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.
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!
“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?
As 2013 is coming to a close, I am sitting with gratitude for the women who opened their hearts and lives to be part of The Beauty of Aging Documentary Film Project. Five of the seven women filmed are no longer living – Betty, Judy, Shirley, Lavada and Hedda. All of them lived long and quality lives and can be seen in the films on the website: http://www.beautyofaging.com
Some of the lessons I learned from them are to stay actively engaged in life, be connected to other people, animals and nature, work on my attitude by going with the flow and seeing things in a more positive light, be of service, develop and use my creativity, be mindful and live in the present moment. I’m still practicing many of these qualities and I delight in knowing that I can draw upon my memories and the footage of these women to remind me.
Many people who have seen the films on the website and “Greedy for Life” say they are less afraid of getting old since viewing the vitality of these old women. It excites me to know that others have gained inspiration from these women’s stories.
Do you have some favorite older people whom you would like to honor? Please “share their story” on this blog and help spread the word that there is, indeed, beauty in aging.
Many blessings to all of you who follow this blog for a loving, healthy and peaceful New Year.
On October 26 of this year, Erv Windward, husband of Shirley Windward (co-stars of the documentary short “Greedy for Life”) died at the age of 97. I attended a memorial gathering to celebrate his life. I was taken with the stories about Erv’s caring and skill as a vocal teacher. It seems that several of his students had studied with him for more than 40 years. Most came not only to sing but to be around Erv and Shirley’s wisdom.
While we were filming “Greedy for Life”, I remember Erv’s deep voice and twinkle in his eyes. We had the privilege of filming one student’s lesson and I was amazed that despite Erv’s hearing problem, he could detect even the slightest need for a shift in tone. It was clear he had a passion for teaching.
I’m holding a place of deep gratitude for the opportunity to film and become friends with both Erv and Shirley Windward. You can enjoy clips of “Greedy for LIfe” under “trailers” on the website: http://www.beautyofaging.com