Louisa Ikena shares about her change in perspective that relates to the late actress Betty White, hope, and saying yes to life.
I’d like to live to about 100 years old. That’s a decision I recently made, at the age of 45, that I call my “Betty White decision.”
Betty White was an American actress who spent many decades in show business. I know her best from the TV sitcom The Golden Girls and her game show appearances. I perceive her as funny, fun, graceful, talented, and quirky. Betty White died 17 days before her 100th birthday.
There are many things about my longevity that are out of my control. The genetics I happened to inherit tops that list for me. And God might have other plans. However, my perceptions, perspectives, and dreams are in my control. As for me, I’m taking the following stand: “Why not aim to break Betty White’s record?” Why not aim to live about a hundred years?
I love my Betty White decision. It’s full of life and hope and the stuff dreams are made of. It affirms life, indeed, is worth living, as Venerable Fulton J. Sheen famously proclaimed.
Making this decision has truly changed my life. At 45, I’m not middle-aged anymore! I’m still in the midst of my young adulthood. I have many more good years ahead of me than behind me. And even when the numbers wax and wane, I can fervently decide and declare: the best is yet to come!
I have much to preserve and grow toward. I desire to be of maximum health — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Desiring to be of maximum health and taking the actions that it takes to actually be of maximum health are, perhaps, two different things. I need to pray for the willingness to take the necessary actions and the grace to actually do it.
Physically I think about food, drink, exercise, and sleep. I currently follow a nutrition plan, do routine and moderate exercise, drink plenty of water, and aim to get a healthy amount of sleep. Honestly, I find the physical realm very challenging many days. For example, when I set a bedtime, I always feel a pull toward staying up longer. “Just one more text. Just one more email. Just one more __ (fill in the blank).” As in all things, I can ask for God’s help and stand in wonder as God, once again, keeps His promises.
Mentally I try to keep my mind sharp by learning new things (my favorite recent topic of choice is astrophysics); practicing skills I’ve acquired (such as playing my Takamine acoustic guitar); and challenging myself routinely with things that take effort, thought, and concentration (which can be enjoyable too, like reading G.K. Chesterton).
Emotionally I nurture both my healthy adult and my precious inner child. I choose healthy coping mechanisms today. And I stay connected to supportive people in my life. I call on what I call my “small army of support” regularly, and I strive for healthy and loving relationships. I’ve always heard that I need at least five people I can call when I’m in the midst of a crisis, and the way to cultivate those relationships is to call them before a crisis hits. We are One Body in Christ. We don’t have to go through anything alone.
Spiritually I stay connected with God, especially sprinkling prayer throughout my day. I strive to be a woman of faith, hope, and love—one who is making a positive difference in the world. I fall short of the glory of God countless times, and I gratefully reach out for the sacraments again and again.
I surrender this decision to God and ask for Him to bless me now and always. I work on bringing myself into alignment with God’s Will. I want to ask, “How can I serve?” I believe there will always be an answer to that question. That service can be as simple as taking out the garbage and the recycle bin, and it can be as profound as writing about the meaning of life. I do what I can to keep myself sharp and healthy, and I leave the rest in God’s Hands. As usual, I do the footwork, and I let go of the outcome. I will never be perfect at the footwork or perfect at letting go and letting God, but I can celebrate progress, not perfection.
Life is, indeed, worth living.
Copyright 2022 Louisa Ann Irene Ikena
About the Author
Although not a mother in a traditional sense, Louisa Ikena considers herself to be a good parent to her own inner child. She has many interests, attended the Catholic Writer’s Guild Online conference in February 2022, holds a degree from The Catholic University of America, and works in the health care field. Louisa lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Follow her on Instagram @louisaannireneikena.