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changing the face of aging
Susan Brooks
Gee Whillikers!

Gee Whillikers!
January 2024

Every month this newsletter will Feature the stories and wisdom of Modern Elders*. Please send us your Modern Elder* nomination. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT and don't miss the current feature at the end of this newsletter!

Holy Moley! It's a New Year!!!

I saw a great FB post (unfortunately, anonymous) of all the words that are now long gone: We were 'in like Flynn and living the life of Riley; not even a regular guy could accuse me of being a knucklehead, nincompoop, or a pill...not for all the tea in China! Kilroy was here, but he isn't anymore.'

Old expressions become obsolete because technology moves in on words like carbon copy, you sound like a broken record, and don't touch that dial! These are words we no longer hear, like swell. "Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys poodle skirts and saddle shoes. I worry about Superman and where he will find a phone booth?"

And then there are the new words that Oxford declares are all the rage based on their in-depth research of our ethos, mood or preoccupations from the last 12 months. The new word addition from Oxford 2023 is "rizz" defined as style, charm, attractiveness, derived from the word charisma. Amazing, in this broken world of ours that this is the word that Oxford has chosen, don't you think? Do I dare mention Oxford's chosen 2022 word? "Goblin mode." It is a slang term used to describe behavior that is "unapologetic, self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly or greedy that rejects social norms or expectations." I don't know anyone like this, do you? Maybe that's why Oxford picked a more positive image word this year??

Now that it's January 2024 it's time for my Ritual Word of the Year choice. My friend and I have done this together for many years, even decades. As a very accomplished parent, professional, and friend, I could tell she was already excited and in love with her Word of Choice: VIBRANT. But, forever the Coach, I had to question her choice. This is a word that was a slam dunk for her: she already is vibrant! Her silence followed for days, until finally, she came back with OPTIMIZE! Now, that's a great word, especially when she made it specific regarding Health, Tennis, Learning, and Friendships. This will be her year!

Me? After the insurmountable health challenge with Barry and my embracing the role of caregiver these past three years, I am long overdue for JOY. Yes, that's my Word for 2024, by golly. JOY will be my motivation, and my reward, even when I's time to wake up and smell the roses!

Now it's your turn! What's your WORD for this new year? What WORD will motivate you, ground you, inspire you to new heights, challenges, and opportunities?

Please share...that would be really groovy! See 'ya later, alligator!

Talk to me. Susan Brooks

Jill Bernstein

Featured Modern Elder*

Jill Bernstein
Age 70

Few things better than strolling with a friend, immersed in the colorful grounds of the Desert Botanical Garden on a perfect Arizona Sunday morning. That's when I met Jill Bernstein, officially known as the Gallery Attendant Lead at The Garden.

Jill's enthusiasm, along with her genuine presence, introduced me to an artist I never heard of...until that Sunday. Jill filled me in on what I had missing with Maestro Fernando Botero. I love learning and being curious, don't you?

Jill is a bubble of energy and life-lived wisdom. Besides discovering Botero, I wanted to know more about how Jill was living this Modern Elder chapter of her life:

Jill has always been imaginative and curious, and restless. She wasn't drawn to writing fiction, but she did create a publishing marketing company representing dozens of well-known authors' on six to eight-city tours. When she retired (not really) she tried ceramics, painting, drawing classes: "I don't beat myself up because I don't have creative discipline, I simply move on to other things. Most important to me in everything I do is to have a sense of play. I don't think we need to work hard. We need to work joyfully with a sense of profound deep play." Amen to that!!

Next, Jill worked with Arizona Commission on the Arts to facilitate funding for Arizona authors and nonprofit literary organizations. Then ran the Humanities Council Arizona Book Festival, consulted for the SCA Film Festival, and took on leadership of Keep Arizona Beautiful, a statewide nonprofit environmental organization. She developed the Environmental Resource Roadshow in partnership with ADOT and the Arizona Department of Environmental Resources. The program ran for 5 years and focused on litter prevention, recycling and illegal dumping.

After retiring, she worked the tasting bar at Total Wine to learn more about wine, and took a position as Gallery Attendant Lead with the Botero exhibit at the Desert Botanical Garen (through the end of March), which led to our meeting.

Jill's biggest wake up call, like many of us, was in 2008-9. She prided herself on feeling resilient and confident her whole life, but "I lost everything: my Mother passed, my dog died, I got divorced...I was bone dry, no reserve, no understanding it would ever come back. And the lesson I learned at that time? I will not let fear hold me back. I got another little dog that made me get off the coach because I had to walk him every day. He saved my life. How did I get here? I used to be so responsible, so financially stable. I got pissed off and chose not to take it anymore! My feelings don't matter that much. Liberating play is imagination transported me, I got better at not being so serious. I got better at playing!"

My favorite question to ask a Modern Elder is what's been the most unexpected part of getting older? Jill's eyes gave me a sideways glance as she thought for a moment, then, she shouted out: "I can't believe how fabulous I feel! I lost 40 lbs. to get my health and energy back. I'm thrilled to be an invisible old lady...I can do anything and no one is paying attention to me! What freedom! Aging is my super power!!"

I look for Modern Elders wherever I go. They are everywhere. Their 'aliveness' is what I notice first. It's a man or woman 60+ that is living their best life. They inspire us. Modern Elders are our teachers, our role models to Change the Face of Aging! Share them with me, please! Enjoy previous Featured Modern Elders here.

If retirement or the next chapter is calling your name, if I can help you realize your vision in business and lifestyle, email me. Let's make it happen now!

*Chip Conley, best-selling author and speaker, hospitality entrepreneur and leading thought leader, created The Modern Elder Academy's mission "to inspire the ability to reframe a lifetime of experience and recognize one's mastery, relevance, and value in the modern workplace." The Modern Elder* is Conley's term and effort that "liberates and inspires us to embrace wisdom as a path of growing whole, not old...The Modern Elder marries wisdom and curiosity."

Every month this newsletter will Feature the stories and wisdom of Modern Elders.

Share your Modern Elders with us...maybe it's you!! Please send in your Modern Elder Story along with a one-line Wisdom statement plus photo to be featured. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT.

Susan Brooks

Today, I am 77 years old, and proud of it! Paul Simon, who is now in his 80's said it best years ago: us boomers were BORN AT THE RIGHT TIME!

Yes, I was born at the right time! I'm still a hippie from the 60's, I marched for civil rights for all humans, equal rights for women, waving my bra with the best. I am proud to be living and growing in a robust marriage of 57 years. I survived motherhood, and so did my now-adult children. I was an award-winning woman business owner when there were but a few of us. I've learned a whole bunch of lessons, and more importantly, I've earned my fair share of Wisdom, too. I am Pro-Age!

According to Chip Conley, one of today's leading thought leaders: "Experience is making a comeback. Wisdom never grows old." Chip created the hallmarks of the Modern Elder*: "learning to marry wisdom and experience with curiosity, cultivating a beginner's mind so that learning never ends, exemplifying a willingness to evolve both as a student and sage." Research shows that shifting our mindset about Aging can add 7.4 happy years to a person's life.

Proud to say I am a graduate of the Modern Elder Academy as well as an active participant in Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience, and Spirit programs. As one of the creators and hosts of the Thrive@55 event, we celebrated our female community leaders who were 55+.

As long as I'm able to see the sunrise every morning and keep a curious mind, there's more living to do, so much more to learn, and so many new ways to serve. Trailblazer that I am, and always will be, I recognize my next mission: by example and demonstration I am committed to Changing the Face of Aging: One Modern Elder* at a time!

I welcome both local and national speaking engagements as well as one-on-one coaching opportunities to delve more deeply into navigating life transitions. Email me Here.

Juicy ways and energizing action steps: how to soak in the wisdom and energy of becoming your own Modern Elder*
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