“Finding my own peace in the midst of chaos.”
At 92 years old, Sara Sherman drives a car, walks to the shops around the corner from her home on Santa Monica, California, and flies across the country to visit family.
Sara is an inspiration. She is soft spoken, witty and knows more about healthy eating than anyone I know. In the 1980s, she earned her PhD in clinical nutrition. She was ahead of the popular trend of gluten-free, whole grains, fiber and ‘shopping the edges of the supermarket.’
I wanted to find out her secret of longevity and happiness so that I could share it. I sent her a list of questions as she said it would be easier for her to answer them in writing than it would be to over the telephone. Included here are the questions and her answers.
Question – To what do you attribute your health and longevity?
Sara – I am not sure. I am still discovering why. My father died at 85. He was always active, but believed in cat-naps, and laughter. I have tried to follow his example in both, and try to see the humor or benefit in most situations.
Question – What life practices do you think are the most important?
Sara – Being a nutritional counselor, I know what I eat is important. But I also know that what I put in my into my thoughts is much more important that what I put in my mouth.
Question – What has brought you the most joy in life?
Sara – That’s easy — the relationships with the people that I love – more joy than anything I could have in the bank or in my possession.
Question – Please tell us about one of your most favorite experiences.
Sara – It was the one year traveling alone in Greece where I had no one else to please and no one to advise me. I was able to focus on my own intuition. That resulted in one year of amazing changes and wonderful growth.
Question – How have you sought joy and peace?
Sara – The old-fashioned way! I work at it. I have learned I have a choice in the way I feel. I first have to become aware of my negative feelings so that I can work to change my thoughts, which ultimately changes my feelings. I call it, “Finding my own peace in the midst of chaos.”
Question – How do you handle grief?
Sara – Healing from grief involves forgiveness. That’s really important. First, I must find a way to forgive myself for whatever my mind can imagine. We all do the best at any time. I find journal writing about my grief and loss and regrets eases the pain. Part of the pain goes into the book, making it feel heavy. Or, I put the sadness away on an emotional shelf. Then, I take it out it bits and pieces when I feel able.
Question – Do you get anxious? If so, how do you handle it?
Sara – Of course I do but I have learned to become a monitor of my thoughts. For 10 years after my father died, I heard (imagined I heard) his voice over my left shoulder, commenting or advising or asking me questions. Gradually, I replaced him, becoming the monitor of my own thoughts, looking for the gifts in what is happening, knowing that anxiety or peace is my choice.
Question – What makes you laugh?
Sara – Life makes me laugh. The older I am, the more fun I have, the more I realize almost everything we worry about never happens. Everything else is very temporary, working itself out if you believe it will.