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“Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art”

When I was working to develop my yoga website, several people, including my web designer, encouraged me to add stock photos of older adults doing yoga. My advisors were people whose opinions I respected. The web designer sent me a few sample photos. But I could not bring myself to add them, and I wasn’t sure why. I mean, the focus of my work is yoga and meditation for healthy aging after all. Eventually I came to realize that ageism was holding me back. I knew people would see a photo of an older adult as someone to gloss over and devalue and I did not want that dynamic on my website.

Ageism, or discrimination based on age, is a very real form of discrimination. In a recent podcast featuring Isabel Wilkerson and her latest book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, Wilkerson essentially said,

if you are not currently in a group that experiences racism or discrimination, just wait until old age when we all become part of a marginalized, subordinated group.

Sadly, that’s how older people are often treated in our culture – marginalized, subordinated. The most surprising part of ageism is that even older adults discriminate against other older adults because most of us don’t see ourselves as “old.” This phenomenon is captured well by a light-hearted tee-shirt slogan I saw online that said, “It’s weird being the same age as old people.”

In stubborn resistance to ageism, I refuse to see myself as “just” a 66-year-old woman who society sees as waning in value. As someone who can be glossed over and ignored. No. Instead, I see myself as a composite of all my ages and stages. Like an artist’s portfolio that embodies the breadth and skill of the artist’s work. My portfolio includes the 2-year-old sledding down the hill, colliding with a tree and the resulting scar I carried proudly for life. It includes being the middle sibling of five girls crowded around the dinner table each night, bookended by our parents. It includes the teenager whose first kiss was with Mark Ream on a bench in Mary Ann Marciniak’s backyard. The 20-something living in Manhattan with my best friend, Annette, trying to break into show business. The 30-year-old trying to find my way through all the wrong romantic relationships. The 40-year-old raising my son as a single parent. The 60-year-old holding vigil with my sisters around my father’s hospice bed. Yes, we’re all much more than just a person of a certain age who can be sidetracked. We are a melding of every experience in our lives.

This notion inspired a meditation I developed titled, “I Am All My Ages and Stages.” The meditation is structured to take the practitioner through a variety of ages and stages of life, to linger and reflect on some memories at each stop along the way, and journal briefly about them. It’s a celebration of all we are. In partnership with Bloom Yoga Studio, I’m offering the meditation in a special workshop on Sunday, June 25, 9:00-11:15 am.

I hope you’ll consider this as an opportunity to come together in community to honor the many years we’ve all traveled. And to celebrate what nature has given us and the work of art we’ve created with that gift. Learn more and register here.

(Opening quote by Stanislaw Jerzy Lec)


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