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.