Naomi Woodspring has lived several lives. From backpacking through the Andes with $30 in her bag, to falling in love and moving to Bristol, to becoming an academic later in life she has done it all. She has earned her MA from John F Kennedy University and PhD at the University of West England where her studies have focused largely on ageing and Baby Boomers This is her second book.
What do I do best?
See, really see the best in other beings around me – human and otherwise. Making that connection with the those around me means slowing down, listening with my ears, eyes, heart, and gut. It means not imagining how I want that person to receive me but me receiving them.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Like so many other older women I know or have interviewed, we are finally comfortable in our own skin, more confident in who we are and our accomplishments than ever before in life. Age, experience, and, even some garnered wisdom along the way has made me the best version of who I am. That said, this did not just come through the years rolling by but living life with passion, curiosity, and consciousness. This stands for both my personal and professional lives.
What are my aspirations?
Professionally, I want to contribute to the way older people are perceived in society and how they perceived themselves. So many people I have spoken to through my research are profoundly committed be change agents in, what many called, ‘the last phase of their lives.’ This is a very different story than the ‘me’ or ‘selfish’ generation’ narrative. There is a politically expedient strategy - divide and conquer - that pits young against old but, in truth, we have far more in common than what divides us. Housing and financial worries/insecurities and employment issues are only two areas of common concern. I want to contribute to an understanding of this commonality and to add my voice to another narrative. Youth and old age are not two different countries but two places in a whole lifespan. Older people do have much to contribute to the future and they are doing just that.
Personally, my aspirations are tied to my professional desires and ambitions – to contribute to a deeper understanding of aging and to add my voice and actions to making this a more just world.
My Biggest Success?
Ah, right now, my latest research project and resulting book, Baby Boomers, Age and Beauty is a great accomplishment. Speaking with people from the postwar generation in the UK and US about age and beauty and their response to my questions has been surprising, enlightening, and, well, the best word is refreshing. The intimate stories that my interviewees have entrusted to me has been a privilege. Getting it ‘right,’ in the book, fairly representing who they are and their life perspectives as older people has been a real success for me.
My Most Challenging Moment?
For me, it is not a challenging moment though there are been many challenging moments in the process of believing in myself and getting through ‘imposter syndrome.’ Though some men do struggle with it, it is endemic to so many women. The voice that says, ‘yeah, what will people think when they really find out that I am not as good/accomplished/competent/smart/whatever as they think I am.’
Not so much a motto or mantra but a deep driving curiosity about the-what-next moment.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
Maggie Kuhn who founded the Grey Panthers……and all the amazing Millennials I meet who are facing the challenges of this world with presence, conviction, and a commitment to change.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
This is impossible to answer…. I have been very lucky in my life to have traveled a great deal. There are really only a couple of places that haven’t been my favorite.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
Sneakers……actually, if I am entirely honest, shoes of all varieties from sneakers to boots to stilettos….and I have far too many pairs.
My Current Passions?
Life. It is autumn outside my window, now and the light is beautiful and through my office window I see the leaves changing on the copper beech ……does it get any better than this moment?