Bad Ass

Glorious Broad #12: Elizabeth White

PHOTOS: Scott Pasfield

PHOTOS: Scott Pasfield

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GLORIOUS PROFESSION: Resilience Advocate, Author, Intellectual

GLORIOUS PERSONA: Stylish, Afro-Centric, Truth-Teller

GLORIOUS QUALITIES: Scrappy, Wise, Confident, Worldly

GLORIOUS PHILOSOPHY:

Your net worth really is your network

I love a gutsy Broad. A ballsy Broad. A brazen Broad.

And that in-your-face gumption is what drew me to Elizabeth White.

We met at The Atlantic’s New Old Age conference — and her speech knocked me flat. She talked about being jobless in her mid 50s— after havin' a HELLUVA career. But this time she was unable to “restart” — the way we ALL expect to “restart” — when your job “restructures” — aka, FIRES YOUR ASS. 

Sound familiar??? She suffered: shame, sadness, shock — and the unending grind of being BROKE AF. And then she said ENOUGH. She was sick of acting like everything is normal. Cause everything AIN’T normal. She was tired of faking it … she came clean. 

So she talked about it. She created groups about it … And she wrote about it. 

Her self-published book, 55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal, got covered by PBS, then she did a TEDTalk ... Her genius PR lady? That would be Elizabeth White. Her marketing guru — also Elizabeth White. And her updated second edition was published by Simon & Schuster in January 2019, thank you very much. 

Ebeth's commanding-yet-inviting presence projects “ask me anything.”

And so I did.

THIS QUOTE FROM YOUR BOOK SLAYED ME:
“You know me, I am in your friendship circle, hidden in plain sight. My clothes are still impeccable, bought in the good years when I was still making money. You wouldn’t know that my electricity was cut off, but if you paid attention, you’d see the sadness.”

I’VE BEEN THERE. YOU’VE BEEN THERE. SO MANY OVER 50’s HAVE BEEN THERE. TELL US ABOUT THE PAIN — THE SHAME …
I was in my mid 50s when the great recession happened. And from there, it all went downhill. The robust network — decimated. I am used to racism and sexism but now there was the new ism of age — and age discrimination changes your whole experience.

HOW DID YOU GET GOING ON YOUR “RESTART” …
I’ve had a life and career of restarts — I worked for the pillars of capitalism, then started my own Afrocentric lifestyle chain with stores in DC, Philadelphia, and NYC. But THIS was my biggest restart. When I got no traction, I got interested in starting a new career working with at-risk youth. So I did what I do: wrote letters/shook networks — NOTHING. I thought it would be a cool re-invention story …

OH! THOSE EASY-PEASY RE-INVENTION STORIES ARE TOTAL BS. REAL RE-INVENTION IS EFFING HARD WORK! SURE, IT CAN HAPPEN — BUT I’M SO TIRED OF THE BANKER TURNED PASTRY CHEF FAIRY TALE
And when I tried to pivot and couldn't, when this latest search failed, I was in deepest despair.

Around that time I wrote an article for NEXT Avenue about what I was going through. It was then that my path to resilience was paved. It went viral.

LEAD US DOWN THIS PATH...
1.     First you’re “Fine”
2.    Then a catastrophic “event” happens (GB: like you lose your fucking job)
3.    You begin to define life “before X happened” – “after X happened”
4.    Then you wander the wilderness
5. Then – the glimmer flickers — for me, the NEXT essay

If you don’t pay attention or you become cynical — you won’t see that flicker. It’s a train coming at you — not a light at the end of the tunnel.

But I looked up — I saw the flicker — the reaction to my article showed me that I have the background, experiences, and discoveries to share a book — an inexpensive book filled with light.

AND WHAT ARE THOSE DISCOVERIES? WHAT IS THAT LIGHT?
That there is liberation in letting go and coming clean. And remember: IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. That doesn’t mean you made perfect decisions — I did a bunch of dumb things when I had money …

LETTING GO OF THE SHAME IS A BITCH …
Oh please — my Harvard MBA couldn’t make the case. And I found myself in this emotional place at 57? Double loser!

SO, WHAT’S NEXT?
Now I am interested in a bigger picture —and thinking ahead in this different financial climate. Frugal innovation, learning from developing countries, $2,000 cars, tiny houses and — always — resilient circles.

AFRICA PLAYS A BIG PART IN YOUR STORY AND HOW YOU PRESENT YOUR FABULOUS SELF TO THE WORLD …
I worked in different parts of Africa with the World Bank for 12 years. Then, I was Chief Operating Officer of an economic non-profit focused on Africa. After that I sold products from Africa for my decorative home store. So — always — Africa …

If you don’t pay attention or you become cynical — you won’t see that flicker. It’s a train coming at you — not a light at the end of the tunnel.

WHAT WAS A FAVORITE TIME IN YOUR LIFE?
When my family moved from Libya to Italy. I LOVED the values, the style. Late trains, who cares. But a bad risotto now that’s a disaster.  Love that about Italy. I was there from 7th to 10th grades — and I’d stop traffic. I felt so appreciated for my ethnic beauty …

ARE YOU A WOMAN’S WOMAN?
I’m going to quote Mary Pipher’s here— and say “women friends are mental health insurance.”

ANY DESIRE TO BE 20 AGAIN?
No. I think of that 20 year-old with tenderness. Vulnerable. Experimenting. I am none of those things now.

DO YOU FEEL FREER AS YOU GET OLDER?
I am standing on the cusp of possibility. And financially too. So, yes.

HAS HAPPINESS CHANGED FOR YOU?
I am not seeking happiness as much as contentment. I love my work —it’s clear. It’s certain. And I can contribute.

WHAT DOES BEING GLORIOUS MEAN TO YOU?
Glorious feels full. Present. Clear, with direction and self direction.

Now, that’s a ballsy broad who has plenty to say about resilience, living frugally and living — GLORIOUSLY.

For more truth-telling, follow Ebeth @55fakingnormal and email her at fakingnormal@yahoo.com. Unemployed and Faking Normal is available on Amazon. And it rocks.

Glorious Broad #6: Patrice Wynne

Photos by Sarah Kjelleren

Photos by Sarah Kjelleren

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GLORIOUS PROFESSION: Entrepreneur. Owner/Creator at Abrazos. Writer

GLORIOUS PERSONA: A Free, Gutsy, Jubilant Glorious Broad

GLORIOUS QUALITIES: Wise, Sensuous, Joyful, Exuberant


GLORIOUS FACT: At 60, Patrice created a list called “104 Qualities I Want in a Partner.” Friends told her "The chances of finding a man with these qualities are the same as finding a unicorn."  Two months later, she met that “Unicorn.” Six weeks later, he proposed. Like Lola, whatever Patrice wants, Patrice gets…

GLORIOUS PHILOSOPHY: “I have an internal message system now: I’m running out of decades,  I’m running out of decades. It’s pushing me to create more, dare more.” 

GB: I got to know Patrice — theoretically — over cafecito with her man, Ernesto, in Mexico. He rhapsodized about the woman: He respects her, loves her, protects her, delights in her but understands that she needs her freedom — and he lets her fly. They shared a grown up sexy love. I needed to get to know this lady as I met her briefly at a café in San Miguel. She was like a bolt of lightning aimed at me — her force, style and energy were palpable. I followed up with a visit to her boutique. Now, I am not a shopper, yet I walked out with armfuls of aprons, shirts and, well, stuff I didn’t know I “needed.” The woman has talent. We stayed in touch and became friends during her visits to New York. She loves New York as she loves so many things — with exuberance, curiosity and an urge to MAKE STUFF HAPPEN. A dinner date with the Glorious Broad Patrice Wynne featured plenty of guffawing at an outdoor café in the West Village …

A BON VIVANT — MEXICAN STYLE...

WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER, DID YOU IMAGINE YOU WOULD BE THE GLORIOUS BROAD YOU ARE TODAY?
All I wanted as a girl was to be OUT of Pennsylvania. I thought I would live in New York, instead, I live in Mexico. I have good instincts — always have — about self-preservation, having goals and following my heart. Which is WHY I live in Mexico.

YOU'VE ALWAYS BEEN MOVING, MOVING, MOVING — AND CREATING ...
I moved to California when I was 19 — and to Mexico when I was 50. I’ve lived in three geographies: East coast, west coast, south of the border. So, the movement takes place mostly inside me to go where I can create. And the inspiration to create in Mexico is alive everywhere. The very essence of this culture is entrepreneurial. 

HOW HAS “HAPPINESS” CHANGED FOR YOU DURING THE YEARS?
You know, I think it has been the same for me. I think of myself as naturally joyous. I love spending time alone, even though I am hugely social. When I was growing up, my happiest moments of childhood were being alone in my bedroom — drawing, making my own journals, clipping fashion photographs, reading biographies of women. I like to be in my own creative space — then, making it real in the world!  That brings me great joy. 

HULLOOOO! You created a mega successful bookstore in Berkeley, California, then you moved to Mexico at age 50 and created Abrazos, a boutique that’s all about exuberant fashion celebrating women — Frieda Kahlo being a fave. It may be embarrassingly trendy but … you visualized it girlfriend!
Well, yeah, I guess I did...I did. I did. I did.

I am surprised about how my legs look — but they’ll look worse in 10 years — so I better enjoy them today.

SO, WHY MEXICO?
Moving to Mexico was the biggest risk I have ever taken. Saying goodbye to the community that I had loved in California. But I had to after I closed my bookstore in Berkeley. I could not infuse my life with a new dream until I restructured the setting I was in. When I came to San Miguel it was all about reinvention, it was about experiencing a different culture and having a totally different experience. 

WAS IT AN EPIPHANY?
It was. When I arrived in San Miguel I thought, I want this and I will do whatever it takes to live this big new dream: sell the house, get rid of accumulated stuff, put what I treasure into a van and cross the border, inner and outer, never to return again. 

TALK ABOUT A RESTART BUTTON! DO YOU FEEL A FREEDOM AS YOU GET OLDER?
Having that balance between giving to others, giving to ourselves, telling ourselves the truth, telling others the truth, managing time more wisely — not giving it away. When you do that — suddenly your body is more energized, you’re a happier person. You are having a more creative life.

HAVE YOU EVER BOUGHT INTO THAT IDEA OF AN EXPIRATION DATE ON YOUR CAREER, ON YOUR LOOKS, ON YOUR VITALITY, ANY OF THAT?
I would say on career, no. Because I am an entrepreneur at heart. If I had one penny, I would start my own business, no matter what age I was. But the physical — well, all this stuff — energy, looks, hair, body — it’s all becoming something of its own at this age. Of course, we have negative thoughts and scary thoughts. But you can’t cling to them. That’s a cancer of the brain. My wiser self knows: I am surprised about how my legs look today — but they’ll look worse in 10 years — so you better enjoy them today.

(Lots of chuckles between bites)

BRING IT ON...

Bring it on!

AND IT'S ACCEPTING ...
Yeah, and it’s not looking back. You gotta look reality in the face, and you have got to look towards the future. 

IT'S TRUE. BUT YOU'RE IN MEXICO. IT'S A VERY DIFFERENT CULTURE THERE, ISN'T IT? ABOUT BEING OLDER AND BEING ...
Well, it’s a different culture with age. There is courtesy and kindness extended towards elder people here. In San Miguel, there are a lot of older people so you are not being compared to younger people all of the time. Just the opposite. When I say to friends: “I am turning 64 — now that’s a marker” — and they say” “you’re a baby…come on…” I really have to say, it gives you a different perspective on your own age! 

SO WHAT DOES BEING GLORIOUS MEAN TO YOU?
Being fearless and free — I do love my F words: Fearless. Friendship. Freedom. Flaneur. Fashionista. Fiesta. Fun. Food.

GB: We're adding Fucking ...

Did I mention Patrice was joyful? Oh, yeah. She travels all over the Globe, writes, runs her boutique, Abrazos. Check her out at http://sanmigueldesigns.com/  or on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sanmiguelpatrice

Glorious Broad #2: Janis Dardaris

Photos by Leah Runyon

Photos by Leah Runyon

GLORIOUS PROFESSION: Actress

AGE: FU_AGE!

GLORIOUS PERSONA: A No Bullshit Glorious Broad

GLORIOUS QUALITIES: Brutally Frank, Hilarious, Poetic, Profound

GLORIOUS PHILOSOPHY:

Getting older – it’s the freedom to say that I own myself – I am who I am and this is IT. I am not sure if I had it in my 40s but I definitely got it in my 50s. 50s are great.

GB: I was at a reading for a friend’s play when I spotted this glorious lioness across the crowded room — pepper and salt mane, all rough glamor — WHO IS THAT WOMAN!!??

A couple of vodkas later at the after-theatre party, I forgot about her —  until I jumped the elevator to return home. Who was my sole companion? The lioness. It was the middle of winter but she had a bike and a ‘tude to convince me we were in the middle of a summer heat wave. I’m a biker, I love heat and the deal was sealed.

 I call Janis’s face exotic. She calls it “RBF: Resting Bitch Face.” That “look” has got her into a heap of trouble — and won her a lot of demanding roles. Big surprise: she’s an actress.

Way impressed by her brutally frank, hilarious attitude, GB shares an embarrassment of riches over a few martinis — from sex to acting to aging — from our ‘no bullshit’ Glorious BroadJanis Dardaris …

 

BLINDERS BEGONE
“When I first got into acting — that’s the last thing any parent wants their child to do — and I said: fuck it, I’m doin’ it. And I had blinders on for 45 years.”

“You know that thing that George Bernard Shaw said: youth is wasted on the young? I don’t agree. When you’re young, youth is all you have. The passion of youth. The beauty of youth. I was so uncertain. That’s why I put the blinders on. Now my blinders are off and I’m ... aaaaaaaaaaah ... this is such a better time of life.”

V IS FOR VULNERABLE
“I basically don’t give a shit about what people think of me.  I’m not worried about the stuff I used to worry about. I used to have this tough exterior and I wouldn’t let them see my vulnerability. That’s changed.”

“It would be really dangerous — too dangerous — if we were as smart as we are now and as self-accepting and we looked like we did when we were in our 30s. I think the world would blow up. Or, maybe it wouldn’t ...”

BE UNBORED
“I have never been attracted to a normal man, but I don’t think that I'm very attracted to normalcy. It makes me bored. I always say: beat me, do anything but don’t bore me. I am completely helpless in the face of boredom.“

Sometimes I think about – am I gonna want to have sex in my 90s? Just because – I want to still be a life force

BROADS ARE BUDDHIST TOO
“There is such a thing as karma. I learned that you do wrong things and it will come back to you. Karma is a real thing. I never believed it. You take from the universe and don’t give back — it is what you will sow.”

FU AGE
“Aging gracefully: mind your own business. Whose saying this: aging gracefully — as opposed to what — getting your face hacked away at? I’ve never been a particularly graceful person. I don’t like the term. It feels like I will have to keep my mouth shut and be quiet — and wise. Fuck that. We have as much passion as we ever did. And I have even more opinions.

Let’s age with a sense of humor, a sense of irony … and generosity.”

GB: Now that sounds like aging GLORIOUSLY, girlfriend!

Janis Dardaris, Actress, Acting Coach, was named a Philadelphia legend in Thomas Nickel’s book “Legendary Locals of Center City Philadelphia.” Nickels spelled her last name wrong on page 57. Janis thinks the misspelling’s kinda funny. That's the Buddhism talking.

 

 

Glorious Broad #1: Maryjane Fahey

PHOTO: CHRISTOPER SCALZI / DISTILLED STUDIO

PHOTO: CHRISTOPER SCALZI / DISTILLED STUDIO

GLORIOUS PROFESSION: Writer, Maker, Designer of — lots of stuff

GLORIOUS PERSONA: Landing on Her Feet — Yet Again — She Will Prevail!

GLORIOUS QUALITIES: Eternal Optimist, Up for a Drink, Or a Trip, Or a 50 Mile Bike Ride

GLORIOUS PHILOSOPHY:

It is never too late. Period. End of story.

A little bit about me, the founder of GB. I declare myself GB #1. Why not? Let’s cozy up together … shall we?

WHAT MAKES YOU A GLORIOUS BROAD?
Ummm. I’m funny. I keep it real. I'm not a spring chicken, but I'm not done clucking either. Hahaha. I love and support fabulousness. And I was a late bloomer. I’m still blooming. I think this is key to staying curious.

WHEN DID YOU GET HIP TO “THE MEANING OF LIFE" AND ALL THE POSSIBILITIES OUT THERE?
Meaning of life is a tall order but — I’m gonna say i had an “awakening” around 45. All came together. And then it exploded again. Then it all came together. See what I mean? It’s an ongoing process. It may explode again tomorrow …

DO YOU FEEL FREER AS YOU AGE?
So much so! I don’t care what the world may think about me…except for you, fellow GBs! And that took 45 years ... but hey...

I want to see age fear mongering and rigidity about our ROLES as women become a thing of the past in my lifetime. Talk about glorious ...

WHAT DO YOU CARE ABOUT AS YOU GET OLDER?
Loving better. Loving my people better. Loving strangers and new friends better. Loving the earth better. Making the most of the gifts that I was lucky enough to receive. Not wasting — anything. Enjoying my ambition — but — making the time to deeply enjoy doing not much too. This is a big difference. I was a serious workaholic from 30 on. My 20’s were another whole story …

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS IN LIFE — LOOKING BACK?
Whenever I took a chance and followed my guts.

ARE YOU A FEMINIST?
I grew up in a matriarchy: a grandmother, mother, 5 sisters — and my poor neglected dad and brother living in one tiny house. Girls ruled. However, I saw my mother lose her power as she got older: no purpose once we flew the coop. I vowed to have a powerful, independent life at age 8. So. Yes. I am a feminist.

WHY DID YOU CREATE GLORIOUS BROADS?
This project, Glorious Broads, has been germinating in me for at least 3 decades. I cannot leave the house without meeting another Glorious Broad.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
My beautiful friends — some of them — are obsessed with aging. It made me sad — and frustrated. I wanted to try to open up their point of view. Make them look forward to the decades ahead with confidence, courage, grace, passion, sexiness, power, wisdom, thankfulness and wit. Let go of fear. What the fuck? Let your face match your hands please. I am NOT putting down women who get a tuck. Do your thing! I am saying – do it — but learn to do it with pleasure, not with fear …

And I want those young'uns to see the imaginative, open, spectacular lives GBs are living.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE A GB?
They are the kind of women — always — that make me say: I WANNA BE HER. They are SAGES...not saints. And they’re all excellent drinking pals ...

ANYTHING ELSE?
Yes. I want to see age fear mongering and rigidity about our ROLES as women of all ages become a thing of the past in my lifetime. Talk about glorious ... It's such horseshit that our culture tries to dictate that older women can't be smokin' hot, or cool, or on top of their game. That's not my experience, and not the experience of so many of the GBs I meet. It's about being yourself, myself, my true, weird, wonderful self and seeing where that goes. And where it goes is all over the place, but FAR from ageist stereotypes of the mild mannered, useless ol' lady. So fuck that. And cheers to Glorious Broads everywhere — self included!

Maryjane is on her 5th reinvention. But who’s counting? She was a designer, published author, now an editor, writer, future playwright, future sculptor – and the list goes on  … For now she primarily enjoys her brainchild, Glorious Broads, and  can't wait to see where it leads her — and us …