Creator of Sixty and the City
– as told to The Silver Women
Women who inspired you as a young girl?
Eleanor Roosevelt was fascinating to me. She was brilliant and did things that no woman had ever done before. She broke so many barriers. Jacqueline Kennedy was beautiful, a style icon but also, very smart and quite accomplished. And who didn’t love her whole aura? I remember watching the inauguration, not yet nine years old and just thinking she was like no one I had ever seen before. My Mother. Fierce, incredibly smart, determined, mercurial. She knew how to think and demanded that we use our heads for more than something on which to hang a hat. Scarlett O’Hara, ok yes, she has questionable ethics, but she was indomitable and managed to keep her family together. Ok, she wore curtains, but Vivian Leigh would have looked great in a shower curtain.
Women, who inspire you now?
Michelle Obama, she’s just so impressive with her razor-sharp intelligence, her kindness, her connectedness to where she came from and her gratitude. I also, give her great credit for keeping her children’s lives relatively sane. Oprah because she is truly inspirational. She has accomplished so much and continues to do so many important things. She lives in the world.
“I’m inspired by women who do not come from privilege and who might be facing aging alone and without much money.
So many women push that rock up the hill and never give up.
This is admirable.”
The most valuable lesson taught by your mother?
My mother taught me how to assert myself, to not be afraid to be smart to impress a boy. She wanted me to have what she felt she didn’t have, although she was college educated which was not the norm in the ’1940s. She wanted me to succeed and to be happy. I will never forget her saying, that if it doesn’t bleed when it breaks, it’s not important.
Do you think older women are valued or celebrated enough?
Absolutely not. We are often marginalized and even ignored. We are vital and fabulous and should be recognized not only for our accomplishments but for our joie de vivre. That doesn’t go away because one is no longer young.
Have you made career changes?
OH YES! I was a wannabe social worker who had no direction and wouldn’t go to grad school, so I went into a training program at ‘United States Lines’ and became one of the first female salespeople in that industry. After that, I jumped right into the hurly-burly world of fashion and was fortunate to work for the brilliant Michael Vollbracht. The glamor and the people were intoxicating, and it hooked me. Real fashion is few and far between, and about a year and a half ago, after 35 topsy turvy years, I walked away from it. Very scary and I’m so proud of myself for doing it.
Now, I have created a blog, ‘Sixty and the City’ and having a blast. It would never have been born without the encouragement, support, and help of my younger daughter.
“I feel that I am giving
women over 50 a voice about dating, sex, and love.”
Also, I am an artist representative, and I love it. Art is a passion, and this puts me together with wonderfully talented people. It’s a passion project. Reinvention is possible over and over again.
Through the decades!
20’s: I was the quintessential NYC girl and had a blast running all over Manhattan to clubs and bars and doing all the culture vulture stuff. Dated some fabulous men and was involved in a long-standing relationship with the man who probably was the love of my life. BTW, I believe that one can have more than one love, so I’m still looking. I could have had more focus and paid attention to a career as that would have served me well.
30’s: This decade was tumultuous and very full. I ended the very long relationship that started in my 20’s. I was devastated, and it left me distinctly unmoored. I also closed a repping business, so a lot was going on. I wanted to have a baby, and I don’t know what precipitated that feeling as I had no desire to marry. It would have been great to have done more introspection and less worrying, but that’s a work in progress even today. I did end up marrying and had my first baby at 36, and it was transformative. I had never experienced the kind of love that I felt when that baby looked into my eyes. WOW! The only time it was duplicated was when I had my second daughter.
40’s: I had my second baby, the girls consumed my life, and I was thrilled. I put my career on the back burner as it wasn’t important to me. I wanted to be with my two adorable little girls and not miss one thing, and it was important that they knew, that no one, was more important. Bought a house in the burbs so my kids could have the pool and the backyard. I had wonderful friends and entertained a lot. By my mid 40’s life took a tumble. My marriage was failing, and I needed to go back to work and became the breadwinner in the family. My resilience and powerful survival instinct kept me going.
50’s: The beginning of my 50’s was rough on me and difficult for the kids. My marriage had ended, and I was not in a great financial position. It was scary as hell. There were times during this period that I worked three jobs so there would be food on the table. I didn’t have much time to take care of myself because I was too busy making it happen and making sure that my children stayed intact. I began a wonderful relationship with the man I had dated in college. He came along just at the right time. It didn’t last, but it taught me that yes, I deserve to be loved and to love. It made me stronger.
60’s: At first, my 60’s were daunting because of the sheer force of the number. It weighed heavily on me, but I worked through it. My kids went off to college, and for the first time, I had no responsibilities. Guess what; I LOVE IT. I’ve worked and continue to work to be present and effective. I walked out on a career because I could, something I could have never have done if I still had kids at home. Moved back to my first love, Manhattan, and escaped what for me was a very sterile existence in the burbs. I run around NYC very much like I did when I was in my 20’s. I see every play, movie, go to museums, and I take care of myself. Something I never did before. FREEDOM IS MAGICAL. I would like a significant other, but it’s hard to find, not because I expect ‘Prince Charming’ but more that I won’t put up with someone whose baggage accompanies him everywhere he goes. Still optimistic that he’s out there, but it’s a lot of work, and one has to be very resilient as the rejection is no picnic, but I keep plugging away. I enjoy my solitude and love the quiet but would like to share my life.
Has there been a significant circumstance good or bad that changed your outlook on life?
Being left motherless at 16 and having to raise my brother. My father worked 80 hour weeks which left me to mind the store so to speak. It forever changed me and good things came out of it, but at the time, it was devastating. I had lost my only advocate.
What are you most grateful for?
My health and the health of my kids, and all whom I love. I am beyond blessed and grateful for my two incredible daughters, who I love more than words can describe, and a son-in-law who is a gem. The joy of having a bonus round with my father. It gave us time to deal with all the old hurts and anger, and it didn’t make up for not having a mother, but it was wonderful to have him around for so long — gratitude for waking up in the morning and being able-bodied.
Thoughts on aging?
Tough one as I have mixed feelings. I miss my younger self and what I looked like and how I felt. I understand that the tomorrows are far fewer than the yesterdays. I appreciate the fact that I am growing older as many don’t. Now if I could just get used to the person who looks back at me in the mirror every day.
The upside: The freedom to do whatever I want. To take risks, to revel in the simple things and the bigger things. To enjoy life and to be in the moment MINDFUL. I’m brave at this age where I wasn’t before. What’s there to be afraid of? And in terms of the opposite sex, physical intimacy is fabulous. I am so much freer and fun. I like that my body still works and that I love it. All in all, I am a happy survivor and a kinder more together version of my younger self.
The downside: The physical changes and at times feeling invisible.
Your advice to young women of today?
Follow your dreams. Never let anyone put a roadblock in front of you. If someone does, push it down and keep on going.
.– Ellen Kramer xoxo
Images courtesy Ellen Kramer unless credited otherwise.
FEW OF MY FAVORITES
Anything by Philip Roth. Gorgeous prose and he had the ability to understand and bore his way into the human soul. Gore Vidal brilliant and acidic but so accomplished.
To Kill a Mockingbird because it was so ahead of its time and it was written by a woman. The New York Times, daily.
I love a good read and find it peaceful and joyful to enjoy a good book.
Film Casablanca because it is so romantic. Gone with the Wind. What girl doesn’t love Rhett Butler. Always had a soft spot for bad boys. Lol
City/place: New York because it’s in my soul and its
filled with so much wonder. Paris well it’s Paris and what could be better?
Tel Aviv, a city of contrasts. Incredibly cosmopolitan with an amazing art scene. The North Fork, Long Island because it’s beautiful, and it’s where my best friend lives. I love going to the wineries and listening to some good music. It’s my happy place.
I love to cook almost anything and count entertaining as one of my favorite things. Love Italian food, sushi, a French bistro. Little quiet hideaways. I enjoy going to hip places because I love the energy. It’s fun. No stuffy restaurants with the white tablecloths and the piano bar. I’m TOO YOUNG for that.
Song: Too many to mention all.
Anything Gershwin wrote. Anything that Sinatra, Streisand and Tony Bennet sing. But I also love the Stones and can boogie on down with the best of them. I love rock and roll. Music feeds my soul and I like almost anything except atonal jazz.
Style Icon: Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Babe Paley.
I recently discovered Surreal Skincare. It’s all amazing but I live for the Regenerator and Cheat death. Makes my skin sing.
Tinted moisturizer by Laura Mercier. Get the bends if it’s half full and I don’t have more in the house.
Picasso, Matisse and of course the 2 artists I represent
Valerie Zeman and Scott McIntire.