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changing the face of aging
Susan Brooks
Gam zeh letova

Gam zeh letova
July 2022

Elvis was my very first crush. I think I was 12 or maybe 13. I remember wearing bright red lipstick and clutching my precious circle pin at the same time! I knew every word then and still to his every song. I sat at his feet at one of his first concerts, begging for his glance... me, along with every other girl screaming that night. Looking and listening to Elvis, I felt feelings I never felt before...and I liked it...a lot.

I had my doubts about seeing the new ELVIS film with a no-name star. I wanted to protect my cherished memory. But, I had to go, just in case Austin Butler nailed it...and indeed he did!!! The only piece that was missing for me was the omission of Elvis' upper lip curl, but everything else was there: the thick black hair with one curl, the dreamy eyes, the body that moved like none other.

We decided to go to the earliest matinee on a Sunday morning. We knew this was an almost 3/hr movie, so we treated ourselves to a quick drive-through at McDonald's for breakfast first. Christian was our usual server and he noticed our anticipated energy was unusually high. "We're going to see Elvis," I shouted out my window, turning down Heartbreak Hotel from my radio so Christian could get my order. 'Who's Elvis?' he said. 'Who's Elvis???' I screamed back at him. 'His music, his moves impacted music all over the world forever! He's iconic!' Christian really didn't care.

I swooned. I remembered. And his music has been blasting in our home ever since we saw that Sunday matinee. When's the last time you listened to Love Me Tender or Are You Lonely Tonight????

I learned that Elvis' family was very poor. To have a home of even the most meager of houses, his beloved Mother had to figure out how she would make this happen. The Presley family became the only white family living in an all-black neighborhood. Elvis was drawn into a whole different lifestyle of colorful culture and music. He was transformed as a young boy in a way that changed his life (and ours!) forever. He felt the rhythm and blues, from the inside out, that impacted especially his female audience into raving fans!

He crossed the color-line, the genre-line, and the gender-line: Everyone was talking about Elvis!!!

And, Elvis paid dearly for his success. Seeing the trajectory of his short life from beginning to end, I flash-backed, remembering a jewish expression that helped me get through my own challenging times: gam zeh letova (pronounced gazoom la tovah), which means 'this is for the best'...out of everything comes good.' (Thank you to my Rabbi Debbie Stiel for confirming this information.)

In spite of the mistakes, the influence of the wrong people, the consumption level of his music and performance with the pain and loneliness of his personal life...WE STILL GOT ELVIS! In spite or maybe because of this pain, out of the hardest times, comes good...this is for the best!

Real-life horror stories surround our days today, so much pain and suffering. But maybe, just maybe, enough people like you and me will help heal our wounds and find our way together to our individually unique Best Selves, at last. This is what I believe and what I pray for...

Do you feel a change coming on? Are you stuck in 'not knowing,' feeling untethered? Are you pushing through fear, grief, loss and ready to get your life back, but unclear as to where/how to begin? Strategy is my super-power! Let's talk...

Email me here:

Janice Harrington

Featured Modern Elder*

Janice Harrington
Age 80
Musician Extraordinaire

At 80 years of age, Janice is a rising star!

Last month she released her new CD of 14 original songs, she's writing her colorful and tumultuous autobiography, she's learning to play the trombone, and she's formed a music publishing company and record label. Janice has a 'lust for life and she's having fun!'

It's Janice's turn. She didn't really have a childhood. She was pregnant and married at 15, and by the time she was 25, she had six children and three husbands. She yearned. She longed. She had to grow her wings. It was her Mother, as Mothers often do, who gave her the support and freedom she needed to fly. "My mother raised my kids. Without her I could not have done any of this. We had an agreement that she would stay home with the kids and I would work. My mother worked as a maid most of her life cleaning other people's houses. I did not want her to do that. It made more sense for her to live with us and keep the kids and the house."

"Each child knew he/she was loved double-time by their Mother and Grandma. "One of the smartest things I did was to rent a nice home with the option to buy. This is how I got my children out of the hood. We were the only black family in this Jewish neighborhood. The schools were excellent and the friendships they made there took them all over the world."

As a patriotic honor, Janice was invited to become a USO entertainer for three tours in Vietnam. "I was ready to kick a hole in the wind." Janice sang her heart out while exploring other worlds, recognizing that racial problems were worse in America. She welcomed her now fearless and confident posture, speaking several languages, living and working as a musician. At 47, she fell in love with Verner, a German white man, eight years her junior and, btw, also a musician. Verner became her 4th husband. Still married 33 years later, they live and love in Germany and make music together. "I was more mature. I knew what I wanted (and needed) in a relationship: Trust, Romance, and Humor...and that's how we live every day. We both love living a good love story!"

As Janice declares, "80 is just a number. I wake up with gratitude for my many blessings. I stay in prayer for mankind. We can not worry about people judging us. Live the life you love and love the life you live." Amen, my Friend.

Janice Harrington at 80 years of age is fully alive, realizing dreams and goals she's had all her life and just now realizing.

'This new CD is for wanna-be fun, real life. People have always told me that my songs and stage presence is a unique combination of Millie Jackson (American R & B soul recording artist), Tina Turner (Queen of Rock & Roll), Ma Rainey (Mother of the Blues) with the humor of Moms Mabley (American stand-up comedian).'

Listen Up to this musical gift from Janice, let's see what you think! See why her voice transcends the decades and how, especially at 80 years, Janice Harrington can still wiggle her way into your heart and soul.

Here are two links for you to listen to:

For ordering the CD


*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 75 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, 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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