Lynn Waite Interview
What is living life to the fullest according to Lynn?
Surrounding myself daily with people I love, and with things that I love to do. My environment is hugely important to me. I’m truly a visually oriented person, so enjoying what I’m doing with my hands is very important. But always, number-one, is the people in my life.
And, if I think of how to live a full and rich life, I think back to what my mother wrote to my sister a few days before she passed away, and I’ve written on the glass up at the store. It’s, “If I had my life to do over, I’d just love everybody more.” I try to remind myself of that every day. It gives me the shivers every time I think it or say it. And, I don’t always succeed, but I think that’s part of a full life too - acknowledging that within yourself. And then being able to make the adjustments you need to make the apologies you need to make. Sincere apologies, not the “I’m so sorry for what happened.” That’s not a real apology in my mind. A real apology is saying, I’m sorry I did that to you.
What’s the greatest Life Lesson you would like to share?
Learning how to make an apology. To make a heartfelt apology. One of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn is - we all screw up. It’s like that concept of wabi-sabi in the Japanese culture. Acknowledging that that’s part of growth and then being able to make the adjustments after making mistakes. And, I think that’s real love, when you able to say to anyone, “I am truly sorry.”
An apology might be accepted or might not be.
What do you think about forgiveness.
Forgiveness, well, empathy is huge, and it took me a long time to learn. Compassion, empathy and forgiveness, and first and foremost within myself. Which, truly, I only really began to experience that deeply within the last few years. It took me a long time, and I’m sixty-six years old. So, when I make an apology, and it happens to me regularly, that I need to and do. When it’s not accepted in the way I want it to be accepted, that’s another part of my growth. I have to just accept it. I can’t change how anyone anybody reacts to what I say. It comes down to expectations and unmet expectations. One unmet expectation might be that someone doesn’t accept my apology the way I want them to. So, I move on (gentle laughter). I congratulate myself for making the apology. And then, I congratulate myself for being able to move forward even after it may not have gone the way I wanted it to.
That sounds like a whole lot of self-acceptance, self-value, and knowing your worth?
There is something that women go through - Menopause during the Autumnal years, and the topic about what is difficult about it gets talked about a lot. What is good about it? What’s the richness in it?
The Freedom, it’s Freedom! (she says adamantly)
And that too, gave me the shivers. (laughter) The freedom of accepting yourself and the ability to actually pursue what you want to to do each day. I spend less and less time doing things I don’t want to do. I spend less and less time accommodating others. Unless it’s necessary to enhance my life or theirs. For example, I was just asked to serve on another board again last night. And I’ve done my share of community service and I will continue to; I think that’s very important for part full life too. But, I realized when I was listening to the duties I was being asked to do, I’d be overextending myself. And it was very easy to say, ‘I’m very flattered. Thank you so much and I’m not going to be able to accept.’
So knowing your limits and understanding that it’s okay to say no?
It’s okay to say no. And I don’t know about you but as a woman through the majority of my adult years, I felt guilty saying no to people. I thought I had to bend over backwards to please everybody.
Yeah, guilt can be huge for people, for women. I think it can show up in a lot of different ways.
It’s a daily exercise, because I have three children, and three grand-children and another one on the way, a wonderful group of friends, and lots of other family members that I enjoying spending time with. I’m becoming much more selective. Yes, it’s freedom.
There is freedom in that. I get to do what I want- ‘Tis my time.
So, It’s about honoring yourself?
It doesn’t feel selfish at all. At all. It feels like, I think you used the right word, it about honoring myself. And I think women should be told that that’s okay to do that. It’s important to do.
I agree, so we are telling them… (both of us laugh)
What is Wisdom?
There are many facets to Wisdom? There is emotional, intellectual even street wisdom.
Wisdom is a nice balance of all of those. I try to stay informed with reading the newspaper everyday, and staying in tune with that is going on in the world artistically, and creatively.
I also believe wisdom is taking good care of myself physically. That’s important to me. I bike ride a lot, I swim, I lawn bowl, and I do lots of things that are fun exercise. Wisdom is also knowing how to love someone, and how to walk away when love isn’t there anymore. Wisdom is treating your family well, treating your friends well, and them treating me well too. If I find that a relationship is toxic, I remove myself, and that can be a friend, a customer, a family member, whatever. I honor that in myself now, too.
So how is that wisdom different today compared to thirty years ago?
It’s the ability, to say no, to walk away. Now, I know how to acknowledge myself, to know that I want to feel good each day. And there are days that I don’t feel as good. But that’s my goal. My goal is BLISS.
Bliss, can you give me a few thoughts on Bliss?
It’s peace within myself.
I have a ritual in the morning, I get up and make coffee and I love the whole process of that. I make it in a very old fashioned way. I grab my newspaper, I take my dog - out there is beauty of all that stuff, and acknowledging all of that rather than just going through the motions is important to me. I’m very much in tune with all of my senses right now, smell and taste, you know, good food, good music. I’m just surrounding myself by all those lovely things. And, it’s not abundance, either. My mother was very much that way - really appreciating, as corny as it sounds, those tiny things a beautiful bird, a breeze blowing, sitting this little spot... I spend a lot of time right here. It feels like a little haven.
Gratitude for simple things that might even seem mundane.
Yes, simplicity. Gratitude is a real important word. In fact, I read the other day about -- say three things that you are thankful for in the morning. And end each day with that. It can be really simple stuff. So one day, mine was -- I’m so glad that my sewing machine is working today, (giggles). And without any glitches because I had a huge order to fill. (more giggles). I felt thankful, thankful for that because that could have been misery. It’s not grandiose in any way.
You are a woman who has created your own world, and you may have fought some battles along the way.
So, what can you say about feminine power?
I would say, that is probably one of a woman’s greatest strengths. And it’s not sexuality, though it can be. And I don’t think that is wrong either. I think sexuality is part of all of us and we can embrace that and enjoy it to the greatest degree; we are meant to. I think, as women we have been given the ability to be compassionate, and nurturing, and kind. The people that give me the best feeling are the ones who are have those qualities, they are gracious, they are self-deprecating...
Yeah... (We both laugh)
But not to a bad degree. They are able to laugh at themselves. They are usually highly intelligent people but they don’t act that way. They are responsive to others’ needs.
So, you admire those things in people around you, would you say those are the things you recognize as power?
Absolutely, they are the things I work on everyday. I don’t succeed on all levels, and some days are better than others, but I’m conscious of them always. I remind myself. I feel like I have this limited time left as we all do. And, I’m so thankful, for being aware now. That -- How do I want to live my life? I know how to live my life, it’s not a question any more.
Yes, that’s incredibly powerful. That’s incredibly wise.
Beauty. You were a model, you worked in the industry for a long time. You are still in fashion creating beauty. You are beautiful as you sit here right now. What can you tell me about the universal principle of beauty because, you know it well, you wear it so well.
Well, we’ve all see a lot of beautiful faces, beautiful bodies being in the industry that you and I have both worked. But, it goes back to that inner beauty. It’s the heart. The biggest most beautiful thing, I think, is kindness. When I see someone being kind to someone else. That’s as beautiful as it gets.
In fact, I was with this seven year old kid, I was taking care of him at his house, both of his parents aware out of town. We know each other but I mean he’s a little boy... And we had done a lot of things that he wanted to do, and were sitting across from one another, so I asked him what would you like to do now? And he said, “I want to do something that you want to do.” And I thought, wow, talk about an act of thoughtfulness and kindness, that really made me want to be kinder to him. It was a good jarring moment of how this little kid understands that concept already to be kind, be generous. It’s so easy; he even knows it. Isn’t that something though that little guy would do that?
Yeah, that’s pretty amazing. At seven (laughter)
That took me aback, for a moment there.
Your kind of beauty now is evident.
What can you say to someone who might be reading this and who is just beginning to step into the aging process and maybe a little fearful of what beauty is going to look like?
And the initial stages are the most frightening of that. I remember them well. I guess, I would say - Embrace every stage of it. Because even if you are looking in the mirror now and you see a few wrinkles, there are going to be more five or ten years down the road, (lots of sweet laughter). Just embrace every one of them as hard as it is. And know that there is beauty in all of it. All of the physical changes that take place within in our minds, bodies, and souls are supposed to take place. And it’s happening to build your beauty. It’s not to take away from it.
It becomes richer, it really does. There were times when I remember seeing things like, oh my gosh my arms look saggy, and awful. Right away, I started judging myself for those things. Then realized when I asked who are the women are I really admire in my life? And, I love a lot of people, but the ones I truly admire are older women, and older men too. They are wrinkly and if you’ve ever seen a black and white photo of an woman’s face that is rich with character you understand. If you can really take that into your heart, and know that it’s going to happen to every single one of us. There is no control. You can get as many injections done and all that stuff, but I think there is beauty in the acceptance that the body is supposed to change. It’s supposed to represent your experiences, not to be hidden by botox and that kind of stuff.
Any final words of wisdom?
Just have a blast as much as the time as you can. Don’t allow yourself to be bored. Keep doing, keep growing, keep changing…
Lynn reminds us that in loving people, sincere apologies become important. Forgiveness and self-forgiveness are also necessary. She sees kindness as power, and a life well lived evident in the face of her elders. Her sense of freedom is apparent as she has created her world by freely choosing those things that she is passionate about doing. Her goal in every moment is to find the bliss. And she finds bliss in appreciating small everyday things. She honors herself with what nurtures her soul by attending to and keeping her daily rituals of making coffee and reading the newspaper for example. She is grateful, finding grace in the beauty of the mundane. She sees the aging process as the way in which beauty grows into its fullness, and she is an example of incredible beauty at sixty-six.
Lynn Wait’s is the owner and proprietor of a women’s clothing and jewelry shop called Min’s on Oakland Avenue in Shorewood, WI. The beautiful handcrafted items inside are mostly her creations. This is her Queendom.