill, and San Francisco. Monique taught pre-school for 25 years and she describes this time as some of the most enjoyable of her life. Sam and Monique eventually retired in Santa Rosa and their children live in Oakland, Placerville and nearby Petaluma.

An active life of family and service after widowhood

After 56 years of marriage, Sam passed away in 2002. Monique’s family in France encouraged her to return home. She resisted; “America is my home. My life is here with my children!“ she told me with quiet determination.

After Sam’s passing Monique got involved in her community to keep busy and to continue her ways of doing for others. She currently volunteers 15 hours a week at a local hospital and has set a goal to reach 8,500 hours of service before the end of 2015! She is an avid gardener and loves needlepoint, sewing and cooking. Her children are her best support and she maintains an exceptionally close relationship with all three.

Her beautiful character shines bright

Petite, gentle, with a welcoming demeanor and yet Monique can be described as determined and strong. Self-effacing yet self-assured. That’s how I viewed Monique after spending some time learning a smidgen of her life’s history.

Look at her picture again. Look into her eyes. Do you see all that she is? Do you see a life of challenges as well as sweetness? Do you see the strength of her life choices? Monique readily shared, “the care and support of all the people surrounding me is part of what I am today.”

We can learn a lot from Monique. I did. I learned you can be strong yet soft, lead a challenging life yet show no signs of it externally and give to others while taking care of yourself.

Thank you Monique, not only for who you are, but for what you bring to those of us who appreciate knowing your story. You are an excellent role model for those of us who are making the most of our elder years.

Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Are you Thinking it Bad or Thinking it Good?

When I have a day filled with fear and uncertainty, it’s difficult for me to remember that this world works for everyone, including me. It's easy to feel it works when things are glorious and bright, but not as easily when the simplest of tasks become arduous, when friends turn against me and when overcast days seem to go on endlessly.

How often have you had a day when everything seems like it’s going to hell in a hand basket? On these days you're hardly surprised to watch the coin slip out of your hand and roll in slow motion, at the last moment dipping out of sight between the bars on the storm drain in the street.

We Create the Events in Our Lives

Would you believe me if I told you there’s a connection between our thoughts and what happens to us? What we think, be it positive and uplifting or negative and pessimistic, is what we create in our lives. What we think it’s going to be is ultimately what it turns out to be, “See, I told you so!”

Metaphysician Ernest Holmes liked to say, "Can you afford the consequences of the way you are thinking?" and "The way we think is the way we act, and the way we act is what happens. Law in the universe lets you have what you want -- disaster or delight."

Turning It Around


This is glorious news! If you can “think” it bad, you can “think” it good. We are powerful in that way. PLUS, it doesn’t cost a dime to shift it from bad to good.

Here’s what I do when I find it all looks and feels so awful I just want to crawl back in bed and dive head first under the blankets. First of all, I ask myself a couple questions:


          -Is there stuff that absolutely needs to be confronted, or can
               I put it off until I feel more positive?

          -Is life really as bleak as it feels like it is or is my
               talented imagination creating some situations (read
               “problems”) that don’t really exist?

Depending on an honest answer to these questions, I decide to confront or let go of the uncomfortable situation before me.

Next, I mediate and/or pray for clarity on why it all looks so harsh at the moment. There’s generally a reason why I’m focused on the negativity in my life, and knowing why brings an awareness of abundance about the true gifts in my life.


Then I move forward and seek out that place where all is well.
Often I spend time in nature or reach out to friends and family to deviate from the negative and focus on something else. Sometimes I just need some heavenly time alone where there is quiet and I’m my own best friend. From here it’s much easier to see all is well by keeping my thoughts on the ways I’m supported in my life.

Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
  Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My Secret Garden – It Produces Much More Than Just Fruits and Veggies

A few days ago I followed my husband, Rod, to the garden. While he watered and pulled weeds, I hauled my lawn chair into a small center clearing, propped my feet up on one of the raised bed frames and leisurely enjoyed my morning coffee.

I must admit that we have a killer garden and Rod does 100% of the work. I’m so lucky he loves gardening because he grows a rich bounty of fruits and vegetables. Gardening has never been my thing. But I enjoy the harvesting and consuming part of the whole process. Thanks to Rod, we have already enjoyed plenty of delicious zucchini, radishes, tomatoes, snow peas, Japanese eggplant, three kinds of cucumber and apricots and peaches.

That morning after Rod got done with his upkeep of the garden, I remained behind by myself to finish my coffee and just hang out. And boy am I glad I did. I discovered a valuable commodity that didn’t come from any seed pack or seedling.

Spending time just hanging out in a garden brought me peace and tranquility.
It was calm, early morning cool, and bees were just beginning their day’s work, a low buzz signaling the morning’s progression. I had brought a book to read but quickly put it aside and closed my eyes. It felt meditative; I could practically hear the photosynthesis that was taking place! (Ok, that’s probably an exaggeration!)

If there was stress in my life, spending time quietly in the gloriousness of the garden brought me a new appreciation of the power of nature to calm and soothe. 

I’m here to say if you have a garden, try hanging out and letting it work its magic on you. It's nice to have a reason to wear sunglasses that doesn't involve avoiding the glare from some electronic device.

Well, that’s fine and dandy, but what if I don’t have a garden?

Borrow one. Bring your camp chair, a bottle of fresh squeezed lemonade or water and a book (preferably paper but digital works too) and spend time in and amongst the flowers or veggies and fruit of someone else’s garden. I’ll bet it won’t be five minutes before you discard your reading material in favor of idly watching the bees and other insects doing their thing.

No garden to borrow?

At the very least you can spend time in a nursery or publically owned botanical garden. I’m not sure how they’d feel about you camping out there with a drink and a book, but you could try!

Once there, slow down, stop and feel the sun on your body. Smell the dirt. Connecting with nature is so relaxing and it doesn’t cost anything!

You can’t get this experience in front of your computer or with your head down hovering over your smart phone.

Your body is a powerful device in enhancing the quality of your life. It’s not always about using your mind to think or your mouth to speak. Given the opportunity, your body will tell your brain it’s happy to do something different, to sit in stillness and drink in all that nature brings.

Let the secret of spending time in the garden feed your soul. Then, share your experiences with others!

These days, usually early in the morning, you'll find me with my cup of coffee and a book in the middle of the garden in a comfortable chair. I’m in heaven!

Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
  Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook