As referenced in last week’s post (which you can find here), a stand-alone post to tell the story of Cathy, a lady who I met during our recent break in Wales.
To recap the back story, the house we rented came with a beach hut. This was an absolute godsend and proved to be ridiculously handy during our break. The beach was relatively quiet whilst we were there and thankfully not overrun with huts (there were probably something in the region of 25-30 along the entire beach).
During our first day there, whilst familiarising ourselves with the area, an older lady emerged from the sea (not quite the Ursula Andress scene from Dr. No but hopefully you get the picture!) and headed to the next-but-one hut to ours. We had a brief chat with her, primarily to better understand beach etiquette (were cars allowed on the beach etc), and went back to our business. We spoke more as that day (and subsequent days) progressed and learned a lot more about Cathy. I’m glad we did as she was a true inspiration.
Cathy hasn’t always lived in the area but moved there as she fell in love with it and wanted a better quality of life. At 86-years old (nearly 87, apparently!), Cathy tries to get down to the beach as often as possible, though only in season whilst the huts are available (they are taken down and moved elsewhere during the winter). Cathy is married and, though her husband is too ill to also make it down to the hut, she doesn’t see an issue with this. They clearly spend a lot of time together though I got a real sense that Cathy appreciates that people need their own space, even at that age. Cathy clearly loves that time to herself and, despite a hip replacement and the need to negotiate a ridiculously steep hill to access the beach (a hill so steep we, at our tender ages, renamed it ‘cardiac hill’), she still soldiers on. On the few days we were at the beach before her, we witnessed her arrive at her hut, set things up for the day (including hammering her windbreakers into the sand), head into the sea (the cold Irish sea, let’s not forget!) for a 20-30 minute swim, return to the hut, make a brew, have some lunch, and spend the afternoons reading whilst taking in the fresh air.
The key takeaway for me is that here is a lady who is living life on her own terms rather than letting life (particularly age) define how she should live. Cathy is certainly not content to take what many may perceive to be the common route of old age in being relatively inactive and sitting at home watching TV whilst her life slowly ebbs away from her. She clearly thrives on remaining physically and mentally active, living life to the fullest, and getting the most out of each and every day. She is doing what she wants to do and is quite clearly thriving as a result of doing so.
An additional and broader takeaway for me is that this really got me thinking about how most perceived barriers in life are largely all in our minds. It would be extremely easy for Cathy to conjure up potential reasons to prevent her from doing much of what she currently does (e.g. the hill would be too much of a challenge for her; she shouldn’t be going into a cold sea at her age; maintaining the hut is too much of a challenge; she should be at home with her husband 24/7 etc) though that is all quite clearly stuff and nonsense to her. Likewise, I (and no doubt many of us) can, and probably do, conjure up barriers of our own on a daily basis which prevent us from living life to the fullest. For example, when was the last time you thought any of the following?
- I’m too tired;
- There isn’t enough time;
- I have other things to do;
- What will people think;
- It’s a daft idea and it’s doomed to fail.
- Etc. Etc. Etc.
Cathy reminded me that this is absolute nonsense. If there’s an inkling of a spark there, or just a hint of an idea or a desire to do something different, life-affirming, positive and beneficial, we just have to go for it, it’s as simple as that. Perhaps it’s a bit of a cliché but life really is too short not to. Regular readers will know I like a quote or two and the one below, which begins ‘Busy is a decision…’, is one of my favourites. I’m trying to remove the barriers and excuses which have prevented me from attempting so much in my life to date. I’m sure Cathy has done the same throughout her life. I’d have loved to have known the younger Cathy. I’ll bet she was a real powerhouse and one of those people who just inspired everyone around her and drove friends and family on to do really memorable things in life.
One final thing. The image below is Cathy’s beach-hut. Wonderful, isn’t it? The initials above the door are hers and her husband’s, which is ridiculously sweet. It should come as no surprise that it was the prettiest and most impeccably well-maintained hut on the entire beach.
As always, thanks for reading, best wishes and take care.