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Living with Purpose

purposeShe sits comfortably, smartly dressed, her legs crossed, her hands gesturing as she speaks. Her voice, the New York accent still evident, is clear and powerful. A lamp illuminates her thick, lustrous, shoulder-length white hair. She is talking, without notes, to a gathering of perhaps 80 people.

“I’m in the midst of figuring out a new career,” she says. “It is possible now for me to dream bigger dreams.” Her current dream, she tells the audience, is creating an alliance of nonprofits that are working on food, water and environmental issues – a kind of super PAC that can exert power and influence in Washington. She talks about the monopoly of food production in the U.S., shaking her head, citing statistics, her voice rising. She talks about food safety, about the diseases that come from being a nation of overfed and undernourished people.

She mentions, in passing, that she was in Cuba last month, and that she’ll be flying to San Francisco later this week for “breakfasts, lunches and dinners” with movers and shakers who can help her build this alliance. “Taking on these challenges is so important,” she says. “You have to wake up to the opportunity of each new day.” She looks out over the crowd, gives them a hard stare. “I mean you must use each day, really use it. I do. We all have to.”

The white-haired woman on a mission is Deborah Szekely, the founder of Rancho LaPuerta, the oldest destination health and wellness resort in North America. She gives these unscripted hour-long talks once a week at the ranch.

deborahShe will be 92 next month.

She mentions her age – although most of those gathered for this talk already know. Then she delivers a mini-lecture on cellular turn-over in the body, how quickly red blood cells and heart cells and stomach lining cells, skin cells, liver cells, all your cells turn-over. “We are in a constant state of renewal,” she says. Then she smiles broadly.

“Sitting here, there is nothing about me that is more than 30 years old.”

That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

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