If good girls are bad girls that haven’t got caught…

Are you afraid of getting old?

I’ve obsessed over my body my entire life. Until I found a very special kind of love.

Here’s a photo of me at 9 years of age. I think that’s around the time I became aware of how important body image was to me.

I never thought I was beautiful. But I can see in this picture I was cute! This photo was taken in 1956, I was 9, well before the internet. I don’t remember any body-shaming or certain ideals that we had to conform to in our era. The insecurity was all inside of me.

I’ve never been an athlete although I danced when I was young — you can see from my ballerina stance. So the physical things that many might miss as they age have never bothered me. But I’ve always been ‘on a diet’ which is a pathetic way to go through life. I’ve never been fat! But again, it’s the feeling of never being enough — pretty enough, skinny enough, talented enough — a woman’s insecurity for sure.

At some point in life, I realized I had to find that confidence inside myself to understand and love myself exactly the way I am.

1994 driving across Canada from Montreal to Whistler, BC after losing my fashion business and declaring personal bankruptcy. I have a Ph.D. in Starting Over.

I am not my physical body.

I’m a woman of many talents and lots of heart. I would say that since I was given 6 months to live in 2008, I’ve finally got a grip on my physical selfI stopped angsting over whether I could ski from the top of Blackcomb mountain to the base without stopping — who cares? I stopped worrying about old age because I might not live to experience old age. And I vowed to get a grip on my emotional insecurities and do the things I’d always wanted to do! I made a promise to myself to publish my poetry (the way I journaled my life) and then moved on to write and publish novels. In other words, I made a decision that I would not allow the physical parts of aging to define me. Instead, I would go deeper into what I was born to do, to inspire and motivate myself and others, to spread love and compassion — to make a difference in the world, no matter how small.

People tell me all the time that I am beautiful. I will be 73 in 3 weeks. I hear this more today than ever before in my life. Why? I believe it’s a smile that’s sincere, and a life purpose that shines through my eyes. These are gifts that I’ve earned through years of mistakes and disappointment.

I refuse to dwell in that place of “my body is aging” instead I say “I’m so grateful for second chances.” I’m happy my instincts send me to a doctor when something physical needs attention. But most of all, I give thanks daily for my outlook in life.

I will not allow the actions of others to define my emotional well-being. I’m not saying that’s an easy thing — I’ve worked hard to overcome past pain and current disappointments. I still have a child-like wonder and joy of a world that still has so much to show me, and people I have yet to meet. I will always have places I have to visit even if they are only blocks away from where I live. And I have a curiosity about everything and continue to learn new things daily.

I finally retired from my day job at the end of 2018. I sold everything I owned and bought an airplane ticket with no return destination. I left Mexico where I’d lived for 18 years, celebrated my 72nd birthday in Tel Aviv, and after I’d traveled for a few months, returned to Istanbul where I am today. Eighteen months ago I didn’t know where Turkey was on the world map!

Curiosity and attitude will truly sustain me and keep me off the ‘pity-party’ wagon as my body ages.

And if my mind goes, so be it — I won’t know what I’m missing anyway!

I only have one question:

If good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught, where will the good girls go when we die?

Istanbul 2020.

Do you have any thoughts on Loneliness and Aging?

I believe that loneliness is a direct relation to self-love and self-worth. Let’s face the fact that aging is a subject that’s on every woman’s mind once she reaches the age of 30. Why is that? Why do we worry so much about getting older and being alone? I think it has to do with self-love. We just don’t love our selves enough.

We can blame it on the society we live in as aging is a first-world-obsession. All we have to do is look at the media to see that once a woman hits 50 she begins to become invisible. But mostly, this same woman is allowing society to create the fiction that there is something wrong with aging.

I know this might be a rambling comment, but it hurts my heart to hear talk of loneliness when I believe that within ourselves we are whole and complete. I’ve always been a loner—I’m a poet, a memoirist—LOVE The Beat Goes On—a novelist, a whole new career that began in the last decade.

I remember a time when I wouldn’t go to a restaurant and dine alone. I didn’t always have the confidence I have today. I had to work at it.

This photo was taken on my 70th birthday. I spent it at a high-end restaurant on the beach in Puerto Vallarta—a sunset dinner ALL BY MYSELF! It was a first. And it was amazing.

It took me until I was 72 to begin an amazing journey to many countries in the world, not on a tour, not with a group—all alone. And it’s been life-changing.

WE create a situation called loneliness. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ve always believed that happiness, contentment, love, health, all these things are related to how much we not only like our self but LOVE ourselves.

I love to say I live in my own little world, they know me there. I could also add, they—all the different aspects that make up the person I have become—LOVE me there. I don’t need other people in my life and yet, I meet new people everywhere. I met my current boyfriend at a touristy spot in Istanbul seven months ago. He was studying English and wanted to practice with someone. It was cold and rather rainy so I accepted the offer of Turkish tea. I took a chance and said yes to dinner later that evening. And here I am, living in Istanbul—for now.

Loneliness is a decision and a choice. You can meet people in a coffee shop, at an art gallery, at the museum, standing in line at the grocery store. I met a woman who has become a friend in a restaurant in Istanbul. She was dining alone and asked me to join her. I had a cold and didn’t want the company. But she asked again when her dessert came and you can always bribe me with “this is too much for me, please share my baklava!” She’s from the Philippines, lives in Florida with her sister, and is currently doing some freelance writing in Rome! She fell in love with Turkey at the same time as I did. Now she’s organizing a religious tour around Turkey next year!!

In today’s world, it’s easy to make friends if you want to. But you need to have the strength inside your own heart—self-love and personal happiness—to make it through the ups and downs of navigating the world.

It all comes back to self-love. And it’s never too late to learn to love yourself.

Survival tips:

  1. learn something new every day
  2. Read, voraciously. Choose new genres, expand the mind
  3. Travel, even if it’s to a new neighborhood—take risks, step outside your comfort zone
  4. Take up a new hobby—everyone has a cell phone—take photos, have fun with them, join Instagram, connect with old friends.
  5. And if you’re my age, do something crazy, like color your hair—okay, not this bright (I manipulated the brightness for the fun of it!)
  6. And take care of your health, take your meds, do some yoga—you don’t have to leave home to find a great yoga video online
  7. And try writing. I know you already love reading or you wouldn’t be here.
  8. And most of all, take risks.
  9. The Best Things in life begin with YES!