Wise Women Speak

The discontent of youth passes when you realize that the music you are hearing is not about you, but about itself.
-Germaine Greer

Melitas Forster, at 94 our blogger emeritus

This week I want to celebrate the joy of being not-young. Remember last week I posted a picture of Melitas Forster, who at 94 is our blogger emeritus? Her great-grandfather moved the family into San Juan Capistrano in 1830. Here’s the article. The reporter says the Forster and Yorba families arrived in the OC when the Irvine family was still planting potatoes back in Ireland. While I proudly say I’m a California native, I can’t hold a candle to Melitas, who is practically California royalty. She wears it well, don’t you think?

Gini Dietrich

On another subject, Gini Dietrich, a businesswoman I respect (and blogged about recently), is having an argument with corporate America, saying the answer to the glass ceiling isn’t asking women to behave more like men. You can read the whole post here. She got some blowback from her readers so I jumped in to defend her. One thing I love about this gutsy gal is that when she started her PR firm, Arment and Dietrich, she invented a male partner to give the firm heft. Charles Arment doesn’t exist. Ha ha! Gini isn’t very old but I’m going to award her Devious Old Broad status.

Here’s another inspiring woman: Bel Kaufman. Probably best known for writing Up the Down Staircase, Bel is very old and still going strong. Here’s the last part of her essay in this month’s Vogue.

I’ve lived a long time, a very long time, 101 years, and I’m still here. I’m done with the doubts and struggles and insecurities of youth. I’m finished with loss and guilt and regret. I’m very old, and nothing is expected of me. Now, provided good health continues, I can do what I want. I can write my memoirs. I can edit my works for future eBooks. I can even do nothing – what a luxury that is!

Pssst! Lynne here. Doesn’t that sound great? Bel continues:

I have new priorities and a new appreciation of time. I enjoy my family more than ever, and also a sunny day and a comfortable bed. I keep up my interest in books and theater and people, and when I’m tired, I rest. My former students write to me and visit me. I had many problems and disasters in my life; fortunately, at my age, I don’t remember what they were. I’m glad I am 101.

From the other end of the scale, in the Land of the Young: during the half-hour commute home from my babysitting gig, I listen to Cosmo radio on Sirius, specifically the Dr. Jenn Love and Sex show. The majority of the callers are young, and they’re in complete despair about some pretty simple stuff. Okay, not always. I admit I cried along with one caller; the poor thing had gone through more tragedy than I have and I’m almost three times her age. But a lot of the callers are kind of lightweight, if you know what I mean – still wandering around confused, not sure who they are or where to plant their swords. So it’s sort of entertaining, not to make fun of youth or anything.

If you need one more reason to feel good about being no-longer-young, there’s this:

Youth is the season of tragedy and despair. Youth is the time when one’s whole life is entangled in a web of identity, in a perpetual maze of seeking and of finding, of passion and of disillusion, of vague longings and of nameless griefs, of pity that is a blade in the heart, and of ‘all the little emptiness of love.’ Then the soul drifts on the shallow stream of personality, within narrow borders. Not until life has passed through that retarded channel out upon the wide open sea of impersonality, can one really begin to live, not simply with the intenser part of oneself, but with one’s entire being…
-Ellen Glasgow


  1. says

    What a nice blog you have…seriously! My father is 91; he Skypes, emails, has a Nook, a smart phone, and rides a Segway! Thank you for introducing me to even more people who drop those glass stereotypes from a tall building, shattering them to pieces! Love it!

    • says

      Karen, thanks so much for the compliment. I love doing it. And as for your dad, how awesome! I don’t know that, in few years, he’s going to seem so different from other late-in-lifers. They/we are changing as the world changes, doing more into older age. Except the Segway part – now that’s brave. But I’m curious to go to your website now and read more about you. Glad you dropped by.

  2. says

    Lynne, Wonderful post! Bel Kaufman is my new favorite heroine , in essence-I’m tired of the insecurities,etc of youth and ready to to what I want to do.
    As an aside, I’m visiting friends in MO this week and just found out the pastor of the tiny Catholic Church in town does not allow woman on the altar to serve as Eucharistic Ministers or Lectors. OMG, what century are we in??

    Anyway, love your blog, Lynne. You always get me nodding, chuckling and reveling in my advancing age. :-)

  3. says

    Great post Lynne. Such inspirational women! I was blessed to have strong, feisty female role models in my life. I, too, was dismayed to Gini had to create a male partner to give her firm credibility even today, but I understand. I have always gone by Pat and not Patricia in my writing and coaching especially since I am involved with what has been considered until very recently the “macho” game of basketball.

    On another note, I just finished reading Dakota Blues and loved it. Still trying to figure out how to write a smashing review on Amazon. Maybe Kathy can help me.

    • says

      Pat, glad you liked DB! You don’t have to do a jaw-dropping review, girlfriend. just a couple of sentences would be enough. The stars are what people look at anyway. Thanks!

  4. says

    How encouraging, Lynne! Two things bother me though — 1) why should any woman in today’s world have to “invent” a male partner to give her business credibility? and 2) what about the not-so-young who don’t have health or wealth? From what I hear, they’re not so appreciative of time or aches and pains or loneliness. Or having to scrimp. Still, they have wisdom-of-years, so maybe that’s something. Is it enough? I don’t know.

    • says

      Debbie, I think the answer to #1 is, it depends on the industry. I was tickled to see how Gini outsmarted the conventional thinkers and instead of complaining about it, beat them at their own game. That cracked me up. I’m an advocate of the old bob-and-weave, myself. And as for 2, I don’t think anybody’s appreciative of aches, pain or loneliness. I just hope that mental strength and wisdom might balance the downside. (I’m crossing fingers, anyway!)

  5. says

    Cheers from my little desk to being not so young. I’d have gotten here sooner if i’d understood the calm and quiet power that comes with it. Loved reading about these fabulous women, Lynne. Thank you.

  6. says

    Absolutely marvelous post, Lynne, most refreshing. The previous comment and your response sum up my feelings completely–resolute, aware of intention–rather like residing within the eye of the storm and not minding it a bit. Always enjoy your blog, Lynne.


  7. says

    Devious Old Broad? I will take it! Can I create a badge that says that to post on Spin Sucks?? :)

    Thank you, Lynne. I agree with your comment below to Laura. Now that I’ve been in business for nearly eight years, I find I’m more content to do business with people who want to work with us because of our proven results, not because there is (or is not) a man running the organization.

  8. says

    Laura, I’ve read about women who feel that, now that they’re older, they’re calmer but more intent. They’re quieter, but more resolute than ever before. That’s a powerful place to be.

  9. says

    The one thing I find sad is that a woman still needs to invent a male partner to give legitimacy to her firm. Being an older woman is great. Now when terrible things happen, and yes they still do, I no longer feel the need to rant and rave. Yes, I still adamantly stick up for the things I believe in. I am a strong supporter of women’s right, but I now go about these things in a calmer manner.

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