Iris Ruth Pastor brought her keen sense of humor and wise insights about women navigating through midlife to Isaac M. Wise Center on Thursday evening, Oct. 24.
The presentation was sponsored by the Wise Temple Sisterhood. Pastor is a long time editor of The American Israelite and is a current columnist. You can read her column monthly in The American Israelite. She is also an author, blogger, and motivational speaker.
Speaking to a largely female audience, Pastor began on a very personal note. She talked about overcoming bulimia and admitted that she used to equate self worth with what she saw when she weighed herself on the bathroom scale.
But she also expressed pride in having raised five rambunctious boys who became men of high ethical standards. Pastor said writing, speaking and receiving feedback from the people she meets are the greatest things that have ever happened to her professionally.
She stated that the key to dealing with aging is to find pleasurable things to do. Pastor then offered a series of what she called actionable suggestions for living life to the fullest.
The first was: Preserving your Bloom. She said women, who often find themselves taking care of others, must use their talents and resources to take care of themselves and become the best version of themselves. She told the audience to embrace humor, calling it an important component of self-care.
Pastor’s next two guidelines were: Forgive Your Younger Self for the Mistakes You Have Made and Stop the Dusting. She read an excerpt from a poem by Rose Milligan: “Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better to paint a picture or write a letter. Bake a cake or plant a seed. Ponder the difference between want and need. Dust if you must but there’s not much time, with rivers to swim and mountains to climb.”
She noted that it’s hard to break out of habits and toss aside the to do list because women, unlike men, are not natural delegators. For that reason, women don’t always find the time to do the things they most desire.
Her next piece of advice was: Embrace the SAG (solitude, attitude and gratitude). She said women need to create a time for positive aloneness, to refill their tank and come back stronger. Pastor also recommends starting small and finding a purpose – something that you’re passionate about or which simply intrigues you. She cited as an example a woman in Florida who took in the homeless friend of her high-school-age son. This small act inspired the woman to wonder if there were other homeless teens in her area. She discovered that there were and helped set up a house in which several of them received shelter, food, clothing, a place to do their homework and a mentoring program.
Pastor also emphasized the need to become more adaptable as you age. She pointed out that there are many things over which you have no control. She said you have to find new and creative ways to do things instead of continuing to use approaches that don’t work.
She added that women, as they reach middle age and beyond, need to recognize different ways of looking at things. When she became a mother-in-law, she remembered the different perspective she had when she was a daughter-in-law.
Pastor’s final guideline was: “Dress Like a Bad-Ass Elder.” That inspiration came from discussions with friends and from paging through fashion photography books featuring women in their older years. Pastor said she learned that older women should dress in their own personal style to bring a bit of cheer to their daily lives. That means wearing age appropriate clothing accented by a special piece of jewelry, a jaunty hat or a colorful scarf or jacket. Her fashion advice includes lowering your high heels, avoiding low-cut tops and giving your teenage daughter or granddaughter an outfit that would look good on them instead of buying it for yourself. She said women of a certain age should emphasize their best physical feature, whatever it might be.