50 OVER 50 PROJECT FOR 2021
"I have a lot more history behind me than I do a future ahead of me. Due to that I feel a sense of urgency. I want to make this next batch of years count...really count. So as I take this next step of life forward, I will look back behind me to remind myself of where I’ve been and then continue onward with the excitement of a child to see where this journey called life will take me next."
age: 63 profession: Momma Bear/Caregiver/Community Activist
What is the best thing about being your age?
I am honestly more comfortable in my skin than I’ve been since I hit puberty! I think it is because I am learning to let go. It may have begun when I stopped dying my hair 12 years ago. Slowly I have been letting go of what no longer serves me – toxic relationships, physical possessions, hurt feelings, bad habits, etc., etc.
I feel lighter, more confident, and at peace with the older woman I have become.
I am looking so forward to what this next chapter has in store!
What hardships have you endured that you feel have made you stronger?
I am one of four generations of single moms in my family.
Death, divorce and genocide put us in these circumstances. Due to my first husband's drug stealing and lies I left him, with only $200 in my pocket, and drove to SF with our toddler daughter to start a new life. Unfortunately, SF would prove to be unkind – a home invasion, stolen car, and jumped from behind...twice!
However, I persevered, put one foot in front of the other, and somehow managed to provide a stable life for my little girl. I strongly believe I received my strength and my determination to keep moving forward from the three generations of amazing women in my life who faced much more tragic and challenging obstacles.
My mother became a single mom of four children due to my father’s addiction to alcohol. She learned the hard way how to raise 4 kids alone. She did the best she could with what she had, and I am eternally grateful to her for that. My maternal grandmother lost her husband suddenly when my mom was 6, which propelled her to become the only breadwinner and raise a child alone. She never remarried and she never gave up.
However it is my paternal Armenian great-grandmother’s story of survival that haunts and resonates with me so deeply. Mary and her 3 children were on the forced Turkish death march through the Syrian desert. She was able to escape the genocide and somehow sought refuge by living in a cave with her 3 children (the youngest perished shortly thereafter) in Beirut for a year. They finally gained passage onto a ship bound for NY, only to discover (after a month at sea) that her husband (who left Armenia 1-1/2 years prior to start a new life for his family) was living with another woman. Her story of resilience, determination, and courage to move forward and somehow start a life in a foreign land alone, with her remaining 2 young children, is what gave me the will power to put one step in front of the other. Why am I stronger due to my hardships? Survival, adaptability, determination, strength and the will to go on is directly attributed to the strong women who came before me. Their blood runs through my veins.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising an independent, kick ass, sassy, smart, funny, loving daughter and a kind, respectful, generous, loving, hilarious and smart son.
What's your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?
My solo two-week trip to Italy after my son went off to college.
What is your most treasured possession?
I have a small, beautiful piece of my Armenian Great Grandmother’s lace work which she created while living in the cave in Beirut – It truly is my treasure.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I am honestly never happier than when my kids, my husband, and I are under the same roof...it doesn’t matter what or whose roof. At this moment in time the four of us are in the same town for the first time in 17 years, and I am over the moon! Then there is the undeniable prayer for great health. I ask the universe to please bestow upon my family excellent physical and mental health and a life filled with peace, love, and joy.
What is a trait you are most proud of?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My innate ability to procrastinate...and the ability to sing.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Buckle up sweet girl...this is going to be a bit of a bumpy yet absolutely exhilarating ride!
Be true and take good care of yourself
Stick to your convictions
Keep an open mind
Listen to your intuition
Do not settle for less
Take chances...smart chances
Never get into a car with a drunk driver
Travel as much as you can
Learn to speak two languages
Try a few instruments until you find one you love
Discover your true passion(s) and run with it
Help those who are unable to help themselves
Along your path you will come across unexpected detours, but you’ll also cross welcoming sunlit bridges. You will make mistakes and yet you will conquer massive obstacles. You will second guess yourself, however you will learn to listen to your heart. The loss and sorrow you will experience in your young life will prepare you for the bounty of love, amazing strength, and an abundance of joy that will surround your future. I promise.
What is your motto or favorite quote?
What you think, you become
What you feel, you attract
What you imagine, your create – Buddha
Words of wisdom for younger women
We...but especially you, are standIng on the precipice of a major shift. I can feel it in my older bones. Women are finally taking charge. Our voices are stronger and louder. Our convictions are more concise and clear. Whether it be in government, sports, music, film, social justice, etc., we are rising and it is so exciting to be alive to bare witness.
Fight and work hard to save our planet...I am so incredibly sorry we did such an abysmal job of that. Speak out and loud for those who don’t have a voice. My mother always told us that no matter how bad things seemed in our lives there are always those who are suffering more. Turn off you phones and your devices, go off the grid and listen to the mockingbird sing and the ocean waves crash, smell the sweet lilacs and taste the amber honeysuckles. Watch the sun rise and set – often. Never give up – do not ever surrender your power – to anyone. Do not let anyone define you.
Keep your eyes on the prize and continue to move forward. Gather more women and girls with you as you move onward and upward. Challenge yourself once in a while and treat yourself with all of the kindness and grace you deserve. And perhaps most important, love yourself for who you are.
I know I have a lot more history behind me than I do a future ahead of me. Due to that I feel a sense of urgency. I want to make this next batch of years count...really count. So as I take this next step of life forward, I will look back behind me to remind myself of where I’ve been and then continue onward with the excitement of a child to see where this journey called life will take me next!