50 OVER 50 PROJECT FOR 2020
"Live your life
and in balance."
age: 76 profession: Actor, Writer, Retired Psychotherapist
What is the best thing about being your age?
Doing what makes my heart smile. Embracing my idiosyncrasies.
What hardships have you endured that you feel have made you stronger?
For the first 16 years of my life, someone in my extended family would die every year. In my immediate family, there was no role model or permission to mourn the losses. I grew to accept that people I loved would die or leave. It really hit home at age 12 when my father died, and my mother disappeared into her grief. I realized that I’m on my own. An existential lesson at too early an age. I learned to compartmentalize—hence, my “kaleidoscopic life.”
On the plus side, my self-preservation streak is very strong. I’m a survivor. Having lived all over the country, I’m grateful to end up living where my heart is: Santa Cruz. These last 30 years have been the best chapter of all.
The price tag for this migratory journey is that I can be too independent, even anti-dependent, and not attend to my wants and needs. And there you have it!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
After my divorce, I went back to college. After a decade of going to classes year-round (and racking up another decade’s worth of student debt), I finally got my Ph.D. at 40 years old! BFD.
What is your most treasured possession?
A ring I bought in Manhattan three weeks after September 11, 2001, that I wear all the time. It keeps me in touch with my New York roots.
What's your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?
Writing and performing monologues from my memoir, Ali in Wonderland: My Kaleidoscopic Life. Being in “50 Over 50” commemorates this achievement.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Two unforgettable adventures: In Baja, looking into the eyes of an “amistosa”—a friendly gray whale—and then kissing her calf. In the Galapagos, swimming with penguins.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Trust my intuition and act accordingly. In the end, that’s healthier than being an over-achieving, intense Type A personality.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Snorkeling in exotic waters, lush with marine life. Sharing a spectacular sunset with good company. Dancing a sublime rhumba. And, best of all, laughing so hard that I weep. Can I have it all?
What is a trait you are most proud of?
My resilience and vivid imagination. (They really go hand in hand.)
What is your greatest fear?
As a starving graduate student, my greatest fear was ending up homeless. But then I found the perfect bench with an ocean view in Santa Monica’s Palisades Park, so I had a Plan B. Now that I’m in my "third act," my greatest fear is a painful, prolonged death.
What do you most value in your friends?
Intelligence, wit, and generosity of heart.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Live your life on purpose and in balance.
What is your motto or favorite quote?
"Truthfulness does not mean the disclosure of all that exists."
"You call me a bitch like it's a bad thing."