I’ve always been uneasy talking about my age. Maybe it’s a leftover from my proper southern upbringing that teaches ladies to never reveal their age. Perhaps it’s because I had children rather late in life and everyone just assumed I was a decade younger. So hey, I just went with it.
My mother said that when I was born, the doctor smacked her in the face and told her she was making too much noise. Maybe that’s why she always told me to “keep my big mouth shut!”
But now, as I contemplate this milestone, I feel called to come out of the shadows about my age. I read something once that said, “what you can’t say – owns you. What you hide – controls you.”
Hiding my age started to feel like a weight around my being. I want to shake it off. No more hiding! Besides, shouldn’t we women own our age? Who’s to say we don’t just get better with age like fine wine? Truth be told, I’m feeling damn good about turning 65.
Sixty-five brings self-possession, confidence, power – a knowingness – the truth.
I’m writing this from the desert where I’ve been for a few days in a self-imposed retreat with lots of quiet time for reflection. Yesterday morning on my birthday walk, I reflected on a life well lived.
I thought back to my 20’s when I moved to New York City to embark upon a “life of my own.” I stepped into a world I had only previously fantasized. It was a time of wonderment, curiosity, and exploration.
I was impressionable, as most twenty-somethings are. I was not yet an original. I was more comfortable fashioning myself in the likes of others.
The fashion designer Norma Kamali had a motto: “OMO: On My Own” that resonated with me. I held that mantra like a shield as I found the courage to forge ahead.
In my 30’s, when I transplanted to the west coast, I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined that I would become an INNOVATOR. I saw a need for plant-based fare long before such a thing became mainstream. I created my little business in my one-room beach apartment that later became a guiding light for a segment of the food industry that was just laying down roots.
People told me I was crazy. “You mean you’re not going to serve fried chicken and Coca Cola?” They said I was nuts for leaving the sugar out of my recipes and for having ice in the water. (The latter is an inside joke for any of my early year customers reading this, haha!)
As my business grew, the responsibility I had in my hands became monumental. I learned how to run an organization. I shot from the hip and then controlled everything from my head. I didn’t take fools lightly. I was demanding. Tough. I had to be.
Growing a business On My Own was the most significant personal development workshop I ever attended. This is where I found out what I was made of. And a lot of it wasn’t fun. I was forced to look at myself, and it was painful. I made my fair share of mistakes, and I’m better for them. I brushed off my skinned knees, stood up, and went right back at it. I had a lion’s heart of grit and resilience.
In my 40’s I came to fully understand what Maya Angelou meant when she wrote “Love Heals. Heals and Liberates.” When I finally birthed my children, as cliche as it sounds, I melted into motherhood. Beyond the rush of hormonal impulses running me, my heart expanded. I was changed for the better.
Creatively this was a delicious time. I was finding the strength in my own voice. I had something to say. I mattered.
My 50’s were a time of deep inner work and contemplation. I began to understand that driving force in me to perform was stoked by nothing but the thread of my fear which leads to my resistance to letting go of the control. As I wrestled out of me the need to prove and be perfect, I found solace in listening and living from a more divine place. I didn’t have to go far to discover MY internal guidance, MY TRUTH.
By the time I reached 60, I had figured out what really matters.
There are wonder and magic in life. Abundance is everywhere. Always right before you, and it’s as easy as taking a breath.
The extraordinary is in the ordinary.
At peace with owning who I am, I’ve FOUND THE COURAGE TO RECREATE MYSELF.
And in that, I looked around and saw the brilliance shining from other remarkable women doing the same.
Age is just a number. Age has nothing to do with what we’re capable of. In fact, many artists, musicians, writers, and entrepreneurs do their best work in the seasoned years of life. I’m not done yet. There’s more in me. I’m going to continue to listen, to grow, to take action, to make a difference.
On the cusp of 60, I decided it was time to take my gifts as an entrepreneur and offer them in another modality. My new business and mission is a continuation of the beliefs, practices, and values I have always been aligned with.
I feel utterly liberated, invigorated, and active. I never could have guessed that I would feel this “young” on my 65th birthday.
And one thing I clearly know now for sure, we don’t have to be perfect to make a difference. We don’t have to be a certain age to embark on the journeys meant for us. The Japanese teachings of Wabi Sabi embrace the freeness, simplicity, and naturalness in imperfection. Wabi Sabi teaches us that there are beauty and serenity that comes with age. We gain an understated elegance. Accepting our flaws gives us a sense of calm confidence.
And that’s exactly how 65 feels.
Moving forward into my late sixties, I’m going to have some fun. I’m going to make waves and ride the ones I can’t control. I’m going to keep working from the heart – doing what I believe in.
Thank you for joining me. Thank you for adding meaning to my work, and for teaching me as much as I show you. Cheers to the power and beauty of age!