Chris Petit-Luedeking has an extraordinarily positive outlook on life. She also happens to be my mother-in-law! I asked her recently about her secrets on how she manages to keep her perspective optimistic despite navigating obstacles in her way.
RCG: Hi Grandma! How do you always keep such a positive spirit?
Chris: Well, even when I was diagnosed with a chronic medical condition (CLL – a form of chronic leukemia – over 15 years ago), the doctor was surprised I wasn’t devastated. She asked me, “Aren’t you even a little upset?” And I said, “No. What am I going to do about it? I’m just going to follow all of your orders and will keep living life to its fullest!”
We all have things happen to us. It’s all just part of life. So I just want to make the most of every single day.
Another thing is I need to avoid stress. Managing stress is an integral part of my well-being. There’s no point in dwelling on what I can’t change.
On why driving brings her such joy
RCG: That’s such a great attitude! Tell me – what is something that brings you the most joy?
Chris: You already know this answer – driving. People ask me, “Why do you like to go on these long drives?” And I tell them, “Because I get to see all of God’s wonders.”
Not long ago, I was driving through California, and I saw a lot of the damage from the fires. And then, recently, I drove again and saw all of the regrowth. I enjoyed seeing the renewal.
RCG: That must have been a great feeling, seeing everything coming back to life. Is there a particular countryside you enjoy driving to the most?
Chris: I love to see lush green landscapes. That’s one reason I love coming to New England. I love seeing all the different kinds of trees. Also, I enjoy looking at all the different types of houses. Construction varies so much everywhere.
On Chris’ favorite places to see along the road
RCG: Is there a place that you go to connect with your inner beauty?
Chris: Seeing the mountains of Montana, the lakes in Washington, and the leaves changing in the fall. The beauty of nature makes me feel very connected.
RCG: Do you like having someone with you when you drive, or would you rather drive alone?
Chris: I like driving alone. But I have shared some fun drives with my granddaughter Kelly, and my grandson Justin.
RCG: Are there any long road trips and stand out to you?
Chris: Yes – driving through Wyoming and Montana with Kelly. I loved seeing it through her eyes. Another was a six-week motorcycle trip in 1979 to various national parks. On that trip, we drove 6000 miles. We rode through 117-degree weather in Vegas. Then we went to Zion, through Colorado, and up to Glacier National Park. Other stops along the way were Yosemite, Lake Louise, and the coastline of Victoria, BC.
On growing up in Los Angeles
RCG: That’s so very cool! Let’s talk for a minute about your childhood in LA. Aren’t you third-generation LA?
RCG: What area did you grow up in?
Chris: I grew up right off of Sunset Boulevard in an area slightly south of Hollywood.
RCG: Do you have any favorite memories of LA?
Chris: We had a lot of family picnics. One of my uncles had a farm and I remember playing with donkeys and cleaning out the chicken coop. Another family member had a large orange orchard and as kids, we would run around and play in the fields.
RCG: So fun! What’s your favorite place to go to in LA today?
Chris: You know this answer: In-N-Out! We used to go to the original one in Baldwin Park. You know that’s a gift I give my son every year – his In-N-Out gift card!
RCG: Do you have any other happy memories from childhood?
Chris: Well, what that just came to my mind was going to the Palladium when I was 15 for a Christmas party. It was exciting to get dressed up and go to a club!
RCG: I can only imagine! Well, I think you’re the original California girl with an adventurous spirit and energy filled with sunshine! I think you bring that bright spirit into your life every day.
Chris: Well, I guess that’s true…especially when I’m traveling and seeing new places from behind the wheel.
Grandma is famous for her pecan bars. Find her favorite recipe here.
Interested in reading about another woman’s secret to thriving? Read about Annika Cox here.