As I approached my 80th birthday, I was greatful to realize how full and rich my life was. I still lived in the little town, Colquitt, Ga, population 2,000, where I was born. I married young, had 3 children, went back to college and completed my Masters’ degree in Social Work when I was 40. I worked for the State of Georgia as a child protective services worker, and as a community Mental Health services supervisor. I used my skills in community organizing to provide non-profit day care for the children of the working poor, and to found a school for the training of Licensed Practical Nurses.
Later, as an international volunteer with the Institute of Cultural Affairs, I traveled to Brazil, Peru, Jamaica and India and I realized the importance of revitalizing rural areas such as my home town. So I became an entrepreneur and with three friends started a gourmet food manufacturing company, The Mayhaw Tree, to provide jobs for unemployed women. With others friends, I helped to organize a Chamber of Commerce and determined to celebrate the culture of the “people left behind” in the out migrations of rural citizens to the cities. This dream came to fruition in the form of Swamp Gravy, Georgia’s Folklife play, now celebrating its 20 years of original plays based on the stories of local people and performed by volunteers. Swamp Gravy has become a national model for community revitalization through Arts and Culture.
As my friends with Institute of Cultural Affairs say, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the Hands of the Living God,” terrible and wonderful because you never know where you will be led. I look at my life with wonder at where the time has gone and amazement at the mythic journey that I have traversed. I started asking questions like “what are my personal beliefs, habits and practices that have brought me to this place and sustain me in this time of being an Elder?" I realized that I had a message to pass on to the Boomer generation who are facing retirement.
Thus the book Dynamic Aging was born.