By Margo T Krasne
It has been 11 months since my partial lockdown due to COVID-19 began. I say partial because I have left my apartment for walks, doctor visits, and over the summer—before the predicted fall resurgence—occasionally lunched at an outdoor restaurant or had a “6-foot apart chat” with a friend in the park. I am one of the lucky ones. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and friends to talk with via Facetime. I am also 83. Live alone. And have COPD.
Despite the hours spent glued to the news as well as in my kitchen—a room that has seen more of me these last 11 months than in the past 11 years, I have produced five short YouTube videos, a book of short stories, articles on aging, and I’ve just completed a three-month stint of often sixteen-hour days during which I directed 29 videos with 69 lawyers for a virtual seminar that required acquiring a whole new set of skills. I have never felt or been more on top of my game.
Even though I exercise most mornings, I can no longer pull off the two and three-day workshops that I used to give week after week around the country. But thankfully my brain still works and emotionally I am more centered than I’ve ever been. I chalk it up to the myriad of lessons learned not from my successes but from my failures. The disappointments experienced, the friendships that didn’t last, along with the loss of people dear to me. To paraphrase that old song, I’ve had to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again more than once.
A brief history: At 49, after having been an actress, an ad gal, a sculptor, I burned out and crashed—the art world having done me in. After spending weeks contemplating a leap from my window, I chose a therapist over the sidewalk below. With her help, I gathered up the skills I’d already acquired and reconfigured them to become a communications coach. Over time, as I mastered my craft, I put my knowledge to the page. (No ghost writer for me; I sweated every word.) I followed this up with a memoir and then the short story book mentioned above adding “author” to my life’s resume.
We are led to believe that once we hit a certain age, we are no longer relevant. But that can’t be further from the truth. Granted most of the people in my life are younger than I, ranging in age from their mid-forties to late sixties. But just as I always sought advice and console from my elders, my “group” seek advice from me. I take enormous satisfaction knowing that my experiences—no matter how painful—now serve to help others. Of course, this can be a double-edged sword. Recently a dear friend who often uses me as a sounding board for his business, exclaimed, “What am I going to do when you’re not here?” I roared assuring him that I wasn’t going anywhere. At least if I had anything to say in the matter—which of course I don’t. Still, while it reminded me that my time on earth is not unlimited, at the ripe young age of 83, it feels damn good to be heard.
Margo Krasne is a dyed in the wool New Yorker. She has lived many lives starting out as an actress, then ad gal to full-time sculptor (her works in museums and private collections.) She started her Speak Up! Program in 1988 at age 50, publishing her first book in 1997. She continues to work and write full-out. Her most recently released book is What Would I Do Without You? A Collection of Short Stories about Friendships (December 2020). Learn more at https://margotspeakup.com.