We recently sat down with Diane Mayorga, a San Carlos resident and regular patron at Herrick Library, to find out what inspires her to live well. At 67 years young, Diane is a retired special education teacher and hospice worker who has spent much of her life exploring and sharing her love for learning and wellness with others. We asked Diane to share some of her thoughts on living and learning and were fortunate to find that she is an open book.
Why do you love libraries, and what brought you to ours?
I have loved going to the library for as long as I can remember. I’m originally from Wisconsin, and there was a day my grandmother, who never drove a car, walked me in the cold to our local library for the first time and said, “Diane, this is your library card. Can you write your name?” I remember being excited even at 4 years old; my grandmother had been reading to me and I could feel my world getting wider and wider. I’ve also always been interested in health, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I stumbled upon the Herrick Library. I was on the Sharp Grossmont Hospital campus taking a CPR class across the street from the library, and afterward I walked in and asked at the front desk whether I could get a library card. They said that as long as I live, work, attend school, or receive medical care within the Grossmont Healthcare District, I could access whatever I wanted here, and the rest is history.
What’s important about a health library?
When I really want to learn something and I have a question, the staff is so accessible. Not only that, but they make health research seem accessible because they have specialized training. Even though there are thousands of books, DVDs, and websites out there with health information, it’s sometimes hard to know which information to trust, and public libraries don’t always have staff with training as health information navigators. I have found so many resources from here because I know that the information is accurate and the staff can help me understand the best way to do research on a variety of health topics. It’s why I keep coming back!
What are some of your favorite types of health information materials?
That’s a tough question. It really depends on the subject matter. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a DVD. Sometimes, I want to read about something. For instance, I’m really into nutrition. The more thought I put into the food and drink I put into my body, the more I automatically go for the healthier choice. It doesn’t happen overnight, but I believe the reason I no longer have high blood pressure is because I’ve become used to reading nutrition labels. Doing research here, I learned cancer feeds on sugar, so now I try to avoid that. I don’t totally go without any sugar, but the choice is always ours. If you have the education, you can begin to focus on making more educated choices.
What’s your secret to living well?
I walk in the mornings, while it’s cool outside and comfortable for me. I have a history of heat stroke so I try to always remember to check the weather, bundle up, and go when I feel the most confident about walking. Today, I’m wearing all red because the cars drive faster in the morning and I feel with my red suit, they’ll see me and I’ll be safe.
I think to live well, you need to have a positive attitude. Don’t worry about your age. I don’t care how many people know my age; I’m 67, my dad is 93. He says his blood pressure is good and he plans to live to be 100, so I tell him I’m going to live to be 101! Longevity runs in my family, but when I think about it, my grandmother walked everywhere. My mother walked everywhere. Walking is free and we have a beautiful climate here, so just find what works for you. Whatever it is, do it with somebody, or go by yourself if that’s what you like. When you find your niche with exercise, you’re probably going to meet new friends.
What do you say to those who might be afraid to reach out to someone to talk about their health?
You’re not alone. Even if you think you are alone, you’re not really alone. I’ll give you an example: I’m also a regular at the San Carlos Public Library, where my son teaches Tai Chi on Mondays. I take his class, and I’ve made some good friends in it. A couple of years ago, one of the women in the class was diagnosed with cancer. She has young kids, and she came into class one day and told me she was sick and didn’t have a doctor. I asked her if she knew about 2-1-1 San Diego, and suggested she call them for help. She was able to find a wonderful doctor, they did surgery, they did treatment, and now, two little kids have their mother. She came back to Tai Chi class. I look at her now and think, what did it cost me to reach out to her? Nothing. We all need to reach out to each other, share information, and try to make a difference.