Misleading odometer

  • Thursday, June 27, 2013

A short time ago I got an email from a special someone in Summerville. It featured a “List of 45 Lessons Life Taught Me” by Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper columnist Regina Brett. The lessons are delightful, thoughtful and incisive – all well worth remembering and sharing. It included a catchy visual, a photo indicating the author and showing a white haired feisty-looking lady all dressed in turquoise, including huge rings. She peered out through massive black rimmed circular eyeglasses. The email said this “List” was her most requested piece of work and as her “odometer rolled over to 90” recently she decided to share the column once more.
Oh, was I impressed! Imagine: 90 years old and still writing newspaper columns. “There’s hope for you,” my husband declared. My odometer hasn’t quite rolled over that far – yet, but mom lived to be 92, so it’s on the possibilities horizon. At any rate, I was so encouraged I decided to try for an interview to learn her secrets for writing longevity.
While I found the Ohio newspaper on the internet with a picture of Regina, she didn’t have white hair or glasses – and looked between 40 and 50. More research led me to discover that she was indeed a long time writer for Buckeye State newspapers, had indeed written that most requested column and in addition was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2009. The only thing she wasn’t was 90!
I read several of her columns online and was again impressed, so I tried to reach this younger – and authentic – Regina as I still sought that interview. But her mailbox was full each time I called until my own deadline loomed. So I had to rely on her blog to find out what happened. She didn’t know how or why this “editing” was done but seemed to have gotten as much feedback from this misleading odometer as she had from her work.
“You don’t look 90,” was the comment she heard most after her age was accelerated on the internet. She initially received dozens of emails a day on the subject. Her favorite was from a fellow who asked if she has a painting of herself “in the attic that is getting really REALLY old looking?” Despite this reference to Dorian Gray, Regina asserted that there was no picture decay going on. She says she then became an Urban Legend right up there with such myths as baby carrots and Wal-Mart flip flops.
For the record, Regina recently turned a mere 53. It doesn’t really matter what age she is as long as she continues to write well and is so relevant. As to her Life Lessons, these especially appealed to me:
“When in doubt, take the next small step.”
“Over prepare, then go with the flow.”
“No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.”
“Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”
If you want to learn more about Regina, her blog is: http://cleveland.com/brett. Read those Life Lessons and share them. They’re worth it.
And I’d like to add one, while still tracking my own odometer.
“If you can keep loving, working and flat out enjoying life until you’re really and truly in your nineties – then by all means, have at it!”

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