Yes it’ true: You’re not getting older, You’re getting better.

Screen shot eliptical headshotI have been friends with my dear friend, Diana Deene, for about 35-years. We met at a meeting of the Thursday Night Group, an anti-nuclear war group and found that we not only had social consciousness issues in common, but we were both psychotherapists, we lived a few blocks from each other in Sherman Oaks and we are both devoted and loving mothers to our daughters. These commonalities along with liking each other cemented the friendship.

As close friends, we have shared many feelings, concerns and joys over the years. In the last 8 years, Diana became involved with a company called Xoçai, a network marketing business that has many healthy chocolate products. I have observed her taking on this new challenge with awe and respect. It took her awhile to learn the best ways to market and to feel comfortable with putting herself out there to develop a team and learn the business. Rather than give
up and saying this is too hard, she persevered, coming up against some fears and lack of confidence. Here’s how she dealt with that. She went to company seminars, she met with a coach, she set the intention to learn and grow in this business. And she has.

Did I mention that Diana was 67 when she started this? Gratefully, the media and social mores have begun to shift to embrace the fact that life is not over in the older years, that in fact, Diana represents a growing trend of older people starting new ventures and expanding in many different ways.
I asked Diana about the factors that have motivated her to pursue with gusto her work with Xoçai:

Belief in the product
Letting go of old beliefs that were keeping her stuck
Enjoyment of the community and support in the company
Liking the challenge of learning a new business, noting that as a younger
person she might have been defeated by it
An awareness of the fragility of life since the death of one of her grandsons
3 years ago
The tanking of the economy as motivation to increase revenue

What appears to me to be the bottom line at this point in her life and what Diana stated is, “I’m less concerned about the negative results and more interested in conquering fears and making shifts.”
What I know for sure is that Diana is getting better and better.
To learn more about Xoçai: http://poweredbychocolate.net
Diana@poweredbychocolate.net
310/210-1646

Reminders from Hedda, Lavada and Shirley about “The Beauty of Aging”

As we are almost at the end of the year 2015, I want to take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy, peaceful, loving and joyous holiday season and New Year. It seemed a perfect time as well to post reminders from a few of the women in the film project about “the beauty of aging.” You can also enjoy the films on the website, all free for your viewing, under: Trailers, The Women, Hedda & Greedy for Life, http://www.beautyofaging.com  May you feel inspired about getting older as you remember these women.

Peace and love,

Laurie     

THE SECRETS OF THE BEAUTY OF AGING

 As shared by the stars of the films, Hedda, Lavada & Shirley 

HEDDA BOLGAR (103) Documentary short called “Hedda” on the website

Stay connected to people of all ages. Live in the present. Be involved in things that are meaningful. Give back to people and causes. Enjoy the freedom of old age.

“I have a strong feeling of connection with everything that’s alive…”

“Somebody once asked me what time of life I liked best…I said now” (in her late 90’s)

“I don’t know why people are so afraid of getting old…there are tremendous gains…the ease and the security of feeling essentially being able to cope…” 

LAVADA CAMPBELL (Died at age 88) Co-Star of “Greedy for Life”

Live life fully. Spirituality is important. Sexuality continues into the older years. Dance and be active. Service to others is essential.

“I didn’t live in a little box, I lived my life fully..I still got things I want to do.”(At 82)

“You’re never too old to have sex”

“Let go and do a lot of fun things…you know, enjoy life.” 

SHIRLEY WINDWARD (Died at age 93) Co-star of “Greedy for Life”

Creativity is important. Meaningful relationships and loving people matters. Having a sense of humor is helpful. A good attitude and adaptability are crucial.

“There’s creativity everywhere…it’s part of your existance…”

“And we have all these friends around us…the web…”

“Yes I’m greedy, but I’m greedy for experience and for wonderful things to happen…”

What if you’re not roller blading in your 90’s?

What if you’re not roller blading in your 90’s?

I recently posted a story on my film Facebook page, The Beauty of Aging, about “skateboarding mama” who is 91 and roller blades along the ocean front in Santa Monica. Like many others, I am impressed with her vitality and spunk. It’s inspiring to hear stories about people in their older years staying active and involved. All the women in my documentary project were examples of this kind of engaged living,

But what if you can’t roller blade, work out with heavy weights, or dance to the wee hours of the morning? What if you have health issues and need to live a quieter life? What if the many examples of inspiring older people feel like pressure to be like them when you can’t?

What I learned from the women in my documentary project and the research about aging is that attitude is a key factor. As Connie Goldman, author and researcher says, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you deal with it.” If physical limitations occur, how do you incorporate them into your life and enjoy what you can?

Shirley Windward, one of the co-stars of my documentary short, “Greedy for Life,” is a prime example of a woman who had a good attitude. She used her writing of poetry to help her deal with some of the challenges in an assisted living center after she had a stroke. Instead of complaining, she wrote and used her humor to adjust.

I know for sure that I will not be roller blading in my 90’s. I”m not doing it now while 70. I do love watching my grandsons in their rollerblading class at the park but don’t see that in my future.

What calls me is remaining active in my way by doing free form dancing, light weights and walking, engaging my mind and my creativity with new ideas and explorations and staying connected with friends and family. Throw in some travel and I’m good to go.

What about you? What calls you? Are you accepting of where you are now? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Are We Aging or Old?

For more than a decade I’ve been immersed in the topic of aging. I filmed 7 women over the age of 80 for my documentary film project, The Beauty of Aging. I stayed friends with several of the women, Hedda, Shirley & Lavada in particular, until their deaths, valuing both them and the lessons they taught about getting older. For sure, having a good attitude was among the highest priorities for all the women: http://www.beautyofaging.com

I read many books and studies about aging. I’ve followed different sites on Facebook. Here’s what I’ve discovered. Like most things in life, varied opinions abound about how to look at getting older.

Dr. Mario Martinez has written extensively and studied centenarians. He believes that we should not tell our age and not be focused on a number. He reports that centenarians are future oriented, vitally engaged, don’t go to doctors and don’t talk about aging.

On the other hand, some feminist writers believe that denial of age is ageism, not accepting old age as a time to be revered and accepted. They purport that we live in a youth oriented culture that denies and rejects the older person. Some say that we should use the words old woman, for instance, and be proud.

Dr. Christiane Northrup has a brand new book called “Goddesses Never Age.” I have not yet read this book but a summary says, “Agelessness is all about vitality, the creative force that gives birth to new life…the state of our health is dictated far more by our beliefs than our biology.”

As a woman who has just entered my 7th decade, I relate to all of the above. When my attitude is poor, I feel worse. I’m sure I’m not much fun to be around either. When I can see the gifts in all of my life, both joys and challenges, I feel better. I’m not denying getting older by not calling myself an old woman, nor am I feeling badly about using the terminology of aging. In today’s world of extended longevity, I’m not even sure what I think old is? I believe it’s more about energy than a number.

For me, at all stages of life it’s about how we can connect with our own vitality while also respecting times when we feel less energized. It’s not an age thing; it’s a person thing. Certainly I’m aware that I am closer to my own death than my birth, but the question remains, how can I best use this time to feel good, be of service, and enjoy life?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions.

On Turning 70

On Turning 70

I’m turning 70 a few days after the New Year, 2015. That sounds like a big number and yet I cannot put an age to what I see in the mirror or how I feel. When my energy is down, I feel the same stagnation as when I was a younger woman. The converse is true as well. Feeling good, doing my free form dance to music is ageless to me.

There is a reality, however, that I’m closer to death than to birth. This gives me pause to reflect on many things:

What do I really believe about life and death?

Do I believe in reincarnation? I don’t disbelieve it but am not totally convinced.

If my spirit lives on without my body, which I believe it does, what does that really mean?

These questions and more direct my thoughts, my mediation, my reading and conversations with some people who share such explorations.

I am also aware of the many gifts of my life. Some came in beautiful packaging while others showed up in broken boxes that took time to realize their value. Loving family, good friends, careers in psychotherapy and documentary film and lots of travel are some of the blessings in my life.

I’ve always been an introvert but notice that quiet time is even more important to me now. I’ve begun to explore writing  with no particular goal other than to express myself. Is there a memoir in my future? Perhaps.

Please feel free to share your experience with your right of passage into your 7th decade or with any birthday that feels significant to you. I would love to hear your stories.

Speed dating for 70-90 year olds?

Documentary filmmaker Steve Loring’s film, The Age of Love, is due out in New York in November. According to the website about the film: “THE AGE OF LOVE follows the humorous and poignant adventures of thirty seniors in Rochester, NY who sign up for a first-of-its-kind speed dating event exclusively for 70- to 90-year-olds. From anxious anticipation through the dates that follow, it’s an unexpected tale of intrepid seniors who lay their hearts on the line, and discover how dreams and desires change—or don’t change—from first love to the far reaches of life.”

http://theageoflovemovie.com/ (click on The Trailer)

More and more I am reading about projects, films, books, and activities that highlight the older older population. In my own film project, The Beauty of Aging, all of the women interviewed and filmed were over the age of 80. They were all engaged in life despite any challenges they had.

It seems that we are developing a different cultural mindset about what it means to be an older person. Yes, some people are ill, disabled or otherwise unable to be active. That does not mean that there’s a disease called aging. Current research supports the belief that good attitudes, active engagement in life with people, projects and activities, creative involvement, and a network of support all bode toward a good old age.

I don’t know about you, but I find all this inspiring and a source of hope. It’s great to have these role models for a lively life as I move toward my 7th decade. I often draw upon my memories of the women in my film project as sources of encouragement and motivation. When Hedda Bolgar says that “the best time is now” at age 100, and Lavada Campbell calls her diagnosis of lung cancer “another growth spurt” in her life as she is into her 80’s, or Shirley Windward wrote 32 poems at the age of 93 when in a recovery center after her stroke, I go WOW. These are some amazing women! I’m grateful to have known and filmed them and enjoy sharing their stories with you. http://www.beautyofaging.com (check out Trailers, The Women and Hedda tabs)

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic, the Age of Love film, and any stories you want to share!

On Going Gray

On Going Gray

I have often found myself looking at women with silver or salt and pepper hair and thought “they look great. I wonder if I would like it on me?” This voyeurism and inner dialogue went on for years. I would ask hairdressers about it and one finally called my bluff. She left a few front strands of hair uncolored so I could begin to to see myself with some gray. As a lifetime brunette I was nervous to have light hair but I told myself that at 68 it was time to try. After all I could always dye it back.

A year and a half later, I’m still growing it out [choosing not to cut my hair short]. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet but I’m thrilled not to be going to cover my roots every few weeks. My husband likes it but he’s easy and likes a natural look. He would not notice if my hair looks good with my skin or if I look older. “You are older” he would say, “so what?”

I see this change of hair color as more than an aesthetic statement. It feels in part like a letting go – transitioning into a me yet to be as I am approaching my 7th decade. I’m not yet sure who this new me will be but I’ll let you know when I do. One thing is for sure, I have amazing role models in the women in my film project. What would Hedda, Shirley & Lavada say? I’ll ponder that for awhile.

If you’ve thought about or gone gray, I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.