Santa Fe New Mexican - Healthy Living - - NEWS -

Artist Mon­ica Sosaya Halford laughed as she talked about her re­cent med­i­cal checkup. Af­ter the doc­tor told her she was healthy and do­ing well, the 86-yearold Santa Fe na­tive in­formed him that she ate dough­nuts for break­fast — and that some­times she prefers cook­ies.

Halford likes to laugh, and she pep­pers her con­ver­sa­tions with wise­cracks. She is amused by the junk-food diet that de­vel­oped af­ter her six chil­dren, in­clud­ing a fos­ter daugh­ter, left home. She had taught them to try any food and eat lots of veg­eta­bles.

“I started eat­ing what you usu­ally tell kids not to eat,” she said. “Now I love the dol­lar McDon­ald burg­ers. I have a daugh­ter who groans about it, and heck, I’m health­ier than she is.”

Halford has had no ma­jor ill­nesses and is still in­de­pen­dent in her home, de­spite her diet. And it’s not about ex­er­cise ei­ther. She tells her kids that she doesn’t need to walk around her neigh­bor­hood; her mul­ti­level home gives her enough move­ment.

With a phi­los­o­phy of “laugh more and think pos­i­tive,” Halford has spent her adult life pur­su­ing her pas­sion for art and sur­round­ing her­self with a wide cir­cle of fam­ily and friends. The com­bi­na­tion keeps her spir­its high and her brain busy.

“With my fam­ily and friends, they are al­ways call­ing to help. I love be­ing around peo­ple, and I love par­ties. I think that’s what keeps me go­ing,” she said. “With my art, a lot of times I’ll go to bed and won­der: What piece am I go­ing to work on to­mor­row? It keeps your mind go­ing and doesn’t give you time to feel sorry for your­self.”

Halford is the old­est artist in the an­nual Tra­di­tional Span­ish Mar­ket, which she first en­tered in 1979. Her retablo paint­ings and colcha em­broi­dery have earned nu­mer­ous awards, in­clud­ing the Gov­er­nor’s Award for Ex­cel­lence in Arts in 2001 and Span­ish Mar­ket’s first place in colcha, a tra­di­tional Span­ish em­broi­dery tech­nique, last year.

“I think art is my life,” she said. “If I didn’t have the art to look for­ward to, I think I’d go nuts.”

In­stead of nap­ping — “It’s a waste of time” — she em­broi­ders when she’s tired or watch­ing TV. She can’t watch tele­vi­sion un­less she’s do­ing colcha.

She also loves be­ing out­side, plant­ing flow­ers in her gar­den. In the sum­mers she wakes early to get out­side and avoid the sharp sun. When she was younger, in the 1950s, she and her friends smeared a mix of io­dine and baby oil on their skin and sun­bathed un­til they were prac­ti­cally blis­tered. She had a tiny bit of skin can­cer on the bridge of her nose about 20 years ago.

“I could give a leop­ard com­pe­ti­tion,” she said with her usual laugh. “I look in the mir­ror and scare my­self.”

Over­all Halford doesn’t think much about her health, be­yond fol­low­ing doc­tor rec­om­men­da­tions for flu, pneu­mo­nia and shin­gles vac­cines.

“If you think pos­i­tive, things will be pos­i­tive,” she said.

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