I’ve emphasized this a few times in newsletters before, but there’s a reason our generation is restless and so different from the ones that have preceded ours. I really believe it has something to do with growing up in the 60s and 70s, which produced a striking number of cultural transformers. Folks like Bowie and Jagger, like Grace Jones and Patti Smith.
Bella recently moved to Hawaii, a place she found so beautiful and perfect on a trip there she cried the entire way home to southern California. With her two kids out of the house and her PhD in psychology well on its way to completion, she resolved to realize her dream. Then she was diagnosed with cancer.
“When [the doctor] came in with those frightening statics I didn’t feel so good,” she says. “When I came here, I didn’t know whether I was staying ... but [I thought] right now I don’t have a house here any more but I have a ticket and I have my animals, so I’m going. And I’m so glad I did, because I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
A strong believer in both spirituality and the power of manifesting your dreams, Bella spent most of her life raising her two daughters, teaching yoga, and looking up to women who aged gracefully and powerfully. “I’ve always had a vision of myself growing cooler, staying relevant, and staying current,” she says. “I have collected older women my whole life who amazed me and were a model of what I would like to be. And they all have some commonalities of being independent, thinking out of the box — living their lives how they see fit.”
After her divorce, she thought long and hard about a bold decision she had to make: whether or not she’d invest in getting her PhD in psychology. She had been drawn to psychology both as an inquisitive person obsessed with how the mind works, and as a career path where her age could only benefit her. “The older I get, there’s more benefit, because you learn more, you go through more and develop more compassion and understanding, and with that the ability to connect and help people from deep inside,” she says.
Her dissertation is on deconstructing the women who she so looks up to, those who “have chosen to forgo the cultural pressure to dye their hair and have embraced their silvers, their wisdom… because it’s a hard thing to do in this culture.” She’s finishing it in Hawaii, where she now has a piece of property.
“I don’t see an 'over the hill', and maybe I’m naïve,” she says. “I don’t see an up and a down; I see this linear upward trajectory to life.”
And the cancer? Post surgery, it’s gone — and without any chemotherapy treatment either. Go Bella.