Be Inspired to Age Actively: Deborah Szekely at 91
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
“Not only must we not move less as we age. In fact, we must move more!” So warns Deborah Szekely, the 91 year old founder of the Golden Door and Rancho la Puerta fitness resorts.
As a guest presenter at the Ranch the other week, I had the chance to hear Deborah speak about her life, wellness passions, and big visions for our country’s health. She had me with her opening statement. If ever there was a living testament to the benefits of living an active, healthy, socially conscious life, Deborah is the “It” woman! I want to be as mentally and physically sharp as she when I hit 70, much less 91! I wouldn’t mind being as rich and influential either, come to think of it. (If you haven’t heard of her or Rancho la Puerta, click on the link of her name above. You’ll be amazed at what she’s created).
How do you picture yourself at 91? What are you willing to do today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life to be all you can be as you whuff out more birthday candles each year? Let’’s face it — body parts start to hurt. Joints start talking and won’t shut up. Yakkity yak, want my young joints back. What wisdom, experience, and clever tricks can we call upon to stay active while acknowledging physical realities? (You all can turn to our YouTube videos for answers to this question).
A story Deborah shared highlighted her point about needing to find ways to move more as life advances us. She had just downsized from her three-story house of 59 years to a much smaller, one-story home. Makes sense that she no longer wanted to roam about in a big space with lots of stairs and upkeep. (As a baby boomer who just moved into a brand new home after spending almost 9 years in a little cabin during a long construction process, I am not thinking of downsizing … yet. But I can well imagine going to a one-story home again in 20-25 years).
You’d think that at 91, Deborah would be ready to ease up a bit in her new digs. Instead, this tiny, little bitty package of energy strapped on a pedometer at her former palace to get a feel for how many daily steps she took getting up, down, ‘round about. Then she did the same at her new place. “Now to figure out how to make up the difference,” she concluded. BAM! Not where I thought she was going with her story. But is that inspirational, or what??!!
Yes, she saw a built-in slowdown coming and actively searched for ways to keep moving forward, not back. One of her solutions was to go from two to six Pilates classes per week. Another was to add more walks into her day — through the neighborhood, to the grocery store, to the nearby park. As she put it, “I have a lot I still want to accomplish yet strongly feel the urgency of time.”
What do you still want to accomplish in your life? How much energy will you need for that? How will you make up for any “downsizing” that occurs, literally or metaphorically? As for me, I plan to haul my hiney to the Ranch next year. I want to hear Deborah speak again when she hits 92 and tells us how her plan to organize a Wellness March on Washington is coming along.
For now, please enjoy some of my pics from Rancho la Puerta — one of my key happy, active places for life!
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