Originally Posted on February 27, 2012 by Dr. Gail Feldman
On your road of resilience, it’s never too late to be who you want to be. Yesterday, as part of Black History Month, I had the pleasure of exercising with Ernestine Shephard, 75 year-old world champion body-builder and runner. She’s gorgeous. Beautiful smile, not a wrinkle in sight, chisled muscles, a long braid down her back. As her sister was dying of a brain tumor, Ernestine promised her she would not only become a world-class athlete, but she would travel the world teaching health and fitness, and land in the Guinness Book of Records. She’s done all of that. And she wasn’t exactly young when she started – she was in her fifties. Ernestine has a beautiful body, beautiful mind and beautiful spirit. She is dedicated and determined, radiating love, kindness and encouragement to every person she meets.
Ruth Anne Kocour is a world-class mountaineer, adventurer and author. Recently, I had the great joy of a week of talks, meals and trailing behind her on hikes at Rancho la Puerta, a retreat center in the mountains in Mexico. Ruth Anne has accomplished nine international summits, including one on Mt.KcKinley during a deadly storm that killed 11 climbers from America, Europe and Asia. In spite of frostbite and numerous injuries sustained from her climbs, she continues climbing and trekking in dangerous areas, including journeying through war zones in Pakistan, “in the shadow of the Taliban.” Ruth Anne is in her fifties. This year she’ll go back to Nepal to trek around Mustang, the Tibetan plateau bordering China.
And today, I spoke at a most unusual bridal shower. Holly is 53 and getting married for the first time. Her friends held the celebration at a large art gallery and provided live music with keyboard artist, John Rangel and a local legend, blues singer, Cathy McGill. I told love stories- the great love sagas of the Great Goddesses going back 10,000 years BC. Inanna, “The Queen of Heaven,” in Sumaria; The Goddess, Istar of Babylonia; Isis, in Egypt; and the Goddess of the Earth, Demeter, in Greece- all of them suffered through ritual deaths traveling to the underworld to rescue and restore life to those they loved. They were Warriors for Love, fiercely committed to creating, nurturing and resurrecting life. Exteme suffering is not required to find the treasure on our own Heroine’s journey.
Believing in yourself, plus the passion and commitment to love life, no matter what, is the magic that manifests our desires. Ernestine, Ruth Anne, and Holly illustrate beautifully the words from Cathy McGill’s last song, “It’s never too late to be who you want to be.”