HOUSTON (KTRK) --Growing old gracefully is a challenge for most of us. While maintaining hair, makeup and skincare might come to mind -- that's not the definition of grace for everyone.
At 94, Babette Hughes decided to make the most of her age. Her goals to staying youthful have to do with keeping her mind and body active, and she's gotten some perspective along the way.
Hughes exercises regularly.
"When I'm exercising, I feel alive, and I feel like I'm not on the sidelines of life," said Hughes.
While she feels the normal aches and pains someone in their 90s would, it doesn't stop her.
"The brain is so powerful that you just soldier on," Hughes added.
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To Hughes, exercising her brain is just as important as using her body.
"Creativity transcends age. Our imagination doesn't care how old we are," said Hughes.
In the past decade, Hughes penned six books.
"When I write, I feel different. I feel more together. I feel better," explained Hughes.
Her latest book, 'The Secret of Happiness,' is a collection of her Huffington Post essays.
"Some of them are funny, some of them are short, some of them are long," said Hughes.
Many are also based on her own life.
"My father was a bootlegger who was murdered when I was 2 years old by the mafia in a turf war. My mother was raised in an orphanage and was so damaged that she couldn't be a mother. I had virtually no parenting. I lost two of my dear children two disease -- one from kidney disease and one from emphysema. I lost my dear husband after 36 years of marriage. Yeah, so that's a laundry list," explained Hughes.
Yet, she finds perspective and positivity from her struggles.
"We don't learn anything from an easy life. Easy doesn't do it. We learn from challenges. We get strength. We get confidence," said Hughes.
Overcoming life's obstacles is part of growing old, something she says isn't celebrated in today's youth-driven world.
"That's very destructive, and makes people fear old age, and it's important that we all are so mindful that we don't get taken in by that lie," said Hughes.
She lives by several mantras. One is to always proceed intelligently.
"Those two words get me grounded. Proceed intelligently -- calm down, use your brain, go," she said.
Second, have an edge, but always be compassionate.
And finally, Hughes said to keep one thing in mind.
"Life comes at us in a whole bundle: the bad, the good and even the tragic. When we choose the whole bundle, we choose life. And when we choose life, life chooses us."
Hughes said it's important to encourage loved ones to find a passion. Whether it's cooking, gardening or writing, keeping the mind active and passionate in a creative atmosphere is key to staying young at heart.
You can find Hughes' book on Amazon or at babettehughesbooks.com starting Feb. 14.