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

Advertisements

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.

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.

Is it Aging or Illness?

“It’s hard to tell what is age decline and what is disease… I’ve had a very challenging life with disease after disease after disease. I shouldn’t be here, but I have a tremendous will to live; a joie de vivre alternating with debility.” Joni Mitchell at age 70

This quote by Joni Mitchell raises the question: what’s aging and what’s illness?

I often hear people comment when they don’t feel well or have some body part that isn’t working as it did before, “oh it’s just aging, what can I expect?” But is it? If we expect that we will decline with age, perhaps we will. Yet not everyone automatically declines with age. As Joni reports, some people have health challenges throughout their lives that do not relate to age. Some report that they feel better with more energy as they get older.

Aging is not a disease. It is another stage of life that for some is easier than others. The factors that make a difference with this vary from person to person.

In recent years there is a lot of study in the field of psychoneuroimmunology that looks at the relationship between mind and body. Apparently how we view things and talk to ourselves impacts our physical state. We are not necessarily causing our illness and no blame to the individual is intended but our attitudes and self-talk affect how we feel.

As Connie Goldman says in my film, “Greedy for Life”, “It’s not so much what happens to you but how you deal with it.”

I’d love to hear from you about this topic. What’s your experience?

It Really Does Take a Village!

I am a very involved Nana with my four grandchildren, taking care of two of them after school one day a week plus sleepovers with all of them at different times. Once a year for sure we take a family vacation with all the children and grandchildren and I relish this precious time together.

This special time with my grandchildren nurtures them and me. It also helps my daughter who works full time as a Principal of a school. There are actually three sets of grandparent’s for my daughter’s children who take an active part in their lives. This gives my daughter, Jessica, peace of mind that her children are well cared for and also saves her some money in today’s expensive world.

Jessica learned about calling on a “village” from her upbringing. Her Dad and I divorced when she was 2 ½ years old. I went back to school to earn my Master’s in Social Work. Through the active involvement of my ex and his wife, I was able to develop a co-parenting relationship that gave Jessica lots of love and care from her parents and helped me have peace of mind knowing she was in a loving environment while I was busy at school. When I eventually remarried, Jessica had four loving parents and gained a brother as well.

My research project for my Master’s in Social Work was on the support systems of divorced single parents. Not surprisingly we learned that the more and better quality supports parents had, the better they did. These supports included family, friends, community centers, religious and spiritual communities and even the children themselves. Going it alone puts too much of a strain on the parents who then feel more challenged with their children.

Fast forward to grandparenthood and we find that, where possible, grandparent involvement with their grandchildren also has a beneficial effect. According to some new research, “A new study shows that grandparents and grandchildren have real, measurable effects on each other’s psychological well-being long into grandchildren’s adulthood.” Once again, the benefit goes both ways for the grandparents and the grandchildren.

While it’s true that not everyone has grandparents who are living, available or close by, we do know that, where possible, calling upon this resource is extremely valuable. According to Mary Gavin, M.D., “Besides modeling what constitutes a “normal” relationship, grandparents provide children with a sense of safety and protection, a link to their cultural heritage and family history, and a companion in play and exploration.”

And, besides all that, it’s lots of fun!

“Living Juicy”

“Living Juicy”

photo_2I’m excited to tell you about Rhea Goodman who is “living juicy” and has much to share about how to do this. In her words:

“Part of Living Juicy is aging well, and part of aging well is embracing aging, without being conned by the numbers, or the stories in our heads about what aging looks like. I believe that age is a mind-trip, a numbers game. In fact, we can create a new model for aging! I do this by listening to the wisdom of my body, noticing what I eat, enjoying myself while I walk, run, play,stretch, make love, do yoga, dance, swim, learn new skills. I pay attention and embrace what I love to do, and then DO IT! I go for whatever rings my bell that is oriented toward life.”

Rhea certainly walks her talk, calling herself a cultural creative who has always been interested in alternative modalities such as healing, dance, cultural anthropology, the environment and many more. She has a weekly radio show  called Living Juicy from Santa Fe on KSFR, 101.1 FM on Thursday nights at 6:30 mountain time. Her show is Webstreamed live on www.ksfr.org

Be sure to check out her website which has tips on how to live juicy, archives of  over 300 of her radio shows and other bits of interesting information: www.livingjuicy.org

Rhea exemplifies “the beauty of aging”. I’m excited to add her to the ever growing list of amazing older women who are living their lives fully engaged, providing positive role models for all women.