50 OVER 50 PROJECT FOR 2022
"Learn to know the difference between that which feeds your soul and that which depletes it. Then, if possible, and with grace, eliminate the toxins."
profession: I am a retired special education teacher/speech pathologist.
I am also a singer, actress and artist.
What is the best thing about being your age?
The best thing about being my age (and there are many!) is the wisdom that comes from having experienced life for over seven decades. There is a calm and acceptance that comes with age; learning not to fret about the small stuff. Learning not to make assumptions, but to seek understanding first and foremost.
To give grace. To forgive, not only others but myself. With age comes the understanding that if I don’t like something, the best thing I can do is to take away its power…which is my attention. Focus on that which fills me, and turn away from the rest. Learning to let go is quite liberating!! The other “best” thing about my age is being retired; no more being a slave to the alarm clock or to others’ expectations. I now have choices that are endless and can fill my days with what brings me joy and fulfillment.
What hardships have you endured that you feel have made you stronger?
I have to admit that I am damned lucky to have had a life rich in blessings and poor in hardships. Although I have endured the challenges of divorce (a very amicable one), ectopic pregnancy ending my ability to have children, loss of my younger brother and both my parents as the biggest hurdles, life does go on. We can’t dwell in dark places for too long. Like a plant put in a closet, we will not grow and thrive. Face the light in whatever form that comes and count your blessings.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I think my greatest achievement has been the ability to accept challenges that have forced me to learn and grow. All that I have taken on: teaching special needs children for 36 years, accepting a teaching position with the University of San Diego in their continuing education department for 21 years, more than 50 years of soloing in churches and concerts, performing in countless plays and musicals, taking up painting and having them exhibited and sold, traveling, marriage, being a grandparent to 5 lovely souls…all of these are the tapestry of my “greatest” achievement.
What's your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?
Ha, I must be doing this backwards. I don’t really have a bucket list (other than wanting to perform on Broadway…and THAT is just plain unrealistic). Instead, the things I DO become the list I then cross off as being the things I am grateful for having experienced.
What is your most treasured possession?
The possessions I most value are a mind, heart and body that are still active and “working.” My most prized material possession is an heirloom ring. It combines the diamonds of my mother’s and my grandmother’s modest wedding sets and are showcased in a beautiful setting designed by my father. I sometimes feel like I carry those precious souls with me on my finger when I am wearing it, and I am comforted and bolstered.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
There are so many moments or periods when I experience pure happiness, and I have come to realize that these times are always linked with gratitude. Happiness, for me, is when sensory input (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch), as well as thoughts or feelings make the journey to connect to deeper places in my heart soul and spirit; a revelation of sheer gratitude for having the opportunity and ability to experience these things. From the simplest…the first sip of coffee in the morning, waking up nose-to nose with my dog; breathing fresh, clean air on a brisk walk in the woods; being surprised by the sudden appearance of a hummingbird visiting a nearby flower; seeing the lushness of the green hills after the rain; the intoxicating smell of a bakery as I walk by; the laughter of children; the warmth of my husband’s hand on mine; the sweet contentment of a circle of women friends; the calming and lifting of my spirit in a candlelit sanctuary with the richness of music filling the air, the gift of time with precious family…this and much, much more is happiness to me. And that joy is ALWAYS accompanied by gratitude.
What is a trait you are most proud of?
I am proud of my natural Empath, allowing me to feel compassion and humanity. I am good at mediating, and helping others to see viewpoints other than one they might be stuck in (except for political mindsets…I don’t even go there…no point). I also value my patience, sense of humor, and open mindedness.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I am too self-conscious! I wish I didn’t care so much about what people think. I think all of us, no matter how old, still carry the little girl inside us. I love my little girl! But she is also sometimes shy, insecure and self-conscious. She has not yet learned not to give a crap.
what is your greatest extravagance?
My regular extravagances are mani-pedis and semi-regular massages, The REAL extravagances are cruises every couple of years since retiring.
What do you most value in your friends?
Being able to trust a friend is paramount, followed by common values, the ability to share deeply, to laugh until we cry, and to cry without embarrassment when we need to. My best friends are ones I call my “9-1-1 friends.” I know that I can call them any time and they will be there for me.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn to know the difference between that which feeds your soul and that which depletes it. Then, if possible, and with grace, eliminate the toxins. At the end of life, it really doesn’t matter what we have bought or built, but what we have shared; not our competence but our character; and not our success, but our significance in living a life that matters…by loving and giving.
What is your motto or favorite quote?
Oh, so many!!! Here is one I love and need to be mindful of:
"Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:
Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?”
Words of wisdom for younger women
“'Finding yourself' is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten-dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right there buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. 'Finding yourself' is actually returning to yourself: an unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you" – Emily McDowell