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Gemma McCaw shares the advice from her Nana that she lives by

It's advice we could all heed.

By Gemma McCaw
When it comes to positive ageing, the first person who springs to mind is my dear nana Yvonne, who will turn 80 this year.
Every single day, she radiates love, positivity and grace – and despite facing more than her fair share of adversity over the years, including two breast cancer battles and losing her first husband at just 42, she's a well of optimism, gratitude and happiness.
In her spare time, you'll find her knitting for her grandkids or proudly walking the halls of the hospital in her role as a chaplain, caring for others, some of whom are in their final days. Here she shares her secrets for staying young at heart.

Hit the books

It's important to keep learning. My nana has recently taken up reading non-fiction books and is learning more about the world, the body, the brain and the heart.
"Yes, you can google what you want," she says, "but it's nice to learn from books."

Stay social

A strong community spirit has kept Nana connected. She loves socialising with her friends and doing her little bit in the community through her church, the local school and at the hospital. "In serving others, we find ourself," she explains.

No regrets

Try hard not to have regrets and believe instead that everything happens for a reason. While Nana might have been too hasty at times in her life, she says everyone makes mistakes, and you can only learn from them as you go and do your best.

Put your best face forward

Her beauty regime is simple – take pride in yourself. You might not always feel like it, but putting on your favourite colour and presenting yourself nicely can make you feel instantly better.

Family first

Nana's greatest pride comes from her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She urges everyone to keep their family close and to show your love every day.
"You don't choose your family," she says. "They're God's gift to you, as you are to them." She'll never forget holding her firstborn son in her arms for the first time. "I remember thinking, 'He's perfect and I made him.' There's nothing quite like a mother's love."
Gemma with her mum Michelle and nana Yvonne.

Get brushing

Nana remembers being given her very first toothbrush as a child, and from that day she's been religious about brushing her teeth. When she ran out of toothpaste, her mum suggested salt and water. But she wanted the proper stuff and to this day she's never taken brushing her teeth for granted.

Be kind

The saying Nana lives by is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." She was taught at an early age the importance of love, kindness and empathy, to feel and understand other people and never to be too quick to judge.
Her mum, who had the biggest impact on her life, taught her to walk a mile in someone's footsteps before you judge them. When I asked what she would like to be remembered for, she said she'd be thrilled to bits if she was known for being kind to others.

Think positive

When she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, our whole family was devastated. But it was Nana who was adamant she would be OK. She never let go of hope – she has a strong faith, which she found later in life, joining a church and getting christened at 70!

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