It's all my Grandmother's fault. Edith Irma Siegel graced the planet for almost 99 years, the acknowledged doyenne of South Florida designers back in the day when prosperous women business owners were very rare and not always welcome to the marketplace. When my Grandmother was older than I am now she was joined at the hip with Barbara Baer Capitman, a well-known preservationist. They worked together to preserve, promote, and protect Miami Beach Art Deco Historic District. EIS was my bar for what aging looked like.
But it wasn't until I had a client who was living a colorfully successful life, soon to become an empty nester having survived a robust career and motherhood, now on the edge of turning 50. 50!!!! "Now what?" she shrieked. "Half my life is over...there's so little time left!" she half-cried in hysterics and giddy laughter.
Then, I noticed 'The Panic@ 50' conversation started to become a familiar topic in my business. Immortality at any age can stop you in your tracks, right there, slow you down enough to think about what's left of your life...and what changes you might want to consider before it's too late. Death should not come as a surprise to anyone.
For us Boomers, we are the first ones to live so long. Centaurians are a dime a dozen these days. Mentally, I'm already planning my 100th Birthday Party, aren't you? This is what keeps me humble and accountable for eating right (most of the time) exercising (most days) and mental well-being (breathing, visualizing, gratitude). We are the ones that serve as the role models and mentors for our now-grown children, coming of age grandchildren, and everyone else who is watching us 'change the face of aging.'
But, first, we have to 'see it to believe it,' right?
Because of my Grandmother, I've always been attracted to older women: how she continues to live her life, the choices she makes for her own self-expression and priorities, and most importantly, her wisdom and life stories that helps me live my own life more fully.
Here are several of the role models that have been my teachers, mentors, or muse. They just might inspire you, too:
Beatrice Woods lived to be 105 as an American artist sculpting pottery, and living the artist life. My friend and I visited her in her Ojai studio and I had to ask her: 'What's your secret to living, Beatrice?' Her eyes sparkled, her voice lowered closer to my ear, and she whispered, 'lots of chocolate and young men.'
Iris Apfel is THE Fashionista known as 'the geriatric starlet' famous for her electric style of bright colors, oversized glasses and jewelry altogether, has had an exhibit @ The Costume Institute at Metropolitan Museum of Art and countless retail stores who carry her merchandise brand. Iris says that "style is not about spending money." At 100 years old, Iris still hasn't learned how to pace herself yet.
Maye Musk, is mother to Elon. At 74, Maye graces the cover of 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. "Women of all ages are scared of aging." Musk has become the poster-woman for aging gracefully, even posing nude for Time magazine!
Jane Fonda (again and again!) at almost 85 is on the cover of Glamour magazine, just like she was back in 1959. "After I did a life review, I thought about myself and about how I want to live the last third of my life." Her intentional way of living and aging is a great inspiration for us all. I confess: Jane is my muse.
Please scroll down to read this month's Featured Modern Elder, Anne Lorimor, who, at 91, has the Guinness World Record as the oldest person to summit the highest freestanding mountain in the world, Kilimanjaro, not once at 87, but again at 90 years young.
Look around your own life...even in your own mirror! The more you can see updated role models living large in robust lifestyles already surrounding your own life, you can start to get a glimpse of what aging can look like for you!
Featured Modern Elder*
Anne's Website: https://www.creatingexcitingfutures.org
Anne Lorimor is a celebrity. People are in awe of her, always asking if they could take a picture standing beside her. She is impressive, acknowledged in the Guinness World Record as the oldest person to summit the highest freestanding mountain in the world, not once when she was 85 but a second time at age 90. Reading the Snows of Kilimanjaro in high school, Anne didn't have a clue that this fabled mountain was in her future. She had several survival challenges to overcome first...
"We were miserably poor, sometimes cold and hungry. I've lived out of a homemade trailer and a tent without a floor, no electricity, running water or telephone. We were homeless, but never hopeless."
"I found ways to support myself and stay in school. I've earned a registered nursing degree, two bachelor's degrees, two master's degrees, and a Ph.D." Anne declares. "My passion in life is to offer a hand-up to underserved kids...because I am one. This is the focus that fulfills me. CreatingExcitingFutures.org serves underprivileged children and youth giving them the tools they need to reach their full potential and lead better lives they love, and then to pay it forward. I knew my climb was news and media worthy to shine a light in support of helping to fund this organization's mission."
Anne's next goal is to hike Machu Picchu to celebrate her 92nd birthday and "to raise more money for the kids. I'm not done yet."
Of her many lifelong adventures, the one that stayed with me for days was one that happened to Anne when she celebrated her 21st birthday alone in the Smokies: ‘I took a wrong turn on the trail. I got lost for 13 days..." 13 days! No food! No water, except the water from the streams! Cold and wet weather conditions! No clue how to get found! ALONE!! She made light of this story when she shared it, how her survival skills at 21 years of age served her throughout her life. The lessons she learned about intention, perseverance, resilience, and faith helps her to this day to tell her story and inspire us all! Each one of us gets lost at some point in our lives, don't we? How we survive and grow and learn is what legacy is made of...Anne walks that talk right up 19,341 feet high!
Reach out and contribute to Anne Lorimor: CreatingExcitingFutures.org.
Founder and CEO of Creating Exciting Futures
*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*. Please send in your Modern Elder* nomination. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT