INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN

When we hear “inspirational women” we might think of women who have achieved something specific in their life. How about bringing to mind women who embody a joy for life?

This summer in the South of France I met up with three women who are much older than me – if you count in years – and who I find inspirational. Two are neighbours of mine and one I met playing tennis.

My closest neighbour is turning 100 next year. Like many French people she does her cross-words every day and plays scrabble when her children come to visit. She has got this French strong, thick hair and goes to the hairdresser once a week. She dresses in bright t-shirts and ankle-length trousers in summer and does her own grocery shopping. Best of all: She always seems alert and upbeat, and when she walks up the stairs there is springiness in her steps.

My other neighbour is 80. She always has something positive to say and often expresses gratitude for the people she is with and the nature around her. She always offers to help, whether it is about preparing a meal, carrying or cleaning something, or being present for someone coming to my apartment when I am not there. She cycles to the market for fruits and vegetables and to the library for books and DVDs. She took up Tai Chi during lockdown with other people in the building and she is also into cross-words. From May to October she swims morning and evening in the Mediterranean sea, and once a day she takes the stairs instead of the lift up to her apartment on the fifth floor. Yes, she walks up the stairs with ease!

The last woman I wanted to mention I met playing tennis this summer. She is nearly 80 and when she plays tennis she uses her whole body weight to hit hard and deep. She is a great player and all the men want to hit with her. She prefers happy colours such as pink or yellow on her tennis shirts as she doesn’t find black uplifting. She plays tennis outdoors most days all year round and tells me she is not one of those tennis members complaining about the wind, the heat or the cold. She just dresses for the weather and turns up to play. She says she loves the way tennis helps her stay alert. And that the point of life must be that we are supposed to enjoy ourselves.

Of course all three women have experienced hardship in their life and it can be mentioned in conversations. However, challenges that have been or are still present in their life are talked about from a place of calmness and acceptance and so doesn’t take up much energy. What I am left with after seeing them is a feeling of awe for how joyful and healthy they are. I am also amazed of how natural it seems for them to place their attention on what is good in their life instead of what is challenging.

Hello, can we all learn something here? Best wishes for a great week! X

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Annette Wiik

My name is Annette. I am a Yoga Academy Certified Teacher (BWY-Accredited School) and started practising Hatha Yoga over 20 years ago. Holding a certificate from Bangor University to teach mindfulness-based courses, I incorporate my knowledge of mindfulness meditation in all my yoga classes. I have two grown-up children and live in Wimbledon.