What kind of fears do you have?
I have no fears! What can I say, maybe I am afraid that my family could get sick or that I could get sick myself. I tend to be cautious and try to avoid things that are risky or reckless. I am not tired of life or risking dangerous situations. After all, I am attached to my life! Of course, at different ages, people take different risks and dare to do different things.
Today, for example, I would no longer ride a fully-loaded bicycle with huge buckets filled with cherries hanging from the handlebars on the road (for which I was stopped by a policeman, telling me it was too dangerous!). Now, I would just be afraid of falling over. As a young person, you see things differently. That's where life experience comes in.
When the Baltic Sea froze over in 1941, many people daringly walked out onto the ice and many fell in and died. I did not want to dare that, I was rather cautious! I have always been a lucky child and protected by life. Maybe that's why I'm not so afraid.
Do you stop yourself from taking action because you are afraid of making mistakes and/or dealing with the consequences?
When I notice that I can no longer do things so well, I tend to be more careful. Now that I can no longer walk so well, I'm very grateful that I have the rollator as a support for walking, that gives me safety. But of course at my age, I'm generally more careful with everything, because a mistake could have bigger consequences. So it depends on the life situation and the circumstances.
What is better, to have tried and failed, or to never have tried at all?
In younger years you think differently, and are more courageous and willing to try out a lot. Life experience makes you more cautious and then you don't dare so much. For example, if you fell on your face when you were young, you get up again and think, oh no, I won't do that next time. I would still say that I was brave and dared to do things. For example, if someone is in need, I would always look for a way to help, I would immediately grab and not think! Therefore, to have tried is always good!
What negative inner beliefs dominate your life?
That is quite difficult, because you have to admit something to yourself. I may be limiting myself in the thought that my legs are functioning worse and worse, and I can't move as well as I was able to before. Of course, that doesn't help to improve it. But other than that, I don't have a lot of negative thoughts. I don't complain much. Sometimes I grumble when someone whines so much, “oh yes, how bad I am feeling..”, people like to do that especially in old age, I can't stand that! You have to take life as it is and try to make the best of it. There is always a way to improve something. If you complain, then that pulls you down further and further.
… and if you let these negative beliefs go, what would happen?
Then my health would be even better. And I would be more mobile again. But in general, I thank the good Lord that I still haven’t lost my marbles!
What positive inner beliefs dominate your life?
I am grateful for everything, I am a lucky child! I have always come out of all difficulties happy. From my life experience, I tell myself and all of you that everything will always be alright, no matter how dark it looks. And better tomorrow and the day after tomorrow! Even in such a phase as we live in at the moment. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. No reason to throw in the towel!
What thoughts inspire you?
I collect positive sayings and wisdom. They always make me happy. I have hung some of them in my apartment, so it brings me good thoughts when I'm not in such a good mood. I also love to give them to friends.
What would you like to change in the world?
That everything negative on this earth disappears. And that all people are healthy and happy!
…and what action do you take towards making these changes?
I convince others and infect them with my cheerfulness, through my zest for life and enthusiasm and through my positive outlook. I also like to give gifts. I often receive compliments from others that they cannot believe the optimism with which I go through life. Praying and the deep belief that it is indeed possible for peace to come to this world also gives me strength.
What is your biggest dream?
Peace on this earth and no more wars! And that people who are violent will be healed and stop hurting others, especially the men, the women. And that my family is well and going through life wonderfully.
What are you grateful for?
For everything I got from life! I married my husband during the war and we were far apart after that. At one moment I had the intuition to travel to him, which I managed with great effort. I got to him on the train under difficult conditions. He stood at the station thinking he was hallucinating and could not believe it was really me. Only 3 days later the Russians had sealed off everything and I would not have been able to get out. I have been lucky all my life! I am truly feeling blessed.
This special interview was conducted with joy and gratitude
by two of Ilse’s grandchildren.