50 OVER 50 PROJECT FOR 2021
"Accept your body as the profoundly miraculous thing that it is. Appreciate all the ways that it works for you and carries you through life and stop abusing it..."
age: 55 profession: Artist, performer, writer, teacher, daughter, sister, mom, wife, auntie, godmother, loving friend to many, world traveler, spiritual quester, storyteller and adventure seeker.
What is the best thing about being your age?
Getting to the place where I can completely trust myself and feeling very comfortable saying "no."
What hardships have you endured that you feel have made you stronger?
Growing up in a household full of alcoholism and domestic abuse. It has taken me the majority of my adult life to heal from the trauma I experienced as a result of growing up in that environment where toxic family secrets were maintained at the expense of everyone's mental health. Also, growing up as an immigrant from El Salvador, a culture of machismo which often discourages female education and accomplishments, and only values girls and women to the extent that they are willing to martyr themselves by putting everyone else in front of their own needs.
All of that has turned me into an activist for feminism and the removal of the shame and stigma associated with mental health issues and a staunch advocate for seeking therapy and having the courage to be vulnerable enough to ask for help. I am extremely proud of being the first person in my family to attend and graduate from college. I feel like the true embodiment of the American Dream.
What's your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?
Wrote and published my first novel and skydiving!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising a kind, thoughtful, compassionate, resourceful, and responsible son.
What is your most treasured possession?
The thumbdrive that contains all of my written work and my son's baby photo albums.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being completely in the present moment with absolutely no regret or shame about the past and no anxiety or fear about the future.
What is a trait you are most proud of?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would like to stop craving the approval of others and not take, what feels like, "rejection" personally.
what is your greatest extravagance?
Having multiple flavors of ice cream in my freezer.
What do you most value in your friends?
Their loyalty and willingness to spend time with me.
What advice would you give your younger self?
You are so much smarter than people have lead you to believe. Trust that everything will work out and try not to get caught up in things that might feel dire and crucial at the time, but really are not. Life is not supposed to be hard and joy is your default. Don't be afraid to feel it and pursue it. Trust your intuition because it will prove to be your greatest gift and it will help you avoid the situations and people that are not worth your time. You are a good person. Don't allow anything or anyone make you doubt that.
What is your motto or favorite quote?
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." – Maya Angelou
Words of wisdom for younger women
Please, PLEASE stop obsessing about your body. Accept your body as the profoundly miraculous thing that it is. Appreciate all the ways that it works for you and carries you through life and stop abusing it by stuffing it or starving it to keep you from feeling your emotions.
Additional thoughts about aging...
After turning 21 birthdays stopped being about the number and each year is a celebration that I'm still here! I am extraordinarily grateful for good health and believe that is the greatest asset as one ages. I never take my health for granted. My New Year's resolution every year is, "Have more fun!"