summer and grandpa…

Boy, oh boy, where has the time gone?!
Well, it went here:
At Amanda’s shower with Hilly, one of my very favourite people on this planet…
At my darling Amanda’s bachelorette party. See how much I love these girls?!
At Amanda’s wedding with my CORE, my besties. Have you ever seen a more stunning bride?
What a perfectly perfect summer it has been.
Hemingway, not my grandpa… 🙂
Today I want to tell you a story about my grandpa, Witek. I can’t find a pic of grandpa unfortunately, but he looks a lot like Ernst Hemingway.
Grandpa was born in Poland 84 years ago, where he lives to this day with my lovely step-grandma, Wanda. Some four decades ago, he lived like most Polish men then (and well… now): eating, drinking and smoking too much, never exercising, working too much, and breathing in the polluted Katowice air –  at the time, Katowice was the most polluted city in the world as it was coal-mine capital.
But then something happened to grandpa… he died. He went in for kidney surgery to get one of the malfunctioning buggers removed, but something went wrong and he flat-lined. For something crazy like 16 minutes, grandpa W was pronounced legally dead. 
Then the miraculous happened: he came back. To this day, he won’t share any details of what he experienced in those precious minutes between this world and whatever comes after, but one thing is for sure: he came back different.
Almost immediately, the once completely unhealthy Witek transformed into the healthiest person I know, even now in his 80s beating those FAR younger than him. It’s as if he learned the magic recipe to life and has applied it ever since. The proof is in the pudding*: he’s healthy and vibrant, and happy as a clam.
So what are his secrets? They go a little something like this:
  • Mniej żreć” or eat less. Grandpa sticks to three meals a day with very little (if any) snacking, and makes sure stop eating when he’s 80% full. Meals are always, always consumed slowly, sitting down with no distractions.
  • Whole, real foods. In the summers, grandpa and Wanda eat almost entirely a local, organic, whole foods diet. They live in an old farm house where they grow their own organic fruits and veggies. They get their dairy and eggs from the farm next door, their meat a few doors over from that, and … you get the idea.
  • Exercise! Every year, he bikes 2500km in the warm weather and snow-shoes roughly the same in the winter, weather permitting. This past year, because the weather was what it was, he couldn’t finish his usual 2500km biking season and the snow was nowhere to be found, so he bought himself a stationary bike and decided to finish everything indoors. “It’s deathly boring,” he told my dad, “but it’s entirely necessary.” He also takes daily walks through the countryside near his cottage and he’s the sole handyman, renovating the barns, managing heaping piles of organic compost, gardening with Wanda, etc.
  • Fun. Grandpa makes his own plum brandy each year and always enjoys a glass of it each evening. He also shares a very dark, nutrient-rich beer with Wanda around noon each day. They always enjoy a piece of homemade cake after dinner or a piece of dark chocolate. And they are huge travelers, traveling all over Europe and taking all sorts of fun adventures. 
  • Naps. Without fail, he always naps for 20 minutes after dinner (dinner comes much earlier in the day in Poland). If you dare bother him, you are dead. He sleeps the same amount each and every day, and he never oversleeps. They are always up at 5am (note: this is TORTURE when you’re the 13-year-old staying with them for the summer!)
  • Brain food. He reads and does crossword puzzles, and has recently learned to use the computer. But he respects screen time and sticks to one short “program” per evening. No mental garbage for grandpa.
  • Social butterfly. My favourite memories from my summers at grandpa’s cottage are of all the visits we had with his neighbours, friends, etc. Every evening, we would go play cards or chess with some one, and I’ll always remember the afternoons we spent at his legion club.
  • Save, save, save. He meticulously writes down every single penny he spends in a small notebook with graph paper. He makes sure his money serves him, and doesn’t rule him. Grandpa is also a minimalist, buying only what he truly needs and saving the rest for fun life adventures.
  • Moderation. All of the above goes out the window a few of times a year when grandpa and Wanda go out for extravagant dinner parties, eating, drinking and dancing until the wee hours of the morning (like 4am).
If you’ve read “The Blue Zones”, you’ll notice this sounds very much like the various centenarian populations around the world.  You’re probably also realizing his secrets aren’t that secret at all – we all know we should do this stuff.  
Above all, his secret is wisdom: the application of knowledge, the doing of what he knows he should do.

There’s one thing I know for sure: he’s my role model and I want to live like him.

More blogging to come soon, I hope. 
* Can someone please explain to me why pudding has anything to do with proof?!!

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