Age is so much more than just a number

I turned 82 years old in March this year, and my daughter who lives in DC flew down to Naples Florida, which is where I call home, to celebrate with me.  We had a wonderful time but it was more than just a visit for me. It left me with all sorts of philosophical thoughts as we spent the four days together.  Lisa like other younger people is letting her dark curly hair grow out naturally into a very pretty salt and pepper colour. I did a few double takes during our time together realizing that I am having the privilege of watching my two children grow older – I am getting to see the type of people they have become as they both approach 60! My mother lived to be one week short of her 102nd birthday putting me into my seventies, and now it’s my turn to see the fruit of my labour age…(Pun intended!).

82… the number does sound old, I admit.  I realize that as a child, I didn’t know a lot of people that age and it was considered very old, so I’m sure I’ve been conditioned to look at the number 82 as like crossing over an invisible crack in the pavement that I couldn’t cross back over. On the other hand, 82 only belongs to the number part of me. I think on some levels I feel better than when I was younger because my many experiences over the years have rendered me smarter (or at least I like to think so).

I could tell younger people age doesn’t make a difference, but that wouldn’t be exactly true, because on certain levels it does, but I’ve learned that attitude is everything, and is the largest factor that makes the difference between living in the now on all levels, or feeling isolated and lonely, and perhaps fearful.  I know that none of us lives forever but thinking this way is deadly, not in the reality of it, but in the way we move our lives forward with optimism and excitement. Four years ago when I was 78, I co-facilitated working with a wonderful group of women using a book called The Artist Way written by Julia Cameron. Little did I know that it would give me the drive to write three novels that I subsequently published on Amazon Books! I am currently editing my latest – a non fiction book on body image; Flat as a Board, which relates to some very tough pre-teen and teen years that I hope will help others having a problem with self image. Over the last six years i’ve also been designing neck art. I’ve been painting since I was five years old, and after receiving my Masters Degree in art education in the 60s I exhibited my work in California, Arizona and Florida with my first one-woman show in England.

Hurricane Irma displaced me from my home and I’m still not back so I haven’t been able to work in my studio. That’s why I was so pleased to have my work accepted for inclusion into the Artemus Journal published by the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia.  I loved the theme of the Journal this year; “Women Hold Up Half The Sky.”  Lisa, Gary, my son-in-Law and I drove to attend the festivities, It was not only a wonderful experience art wise, but also a discovery of a small city I’d never known about that I would like to revisit sometime in the future.

I was a body builder for eight years in my late forties to mid fifties, after injuring my leg and having to workout.  I was Ms West Palm Beach Over Forty when I was forty -nine and was more than pleased when women my age took my photo to be on their refrigerators as a reminder that they could reach their weight goals. I was very honoured!!

In my 50’s I painted for three weeks at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu New Mexico, which at one time was the home of the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The magic she saw there is the subject of one of my books and many paintings. Travelling alone felt like a brave venture for me, as I had always gone places before that, either with a companion or someone I knew at the end of my plane trip. This time I was truly on my own. Frank, my significant other of twenty seven years, (who has been recovering from two major strokes in the last three years) and I spent thirteen and a half years as lecturers on cruise ships traveling on around 50 cruises to many amazing destinations, before retiring about eight years ago. Last year in Southern California we were honoured to be photographed by Ari Seth Cohen for his new book “Advanced Love” to be published at the end of 2018.

I love clothes, and shop in thrift and consignment shops and I volunteer at Unity of Naples. I enjoy lunch and go to the movies with my friends, and am basically happy and busy at life. I have a personal style that belies fashion trends and has changed as my body shape has changed, and so it goes!  Do I have any advice that’s worthwhile?  I think I do!

  • Be authentic. Be who you are – not who others want or expect you to be.
  • Live your life to the fullest by learning something new about yourself every day, and how you react to new things that happen.
  • Find out who you are! Be interested in others, and listen when they have something to say. You learn more by listening than talking.
  • Volunteer for a cause you believe in.
  • Surround yourself with interesting people of all ages who are enthusiastic about what they do.
  • Dress yourself with colour to brighten the world around you, and smile as you embrace life and love!

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