A Happier, Healthier You…
Some tips from my Maman!
“Her soul is Alive. And we are drawn to her.”
- Captivating – Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, John & Stase Eldredge
As we focus on health and healing this month, I must consider and share some of the healthy tips I’ve learned from my Maman. Michele Darroquy Ichon is 90 and she is my hero, my mentor, my solid rock. Always there for me, no matter what. She is quiet, she is humble, and she is filled with a silent power, tenacity and beautiful resilience I can only hope to mirror. She’s a widow too.
She was born in 1928 in France. She survived World War II with her family. She met and married my Father in St. Jean de Luz, a tiny fishing village in the south of France and came to America with my father on a ship after they married in 1956. They had nothing and began to build a beautiful life here. She became Vice Consul at the French consulate, where she served over 30 years. She raised three successful children and has 5 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, with two more due this fall.
“We desire to possess a beauty that is worth pursuing, worth fighting for, a beauty that is core to who we truly are. We want beauty that can be seen; beauty that can be felt; beauty that affects others; a beauty all our own to unveil.” - Captivating – Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, John & Stase Eldredge
When she rescued me during Hurricane Harvey, by giving me shelter in my childhood home for several months, I learned much about her daily rituals that have kept her healthy, both inside and out. I think we could all learn from her applied wisdom and gracefulness.
Here are some lessons I learned from her:
She sleeps till 8 every morning. She gets up, makes her coffee, sets her breakfast spread in the dining room to watch the birds and she overlooks her lovely garden. She prefers not to be disturbed until after her breakfast, no earlier than 8:30 or even 9.
She goes outside and walks her garden every morning after breakfast. If there are weeds to pull or flowers to trim, this is the time she does it. She is always working in her garden and it shows. It is always a sheer delight to see all the glory she has there to behold. But it takes time, devotion and dedication. She told me long ago when she lost my dad, and after I lost Kevin, she reminded me again…"Go outside in the garden and dig, dig, dig. There is healing in the soil. It will help you.” Her garden is her sanctuary. I call it “Church of the Great Outdoors.
She bathes and dresses for the day, every day. Not the yoga pants I often find myself wearing until I must go out in public. No, she puts on slacks and a nice top, shoes, and some jewelry. Every day and mostly to stay home.
She exercises every day. I’m not sure how many times, but several times a day, between chores and reading, she walks the hallways of her home. Up and down the halls, over and over at a nice clip. She walks well, sometimes using a cane, which she tends to drag behind her…
She stands tall, shoulders back and never slouches. Something she taunted me with since my childhood, and I still must remind myself most days.
She reads. She is an endless source of information; from history, fine art, classical music, French cooking, gardening, world politics, child-rearing, and life coping skills, she’s learned along the way. She reads a variety of books, at least two at a time, for hours a day, to keep updated, and informed and always learning, growing and sharing her knowledge. She has the best vocabulary of anyone I have ever met, even if she speaks with a strong French accent.
She stays calm. When she realizes she can’t fix or conquer something out of her control, she lets it go. Period. No sense worrying any about something you will not be able to change. We could all learn from that.
She eats well and cooks for herself. You should know that my Maman became a widow at 53. The same age I did. While I lived on my green couch for about three years eating peanut butter from a jar with a spoon, or making an occasional grilled cheese, or egg, she cooks a nice meal for her lunch every day! She rarely eats bread. She treats herself to one or two cookies or a piece of chocolate. She buys a little filet mignon once a month, as she is on a very limited income, but she treats herself. Her only medication - one high blood pressure pill.
She stays in touch with family and friends. She’s not a talker and doesn't enjoy being on the phone, however, she does always speak with her family in France and her friends here. She stays connected. When she is invited, she goes. There are so many things she is interested in that she is always thinking, planning and attending interesting events. Concerts in Roundtop at Festival Hill. She taught French for many, many years at the Harris County Precinct Tracey Gee. She took Spanish. She’s in a French literary group. She meets once a week with friends from the French consulate she worked with years ago, as well as fellow friends from her church, St. Cecelia, where she has belonged since I was 4.
She listens to the French news, at 5pm, which is focused on World news, much more international than anything we see here with our local news. It keeps her informed, up to date and this is another hard “do not disturb” time that she doesn’t like to be interrupted. Don’t call during the 5pm news!
She has a scotch at 6pm every night. Whether she is here, or in France, it doesn’t matter. It’s time for her scotch. Period. If she goes to a party and they have bubbles, she drinks the champagne. If we go out for Mexican food, she orders a margarita. Only one, and only on occasion. Moderation is her constant.
She goes to bed later that I do. About 10:30 or 11:00 she goes to bed. She may read, she may not. But she has had a good full day and she makes the time to rest. She sleeps well. She is peaceful. She is calm and she prepares herself for the next day.
My Maman is an inspiration to me. She has lived a good, healthy life, filled with lots of love. However, she has overcome a lot to be the wonderful woman she is. I’ve learned so much from her. I’m not recommending you adopt all her tips, but I am challenging you to set your own standards, determine your personal guidelines for health, and make your decision to stay committed to living a happier, healthier life!
“A woman is a warrior too. But she is meant to be a warrior in a uniquely feminine way. Sometime before the sorrows of life did their best to kill it in us, most young women wanted to be a part of something grand, something important.” - Captivating – Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, John & Stase Eldredge