In Hollywood, as leading men get older, their love interests remain the same (young) age. And in media, the faces gracing the covers of magazines get younger over time. The beauty industry makes more money on anti-aging products than any other category. Americans spend more than $16B on cosmetic and plastic surgery in the span of a year. And youth culture has become synonymous with pop culture.
These are just a few examples of the ways our cultural power dynamics have shifted from older is wiser to youth is everything. Complex knowledge that could once only be learned through decades of study and experience can now be Wikipedia-ed on your phone in seconds. The result? An irrefutable understanding that a woman, especially, has the most value in her youth—and a cultural willingness to discard the wisdom and value that comes with age.
As Jere Daniel writes in Psychology Today, “We develop negative stereotypes about aging by the time we are six years old, the same age we develop negative stereotypes about race and sex.”
So, how do we de-program some of this negativity? I’d like to start by celebrating the rituals and wisdom that age earns us.
Enter Lee Emmer, my 91-year-old grandmother—and one of the most vibrant people I have ever known… Spend a few minutes soaking up her wisdom and you might start to reconsider your own fears of aging. After all, as she’s quick to remind me, “The narrative that beautiful only happens at 16 years old is coming from people who want to sell products, it’s not real. We just have to nourish the body and let our natural beauty shine through at any age.”
Ahead, some practical—and spiritual—guidance to help you live your own best life, effective immediately.
How did you learn how to care for your body?
“I was in my 50s, I had travelled all over the world, had a big social life and had eaten everything! Then I started to feel awful; nothing I ate agreed with me. I went to the doctor and he was ready to get me on a bunch of pills, but nothing was really wrong with me, so I knew I had to find my own way to feel better. First I went on a macrobiotic diet that I stayed on for six years, eating brown rice, seaweed, vegetables, and no meat or dairy. Then I switched to Ayurvedic for a while. I’ve just self educated. I’ve been through so many cycles because every year there is some nutritionist coming out with a new idea, and I try them all! It’s a process of learning all the time. All you can know is are you feeling better? If not, move on to the next thing.”
What advice do you have for people today who are trying to up their wellness game?
“First, eat for nourishment and clean out the system! As a society we really have to get back to healthy home cooking with lots of vegetables. Remember: Anything that comes in a package is not nourishment! I also do colonics every few months, as all diseases start in your colon. If you’re lucky enough to be relatively healthy, avoid elective medications, because they all have side effects that manifest over time. And finally, do what brings you joy! I eat a little bit of an 85% raw cacao bar every day and I [feel great about it]. It has its benefits.”
How do you think about the future?
“You know, there should be a better word for death. I don’t fear it, because it’s a new plateau that we’re all going to go to. It’s a new adventure. There is such a stigma around death—it’s just unreal! If you’re lucky enough to have full life then we should be thankful, and look to the future with excitement and happiness about the next planet that we are going to go to.”
Grandma’s 4 Daily Rituals For A More Vibrant Life
Start Every Day With A Green Tonic
Grandma Lee: “Every morning I make my ‘magic potion’ of green juice to give me energy, curb my appetite for junk food, and start the day feeling great. I’ve been drinking it every morning for ten years! I like to make it myself so that I can drink it as soon as it’s made. If you let it sit, it starts to lose its nutritional value.”
The recipe: Celery, cucumber, ginger, fresh turmeric root, sunflower sprouts and pea green sprouts. Don’t have a juicer? (Eek me either!) Grandma recommends blending these ingredients with some leafy greens like kale or chard, and throwing in some fresh fruit for flavor.
Clear Your Mind Through Meditation
Grandma Lee: “I have been practicing Transcendental Meditation twice a day since 1975! There’s a deep quietness that goes through your body when you meditate that strengthens your nervous system, and feels so good. I never skip because it’s just a part of my routine, like brushing my teeth. I think everyone should do it, we’d have less problems in the world, that’s just my opinion!”
Stretch The Body With Yoga
“I’ve been doing yoga for 30 years, and I currently take one yoga class and one pilates class a week, along with long walks every day.”
“Until recently, I started every morning with a headstand (at age 90 I retired to shoulder stands!). Turning your body upside down is so beneficial for your whole physiology, because moving your weight in a different direction helps to re-circulate your blood.”
Put Only Natural Ingredients On Your Face
“My rule for beauty is simple, read the labels on whatever you put on your face just like you do on your food. The more natural the better. Aloe for example is an incredible ancient healer. How I decided to put it on my face is beyond me, I don’t know, but it’s been used for centuries so it must work! Aloe has a very healing component if you can get it raw or organic, you can put it in your smoothie or on your skin. Always look out for the natural remedies, they are the best ones.”