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74 year old model carolyn doelling

Fashion isn't just for the young.

Why should we view growing older as the end of all new experiences? What if we gave ourselves permission to view the later part in life as an adventure, equally as exciting and full of opportunities as our younger years?

I find myself falling into this “aging = decline” mentality quite easily as of late, even though I never previously considered aging to be particularly dreadful. I can say without a doubt that things have indeed gotten better for me with age; I have no desire to revisit my 20s. And yet, I still will catch myself thinking of all the things I’m now “too old” to even begin, let alone accomplish. The splits? At 33? What’s the point? Move to London? I can’t, my life is set in Los Angeles. And so on.

Despite my determined focus on those “40 Over 40” lists and repeated affirmations of "things continually get better for me,” and knowing full well that 30s are not even close to over the hill, I can still sense now that there is a hill. And that makes me anticipate the decline, to the exclusion of many paths that could be enjoyable. And isn’t that a major point of life … no matter what stage of it we’re in?

It’s recovering pessimists like me that inspired Carolyn Doelling to share her story.


Doelling completely reinvented herself, and now lives life as an in-demand fashion model. Her Instagram is filled with magazine-worthy photos wearing kickboxing attire, glamorous silk sets and luxurious dresses. She embodies style and grace so effortlessly, it’s hard to believe that she didn’t start this fabulous career until retirement.

Doelling had a long and varied career in banking, telecommunications and nonprofit sectors. Though she immersed herself in left-brained industries, Doelling still found ways to put her heart into philanthropy as well.

During that time, she had never even considered posing for the camera.

She told the TODAY show, “I have to say that modeling was never in the picture. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a picture of me beforehand, because I was always on the back row."

Once she retired at 70, Doelling found that the back row was getting less comfortable. In fact, retired life made her feel “invisible,” especially without a career to tie her self-worth to.

“So much of our identity is tied with what our titles are and what our work is,” she told Grow Acorns. “‘I am a development officer. I am a marketing strategist.’ Then when you let that go, you have to find a different ‘I am.’ But saying ‘I am retired,’ well, that’s really not work. Both internally and externally you begin to feel like a different person.”

Doelling noticed this feeling reflected in her outer world, often being “underestimated” and “overlooked.”

She shared with TODAY, "It was as if everyone in this culture of ageism had agreed: You are done, your work is done. You are no longer needed. And with the kids and husband gone, your purpose to us is questionable."

For Doelling, fashion became an outlet for feeling seen again. And following her creative instincts took her down a completely unexpected path.

In a story worthy of Gisele Bündchen, Doelling was discovered in broad daylight. While attending an event for luxury boutique McMullen, she was noticed by the store's owner Sherri McMullen, who was taken aback by Doelling's bold and confident style. But it was Doelling’s mission to “inspire other women to add more style and swagger to their life,” that really drew McMullen in. Doelling was quickly whisked away for a photoshoot.

The pictures received a ton of positive feedback, attention from other designers and even an offer from a New York modeling agency. Doelling was invisible no more.

Though Doelling is grateful for the gig, she is more interested in exploring other parts of her ‘I am,” rather than stick to one. Been there, done that, after all.

“I write, I am taking piano lessons. I’m just making a well-rounded life,” she tells Grow Acorns. “I could let modeling go tomorrow and be happy doing something else. Being a cyclist, maybe.”

Doelling certainly helped me remember that our life path might contain a few forks in the road, but never a true dead end. I hope she did the same for you. Revisit those old childhood dreams you deemed impossible. Take on a hobby simply because it enriches your soul. Look forward to 70 the same way you did for 20. Who knows what fun twists and turns your ‘I am’ can take as long as you’re open.

It’s never too late to enjoy all of life’s goodness.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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