10 Things I Learned From a 91-Year-Old Enchantress

To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow. -- Maya Angelou

Jeanne Bender with her daughter Debbie Rosas

This Mother's Day weekend, I had the most extraordinary experience of talking with a true matriarch who has created a legacy of history in her family through her authentic truth and stories. My friend and colleague, Debbie Rosas created a guided journal called "Keeping Our Mother's Stories Alive" based on the diaries of her mother, Jeanne Bender. For Mother's Day, Debbie hosted an event where she taught a special Nia movement class with the theme of motherhood followed by a reading and Q and A with her mother. I was inspired to my core and had to share the incredible pearls of wisdom from Jeanne, the revolutionary, vivacious, elegant 91-year-old Enchantress!

1 - Intelligence and education are two different things

Jeanne is a brilliant, well read woman who is an expert on many topics. You would never know that she wasn't able to finish high school because of the challenging times during the war. I know this to be true in my own family as my grandmother was incredibly smart and only had a second grade education for exactly the same reason.
2 - True love can happen at first sight
Jeanne only spent time with her husband on six occasions before they were married and they ended up creating an epic love affair that lasted well over 60 years.
3 - Eating Dinner as a family is a sacred ritual- the table serves as a palette for beauty
No matter what was going on, Jeanne would make a formal dinner every night complete with table settings that changed based on the season or her inspiration.
4 - Challenging times in life always bring gifts and important lessons
This is probably one of the most important pearls of wisdom on this list - I agree with Jeanne wholeheartedly on this one and live my life by the motto that "The Gold is in the Grief".
5 - Lingerie is to be worn at all ages
Jeanne's daughter shared a fun memory of when she was wheeling her Dad around in his wheelchair in a lingerie store where he bought a red lingerie set complete with a garter belt for his beloved. (he was in his late 80's at the time)
6 - A vibrant and active sex life in a long term marriage can be infinite
Jeanne shared openly about their beautiful marriage and enduring sex life in a very matter of fact tone basically wondering 'Isn't active and forever sex until any age true for everyone?"
7 - Always try something new
Jeanne started knitting when she was a girl and knitted wool socks for men in the Navy. At 87, she was walking through a store when she noticed a book of patterns to make very intricate dolls. She quickly became an expert at creating these masterpieces and abandoned the patterns to add her own designs with unique and varied themes. She changed the skin color, dress, shoes, ethnicity, jewels and the best part was that each doll had on her own hand knit, sexy underwear.
8 - Stay curious and inquisitive
Jeanne lives her life with her eyes wide open in wonder and curiosity. She made me blush when we were at the event and she whispered to me a question about sex. (of course, I whispered back the answer and will answer publicly on this blog when I am 91)
9 - You can be rich without money
Health, beauty, creativity, family, love... to Jeanne, if you are surrounded by these things you are the richest person.
10 - Keep the gift of family history alive
This revolutionary matriarch has shared all her stories with her family and their guided journal serves as a prompt for the rest of us to do the same. Jeanne's family has really embodied the intention of the "Talk To Me' campaign - sparking conversations within generations of families and keeping the fabric of a family tree alive. Jeanne directed us all to ask our mothers (or Aunts, Sisters, Cousins, Friends) questions over and over again, "ask them to dig deep and share their joys, secrets, pain, dreams?"
Really, Is there anything better than the gift of connection, lineage and love?