When people tell me I seem younger than my years, they ask what the key is. Naturally, a healthy diet and physical activity are important, but I believe the real recipe is loving what you do and always being on some sort of learning curve. Whether it’s a career or a pastime, it’s essential to either be learning something new or reinventing and improving your interests or skills. If that becomes key for you, you will always find a new path when you need to, even when you grow older or when life throws you a curve.

The other day, I read about Jane Sherman. She loved modern dance. In the 1920′s, at the age of 17, she was the youngest member of Denishawn, a company to which she was devoted. However, as much as she loved modern dance, she eventually discovered that she could not earn sufficient income. So she enlarged her repertoire of dance skills and went on to perform with the Ziegfeld Follies. In the 1930′s, she appeared in Broadway revues and became a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall.

As dancers grow older, however, their careers come to an abrupt end. Losing a career can defeat many of us, but not Jane Sherman. For years, she had kept a written record of her dancing life, and believed she could write. In the 1940′s, she became a fiction editor at Seventeen magazine and continued to build a career in writing and publishing. She also devoted time to teaching dance up into the 1990′s.

So, what happened as she grew still older, and maintaining a high pressure job and a loaded schedule was no longer a ‘fit?’ In her seventies, she wrote two books about what she loved most: dance. They were published, and one received a prestigious award. In her eighties, she wrote yet another!

Last week she died at the age of 101! Her husband of over 50 years predeceased her (he was 99) ten years ago. In her nineties, she wrote poems and self-published them into little books. In one poem from a book she published in 2003 entitled “Songs of Senescence,” she wrote the following:

“this leathery hen will not call it
a day
Nor has any intention to do so.
For my wattles are up and I’m
on my way
To as many farewells as Caruso”

The name of her poem is “Take It From a Tough Old Bird.”

Here’s to Jane Sherman and a life well-lived! Find something you love and keep learning about it, or about any subject that truly catches your interest. Don’t let anyone minimize what you choose. Your energy will grow and it will be contagious to those around you. People will start telling you how young you seem, and asking how you do it!

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