How to get Mojo

I’d seen her do it many times. After getting dressed, she spins around, looks me in the eye, and with a girlish smile asks, “How do I look.” The answer is always the same, “You’re beautiful.” At 85, my Aunt Jeanne Marie is still the most beautiful woman I know.

At a time when the Internet daily shoves images of the ideal beauty at me, none compare to this woman who has so richly impacted my life.

I’m fascinated with a news segment called, “Stars Who Lost their Mojo.” A series of before and after photos of celebrities who’ve had the misfortune of getting older. But I’d like to challenge this standard. I’d like to say, Aunt Jeanne Marie never lost an ounce of her mojo, in fact she gained it as she got older.
Aunt Jeanne Marie, Nora, Sheila, and me

Once, as a little girl, I sat in the bathroom and watched Aunt Jeanne Marie go through her nightly ritual of washing her face. When I asked her what she was doing, she said, “Honey, whatever you do for your skin it will appreciate.” But today, Aunt Jeanne Marie isn’t beautiful because of the moisturizer she used.  She’s beautiful because of the woman she became.

Her’s was a life like most of ours, filled with grief and sorrow, joy and triumphs. But she chose to focus on the good. Like when she could have no children of her own, so she stepped in and helped my mother raise her six.

Today, she and my Uncle Eugene live in a little house in San Francisco. They don’t have much because they enjoyed giving most of their possessions away.

Aunt Jeanne Marie, my granddaughter Juliette, Uncle Eugene, my sister Sheila

It’s easy when we’re young to rely on our exterior appearance.  But by the time we’re in our fifties, our face tends to reflect the people we really are. Our wrinkles are the imbedded joys, sorrows, and tensions we’ve chosen to spend our lives focusing on.

I think Mojo should be all the good stuff that comes out when we choose to age well. I’d like to change our culture to value women like my Aunt Jeanne Marie. A woman who chose a life soaked in forgiveness. Whose mojo goes to the very depth of her soul.
I dream of a day, when my grandchildren will see a segment called, “People Who Gained their Mojo.” Picture after picture of sweet gentle old folks with laugh lines embedded in their faces and crows feet reflecting a spark in their eye. Because that’s a beauty fought for. A beauty that doesn’t come natural.


  1. I totally agree with you Ellen. Aunt Jeanne Marie and Uncle Eugene have grown more beautiful and wonderful each day. They taught us that the outside of a person doesn't mean a thing if they aren't beautiful inside. They will never know the total effect they have on everyone they meet. Everyone I've brought to the house have said they were treated like they were friends for a long time. We are so lucky to have them in our lives.


  2. I wish I could meet your Aunt Jeanne Marie…she sounds wonderful. I hope I can focus on the good like she does. I love the picture of you and your Aunt Jeanne Marie…two beautiful people.


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