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Inspiration for Trying Times
May 5, 2020
The first task of a leader is to keep hope alive.
-Joe Batten

Today more than ever, people need to know that they can make it through trying times.

Nothing makes that point like great stories—real stories of real people’s lives.

In the book, Living Long & Living Well: Creating and Contributing During The Wisdom Years, John Rosenow tells the stories of ten people who each came from an ordinary station in life, and went on to do work that made a difference, including into their wisdom years…often persisting through serious personal challenges.

Georgia O’Keefe painted and sculpted well into her 90s, despite experiencing macular degeneration when she was 84, which left her with only peripheral vision, at best, for the rest of her life. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years as a political prisoner, entering jail as an angry young revolutionary, and being released decades later as a wise elder, ready to lead South Africa beyond the nightmare of apartheid. Frederick Law Olmsted transcended a physical breakdown during his 70s, then brought to life the magical white city of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, then nurtured a young forester named Gifford Pinchot so he could demonstrate the practice of sustainable forestry and go on to found the US Forest Service. Martha Graham, the creator of modern dance, choreographed and danced and taught well into her 90s, despite her many years of severe arthritis.

Each of these stories reminds us that people in earlier times made it through challenging situations, and we can, too.

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