Many years ago, when I was nine, I was pulling on my crumpled netball kit in a less than fragrant changing room at boarding school. One of my friends was telling a story about her elder sister who was sixteen. I clearly remember thinking “Sixteen! Wow, that is ANCIENT”. Ah, the naivety of youth! Now, aged 65, I am a teeny bit wiser. Importantly, the times were definitely a-changing. The stultifying prospect of morphing into a 35 year old wearing a twinset and pearls with my hand glued to a vacuum cleaner was making way for a potentially more exciting future. Technology has, of course, opened up the world – and a world of possibilities – for so many of us. And, if we are lucky enough to have our health, life after 50 promises so much now that we have so many facts at our fingertips. For the majority of us, it isn’t about jumping out of planes or being the oldest person to run the London Marathon. Sometimes it is simply taking the time to get outside and feel the sun on your face, offer a small kindness to someone who needs it, or escaping somewhere quiet to read a well written novel. Saying that, I really enjoy hearing about octogenarian super women – maybe because it makes ME feel less mortal. Females who treat every new day as a bonus – and have the energy and commitment to make the absolute most of their time. Women who are easy to admire because they have become really adept at tackling something they have a passion for.
Women like Tessa, who at 82 is still dancing with grace and poise. She says: “After a ballet class you feel full of energy, inspired and ready to do anything”.
Last September, we featured Anne, a lady in my yoga class. At 82 she is as flexible as women more than half her age. Although she puts a lot of energy into exercising, I think it is her “can do” attitude which keeps her young.
Johanna Quaas is the oldest gymnast in the world at 92.This German powerhouse says “I do gymnastics to avoid being susceptible to falls and that is a good preventive tool.” She also keeps young by taking naps and eating a mostly plant-based diet. “My face is old but my heart is young. Maybe the day I stop doing gymnastics is the day I die.”
This rather serious looking 89 year old in wonderfully vibrant clothes is Yayoi Kusama, acknowledged as one of the most important living artists to come out of Japan.
Ernestine Shepherd, 81, is an American bodybuilder who is best known for being, at one point, the oldest competitive female bodybuilder in the world, as declared by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010.
Don’t know about you, but I think these women are truly inspirational – I’m off to get my gym kit on!