Slices of Life: Advice for Alice

Don’t wait for your next “big” birthday or life event to live out your own hot air balloon ride. Don’t wait to enjoy. And, whatever the color of your balloon, or experience, it’s going to be spectacular because you can make it so.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler
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There’s something about a new year that often has me reflecting on time. I guess that’s fairly natural. For many of us, January is a time of assessing priorities, setting goals, wrapping up the old year and planning for what’s to come.

This year, those thoughts were punctuated by a note I received in the mail from my friend, Alice, in Ohio, who is a regular reader of this column. Alice originally reached out to provide kind words of support after the loss of my husband and we became friends. She was 96 years old at the time.

Alice has since had a birthday and is currently 97. I hope she doesn’t mind my divulging her age; it should be a source of pride. Not many of us have the opportunity to grace this planet for 97 years — and remain in good health. Alice has managed to do both.

In her latest letter, Alice shared a bit of advice about life and this column. When a 97-years-young friend is kind enough to offer guidance based on their own life lessons, you should understand it’s high time to listen. I sure did.

Alice suggested that if I was looking for something to write about, I might tackle this credo: “Don’t sweat the small stuff and always think on the positive side.” It’s a mantra that Alice lives by, so it must be a pretty good one. In fact, it’s so good I think I may have heard it before. Writers may have already covered the subject, maybe even in a book.

Still, the words are appropriate and worthwhile to ponder, as I did. They’ve served Alice for many years and have proven themselves not only enduring but true. I will keep them in mind and think of Alice when I do.


This advice from Alice, while appreciated, was not, for me, the most important part of her letter. That came at the very end, when she told me that if and when she makes it to 100 years old she is going to go for a ride in a hot air balloon.

Upon reading that sentence, I knew it was my turn to share some advice. I may be much younger than Alice, but I’ve got a few gems up my sleeve. If the last year has taught me anything it’s this:

Alice, don’t wait three years for the hot air balloon ride. You’ve already waited 97 years, why wait any longer? Go tomorrow. Go today. Just go.

Even if you go tomorrow, nothing is stopping you from going again when you turn 100. Nothing is stopping you from taking 100 hot air balloon rides between now and your 100th birthday. Or, by then you may have thought of something even grander you want to do.

Some of us wait our whole lives for our own hot air balloon ride, never taking the time for lift off. Some of us never get the chance for lift off. We bank on tomorrow when tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

I’m living that out through grief right now. We are all living it out through this “damndemic,” if you’ll excuse my semi-profane, albeit clever, play on words.

We are all living it out, but in 2022 whether you are 97, or 49 or 28, my advice is to live. Don’t wait for your next “big” birthday or life event to live out your own hot air balloon ride. Don’t wait to enjoy. And, whatever the color of your balloon, or experience, it’s going to be spectacular because you can make it so.

Make it so.


Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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