In the final chapter of ‘Living the Life More Fabulous’ I write about the need for more role models to show us how to have the very best possible ‘third act of life’ now that we are all living longer.
I suggest that rather than trying to deny or efface the ageing process or (worse still) throwing in the towel and surrendering to invisibility, we need to embrace a different way of being which is: ‘the ultimate expression of positive ageing and it’s about staying engaged with everything around us but on our own terms.’ So, in January we decided to seek out a ‘Face of LFF’ - an older woman whose attitude to life would reflect everything that Look Fabulous Forever seeks to encapsulate. This person would demonstrate great ‘joie de vivre’ which, loosely translated, means ‘an exuberant zest for life.’ She would also be a warm, enthusiastic and vivacious older woman who had taken risks which had pushed her well outside her comfort zone.
We launched our search with the help of the magazine Woman & Home and were absolutely amazed to receive well over four hundred entries for the three prizes which we decided to offer to a winner and two runners-up.
Then came the challenge of reading all the submissions and drawing up a shortlist of around 10 contenders. Debbie, LFF Marketing Manager and I then chose our top 3 and I decided who should be awarded the two runner-up prizes and which one should be nominated as our Face of LFF. This was no easy task, but we finally agreed on Anna Kennedy and Hilary Maddren as runners-up and Annee Pain as our overall winner.
Here are their stories:
Hilary Maddren was widowed at the young age of 41 and has, happily, just married for the second time at the age of 59. This is her story:
‘I am now retired, but was a self employed florist shop owner for 25 years. I raised 2 children while working 60 hours a week. I was widowed at 41 with 2 young children, having spent 7 years caring for my wonderful husband who died from Motor Neurone Disease. I now work as a volunteer for an MND charity and I regularly look after my 5 grandchildren. Having been a widow for 18 years, I married a wonderful man (this Christmas) before I hit 60! I love to walk our rescue dog, play with the grandchildren, I love our garden and to bake cakes. Our house in Richmond, North Yorkshire, is always open to family and friends. I intend to travel and holiday a lot this year and enjoy my golden years with my new husband.
I love LFF makeup and having watched all the videos it has given me new confidence to change my makeup routine after wearing same makeup for 30 years.’
Anna Kennedy OBE has two autistic sons in their twenties who still live at home. Since their birth she has set up a charity and dedicated her life to improving the lot of families coping with autism and to helping the development of autistic children via the performing arts.
She has instituted a yearly ‘Autism’s got Talent’ competition and on the day she came to the photo shoot, Anna was waiting for the release of a recording of a song performed by a choir of 7 autistic teenagers (you can see it here and buy it here). We were all mightily impressed when we heard it! Here is what Anna wrote for her submission:
“I don’t feel my age! I will be 58 this year and still have lots of energy even though I only sleep a few hours a night because of my autistic son's poor sleep pattern. I love to go to zumba and tap dance and I am a Director and Ambassador for charities and groups across the country. I walk miles and also take part in a sponsored 10 mile walk every year with my son to raise funds for 2 charities. I also organise events for families and speak across the country throughout the year on raising autism awareness and an anti bullying campaign. I am patron to Kilmarnock Horse Rescue, a lovely sanctuary for rescued horses, donkeys and ponies in Crawley. I am always on the go and looking around the corner for what's next. My motto is you can either give up, give in or give it all you've got and then some!’
The Face of LFF: Annee Pain
I can honestly say that the first time I met Annee (68) after deciding to nominate her as the winner of our Face of LFF competition that she was everything and more than I was hoping for! Since then I have met Annee on several occasions and cannot believe our luck in finding such a perfect ambassador for our brand. Here is Annee’s story:
“After looking after my husband for 8 years and then his subsequent death, I had to build a new life for myself. I am a very sociable person so I took up Ceroc and Ballroom dancing and I LOVED it! It really gave me the chance to have a social life and stay fit at the same time. I have been on a number of dancing holidays at home and abroad and I plucked up the courage to go, on my own, on a Mediterranean cruise. I met interesting people, saw lovely places and waltzed and quickstepped the night away. Since then, I have been on a cruise every year with a like-minded woman that I met on one voyage. I have 3 little grandchildren whom I adore, a spritely 89 year old mother, a weekly yoga lesson and a day when I listen to children read in the school at which I was a teacher before I retired. I tried internet dating on several occasions but had to meet quite a few frogs before I met someone I really clicked with. Now we spend holidays and weekends together. I enjoy life and there is still a lot of fun to have, places to see, people to meet and I would love the chance to be an ambassador for LFF.”
What caught my notice in Annee’s submission was her courage and determination to pick herself up after a very difficult eight years coping with her husband’s Alzheimer’s disease. She was 60 at the time of his death and her solution was the epitome of ‘joie de vivre’ in deciding to ‘get out there’ and see what life still had to offer her as a widow.
I really admire Annee for deciding to go on a cruise alone, which is something I don’t think I would have the guts to do, despite being a confident person! I feel that Annee is the perfect example of someone who is ageing not only positively but also in a healthy way. I am taking my definition of ‘health’ from the one proposed by the WHO in 1948: ‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.’ Annee’s life incorporates a perfect balance of activities which ensures that she stays fit, nurtures the important relationships in her life and gives something back to a profession that she loved for many years. She is also a truly delightful, warm, vibrant and beautiful woman - in every sense of the word - and I hope you agree that she is the perfect embodiment of the LFF brand!
I realise that we will have disappointed some of you who no doubt feel that you would also have been the perfect ‘Face of LFF’, however we had to make a choice! Annee at 68, Anna at 58 and Hilary at 60 are all ‘living the life more fabulous.’ Each of them exemplifies the attitude to ageing that I was proposing in my book.
None is desperately trying to look younger, although few would guess their actual age, nor have they surrendered to invisibility. Annee, Anna and Hilary are all doing ‘older age’ on their own terms and showing that despite considerable heartache it is possible to recover and go on to lead a full, happy and altogether fabulous third act of life.