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Strength

— Life —

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When I was in middle school I wore coke bottle glasses, braces on my teeth and my hair looked like someone had placed a bowl over my head and traced its shape with a pair of scissors. If that wasn’t bad enough my mother insisted I wear matronly dresses that hung midway between my knees and my calves. Halfway through an unairconditioned, Texas school day, those dreaded dresses were wet under the arms and the edges were ringed with a white circle of sweat and deodorant. I looked like I’d been hit with an ugly stick. I never told anyone, but secretly, I wanted to look like Elizabeth Taylor.

Since then a part of me has wanted to be like Elizabeth Taylor: a brave, badass woman.

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— Life —

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Not long ago I suggested to a friend, who is divorced and over 50, that she might try changing the conversation in her head from empty nest to my nest. Like many women who’ve lived a big part of their life for their family, now that she’s single and her children have left home, she’s feeling alone. Well girlfriend… I think you’re well on your way to figuring this alone thing out.

Would you believe my friend went to Morocco for a month by herself?

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— Life —

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When I was a kid we seldom went to church unless my grandmother came to visit. I never went to vacation bible school, or understood the difference between the Old and the New Testament, or why I should have a relationship with God, and for much of my young life I thought it was significant that God spelled backwards was dog. Of course it didn’t occur to me that God spelled backwards in other languages like French or Spanish meant nothing.

But as I got older the concept of believing in God frightened me.

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— Life —

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One of my favorite women is someone I’ve never met in-person. Until we spoke on the phone, I’ve known Sandra Sallin only from the comments we leave on one another’s blogs and Instagram accounts. Even so, her joie de vivre and determination to live life to the fullest, regardless of what’s placed in her path, comes shining through.

“I feel the urge to do whatever adventure comes my way, now, while I can.”

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— Life —

PHOTOGRAPHS ©RANKIN
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If you’re on Instagram you may have seen women over 50, 60 and 70, putting their best selves in front of the camera on a daily basis. Many are professional models while others are fashion bloggers, hoping you’ll like what they’re wearing and will purchase it through them, plus they’re hoping brands will collaborate with them. I think most of the women I see on Instagram feel great about themselves, and they’re old enough to have accumulated a sense of self-esteem. It’s the teenage girls there who concern me. So many of them look alike. Let me rephrase that… 

So many of them want to look alike, but they have yet to learn what makes them special and unique.

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— Life —

BRENDA COFFEE, AGE 23, AT THE OCEAN CLUB, PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS. Photograph by Philip Ray.
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Poetry has never been my strong suit, but today I found a poem I wrote decades ago. I was old enough to have experienced deep loss and overwhelming fear, and yet, I had an inner strength and resilience. If nothing else, I’ve always been resilient. Since then I’ve discovered the answers to most of the questions I posed in my poem. Some of my assumptions were wrong, particularly the one about God, plus now I know dessert is always worth the calories, and when in doubt… overdress.

Wishing each one of you a happy and healthy New Year filled with love, forgiveness and optimism.

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