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changing the face of aging
Susan Brooks

November 2023

Hello to you!

Autumn is my Spirit Season! Having lived in the desert longer than I care to admit, my longing for a total immersion into reds, yellows, and oranges invited my gargantuan desire to have at it! Blending into the maples and oaks that stand valiantly at attention, much like a young girl, innocent, yet bold and fully grown in her beauty and transparency. "Look at me!" said the red maple as its leaves touched the ever-blue sky...while the ginko shined its bright yellow leaves even brighter to claim its spot in the sun, much to the dismay of all the other trees competing to be seen.

Awe fuels me. Awe wakes up my every cell to feel more, see more, and to disappear completely for the one time I want to blend in, to become a part of every crisp leaf still on-high or within too short days, to join the pile of rusts and burnt oranges now becoming the earth's carpet.

Awe...a missing ingredient in my usual every day, a change I want more of, like breathing in an autumn aphrodisiac even in the middle of 3-digit temps on a summer's day. I want my senses turned on, peaked and forever hungry for more.

So, yes, I am addicted to these feelings of amazement and wonderment in pursuit of a deeply fulfilling experience that brings joy, contentment and a sense of connection to our world.

Join me in discovering and embracing AWE:

Awe is highly subjective...for me, it was rolling in the leaves of autumn. What interests you? What are you curious about? What hobby is calling your name? These moments of awe can come quite unexpectedly, often inspired from a deep engagement with the world and an openness to the full range of human experience.

Promise to share your AWE with me...or better yet, take me with you!

Talk to me.Tell me your latest story of AWE.

Ali Casparian

Featured Modern Elder*

Ali Casparian
Age 60
Founder of Bounty and Soul

Good healthy food has always been at the center of Ali's life. Her Armenian and Dutch grandmothers fed her and taught her well. Her Armenian grandmother and Dutch mother and "Oma" fed her and taught her well. She was wildly successful early in her career working for Sodexho, a French company providing high-end food services for large corporate clients like IBM, AT&T, and Texaco. She worked and learned alongside some of the finest chefs in the industry.

Then, Ali fell in love with a sociopath. His control and abuse almost cost Ali her life. She barely survived a violent assault, miracle of miracles, with her last conscious thought, she made a promise to her God to be led and divinely directed to serve others. Healing from trauma and survival was her first challenge.

"I headed to the mountains of NC to heal and start over. I ended up living in a 300' dwelling that was once a chicken coup. I had started going to the "Welcome Table" for a weekly meal and met others that were experiencing some levels of food insecurity and poverty. I also became a volunteer. It was during a visit to the local food bank to pick up some food for the Welcome Table meal that I saw all that produce being given to a pig farmer. Some of the food was bruised and overripe and some was perfectly good. Most of it was being sent out for another purpose other than feeding people. I was told no one wants to eat this food."

Today, Bounty & Soul serves 2400 people a week!

Yes, Ali lives her vision to serve every single day and for almost 10 years, Bounty & Soul has created a thriving community in Black Mountain, NC, that also partners with local farmers in 4 counties to serve families and seniors that can now eat fresh, locally grown, nutritious food.

Three times a week, volunteers and staff provide healthy recipes, cooking demos with samples, as well as nutrition and whole person health education. Mental health professionals help with stress management and yoga classes teach gentle movement and breathing exercises.

"Living in poverty deserves dignity. Our job is to support the magnificence in you!"

The market tables are adorned with tablecloths, baskets filled with fresh produce, bunches of fresh-cut flowers as well as inspirational "You Matter" love notes that are crafted by seniors and volunteers of every age. Some of the food has a blemish, maybe a bruise here and there, and some of the food is perfect, but ALL of it provides nutritious meals for those experiencing food insecurity. And shared with dignity, respect, celebration and love.

"It was all right there. Every person that I needed to create an infrastructure with, showed up at the right time. I surrender every day to be led by something, someone higher than myself."

Good food is at Ali's core; it's the Earth's bounty that feeds us all. Ali blesses her family for raising her with a food consciousness "and gathering around the table." Ali blesses her years of successful food management with the best chefs in the country.

Ali lives her blessed life today in gratitude: "My life work means something! Whatever the challenge, I always figure it out…then stretch it out to its rightful use."

We all need to count our blessings on this Thanksgiving Holiday. Thanks to people like Ali and her Team, more people will enjoy nourishing food as they "gather 'round the table to enjoy more of nature's bounty and soul!"

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*. Please send in your Modern Elder* nomination. 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 are 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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