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Dishing It Up: It’s Never Too Late…to Learn Something New

Nonna Mia It's Never Too Late...to Learn Something New Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail

In my recent blog post, It’s Never Too Late…to Exercise, I put a spotlight on the amazing feats (and feet) of several female masters runners.  My hope was that their stories would inspire my readers to take steps (literally) to improve their physical fitness, no matter what their age.  After all, along with proper nutrition, exercising your body is vital for optimal health.

But so is exercising your mind.  And “research shows that acquiring additional skills can be a terrific way to keep an aging brain in shape” (quotation from the final story: Think You’re Too Old to Learn New Tricks?).  So this month’s edition of Dishing It Up features another group of inspirational people who have challenged themselves and learned new skills later in life.  My goal is to show, once again, that is it never too late…to learn something new.

It’s Never Too Late…to Learn Something New

  • Raffaella Tulipano, 82, Italian Cooking Sensation “Nonna Mia” (pictured above)
  • Natalie Levant, 89, Comedian
  • Giuseppe Paternò, 97, Graduate
  • Georgina Harwood, 100, Centenarian Skydiver and Shark Diver
  • Think You’re Too Old to Learn New Tricks?

A bite-sized summary and links for each story …

Upon clicking the links, you’ll often need to scroll down to find the person featured.  But as a bonus you can read the other inspiring stories along the way!

Raffaella Tulipano, 82, Italian Cooking Sensation “Nonna Mia” (pictured above)
While Rafaella Tulipano, aka Nonna Mia (pictured above), has been cooking for years, cooking on camera was something new.  She got her start after her daughter, Josie, thought that filming her preparing the southern Italian dishes she loves would be a good way to exercise Raffaella’s mind, given she suffers from dementia.  And it would also be a great way to keep her connected with her family during the pandemic.  After making her videos, Raffaella takes the food she has created and delivers it to her grandchildren to enjoy.  “Nonna’s language of love is food, which isn’t uncommon for most Italian nonnas. It’s all about ‘mangia mangia,'”, says Josie.  Soon, Nonna Mia went viral on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.  Raffaella’s reaction?  “I never thought this would happen. I’m famous now!”  I highly recommend you check out her 96 (and counting) videos. She is as delightful as her food is delectable.  Lucky, lucky grandkids!
Holy cannoli!  Watch Nonna Mia cook up a storm …

Natalie Levant, 89, Comedian
“In my sets I talk about the myths of ageing and stereotypes. There’s a healthy dose of self-deprecation in there, too. I offer tips for getting old gracefully. Dress how you like; who cares if your upper arms look like bags of dead mice? That’s more room for tattoos…I always close my sets with the same lines – that I’ve been on the planet a hundred thousand years and have learned just two things. One: never know your place – it’s my mantra. Wherever you are belongs to you, it’s where you should be. And the other thing? If someone asks you to act your age, politely tell them to …”.  I’ll let you click on the story to find out what she suggests you tell them.  😉
Read more about Natalie (scroll down to the end of the story) …

Giuseppe Paternò, 97, Graduate
At 97, Giuseppe completed his undergraduate degree in history and philosophy at the University of Palermo, graduating top of his class.  “Over the past few months, people have often asked me what advice I might have to offer. I always say the same: however old you are, don’t give up on your dreams, overcoming obstacles takes hard work. But to people my own age I say this specifically: don’t waste the rest of your life staring at the television screen. There’s so much more you can do…. I’ve signed up to start my Master’s in philosophy. I might be getting on, but I’m still determined to keep learning; broadening my horizons. I’m not driven by aspiration, but a thirst for knowledge: I’ve been desperate to quench it all my life.”
Read more words of wisdom from Giuseppe (he’s featured in the same story as Natalie but you only need to scroll down a wee bit)  …

Georgina Harwood, 100, Centenarian Skydiver and Shark Diver (last but not least, scroll to the end in this story link)
“Do it now! Whether it’s comfortable or uncomfortable, good or bad, relaxing or challenging – don’t delay.”
What a way to celebrate your 100th birthday!  Watch Georgina jump from a plane and cage dive with sharks …

Think You’re Too Old to Learn New Tricks?
Think you’re too old to learn new tricks?  Think again.  “The take-home message: not only can older adults learn multiple new skills at the same time in the right environment and with the right beliefs, but doing so may improve their cognitive functioning considerably. The intervention brought older adults out of their comfort zones, and made them feel fearless about new challenges. At the start of the intervention, many older adults thought they could barely walk a mental mile, but they completed a triathlon.”
Read more …


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