Inspiring stories of success, joy and refusing retirement from renegades rocking life after 50.

Featuring Heather Booth

Episode 013 Is Love Enough?

Do you ever wonder… Is love enough? Am I enough? Today my wise and wonderful guest, Heather Booth, answers both of these questions and more. Because as you’ll soon see, Heather has spent 77 years living her core belief… “Love is at the center.” If you think that sounds like the impossible dream, you’ll wake up to the truth of this on this interview.

WATCH THE EPISODE BELOW:

SHOW NOTES:

Favorite Quotes:

“I actually find it quite wonderful, partly because I can look back and feel such joy in my life.”

“We learn as we go, and as some say, we make the road by walking.”

“Together, we are more than enough.”

Favorite Moments From The Interview

Really, the entire interview!

But right out of the gate, the story of the quilt you’ll see on the wall behind her—so fascinating!

Her singing a little song…so sweet.

And then…the story of her family ritual when visiting the grave of her late husband. So touching.

Oh wow. Better have a Kleenex ready for that one!

Why The Renegade Boomer Community Will Love It

So many reasons…

But first and foremost, I predict you’re going to feel a softening, sweetness rising up in you during this interview.

Heather is 100% the real deal, walking her walk, and indeed, making the road to a kinder, gentler world.

Yes, Heather has been a political activist her entire life.

But there’s so much more than that happening here today.

Her gentle way, her comforting voice, and her distinctly hopeful message, is something we can all benefit from.

But as I mentioned…you may feel a tear in your eye before we finish this interview today.

So, settle in and let Heather’s message soak in.

You’ll be better for it.


Find Me On Social Media:

https://www.instagram.com/thetinalorenz/

https://www.facebook.com/TheTinaLorenz

https://www.linkedin.com/in/thetinalorenz/

View Transcript

[00:00:00] Tina: Hey, welcome, Renegades! This is Tina Lorenz, and I want to welcome you to the Renegade Boomer™ Podcast today, and I’m so excited about my guest today because I love having icons on, and she definitely is one. So my guest is Heather Booth, and Heather has been featured in the Forbes 50 over 50.

And she’s a leading strategist about progressive issues and electoral campaigns starting all the way back to during the Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s. She was signing up people so that they would be able to vote to the Jane movement to the Midwest Academy that she’s a founder of, or the founder of, actually. And there’s even a documentary about her life called “Heather Booth Changing the World”. And I love one of the quotes from someone that watched that video that said “an icon and heroine of the first magnitude”.

And I just love really relating to that ongoing legacy of activism and organizing and service and just all of that. So, welcome, Heather. Thank you so much for being here with me today.

[00:00:52] Heather: And Tina, what a joy to be on your program. You are such an optimistic spirit. You bring such generosity and caring and energy with hope for the future. So I’m really appreciative that you chose to include me in this program and talking to all of those who are out there who are also renegades, retired, or considering our life in our third act.

[00:01:19] Tina: Exactly. You’re refired, rewired, rewritten and all of those things. And I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful backdrop behind you because I know that at the core of the work you do, you share with me is love. And I mean, I think sometimes people think, “Oh yeah, right,” you know, “Love is everywhere.” But really that’s what we need to be able to affect change and really change the world. And so could you tell us a little more about that beautiful quilt that you’re sitting in front of?

[00:01:46] Heather: Oh, I appreciate you asking about my backdrop and also, yours is so beautiful. It fills us with a sense of life with all the color you bring.

From mine, there’s actually a wonderful story behind it. A year ago on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, four women came to my front door and said they were with a group called Wrapped in Love for Justice. And they were a quilting group of about 20 women and worked on this for over six months, and each square represents an element of my life, either an organization that I’ve been involved with, one is from Jane. Lets see if I can find the one.

[00:02:29] Tina: Yeah. I see it now.

[00:02:31] Heather: This is about to rebuild the world, Tikkun olam, a Jewish heritage. The heart up here is what my husband said when we met at a sit-in saying, “Can I sit here?” But it refers to then our life together.

This is from an Amanda Gorman poem.

[00:02:49] Tina: Oh, wow.

[00:02:50] Heather: “There is light if we can see it. There is light if only we can be it.” And the group that gave it to me, by the way, made one previously and that was given to Dolores Huerta who was one of the co-founders of the Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, whose phrase was, “¡Si Se Puede!” “Yes, we can!” And she’s been active into her 90s now. So this is the second one they gave, and I value it a lot.

[00:03:20] Tina: I’m literally covered with chills right this minute. I call it my chillometer, and it’s going off like crazy. It’s just like, what a beautiful, beautiful tribute to you. You know, one of the things I particularly love about it is the connection to a heritage of women’s work in the sense of the quilting, you know, the historical aspect of that that’s carried forward into now literally wrapping someone in love with their work.

I mean, there’s just so many really great analogies and metaphors and stories about. And what a beautiful gift to receive.

[00:03:49] Heather: I value it a great deal. Also by being up behind me, it hides a multitude of sins behind. There are boxes or other things.

[00:03:58] Tina: And I just think it’s so sweet that you met your husband at a sit-in. I think it was meant to be that I sit here. I love that.

[00:04:06] Heather: Married for over 50 years. He also was a great organizer. He at that point had been head of the student movement, working for students involvement in the society, full involvement, and also against the war in Vietnam. And then he became the assistant to the president of one of the largest unions, AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees).

And the struggles in so many areas are also, in fact, tied in with the struggles of the working people and their representation at work through trade union. So we’ve been partners for many years. He died five years ago. And one of the issues in this stage of my life is how to adjust to both that great loss and also to find a new life as a woman on my own.

[00:04:59] Tina: That sounds challenging, very challenging, and I don’t even know how to begin, how you begin that process and it must be very difficult, challenging.

[00:05:08] Heather: Well, in part, the love we had is still always with us. We have two grown children and five grandchildren, so that legacy continues. Here’s a picture of my grandchildren I keep at my desk. But this is a younger version of them.

[00:05:22] Tina: Aw, beautiful family. And that’s another legacy, you know? I really do believe love doesn’t die. It just does not. It just changes form, right?

And the quote that you had from Amanda Gorman about being the light, I just feel like that all connects so much and is another meaningful moment on the quilt for you because the being of it, it’s more than just talking about it. It’s an inside job, right? The being of it.

And I was reading that Midwest Academy, you’re coming on your 50th anniversary with that, right?

[00:05:51] Heather: We’re having our 50th anniversary, by the way. Midwest Academy is a training center that trains organizers, people in social change organizations, whether it’s for rights on the job or whether it’s building a caring society for advancing citizen participation, advancing immigration, addressing senior citizen concern issues, addressing youth.

Well, Midwest Academy is a remarkable training center. I no longer really do the training. We have two great co-directors, Yomara Velez and Eric Zachary, and another training staff. I’m the chair of the board. Those who’d like to learn more about Midwest Academy and its training can go to the website, www.midwestacademy.com.

Mm-hmm.

And we also are having a 50th anniversary in May and we hope you come and participate?

[00:06:47] Tina: Yeah. Having a birthday bash. And it’s gonna be in Washington D.C., as I recall, is that correct?

[00:06:51] Heather: It’s in Washington D.C. in person, but we’ll also have Zoom options.

[00:06:55] Tina: Oh, cool. Well, you never know. I might come that way, Heather, because my grandkids are in Washington D.C.

[00:06:59] Heather: Tina, it would be wonderful to keep in person and give you more than just a virtual hug.

[00:07:03] Tina: Yeah, that would be great. And you know, I actually took a look at the site for the Midwest Academy and I just jotted down a few of the clients, many clients that you’ve worked with of Action Center on Race and the Economy, The California Department of Health, Citizens UK, Coalition on Homelessness, Feeding America, Habitat For Humanity, National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Working America. I mean, just so many really interesting sounding and great causes of teaching organization, right?

I think another one of the things I read on someone’s review on your documentary about your life was something about how, you know, we, the little people, when we join hands, we become a bigger voice, a greater group that can accomplish change.

And so, you talked about that in reference to seniors and those of us past 50 and 60 and beyond. And so, what are some issues that you see with that? Because there’s such a prominent aspect of ageism running through everything, it seems like, right now. And I’ve heard some people call it the last acceptable societal ism is ageism and it’s shocking that it can start even for people in their 40s where they’re being marginalized or overlooked for promotions or in jobs, any of those things. What do you think about all that?

[00:08:16] Heather: I think for senior citizens, for those of us in our third act, some describe it.

[00:08:22] Tina: Mm-hmm.

[00:08:22] Heather: We have the wisdom of our years. We have the experience. To some extent, we have a mellowing with years and an increased caring because we know how precious life is when there are fewer days in front of us than there are behind us.

But for many of us, we also have a new boldness because we’re untethered. We don’t have to be figuring out caring for very young children, though some of us are caring for younger generations. And we may have time to operate in the world in new ways so there can even be new energy. And also in this modern society, if our health is here and health is so important, in fact, we may have new time to spend in new pursuits.

In fact, I’ve gone on the board of a group called Third Act that Bill McKibben set up. Bill was the inspiration for a group called 350.org. And it was designed to deal with the environment with a focus on young people.

[00:09:32] Tina: Mm-hmm.

[00:09:33] Heather: And now this is a focus on climate and environment and democracy for older people, for those of us in our third act. So I actually find it’s quite wonderful, partly because I can look back and feel such a joy in my life. And I do feel right now surrounded by love and caring.

I had some foot surgery earlier, well last year, and for three months I wasn’t able to walk. But the friends and family I’ve built up over these years meant that people came and provided lunch and dinner for me every day for three months.

[00:10:19] Tina: Wow. Wow.

[00:10:20] Heather: Plus friends flew in or came down. My children stayed to take care of me when I needed that care, but also was able to get out. I could do a lot for myself.

[00:10:31] Tina: Mm-hmm.

[00:10:31] Heather: And so we move on building on those relationships.

[00:10:36] Tina: I think that’s such an important aspect to embrace aging as a time of wisdom, as a time of, yeah, kind of not caring so much what other people have to say about us in a lot of ways, things that we get kind of hung up on when we’re in our 20s worrying about and just, you know, I love the saying, I didn’t originate it, but I love it of the, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” So, it seems to me this is a good time to misbehave, you know, and get away with it, and really just speak up.

I’m sure that you’ve suffered the slings and arrows of people’s opinions over the years of your activism. And so, what advice do you have for women that are kind of afraid to step out of the shadows or really express who they truly are at the core?

[00:11:17] Heather: You know, so much of the society tells us we don’t know enough. We’re not good enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not young enough, we’re not pretty enough, we’re not enough. We’re not enough. And I do believe, together, we are more than enough.

But it’s one of the reasons I’m an organizer. I think people can find our greatest meaning when we join together with others and are doing efforts to rebuild and repair and make this a better world. And in the course of that, I find I make myself better, constantly learning, never perfection, but recognizing how imperfect we are, we still are stronger together.

I think it was Gloria Steinem who said, “We are the leaders we have been waiting for. But rather than just waiting, we can join together.” And it’s one of the reasons that throughout my life, you referred to it somewhat at the beginning, Tina.

But I had started my work for change in the 1960s in the Civil Rights Movement. And amongst other things had gone with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to Mississippi when African-Americans were being threatened and their lives were being threatened in the south, particularly in Mississippi just because they wanted to live with dignity and respect and have the freedom to vote.

And it’s during that summer project in 1964 when three of the young volunteers, and I was one of those volunteers who came down to help support that effort, three were killed at the hands of the clan. But within a year, we had a Voting Rights Act.

[00:13:17] Tina: Wow.

[00:13:17] Heather: And the key lesson it taught me is that when we organize, when we take action together, we can change this world, and we will change this world. And I think it’s important to remember now in a time that’s also challenging.

And then I moved and did work with the Women’s Movement, the movement against the war in Vietnam, movement for rights at work with unions. I worked on immigration reform, on financial reform. And also, more recently, I’ve worked on many other things. I was the seniors and also the Progressive Outreach Director for the Biden campaign. So see the world with both of those eyes, and my work there is continuing.

[00:14:11] Tina: So how did you find the courage? Especially when I think about going to Mississippi during that time, how frightening it must have been because, I mean, it was truly a time of life or death scenarios for many. How did you find the courage to do that?

[00:14:25] Heather: Well, for me, what I do first starts with feeling a sense of what’s the right thing to do? What is the moral direction that we should take? And sometimes, I’m unclear about what is the right thing to do. There may be two different things that feel like they could be the good thing. But once you feel clear about, well, this is the good deed, this is the good action, this is morally just, then with others, I find a way to move forward.

In fact, in Mississippi, sometimes people would say to each other, “Are you willing to die for justice?” And though I very much wanted to live, I was willing to take that risk if that’s really what was needed. But I think now the question is different. I think it really is, “Are you willing to live for justice?” For justice and freedom and democracy and dignity for all as well as for meaning in our own lives. But it does mean, are you willing to do the work every day when it’s too hot or too cold, or you’re too tired, you’d rather just take that nap, which I often would. But are you willing to do the work? And when you do the work, we learn as we go and as some say, we make the road by walking.

And so I find the courage in following what I feel is a moral direction and in the support of others. And because I believe there will be a strategy that will make this a better world.

[00:16:21] Tina: That’s so, I mean, beautiful, really beautiful. And one of the things that just really is striking right now for me is that you exude light and joy yourself. And I’m thinking you’ve seen so many hard things, you know. You’ve seen injustice. You’ve seen violence. You’ve seen prejudice in action, all those things. How do you maintain that core of joy, that light, and not just feel like, “Well, what’s the point?” What’s been your secret for that?

[00:16:51] Heather: Well, you know, there are so many sources of joy in my life, and I think it’s important that we build into our life those things that give us joy. For me, if it’s not something I want to do, I mostly try not to do it. But I find joy both in this work, in our relationships, in our children and grandchildren. I’m wearing by the way, here’s a little locket given to me by my nine-year-old granddaughter bought with her own money. It says “Grandma” in the middle of it. So, I mean, even things like that give me joy.

Oh.

But also, I structure my life to give me joy. I love the work that I do, even when I’m a little too tired. And why do we have one more event, one more Zoom call? But I do love this work.

I also do those things that give me joy with others. I’m in two different book clubs. That means that every month, I need to read two different books. They’re two very different sets of people, but both book groups have existed over 30 years.

[00:18:05] Tina: Oh my gosh.

[00:18:06] Heather: And that gives me joy, both the reading, the discussing and the being with these friends. I’m in three different theater groups. Again, each one I go to with different friends. So it means that I structure my life so that each month or so, I go out with these different groups of friends and different kinds of theater. One is a Shakespeare theater with more classical shows. One is a kind of current modern theater and one is sort of an experimental theater. And I look for those things that do give me joy.

So I say there are maybe three guidelines I find in my life of ways to give me joy. And I said, particularly because I’m now a woman on my own, dealing with the fact that my husband died five years ago, who was also a joy in my life. I’d say the most important are the relationships. I have many relationships. In fact, I have a list by my phone. This is a list with two sides. One side are of deep friends that I can call if I want to do something. Another side are friends who are ill or failing or frail, and I try to be in touch with them. Phone, text, call or visit.

So one is the relationships matter a lot.

[00:19:43] Tina: Okay.

[00:19:44] Heather: The second is I try and build a structure in my life. Again, book clubs, the theater groups, regular calls with my kids and grandkids. It’s a structure, so it’s not every day is random and I’ve gotta figure out what am I doing.

[00:19:59] Tina: Mm-hmm.

[00:20:01] Heather: The third is that I tried to find meaning and follow work and activities that will give my life additional meaning. For example, now, I was working to pass this inflation reduction act that includes things such as lowering the cost of insulin to $35 for those on Medicare. And the president, we understand in his budget, is gonna introduce further legislation to increase the support for Medicare by lowering prescription drug prices and by ensuring that the wealthiest in this country, the ultra wealthy, those making over $400,000 a year pay more of their fair share in taxes, some of whom don’t pay any taxes.

[00:20:58] Tina: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:20:59] Heather: So I work on those kinds of issues. It gives me meaning. So relationship, structure, and meaning.

[00:21:06] Tina: Relationship, structure, and meaning. I think you have packed a lot into those three points. And I think it’s also really just visible how that has impacted your life and why you look vibrant. You speak very well. You’re obviously thinking about other things that you wanna be involved with, staying active.

And so, I don’t really see you as retiring. How do you feel about retirement? Because it’s just kind of like, “Oh yeah that,” just kind of breezes by because the beginning of your three points, it sounds kind of like, oh, like a retirement lifestyle but yet there’s so much more to it, the caring for others and the outreach to your friends that might need help, the very politically active and expressing yourself and working for the things that you believe in. And so, do you think you’re ever gonna actually totally retire, Heather?

[00:21:52] Heather: I don’t really know. Every now and then, I think okay. Well, I’m not gonna run anything again. I’ve directed lots of organizations. I directed the campaign for financial reform. I was the strategic advisor for the campaign on immigration reform. I ran a very large get out to vote effort for the NAACP. I’ve directed many things. At this point, I’m not interested in directing it. I would like to advise and support. And I think that the insights I’ve gained can provide good support, but I don’t need to take all the energy I had before driving the effort forward.

[00:22:39] Tina: Yeah.

[00:22:40] Heather: But I still may. Surprises come up so I never know. But I think that this creating this pattern of life allows me to take those options whether I’m fully engaged or moving at a slower pace.

[00:22:54] Tina: I love the word options because that’s really what it’s about. It’s of not just bending to societal expectations, “Well, because you are past 60 or you’re approaching 65, therefore you really have no more use or relevance,” or you know, anything like that, that you’re just making your own statement about how you choose to continue your life into the third act, and possibly you’ll have a fourth, who knows?

[00:23:19] Heather: Who knows? I think I know.

[00:23:20] Tina: It’s hard to imagine you sitting back doing nothing, right? It all blends together. I think that’s what I love, that it isn’t either/or. You know, it’s all this or all that. It’s not just that kind of an issue. It’s, there’s this nice blending. And you get to choose. You absolutely get to choose and you are choosing how involved do you wanna be and how much in leadership do you wanna be, would you rather be in advisory capacity. I think that’s the beauty of it.

[00:23:43] Heather: And I rely on my friends to also try and figure out certain things. I’m not sure I said this before, I’m now 77. And I started in this kind of work when I was a young teenager. And at each stage, there have been joys that are pretty wonderful. Though I now feel I can function with a little more confidence than I had when I was 15.

[00:24:09] Tina: Yeah.

[00:24:10] Heather: And that is something of a relief. But still to some extent, I think many of us are plagued by lack of confidence. Will we know enough? Will we be smart enough? But as I said before, we are more than enough when we come together.

[00:24:27] Tina: I think even individually, that’s such an issue of people feeling that they’re not enough, and just in their own sense of who they are, their own identity. And so, I believe that we actually are. There’s kind of a level playing field in the sense of when we’re first born, you know, what we’re made of is just a joyous light and that we don’t know anything yet. And then we start getting all the things that are going into the brain from the time we’re very tiny and things that impact us later. You know, just things that were traumatic to us when we were three, and we’re still interpreting that as an adult and using that as the story we attached to it.

But really, at our core, each of us is enough if we believe we came from a greater source, for example, we are enough. But life happens. Life comes through us as well.

Was your family, when you were growing up, were they kind of geared to this as far as the giving and organizing and supporting and leadership?

[00:25:19] Heather: I had the great joy of being brought up into a loving family that taught me what love is, how to receive love, how to give love, and the value of love and caring for others. And also, it’s sort of the theory of being a girl scout. I was a girl scout.

[00:25:37] Tina: I was too.

[00:25:37] Heather: And we were told you leave the campfire place better than when you found it.

[00:25:43] Tina: Yeah.

[00:25:43] Heather: So it’s not just being a good person and I tried to be a good person. I’d cross at the green, not in between. I didn’t litter. I tried to be a good girl.

[00:25:53] Tina: Yeah.

[00:25:55] Heather: But also I was taught, we want to make sure that it’s a good society for all of us with love at the center and even, you know, I wanna show you, when I was in the Biden campaign because I’ve had these two watchword themes— these “When we organize, we can change the world,” and “Love at the center.” And I used to say that all the time for the volunteer crew that I had, many of whom were working 24/7 as volunteers.

And at the end of the campaign, because I said that phrase so often, I made buttons for many of them. And one said “Organize!” And one says “Love at the center.”

[00:26:43] Tina: Oh, I love that.

[00:26:43] Heather: And I’m showing them just to indicate how seriously I take both themes. And so, yes, I was brought up to believing we leave this a better world with love. And I was very fortunate.

[00:26:57] Tina: You were very, very blessed to have that because I feel like it took me way into adulthood to be able to honestly say to someone that I hadn’t known very long, “Well, I love you.” And just feeling love for the people in my programs, feeling love for the people on my team. You know, just feeling love for people that I come in contact with and people that I don’t know, feeling that love. It took me a long time to understand that because I wasn’t taught that.

And so, could you speak to that, that we can change? I mean, that together we change thing, there’s an inside job that goes with that, right? And in changing things on the outside, do you feel like we’re also changing things on the inside?

[00:27:38] Heather: I have so changed on the inside. But in part, my greatest changes have often come when I’m also realizing that it’s not all about me alone, and when I start to think what’s going on in the other person’s life, what is their story, and that others also want to feel respected and loved and cared for.

And so if I can find a way to help them feel respected and heard and cared for, then it will make both of us feel better. So I often start by asking other people what is their story. What’s the story about how you get began this work?

Before this program started, I asked Tina. And Tina, you gave me a short version of your own remarkable story. I don’t know if the word self-made woman is the right word, but certainly, you had one path and then you decided you needed something else. You were on your own. You needed something else, you were on your own and you drove forward and found a new reality.

So I do think in relationships, it’s important to hear other people, to ask them, tell their story, for us to tell our own story, and then if we come to it, to tell a story about how we can make a change together.

[00:29:11] Tina: I love this because I see so many correlations to other aspects of life besides political change, you know, my background’s in marketing and copywriting, writing, marketing communications, and relationship-building in that way. And there’s so many correlations to what you’re saying to just effectively connecting with people in that realm as well where we’re really thinking about who do we serve, how do we serve them? What is the outcome that they are looking for? Can we help them and can we be a solution? Can we bring a solution to them? I just see so many correlations of kind of just the way of life, you know?

And the thing about being heard, more and more, I feel like our society is so encapsulated. We’re so separated. And then of course, pandemic didn’t help with really isolating people. Everyone’s staying home for a couple of years (that’s what happened at our house) and getting back out into the world and finding that courage as well. Like, it’s gonna be okay, you know. It’s a new thing we have to learn to live with. It’s a new change.

But when we can literally connect with someone else as human to human, you know, and express that without being, you know, not weirdly as far as the love part. You know, some people might be like, “Aah!” But just really expressing that even through our actions and yeah, literally telling people like, “Hey, I love you. We’re in this together,” isn’t that just life-changing for even one person at a time?

[00:30:26] Heather: And people might even try it.

[00:30:28] Tina: Yeah. What would happen if we told somebody we loved them today that didn’t know us? Would they call the police or would they say thank you?

You know, there was something on the news the other day. I can’t remember where the school was, but they decided that the people that worked in the school, they would write little notes to someone that they noticed that had impacted them in some positive way and tell them why.

And to watch it was even just like, “Oh my gosh, can I get through this without crying my eyes out watching it?” Because the reactions of people when they just read the little note about why I appreciate you or what I’ve noticed about you, there were so many tears and hugs and children that maybe had the feeling, had they ever heard that from anybody except this person that isn’t even in their family but just noticed something about them or adults that work together. And it was just really moving. And they said it was so successful, they’re planning to do it again at the school.

[00:31:14] Heather: You know, I have a, it’s not a trick, but it’s something that I try, it’s a practice that I try and do every morning. I don’t always succeed. I’m not very good online, but I go to Facebook and I look at who are friends of mine or people that I really know, not just-

[00:31:32] Tina: Not just connections, yeah.

[00:31:33] Heather: Made-up internet friends. But people I really know who are having a birthday, some of whom I haven’t spoken with or seen in years.

And if I have their phone number, I call them up, and I’ll sing a kind of an offkey Happy Birthday because I’m not a great singer. And I’ll say, “It’s been many years since we were in touch, but I’m calling because I remember when we did something together. I feel warmly about you. Thank you for who you are. I hope you have a wonderful year.”

And even if I haven’t reached them, even if I just leave a message, I think it’s meaningful for them. It’s meaningful for me. And when you spread love, it can magnify.

You know, there was a song when I was growing up that said, “Love is something that you give it away, give it away, give it away. Love is something when you give it away, you end up having more.”

[00:32:37] Tina: That’s a good one. I haven’t heard that song, but I love it. Catchy little tune there, Heather. There is a potential for another career. You are in theater after all. I mean, who knows if I come visit you in May, maybe I’ll be watching you perform.

[00:32:52] Heather: Ah.

[00:32:54] Tina: One last thing I’d really like to touch on, if you don’t mind, since you’ve mentioned the loss of your husband and having to learn to be able to live on your own, I’m thinking there’s gonna be people watching this that are like, I’m in that circumstance too. And you know, I don’t see that many conversations about that, especially for women. I actually had a conversation with someone in the past week that had to move home and is happy to do so but as an adult has gone home because of the passing of her father, and her mother doesn’t know how to manage because she never had to in that particular relationship. So what is your advice for women that might be facing something like this? You know, women tend to outlive their partners, I mean, statistically.

[00:33:36] Heather: Well, for people who’ve had partners, and not everyone has, one is to ensure that you invest in the relationship so much so it’s not filled with regret. And often, since my husband and I were both organizers, we used to say, “We have to put as much organizing effort into our relationship as we do into our work.” So that was one thing for what the relationship was before. And when my husband died, which was very unexpected, I had no warning.

[00:34:07] Tina: Oh yeah.

[00:34:08] Heather: I also was at a loss. There’s so many things I didn’t do on my own. Though I’m active in the world and could do many things, I have no geographic sense of direction so he did most of the driving. He had a brilliant head for figures. I have almost none. I wasn’t even sure how to manage an ATM on my own.

So partly, I went to friends who helped me learn and do different things. Where I had some resources, I hired people to do some support, some of the finances, some of the work I just couldn’t cover on my own. And I built these strong relationships and I also did create a structure in my life as I said before, the relationships, structure, and activities with meaning so that each day I might be doing something that was meaningful to me.

And then also, I take the time to remember my husband. When my kids who don’t live in the same city as I do, one that lives in Massachusetts and one in Illinois, in Chicago, when we all visit, we’ll sometimes go to my husband’s grave and there are a set of things that we read as well as remembrances that we provide, and one of them is a song.

I’ll read you a song and then I’ll read you one saying. This is a song by Phil Ochs.

And the first verse goes, “There’s no place in this world I’ll belong when I’m gone. And I won’t know the right from the wrong when I’m gone. And you won’t find me singing on this song when I’m gone. So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.” And so in part, it reminds us to make the most of this life while we have it.

And another thing that we always read is something out of Winnie the Pooh, at least the Disney version. And people may remember the story of Winnie the Pooh, the bear, with Christopher Robin.

[00:36:41] Tina: Mm-hmm.

[00:36:41] Heather: And Christopher Robin says to Winnie, here’s the quote, “If ever there’s a time when we’re not together, there’s something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you’ve seen, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is even if we are apart, I’ll always be with you.”

[00:37:07] Tina: Oh.

[00:37:10] Heather: And so, I try to hold close those things that are meaningful. Those are some things meaningful to me, and each of you will find your own.

But Tina, thank you for having me on this program. You are a delight.

[00:37:23] Tina: Oh, thank you so much.

[00:37:25] Heather: Thank you for inspiring others who are facing retirement or our renegade years in our third act to have that spirit and the love at the love at the same time.

[00:37:39] Tina: Thank you so much for being here. I kind of feel like there might not be a dry eye in the house when they watch this podcast. I’m having a little trouble keeping it together myself right this minute. But thank you so much for being here and sharing your beautiful, loving self. And you know what I’m gonna do the thing I said, I’m gonna tell you, Heather, I love you.

[00:37:57] Heather: I love you, Tina. Go like that.

[00:38:03] Tina: And you’ve already said where they can find you. Do you have another website or is it the Midwest?

[00:38:07] Heather: Well, we’re actually revising the website. There’s now a website called Heather Booth Film, but we are revising it soon to heatherbooth.org.

[00:38:17] Tina: All you have to do is google her name folks, just google her name, Heather Booth, and you’re gonna find a rich history of the legacy of Heather.

Thank you so much again for being here today, Heather, and I look forward to meeting you in person. I just might show up in May. You never know.

[00:38:29] Heather: Tina, that’s great. Thanks so much for your help and involvement.

[00:38:33] Tina: Okay.

Copyright 2023 Tina Lorenz

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