Women’s History Month Features: Donna Watkins, Finding Thai Chi Bliss at 96

“We are asking that our hearts be open, we are asking that our spirits be clear.”

Meet Donna Watkins.

“Slow, easy, really controlling your muscles. We make it every Wednesday morning.”

Every week she runs a Thai Chi class at the Bliss Township Hall.

“The more you can turn, the more rotation you can get, the better it is.”

She likes to keep busy…

Donna says, “When you live to be 96, you’ve had a lot of years to do a lot of things.”

Most of all – being involved in her community.

She lists, “The Carp Lake Women’s Club, the Bliss Bunch, the Delta Cappa Gamma, I come to Tai Chi, we have a fitness club, we have a book club that meets right here…We moved here in 1955, so I’ see lived here for a long time. (Laughing) Holy moly is right!”

And at 96– Donna doesn’t have any plans on slowing down anytime soon…

“I actually taught school for 32 years, but the last 22 were in kindergarten in Pellston. Once I retired, it was a lot of fun to reach out and help around in the community. And you learn so many things, and you meet so many interesting people.”

“Oh I have a lot of good friends. Just oodles of them.”

Screen Shot 2022 03 11 At 53407 PmSome new– like Theresa Raikko…

“In our neighborhood, I’ve been so inspired by this wonderful lady. Her friendship and invitation from her, cause I’m new to the area, has been such a gift. We have a small farm so she also lends a hand when I’m looking for hands to help me. My husband says, let’s call Donna Watkins because she’s always up for planting garlic,” says Raikko.

Others– a blast from the past like Deanna Eby.

Deanna says, “I started coming over here to the Thai Chi group, and that was when I discovered that she had been my very first teacher. She was my kindergarten teacher.”

It’s no secret that Donna likes the camaraderie of these social circles,
But one of her favorites is the Quilting Club.

She says, “Our Quilt Club is just a hoot when we get together. We just quilt, help each other out with problems if they have a problem, and believe me, if you want their opinion- you will get their honest opinion.”

And many of these quilts are sewn with love.

I asked Donna how many quilts she’s sewn, “How many have I done? Counting baby quilts as well as big ones. Close to 300.”

But Donna’s just living her life–on her terms.
Not for recognition–or honor.

I ask, “’Do you think some of these people look up to you?’ look up to me? Oh I don’t know why they would. I’m just an ordinary person. I hope they like me. “

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