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  • Writer's pictureMarilyn Saltzman

"And you shall be a blessing"

It’s official. I don’t have to take off my shoes at the airport anymore! (Confession: I’m hoping that the TSA agent cards me on my next trip through security.)

Yup, I turned 75 this week. Three-quarters of a century! A time to reflect and to look forward.

I remember looking out at the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean when I turned 21 and thinking: What have I accomplished in life so far? And what will I accomplish – Can I be the one to cure cancer, become a famous author, make peace on earth? I was naïve and full of expectations.

Now, half a century later, I am more realistic. At 75, there are things I know for sure. I will not be the first woman on the moon. I will not be the one who cures leukemia. I will not win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

While I am still strong and healthy, I accept that my physical prowess is decreasing. I can’t walk against the current in the swimming pool vortex. I get out of breath walking uphill. And everything is sagging, from my jowls to my knees and, most sadly, everything in between. Ladies, you know what I mean.

And yet, Rabbi Jamie reminded me that Abraham was 75 when he began his fateful journey. I opened the Tanakh and found these words, “Go forth from your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation. And I will bless you; I will make your name great. And you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12, Lekh Lekha)

What struck me most was the phrase, “and you shall be a blessing.” So, at 75, my goal is not to climb Mt. Everest, become a renowned scientist or write the great American novel. Instead, I choose the path of being a blessing by mindfully changing lifelong habits to better serve others and myself.

I can be a blessing to the world by speaking out in pursuit of justice, by being an ally, by confronting inequity and iniquity. Too often I have chosen the path of reticence in pursuit of peace. I have ignored rather than confronted micro-aggressions, like comments that involved racial stereotyping. At 75, I pledge to be more mindful of when the right choice is loving rebuke or rebuttal rather than silence.

I can be a blessing to friends by being more open to receiving as well as giving. I have so many friends who model giving from the heart – who reach out without being asked, who intuit what is required and provide it. Still, I am often reluctant to request or accept help from others, whether it’s a ride or a meal. I am not very good at receiving compliments politely. I am more apt to say, “This old dress?” than acknowledge praise with a “thank you” and a smile. To honor my friends, I can graciously receive their generosity of word and deed.

I can be a blessing to my family by learning to be more patient – waiting to hear the rest of the story rather than interrupting with my own thoughts. I can be less judgmental – accepting choices, viewpoints and actions that are different from my own, whether it’s as simple as how to wear their hair or as complex as their political viewpoints. I can be more compassionate – quicker to listen with empathy, slower to jump in with potential solutions.

I can be a blessing to my loved ones by recognizing that my incessant worrying comes across as negativity and can be a burden and a damper. My journey is to be enthusiastic about a family member’s activity – a horseback adventure, a paddleboard ride, travels domestically or abroad – rather than focus on all that might go wrong. I want to channel my anxiety, shining a light by offering useful suggestions rather than projecting doom by appearing to look through a dark tunnel at potential hazards.

I can be a blessing to myself by practicing equanimity and trust. By recognizing when I am anxious, I can identify my fears and investigate how they are affecting me, both physically and emotionally, with curiosity and love. I can mindfully work to replace fear with trust, worry with gratitude and negativity with joy.

Inspired by Abraham, I embark, at 75, on discovering new pathways – speaking my truth, accepting kindness and harnessing worry. Though I can keep my shoes on, I don’t really need them for this journey. What I do need is Abraham’s faith and courage. Please wish me bon voyage.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” (Kohelet, Chapter 3)

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Jul 15, 2022

Marilyn. You are a blessing to me—to my life. Thank you.

Marilyn Saltzman
Marilyn Saltzman
Jul 15, 2022
Replying to

And you to me.


Jul 14, 2022

Congratulations on reaching 75 and being in good health and beautiful. You were a blessing to me and the Apple Meadows HOA many years ago when we fought for our homes to not be impacted by a firm wanting to blast the foothills mountains across Hwy. 93. And you never know about the Pulitzer Prize with your background and talent! Stay safe.🦋

Marilyn Saltzman
Marilyn Saltzman
Jul 15, 2022
Replying to

Thank you. I haven't thought about that early stage of activism in my life for a long time. We were a force, weren't we??

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