I am feeling so inspired and excited by the many suggestions you left for me while commenting on the last post. I have to say that between the Great Interrupter and Black Lives Matter; I feel like I checked into a rehab center. It’s been like a detox from the consumerist social media world and the need for constant self-promotion I got lost in. Living a “fashionable” life is so much more than the clothes you wear. It’s also how you “wear” your values, experience, and morality. Clothes or other “things” that give us pleasure and values that honor all people and the planet don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It can be a creative challenge to find the intersections.

While I would be naïve to say that resources don’t matter I know you can still live a large life with a smaller amount of resources. In fact, before becoming the Accidental Icon, that was pretty much how I lived. I’ve written before about my “schizo” high/low-class upbringing. This informs who I am and probably accounts for my ability to look luxurious, while wearing secondhand clothing, in a scene of an everyday NYC street in my neighborhood. I think a central question and challenge for me in this time of economic uncertainty is how to generate a “good enough” income while keeping the focus on the people and the planet. It’s a challenge we can meet if we think creatively.

As my “new” profession is one that is part of the “gig” economy and as part of the service economy affected most severely by this recession, I’m back to living as I was before the Accidental Icon. This is the “Great Reminder” the Great Interrupter has taught me. A newfound appreciation for less, a sharper, clearer perspective on what makes up value and quality. An expanded understanding of luxury. During my stint in “rehab” I’ve discovered I’m happy with less. I love being less frantic and busy. I’m consuming less, producing less waste. Given the constraints of having to produce content in my apartment and protect my privacy, I’ve found how to stretch my creativity again within limits. I understand that the most valuable asset I possess is my health and my family, and for that, I am so grateful.

I found an article in Rolling Stone Magazine that gave me a whole fresh perspective on COVID and age. I share it with you here. This article mitigated some physical vulnerability and anxiety I had about leaving the city and the safe harbor Calvin and I created in our apartment to re-connect with my family. It reminded me of the energy I had when I read that magazine in the 70s, of the powerful girl I was. The strong woman I am. The article distinguishes between chronological age and biological age. There are multiple quizzes you can take to determine biological age. Mine is 45. My chronological age is 67. That is where my race and class privilege comes into the picture. Health status for older people depends on race, income, education level, level of stressful occurrences, and other variables.

Stress of any kind affects our health but especially stress from not enough income and racism. For those who have stated in the comments last week a willingness to learn here is an article that addresses how racism is a constant stressor that affects older Black Americans’ health and well-being. I have also been reading that negative thoughts about getting old and being old put you at higher risk for cardiovascular death. And there is plenty of research that shows that clothing and what you wear can positively affect your performance, cognition, and mood. The other side of this is that it can also make you feel bad. It’s all about the meaning you ascribe to it. So rather than others telling us what we should think and how we should live as older persons or any age person, let’s tell others alternative ways they can think about the topics we care about, and already have lots of experience with. As one of you put it in a comment, let’s get clear and loud about what we can bring to this day and to the current conversations about the way things have to change.

My daughter came to pick me up after three months of quarantine and when we hugged we wept. Life is so precious. That’s why when we go out again we need to return to living a life filled with passion, discovery, and respectful recognition of limitations but an expansion and amplification of our strengths. We have so much to share and we should not allow society to make it hard for us to both give and take. These too are not mutually exclusive.

While I experienced stress from not seeing my family during quarantine, the enforced seclusion reduced many other issues causing me daily stress. In the quarantine’s quiet, I realized how stressful the constant noise of the city is. It’s a relief not to deal with jam-packed subway cars and crowds rushing upstairs. The levels of pollution that now make it even harder to breathe with a mask. Calvin and I will look this year to move north and be closer to my daughter.

Let’s start our best life conversation with a conversation about stress and ways we might improve our biological age and build healthy immune systems. 

What causes you stress and how do/can we creatively interrupt the impact it may have on our biological age? What questions about this topic do you have?