“It is one thing to study war and another to live the warrior’s life.” Telamon of Arcadia, 5th Century BC
This is the saying that leads my profile on the online dating site Zoosk. Being ex-military, and training like a banshee up to three hours a day or more, as well as taking on genuinely difficult athletic endeavors from climbing very big mountains to riding weeks on end in extreme conditions in Central Asia and Iceland, I might know a thing or two about a warrior’s life. I endure deprivations, awful weather, illness, lack, sometimes no food, sometimes shit food, sometimes the shits, sometimes horrific injuries. I’ve traveled for days on end with multiple nasty weeping wounds in my right side, days away from even the most basic of Third World clinics.
I’ve gotten up off the hard Central Asian ground after breaking my back in four places, gotten back on my horse, thought better of it, and then spent five days in a Russian hospital eating strange congealed white shit with cold margarine on top. And threw it up. To me, it’s all in a day’s work. I don’t travel to Peninsula Valdez in Argentina to stand on at the railings with a huge orange lifesaver around my turkey wattle neck and look at a Southern Right Whale. I am in the kayak at sea level, watching from the water. I don’t look at half-wild Arabian horses and back away, I leap on their backs and run like the wind, as they were made to do, through the Egyptian dunes, towards the purpling mountains at sunset.
That is my LIFE. It doesn’t need embellishment.
I happen to enjoy it. Most folks wouldn’t. That doesn’t make anyone wrong, or less than. We simply choose differently. Just as most women my vintage chose marriage and kids. I didn’t. They’re not wrong and neither am I.
I’m in my mid-sixties. Let’s be clear. I didn’t even really start doing most of these things until after I climbed Kilimanjaro the year I turned sixty. Within seven months I’d done Macchu Picchu and the Everest Base Camp. After that I was hooked. I found a brand new life, brand new clients, and now spend two to three months a year doing what a great many folks dream about but never ever do. I pay a hard price at times, but that’s a warrior’s life. You pays your money and you takes your chances.
Let’s be clear here: I’m not rich. I’m not lucky. I’m not some uber-athlete. I am average, at best. Just determined. Whatever this life entails, it’s hard-won.
I use the inevitable failures and flops I experience on my adventures as story fodder in my training programs, my speeches and my articles to inspire. That live-out-loud life is a canvas for losing, learning, and evolving especially after a Certain Age. It’s not a brag fest. However,
It ain’t bragging if you’ve done it. And frankly, I LOVE it when a woman owns her geography, is proud of what she’s accomplished, because that inspires me. Whether she’s sixteen or seventy, her accomplishments are the juice that keeps me going. Women who rock are a GIFT. Because this:
No matter how old we are, no matter where we are on our journey, those women who risk, who push, who continue to explore provide us with the stories that move us all forward. ALL of us.
Need a little inspiration? Here you are:
We take a look at some of the greatest female revolutionary pioneers through time; women who changed the world as we…
These women, among many others, opened the floodgates, paid the prices, and set the bar. Because of many of them, I do what I do today. So do many, many other women vastly more accomplished than I am.
So, this last night:
The comment from a man on Zoosk was blatantly snide, dripping with condescension, and ended with the derisive comment directed at me:“Sugar Lips.”
The man was in full dress whites (he was well past his military service) but some folks never get beyond the chest-pounding. He was hiding in his dusty man-cave, behaving like a pissed-off moray eel, biting at whatever floated by online.
Look, I’m well aware that people embellish their profiles. I am well aware that folks are dishonest about their weight, age and accomplishments. It is an unfortunate habit. Just ask any of us who met folks who turned out to be a bit different than advertised. It is, sadly, the norm rather than the exception.
I don’t have to lie. The photos are accurate, the stories real, the experiences fully legitimate. If anything, understated. All you have to do is ask my guides, my tour operators, the folks who headed up the mountain or out on the water or out on the trail with me.
People wonder at times why I have no patience for old men.
Men who were old before they were thirty.
Men who are so threatened by a powerful woman that their only response is derision. Attack. Laughter. Spite. Bile.
And above all, men whose self-worth is so tender that they doubt that any woman, most especially a woman of my vintage, could possibly do what I do. Still do. Am continuing to do while this guy trolls on line from his sagging couch in his basement, where he doesn’t have to deal with the damage he creates.
I have considerable empathy for most folks in any condition in life. Aging, disabled, people of color, those with any kind of challenge. I deal with disabilities myself, so of course I can relate. People who have self doubts (we all do), discomforts, fears, all of it. It is the human condition to struggle with our limitations and our creeping boundaries. It is also our human potential to erase them. Those who erase them set the bar for the rest of us. Remind us of what’s possible.
Where I get off the bus is with abusers. Attackers. Vicious trollers. Hate mongers. People with nothing better to do than to go after supremely talented people (and thank you I do not count myself at that level) because they apparently feel that those accomplishments are a damning statement about their own lack of character, competence and achievements.
Kinda, it is, when your response isn’t to celebrate, but to defecate on those accomplishments.
Again. It ain’t bragging if you’ve done it. How unfortunate that people — of any age or background — mock or attack the achievements of powerful women (or anyone else for that matter, but I’m addressing women here in particular).
Superbly talented women who go out and ski lines that very few men can ski.
Women who send climbs that very few human beings can complete:
Teenagers ski to the pole while fat, angry old men want them to make ’em a sandwich:
When internet trolls told this record-breaking teen explorer to 'make a sandwich,' she did just…
She posted a photo of her holding a plate with a ham and cheese sandwich. "I made you a sandwich ... now ski 37 days…
Perhaps the greatest athlete of our time Serena Williams, and her sister, own tennis, and are the prime targets for every insecure, racist asshole (male AND female, including fellow tennis player Sharapova who attacked her thick arms and legs, so righteous asshole status is hardly limited to men):
Serena Williams is constantly the target of disgusting racist and sexist attacks
Serena Williams, who's widely considered the greatest woman tennis player ever, has made history again: Monday, she…
Or this over-70 female snowboarding instructor:
The examples, sadly, are endless.
Grow a backbone, guys. Grow. A. Backbone.
The kind of emotionally mature backbone that allows for others- women and everyone else- to have the right to rise. That’s not an insult to you or anyone else. It’s a statement about humanity’s endless capacity for growth. When someone achieves, when someone overcomes, that touches everyone.
In precisely the same way that Roger Bannister’s four minute mile opened the floodgates for all who came after. The two hour marathon is about to go the same way. Someone has to do it- that shows the rest of us mere mortals the way forward.
The accomplishments of these extraordinary athletes — and those of us who aspire to push ourselves — lift us ALL up. They are a message of what we can all become if we give ourselves permission, if we challenge the limiting thoughts that drag us down.
My anger has to do with the wholly unnecessary viciousness of these attacks. It speaks to the immaturity, the self-righteousness of people who cannot countenance female achievement.
Or Black achievement. Or Asian or disabled or Hispanic or any other damned thing. But again, I’m primarily addressing women here.
As I once again navigate the shark-infested waters of online dating, express my preference to date younger athletic men, and I dare to list a few of the things I love to do, I put myself squarely into the crosshairs of those deeply insecure, angry old men who take my accomplishments and preferences as a personal insult or simply argue that what I claim can’t be real — because they didn’t do it. Kindly….
Not about you. Never was and never will be. The opportunity to rise is in front of every single one of us. Don’t like your condition? Change it. Don’t like your life? Change it. Your life short on accomplishments? Then….
Go make a difference in the world. Use all that angry energy to make yourself valuable. Raise the bar. Mentor. Inspire. Uplift. Coach. Rediscover what and you can be. Serve. That is just as available to you as it is to me or anyone else. Every one of us is needed in the world. I am right now staying in Bali with people who are working hard to make the world a better place in their own unique ways. When you choose to rise you honor not only yourself but all of us. Nobody is preventing you from doing just that.
Best single example I can think of? Jimmy Carter.
The un-celebrity president: Jimmy Carter shuns riches, lives modestly in his Georgia hometown
Jimmy Carter finishes his Saturday night dinner, salmon and broccoli casserole on a paper plate, flashes his famous…
Carter is still pounding nails in Habitat for Humanity houses. That is a hero.
While we have a president (he doesn’t deserve capitalization) who legitimizes hate speech and rape culture, Carter personifies dignity, honor, grace, service, faith. He’s living a warrior’s life on his own terms at 94.
Want some inspiration from warrior women who don’t happen to be celebrities?
6 Inspirational Older Women You Need to Know
Whenever I ask the women in the Sixty and Me Community to tell me about some of the inspirational older women in their…
We are everywhere. And thanks, we should not have to apologize for what makes any of us, at any age, extraordinary.
So, online gentlemen of a Certain Age, what are you doing with YOUR life? What would make your life a warrior’s life? What are you willing to do to uplift others, which in turn, can uplift you?
We can be heros and sheroes at any age. With any infirmity. With any challenge. That’s what I love about risk-takers, no matter who they are.
As for the rest of those remarkable, live-out loud women who provide such extraordinary and unapologetic examples of what’s possible for the rest of us, Shout it from the rooftops, ladies. The rest of us need to hear your stories. We need your examples. The rest of us are watching, learning, and