I remember as a young girl and only child, growing up in Japan, I always longed for August to just be over so we could get to fall, my favorite season.
School would start with a brand new reading list, fresh book smells, new shoes but most of all, classmates to be around after a long summer of being alone.
But if I could have been more in the moment, there were many things I enjoyed about August too. The sound of the cicadas and the furen or little summer chimes in the roof eaves. My mother’s dishes would be switched out to mostly crisp white and blue porcelains and a lot of glass and crystal. Somen noodles served on beds of ice in Itallia bowls and even the chopsticks switched to summer ware a top crystal chop stick rests. Lots of watermelon served up after hiyayako, which is cold tofu served with dipping sauce. A true sign of summer.
I would visit my cousin for a weekend and we would go to the summer festivals at dusk in our summer yukatas. We would feast on yakitori and odango and save the sticky cotton candy for a final treat to enjoy on the stroll home. The adults would be drinking buckwheat iced tea and we would drink Ramune...which was like a 7 up but came in a bottle where you pushed the ball in the cap into the bottle. We would lay out in front of the oscillating fans in quite unladylike poses and read our mangas and eat rice crackers.
Before I get much further, I am going to remind you to save the date of August 11th at 0900 PST. For a second year in a row, on the morning of my birthday, I'm going to celebrate by having Valerie Garcia Zoom in and share her gift of storytelling with us for about an hour. Giving is always more joyful than receiving and I don’t need anything material. So I love celebrating the people in my life by doing this. It is open to the first 100 people to log on, it will not be recorded as it is a never before shared talk. Here is the Zoom link: Diane's birthday Zoom with Valerie.
Many of you know just how fond I am of Valerie. She is so very talented as a writer and is in the process of writing her first book. Her monthly newsletter is something so many of us look forward to with great anticipation. If you have not subscribed yet, be sure to here (www.ValerieGarcia.com). Valerie will be sharing some of her soon to be published book. I asked her to just surprise us all. My only request is that you show your face on line. I won’t judge if you are still in bed or have not had a shave yet.
Did you know that I am a collector? When we downsized to the cottage, I had to give up collecting things. So, I am a collector of questions. I love great questions. I love the cadence and sequencing of questions and how it can draw a person out. Recently I started subscribing to Oldster Magazine. I love the writers they feature. One is Sari Botton, a favorite. There is always an interview of an Elder. Because it is my 64th birthday this year, I will try my best to answer the same questions for you. But I urge you to use the questions as a way to get to know someone in your life or community better.
How old are you? Is there any age you associate with yourself in your mind? If so, what is it? And why do you think? 64 on the 11th of August! I have always been an old soul. I think I have always associated myself with being in my sixties. My two celebrity influencers have always been May Sarton and Mary Frances Kay Fisher. Both elders in their communities. One a poetess/writer and the other a cook and food writer. I would always read about their homes, daily lives and cadence of their lives and long to be there with them. So, turning 60 was a welcome chapter. There is no greater pleasure for me than to putt around the house, assembling a big salad or soup and invite a friend to come by for some quality, unhurried conversation. I always envisioned both their kitchens to be unpretentious spaces filled with love. That is what I hope mine feels like.
Do you feel old for your age? Young? Just right? Are you in step with your peers? This is a great question. Mentally I feel the most vibrant I ever have. Physically I am probably in the worst health of all my peers but I feel pretty darned good. But to be honest, I don’t look left and right, and haven’t much for over a decade. We are all walking our own path. And what we see of someone else’s life is never the full picture. I have zero desire to be in step with anyone but myself.
What do you like about being your age? I love how I have stripped away the superfluous to what the essence of my life is. I have become much more discerning on how I will spend my time, who I allow in my life and have pretty much a zero tolerance policy for BS at this point. I love the word “discernment”. It is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. We all know that. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right according to C.H. Spurgeon. “Almost” just doesn’t cut it at this point in the arc of my life.
What is difficult about being your age? Losing friends to illness and death. It happens so much more often. It is obviously a fact of life, but it doesn’t make it easier. I think I have survivor’s guilt when some of my younger friends pass.
What is surprising about being your age or different from what you expected, based on what you were told? I always assumed I would retire asap. The funny thing is, when you love what you do for a living, there is no reason to retire. I feel lucky to have created a life for myself that I still cannot wait to start each day and feel no reason to take a break from. This is so different from what I thought, when I was a corporate cog in a wheel.
What has aging given you? What has it taken away? Aging has sharpened my BS Meter. Not much gets by me. My instincts, especially in business, are razor sharp. What it has taken away is my caring about how someone else decides to live their life. Each of us are on a different journey. It is not my place to judge. I will choose to not get all entangled in it but you do you.
How has getting older affected your sense of yourself and your identity? When I was in my 20’s and 30’s it was so important to me to be skinny, fashionably outfitted & impeccably turned out. Now, obviously none of that matters. I do have a clear signature look that is monochromatic and neutral colors, no patterns and great jewelry. I am looking at what I am wearing as I type this. I have four of the same, linen black dress which is my summer uniform. That along with light black leggings. I don’t want to waste too much time thinking about what to wear when there are so many more important things to ponder. As much as I hated my Catholic school girl uniform first through eighth grade, I seem to be right back in one now. The mantra seems to be only the best and simplify, simplify.
What are some age related milestones you are looking forward to? Or ones you “missed” and might try to reach later, off schedule according to our culture & expectations. Nothing on my to do list has to do with a milestone, cultural or otherwise. I want to reach more people in a significant way through my coaching, speaking and teaching that impacts them in a profound way. Nothing is more rewarding to me than getting a written note, from someone who sat in a talk or workshop, that says “What you spoke of really resonated with me and it got me to start noticing how I interact with the important people in my life. I have started to make conscious changes to improve that. This is all thanks to you and what you said that day, so thank you.”. Boom. I mean that’s it. Right there.
What has been your favorite age so far and why? Would you go back if you could? Ironically, THIS is my favorite age. I always feel like I was not good with the unknown. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Not knowing how it would end would not dissipate the clench in my gut. Finally, finally, slowly I have begun to be able to let go and just take the next step and trust it will all fall into place. It has been a ridiculously long journey but with good reason. So I try not to be too hard on myself. I have begun to trust the timing of my life. If you pushed me on another favorite age, it would be my mid 20’s when I lived alone. I loved my Saturday routine of throwing open the windows regardless of season, striping the bed, taking out the trash. Then going to the market for fresh veggies, flowers and magazines. I would put on great albums (yes albums) on my B&O stereo and design a great floral arrangement and prep veggies for the week and bake some banana bread, all the while reading and listening to music and enjoying a day without a list of things that had to be done. I loved living alone and having my space just so. I am so glad I got those precious years by myself.
Is there someone who is older than you, who makes growing older inspiring to you? Who is your aging idol and why? In my industry, my former broker, Linda Tallahan. She embodied Mama Bear. You always knew that she would go to bat for you and what was right. The woman could not drive however. She thought she was Mario Andretti. You were taking your life in your hands if you got in a car with her behind the wheel. Seriously.
I also greatly admire a colleague in Michigan; Gwen Daubenmeyer. She is never too busy to give you counsel. She gives great life advice. I am lucky to know her.
All my other mentors have passed at this point. Their words still live with me today however. An Aging Idol, oof. So sorry. I cannot think of anyone. If I were to draw a composite, it would be someone who walks to the beat of their own drummer, is kind, makes time for others, has a great signature style but is not a slave to fashion and youth culture. If you are old, embrace it. Most plastic surgery looks horrifying. I only have one girlfriend who looks better and not scarier.
What is your age related adjustment you refuse to make and why? I cannot think of anything at the moment. I am very pragmatic, so I will do what needs to be done to live a good life and not be a burden on those I love.
What is your philosophy on celebrating birthdays as an adult? How do you celebrate yourself? I only celebrate my birthday socially if it can benefit a good cause. I had a few years where I would host a Happy Hour For Good through my Rotary Club to benefit YouthCare on the month of my birthday to be expedient. Those happy hours each raised over $60K so those were a success. I celebrated 60 in my back yard with paella and rose and that was fun. It was to thank the donors of checks to my Happy Hour. Otherwise, I am not comfortable being in the spot light. I will most likely spend my actual birthday treating myself to a lovely sushi dinner at my favorite omakase restaurant in Seattle. No one else loves omakase as much as I do in the family so I will just go alone and love it. We never seem to celebrate family birthdays on the exact date due to so many decades of crazy work schedules and deadlines. It is not a big deal. I do love starting my birthday off expressing gratitude to the people I care about in my life. So I do hope to see you on Zoom with my friend, Speaker and Writer, Valerie Garcia.