I quickly slipped into my first exercise class and had the blessing to land next to Mrs. Ruth Reed. She noticed me immediately and gave me a big smile without missing a step in the aerobic routine, which coordinated with the soul music from “back in the day.” Then when she began harmonizing with Al Green’s “For the Good Times,” I knew I had a new friend. I can’t carry a tune and sing many “solos” (“so low” no one can hear me). But I enjoy hearing people who can sing and are bold enough to sing out loud in public. She was bold, funny, and friendly! Her joy was contagious.
As I had the opportunity to hang out with her, I became quite curious about this joy she had. I didn’t mention it, but Mrs. Ruth Reed is 92 years old. It doesn’t seem to matter what age she is most of the time—until I get to benefit from her years of wisdom and strong faith. Mrs. Reed began,
“I knew I wanted to enter the beauty world, so I stepped out in faith. I did not know how I was going to do it. I struggled trying to complete school and care for my family, ” she said. “But I made it through by prayer and perseverance. I stuck to it, and with childcare help from my sister, I made it through.”
Mrs. Reed went on to say, “However, I wanted to be able to do more than style hair. I wanted to give massages, manicures, facials, and color hair. I wanted to take care of the total person; my purpose was to be a beauty-culturalist. I taught my clients about their bodies, inside and outside.” She was licensed in 1959, when other women hairstylists called themselves beauticians. However, for forty years, she gave women more as a beauty-culturalist.
Seventeen years after retirement, Mrs. Reed continues to serve the whole person. She wrote a presentation that encourages holistic health for the teenagers in the female rites-of-passage program at her church. She wrote, in part:
- Avoid extreme stress as much as possible. Take the time to manage your stress. One way to manage stress is to set limits and make time to do the things you enjoy. With less stress you will be healthier and enjoy life more.
- Your skin is a living organ that constantly regenerates itself. The right care can improve its support, elasticity, and shine.
- Do your research! Eat a healthy diet—it can help you look and feel your best. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
What keeps Mrs. Reed going with such joy? She said, “I enjoy my food. I enjoy my house. I enjoy my church [Wheeler Avenue Baptist]. I enjoy my family—some of them! I enjoy people. I enjoy life because I know God’s got my back. I enjoy dressing up and looking good. I try to live a stress-free life. If something is stressful, I throw it out of my mind and replace it with better things.”
In John 15, Jesus exhorts his disciples to “bear much fruit,” to “remain in my love,” and then he reminds them “my joy will be in you.” At 92, Mrs. Reed’s life shows that bearing fruit as a beauty-culturalist and sharing love bring her joy.
My Daily Joys
- Waking up early and then going back to sleep, remembering I have no early appointments
- The library e-book I was waiting for is finally available for me to check out
- Eating my own granola made with oatmeal, maple syrup, walnuts, raisins, pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut, and flaxseed oil
- Having a big moment of insight while writing in my journal that leads me to take action
- Writing next to a prayer request in my prayer journal “prayer answered”
- Enjoying the fruit from a pomegranate I have peeled myself
- Enjoying my favorite soloist at church singing “her” song