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changing the face of aging
Susan Brooks
Your Body Talks...Are you listening?

Your Body Talks...Are you listening?
May 2023

Relationships are every age and every stage of our life!

Consider your many relationships are they:

The most significant relationship, the one we usually take for granted, the one and only relationship we have for all time is... our relationship with our body.

We all know that communication is key for any and all healthy relationships. This is what helps every relationship flow and work better. We talk and share our true selves and we 'listen to understand,' as the late Steven Covey said. (See Habit #5)

Being in relationship with your body requires learning a different language or vocabulary to get what your body wants and needs. Every day is different. Your body will tell you what it needs...your job is to listen to understand.

In a recent yoga class the instructor talked a lot about "learning the language of our body" and how it's different for everyone. Slowly through movement she cued us to listen to that pull, or that tension, that release, or that little spark of pain. Her hope was over time her students would slowly begin to understand and to successfully interpret the language of their body setting themselves up to have a healthy relationship long into the future. Just like any relationship I suppose - communication is key! Do you know the language of your body? Or is it just a jumble of gurgles and grumbles that mark different times of day?

Believe me, I haven't always understood that language and I still don't always get it right. I often catch myself thinking: this headache or stomach pain or racing heart can wait until it's more convenient. Why?

Because I always want more time. I'm a planner...a scheduler. I believed that the more organized I am, the more efficient I will be. I think I'm in control. Ha! I used to talk back to my body, usually begging for more time. I'd negotiate. Or worse, I would ignore the problem, and deny it altogether. Well, that doesn't work, the pain just gets louder and hurts harder. I know. Here's a true story (OUTRAGEOUS, COURAGEOUS, and HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS, p. 115) that I share with you, hoping this lesson saves your life as it did mine!

Life continues to be my teacher...that's where I learn my wisdom. There is no greater blessing than health. As we get older, especially, health is the only priority and it is non-negotiable. Our body knows our truth. Our job is to listen to its signals, warnings, and messages...the sooner the better.

Think about this, will you?

I welcome your thoughts about your relationship with your body. You matter to me.

Featured Modern Elder*

Mary Jo West
Age 74

Everyone loves Mary Jo West! She's been a trailblazer, a pioneer especially for women in journalism. She's living proof that miracles do happen. And she serves, still, as one of Phoenix's greatest ambassadors.

Did you know that Mary Jo West won the1971 Miss Atlanta pageant? She also sang professionally in Atlanta's summer stock. "I used my pageant scholarship money at the University of Georgia and graduated with my degree in journalism."

Perhaps you've seen her on television and city-wide billboards when Channel 10 decided to hire Mary Jo West as its FIRST prime time anchor-woman in Phoenix. One of the calls that came in when she first started at Channel 10 was 'Tell that blonde-headed tomato to go home and cook supper for her husband.' She co-anchored with Bill Close, a longtime radio and TV news anchor, who was used to anchoring alone. "He would speak to me in a very condescending way using sexist language. I would not give up. I earned respect from my colleagues, especially Bill. I learned from him: good grammar, correct pronunciation, and such vast knowledge about Arizona. After 6 years of 18 hour days working with Bill, it paid off. I was now a competent journalist and reporter. Channel 10 let me do stories that women never did before. I interviewed rapists in the Florence prison. I even spent a week in a wheelchair to find out how inaccessible Phoenix was. I became my job. I won my first Emmy."

However there is no job security on camera. TV personalities live and die by ratings...and opportunities. NIGHTWATCH, a New York pioneer overnight news program, offered Mary Jo a job to be one their anchors. She took it, for awhile. Then returned to Phoenix to be the Managing Editor and Chief Anchor at Channel 3. Three years later in 1986, her contract was not renewed. "I thought my life was over."

Actually, Mary Jo's life was just beginning in a whole new and very different way than she ever could dream of.

A miracle was about to happen.

"Out of that darkness, I got to interview Mother Teresa! Two priest friends of mine had their own TV program for young people. Not only was I let go from Channel 3, I had just found out I was unable to have children. I was devastated. And here I am, on a private jet (owned by Charles Keating, btw) sitting next to Mother Teresa for an interview. Can you imagine??"

"So, in this divine moment of time, I was braver than ever. I asked Mother Teresa if she ever allowed Americans to adopt children from her orphanage in India? She reached for my hand and said: 'Because you love the poor and the Virgin Mary so much, I am going to give you a baby.'"

"I met my daughter when she was 4 months old at Mother Teresa's orphanage in Santa Rosa Copan in Honduras. We named her Maria Teresa. Today, Molly is 35 years old blessing me with three beautiful grandchildren. Molly is the greatest holy gift of my life, my amazing daughter."

And the lesson learned? I asked: "I must have done something good. I am a good person...and I encourage people not to give up, even if it's your darkest hour."

And today? Most days, you'll find Mary Jo West welcoming new arrivals with open arms at the Information Desk at Sky Harbor Airport Terminal 4. Where are the bathrooms? How do I call an Uber? She is THE BEST AMBASSADOR for our City! "Some days I feel like a social worker helping to calm people down and solve people's problems. In so many ways, my work here reminds me of the's always different!"

So, next time you are at Sky Harbor Terminal 4, coming or going, look for Mary Jo West at the Information Counter. Thank her for her pioneer efforts for women in journalism and hope that she continues to serve our community. I bet you'll get a hug!

Aging is not going to stop Mary Jo West from serving others with her whole heart: "I want to die on my feet. Not going to let that number keep me from doing anything. I'm still here!!"

*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

Susan Brooks

Today, I am 76 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 55 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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