THE IMPERFECT SHOW NOTES
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Ruth Yunker 00:00
Sounds a terrific snob about Paris. Loving Paris is a cliche. The Paris why don’t they want to go to Paris? You know, that’s not my attitude at the time. I was gonna go to Venice or Morocco or you know, not too exotic,
Achim Nowak 00:15
but let me just say those are also cliches
Ruth Yunker 00:21
Oslo I am newly in love with Oslo.
Achim Nowak 00:25
Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the my fourth act podcast. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your fourth act? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected fourth acts, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started. I am so happy to welcome Ruth younger to the my fourth tech podcast. Before I tell you about her, this is one of those wonderful moments we first communicated a couple of months ago. We didn’t know each other. Three weeks ago, I was visiting the South Bay area of California. Ruth lives in Long Beach. And we actually got together and had a wonderful dinner at a sushi restaurant in Redondo Beach. So I’m speaking with somebody who was a new acquaintance and I think of her already as a friend. And I immediately adored her when we had dinner and let me tell you why. Ruth is an author. She’s a humorist. She’s a Yogini. She’s a fashionista. She’s a photographer. And that is just scratching the surface. Ruth has written two years travel memoirs. Me myself in Paris is the first one and Paris I have grown accustomed to you. Both our accounts about she uses the word surviving Paris, and we’ll talk about that some more as a single woman, in her latest book, baby on the boss of me, and I totally love that title. Ruth takes on the joy and humor of aging at the age of 72, with two divorced husbands and adult children she adores Ruth is single and free. And what the heck does that actually look like? Well, we’re gonna talk about that. Welcome, Ruth.
Ruth Yunker 02:22
Hi, how are you?
Achim Nowak 02:24
I’m well, it’s wonderful. I’m going to see see you again, because we’re recording the zoom. So even though when you’re listening, you won’t see Ruth. I know you moved around quite a bit as a child. You weren’t born in Boston, but you grew up in the Boston area. You were in Belgium for a while you’re going French and you moved out of Belgium again, during those times because parents always ask us because, uh, honey, what do you want to be when you grow up? You know, they say their own way. Did you have an answer for that?
Ruth Yunker 02:53
I didn’t want to grow up. I knew I had a good in spite of all that moving around and being a new kid. I knew I had a good I liked being a kid. I liked my books. I liked my friends. I liked mom and dad, maybe sisters in the house. So I never. I mean, I didn’t consciously not want to grow up, but I didn’t. I didn’t think about it. Maybe that’s why I floundered once I didn’t grow up.
Achim Nowak 03:18
Yeah. Well, one thing you shared, you shared with me. And I want to say you’re very attractive woman. And you said you Well, I want to be a model. And oh, you and you were told well, you’re too short to be a model. That can be a soul crushing comment when you think about something you want to do. And I’m sure lots of people that Oh, you’re so pretty Ruth, you’re so pretty. And then the industry says, Well, you friggin can’t be a model. What was that like to get that reaction?
Ruth Yunker 03:45
You know, I? Well, I didn’t like it because I grew to five, five and a half. And then in one year, I grew to five, six and a quarter and I thought hot dog. I’m on my way. You know, I never grew another another centimeter after that. And that’s when I was 16. I went to modeling school anyway. But at the time I read the writing on the wall. I wasn’t a Twiggy, I wasn’t a Penelope tree or Jean Shrimpton. And I also didn’t have the Moxie to just my mother said, well, we’ll send you to New York, if you you know, you really want to if you want to try. And I didn’t have the Moxie at that point. I think it may be from all the moving growing up. But I just also had a sense that it wasn’t to happen. Maybe it wasn’t me. Really. I let it go.
Achim Nowak 04:37
Oh, there’s so much wisdom in what you said. But I was really struck by the word Moxie. Because, you know, you and I are roughly in the same age bracket. And we’re definitely for the actors. And some of us if we’re lucky have more Moxie at this stage of our lives, which means we go for it more. We fear judgment less. Because you did some cool things when you turn 50 And I want to get To that, because 50 can be a terrifying thing for people. But I want to take us through the journey into 50 in two ways. So I want to talk about your marriages and your writing. You married twice, you got divorced twice. And I think, for many of us, if a relationship doesn’t feel right, we don’t know how to get out of them. And I think especially for women, if if the husband is a provider, you’ll go like, why would I leave the provider? And gosh, she’s good to my children. How did you manage? What was your process for getting out of your marriages?
Ruth Yunker 05:39
Well, they were both completely different. The first marriage i We married at 19. And 20, was basically because we both wanted to get out of the dorm still support us in an apartment because this was in 68, where you didn’t live with your boyfriend’s like you do? No, no. And so we got married. And we made we were determined to make it work. But alcoholism came into the picture, particularly on his part mine, too. I was an avid participator. And it just after, it did take us 10 years to have our two children, but it just deteriorated. I mean, he was it wasn’t a not needed. We were functioning alcoholics, let’s put it that way. But I just was overwhelmed by those two children. I was over him. It hadn’t been a true, like, fall on our face. Love. I mean, we grew into love, I can see how arranged marriages could work. Yeah, we had fun because we were young, and we learned everything together, you know, including sex and how to, you know, manage a checkbook both bought a house?
Achim Nowak 06:42
Well, I would just interject those are two very critical things. Yes.
Ruth Yunker 06:49
Very important, both of them. And he continued to work. I mean, he didn’t ever pull apart on that at all. But I just I had those two babies. And then I had him. And one day, I just said to myself, there’s three, there’s three babies here. And one of them’s got to go. And it was him. And luckily, I had parental, my parents worked, stepped right in. And he did too. He paid his he did his part. But that was just a relief to get out of that marriage. I never looked back, I was not afraid of being single.
Achim Nowak 07:19
Nice. And how, how was your second marriage different? I know, your husband was completely different. How did you decide to leave that marriage? I want to say this way. I need that as a really positive thing. You know, because I think so many of us stay in relationships way past the time when they serve both parties. You know, so I don’t see leaving ending a relationship is a bad thing at all. I want to clarify my comment.
Ruth Yunker 07:49
You know, that amazes me too. I don’t know, if it’s me who’s got the nerve to get out of a marriage, or I’m always protected. I feel I’m very protected. You know, financially, it could be more protected. But you know what I mean? I mean, family, it was always there, I always had would have someplace to go. But I also had a lot of personal bravery. And I think that came from being keep harping back on it. But it’s what made me who I am today, that moving around as a child, particularly when we actually got dragged over to Europe when I was 12. So with the second marriage, that one that was much more about love. I’m in a way sorry, that that kind of that I let it in. But there came a point where we had four children between us, they were all off. My mother had died. My father was alone, my husband and I were having 15 year relationship issues that could have been surmounted. But again, I just, I was over it. And I’m not in love with being a wife, and having sort of being on the man’s arm anymore. When I was younger, I thought that was really cool what I wanted, but it isn’t what I want now. And it isn’t what I wanted. By the end of my marriage. I want it to be a single woman.
Achim Nowak 09:07
Yeah, I so appreciate your clarity, as I’ve told you, my partner, and I’m not that long, but for your relationship, and we choose to not live together and people. There’s such an expectation, even with two gay men, that at some point, you’re going to domesticate. And I think we both love the fact that we’re not doing that. So I fully understand what you just said. Now you are a writer, and you knew early on your writer and we’re going to get to your books. But in the middle of these marriages, how did you navigate? I’d say exploring your writing. How did you know what to write? How committed are you to your writing? Because for anybody who has writing urges, you know, that can be hard to figure out? Well,
Ruth Yunker 09:54
yes, I think if I think if one has a natural To draw to do something that they hopefully have a natural ability for it. So, you know, I’ve always been good in English, you know, I always my compositions were really good and so on. And so you know, but in my 20s I didn’t write at all when I got divorced from that first husband, I needed to make some money. I mean, it was great, but I still needed I and I wanted to find myself. Even though I thought sitting at home writing might be on the tedious side, I needed to be at home because I had two children. So I started taking classes at the university. You know, going back in I was in Baltimore, Maryland, started taking writing classes there just to hone my my ability and get some direction and some discipline for you know, how to be a writer. And right from the start, I just got, I had wonderful teachers and thought I was great. And it just gave me the confidence. I actually started by creating a cartoon strip about single parenting. And that was fun, although it took me two years to get it published anywhere. And by the time I got there, I was fully back on to writing so I liked humor right from the start. I like writing conversationally, even though I did get literary short stories published and all of that, but I it’s, I honed in on it when I needed to make money working from home. That’s but I went for what am I good at? And you know, this isn’t the time to sit back and have false modesty is the time to figure out what it is you can do. Like I wasn’t tall enough to be a model in 1966 When Jean Shrimpton at 510 was the way to go. But writing,
Achim Nowak 11:43
I don’t mean to stop you but you realize you mentioned penile Penelope tree Twiggy and all these models. There’s a whole generation of people is no idea who you’re talking about. Right? I know. But he’s a beautiful, beautiful 60s references. Yes.
Ruth Yunker 11:58
60s were fantastic. And the high and the low like they are now.
Achim Nowak 12:04
Yeah, I’m sorry, I interrupted you I, one thing you said I just want to I love that you said that I took some writing classes in Baltimore. And I just want to for anybody who’s listening to us who wants to write, you know, I’ve been writing since seriously since the early 90s. I was living the Oregon I studied with three, I had the privilege there to study with three really famous writers, and to suddenly be in a class with an amazing teacher and surrounded by other really serious writers. It changed my relationship to writing. And there’s something powerful about that. And I didn’t know that you’ve done that. I think that’s great. Now this, this gets us to Paris, because you and when I mentioned the titles of your two memoirs, because I love the titles and just the language choice, I think reveals something about your sense of humor. So once more first memory about Paris was me, myself and Paris. In that order, noted. And, and to Paris, I’ve grown accustomed to your way. So let’s was the fact that you spent a year or so in Brussels and probably learn some French. Did that make it easier to decide? Heck, I’m gonna go to Paris. I speak a little bit the language was that part of it?
Ruth Yunker 13:26
Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I was a terrific snob about Paris. Loving Paris is a cliche. The Paris Why don’t you want to go to Paris? You know, that’s not my attitude at the time. I was gonna go to Venice or Morocco or you know, not too exotic.
Achim Nowak 13:43
But let me just say those are also cliches.
Ruth Yunker 13:48
That’s the Oslo I am newly in love with Oslo.
Achim Nowak 13:51
Okay, cool. That’s definitely not a cliche. Yeah, that’s right. And
Ruth Yunker 13:55
so but I was gonna stay there a long time, stay in my own apartment, you know, an Airbnb and I. Finally again, I’ll have the mad idea. And then I get practical about it. Sometimes that stops me in my tracks. And sometimes it actually makes it happen. So the practical part was I speak some French or I used to, and I’m sure it’ll come back. And that will be helpful when I’m needing to go to the dry cleaners or the grocery store, or any of the things that you do when you’re not staying in a hotel and you’re on your own. So that’s how I and then I thought, get over this attitude about Paris. You know, go check it out as an adult. I’ve been there once a 12 I was less than impressed because it just looked like a bigger dirtier Brussels to me because you’re a snob. Yeah. Well, I was mad about being in Europe. I was not happy about it.
Achim Nowak 14:49
Okay. Now around the same time and connect these with me because it’s the podcast is all about life changes and transitions. And I believe when When you turn 50 Around the time you also chose to, to become sober. Did that has started before you went to Paris after Paris? Did you proceed going there? What’s the connection between sobriety and doing the Paris experience?
Ruth Yunker 15:16
Oh, well, I got sober before. I went to Paris about five or six years before that, and family issues made that happen. So I’m an alcoholic, or, you know, recovered now. But I mean, at the time, I would not have been able to do any of this traveling on my own if I was still drinking. That’s all I can say about that. Some people can, I can. So by then I was really still on a pink cloud about life in general being sober. I was thrilled not to be drinking it was it was I actually hated it, you know, I this genetic anyway. So also when I got to Paris, so I went to AAA meetings, which I do everywhere I travel to this day, which helps me meet people. In fact, I probably shouldn’t say as well as it anyway, even if you’re not an AAA, go check out an AAA meeting and English wherever you are, you’ll meet people and they’re very helpful. Yeah.
Achim Nowak 16:19
A word from your sponsor. That’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast www.my, fourth active.com, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. repeatedly said, I realized I like being single. And you went to Paris as a single woman. And you’re an attractive woman. So my stereotype is, yeah, she speaks French, but people are going to hit on her all the time. Either she wants that or she’s going to have a really wild time and let loose, even though she’s not drinking, like this describe like, how did you feel your days in Paris rose?
Ruth Yunker 17:17
Well, I did get hit on alive. French men love women. Doesn’t matter what age you are. And, you know, I mean, I had my adventures and but I wasn’t crazy. You know, I wasn’t looking. I mean, I had love back waiting for me in California when I came home. So it was a certain you know, my life consisted of the trips changed over 16 years. The first trips I was there really to see the city and to meet people. I always enjoyed meeting people both at AAA and on social media has been a just another magnificent way to meet people. But I would sightsee, and part of that was just the thrill of getting myself there and learning how to do my money. You know, my in French and all of it the daily life in a foreign country. I’d had experience living in Brussels as a teenager, so I wasn’t totally flummoxed. You know, I got myself on the metros. But gradually, I met people and met people and came back stayed in different apartments until the last three trips, I’ve stayed in the same one and the 15th a home d small. Paris became not this icon, not this cliche, but an actual living, breathing place that I really do love to this day. I love it now.
Achim Nowak 18:41
So I’m wonder again and somebody who grew up in foreign country, German grew up in Portugal, Turkey, I’m a German citizen, this is a foreign country. And when we travel like you do, there’s a there can be a sense of displacement, and we learn new things about ourselves by being out of our environment. What are some things you just covered about Ruth, and who you are as you were navigating around Paris? Well,
Ruth Yunker 19:12
I am much more brave than I thought I was. I didn’t think I was a scaredy cat. But I think in retrospect, it’s brave that I went off and did all these trips, especially thinking of all the actually specifically the hard part of travel as you and I have talked about over sushi and Redondo Beach, getting there, the airplanes the trains that are getting there on time the elevators that break when you’re in them, things like that. I have getting to this massive airport and finding out your flight back home has been canceled. Also yoga helps me through all of this yoga is my main state. I have found I go into what’s called my zen place because I’m I am normally a volatile person. I am not 123 All fit and crack up in public and I that’s part of what I like about being alone. It’s taught me to do that. Yeah, well, there’s no one you can throw yourself at and have them carry. Have him carry you up the stairs, you know, you climb those stairs yourself and get those suitcases up there. Yeah, unless there’s helpful people around. There always are, you know,
Achim Nowak 20:19
I have a feeling you know how to attract the helpful people roof?
Ruth Yunker 20:23
Yeah, well, because I have to, after I throwing my suitcase, down one flight of stairs at the train station in Venice, and this young kid at the bottom going, No, I’ll do it. You know, I have learned don’t react that you just asked. But it’s brought out. It’s given me an overall sense of peace about this part of my age. I’m in the last 30 years of my age of my life, most until and I think that’s about as long as I need for this one that we can move on to whatever comes next, you know, but it’s given me the realization and the ability to view it with excitement, as opposed to depression, or this is the end or my best years are over. My best years weren’t back then my best years really started once I started, like going to you’re just getting rid of the shackles of society, you know, one day, I might, well I would love to have a partner again. But I don’t want to go back to that place where my husband and I got a house and he’s wearing the honest friggin arm. Now gonna be worn on anybody’s arm, you know, anymore. And the going to Europe really forced me into that. And I was proud of how I did it. That’s why I kept going back. Yeah, right now, during the pandemic, it’s been nice to kind of stop, spend a lot of more time with family and various places around the country where they are, and kind of taking it in these last those last 1516 years of solid travel. That’s when I wrote this book. ageing. I’m the boss of me, baby,
Achim Nowak 22:09
I think you’ve got your title wrong. It’s baby, baby. Yes. Let me remind you, we need to get you some pills for remembering your book title.
Ruth Yunker 22:20
I said it wrong. The other day, too. I didn’t say aging.
Achim Nowak 22:23
But the book is really connected through the book, which came out just the inner last year. So it’s a new book. It’s called Baby, I’m the boss of me. You’re very open about your age, you’re 72 years old. You just said this is in some ways, the best part of your life. What are the opportunities, maybe that you see for yourself right now that maybe 20 3040 years ago, either weren’t there or you were afraid to pursue them?
Ruth Yunker 22:55
Well, it’s all your fault. But I’m going to pursue modeling at this age. I said to myself, the other day I came said your height doesn’t make any difference at your age. Now your age. There’s all kinds of modeling out there and you have at it, especially you know, so
Achim Nowak 23:12
May I interject since I’ve been quoted by you, and I love the conversation we had over dinner because you are strikingly attractive woman. You’re wonderfully energetic. So when you say that yoga, it makes sense, you emanate radiant energy and, and you sat there, you know, in a very straight faced way as we were having sushi saying, Well, I’m just not tall enough to be a model. I went, Wait a minute, that may have been true in your 20s when you had to be a runway model, but this is a different stage in your life. There are different modeling opportunities. I called you out a little bit and I’m so delighted that you’ve been following up on that.
Ruth Yunker 23:50
Well, you did well, and you know, I’m both good and bad I hear advice I don’t necessarily follow it I don’t do it with a kind of don’t tell me you know thing I just more like if it feels well that you know that rang a bell I mean, I’ve been hearing it a lot from people you know, with my social media stuff and all that but here’s somebody I respect in terms of the business world. And the first thing you said was go get headshots, which I’m getting March 21. And and I’m gonna be I’m just I said someone said, Oh, that sounds and I’m not necessarily telling a lot of people and I’m continuing writing my next book but it just it gelled. It was like all of a sudden, I got to meet. Can we get to the what did you want to tell your 16 year old
Achim Nowak 24:37
self and not yet?
Ruth Yunker 24:40
Well, this part goes back to that I am also on the other day I said to myself, what? This gives you a chance to go back and revisit who you weren’t 16
Achim Nowak 24:49
What I love about that comment you made is sometimes it’s not the right time for something and whatever is the right time. What I hear you talking about your life experiences. And what I’m hearing is your willingness to be a courageous single woman. That doesn’t mean you don’t want to have a partner but not being afraid of that, you know, you’ll you’ll show up as a different personnel, you know, maybe less fearful, you know, and that might open doors that couldn’t open when you were in your 20s.
Ruth Yunker 25:22
I didn’t quite hear what you said.
Achim Nowak 25:24
It’s okay, because I did something I tell my clients and where do I like went on for too long, it’s okay. But other than modeling, which you’re pursuing, again, which is fantastic. Are there any other things where you go, these are things I still would like to do that I haven’t done or things I would like to do more of, or sometimes we go, these are things I want to do less of, because I’m no longer interested in them? Well,
Ruth Yunker 25:52
I don’t have anything specific like, Gee, I want to take up rollerskating, which I tried last year, and fell in love happening, I’ve never really held back from that. And there are countries I’d like to visit and things like that. But I’ve never really allowed myself to fall in love. And I think 72 would be a great time to consider that.
Achim Nowak 26:14
There’s so much to so what do you think it takes for you and you meaning anybody to allow themselves to follow up, you will use the verb allow, which is powerful. But what does that take?
Ruth Yunker 26:28
I for me, that says, to allow myself to be vulnerable to them, and not in a stupid way. But I mean, in my heart, really open up so much that I would be devastated if I lost them. If it had gotten to the point that we’re actually you know, because both of my marriages, and in fact, all of my relationships have been wonderful and fun and it but I’ve always been one step, not out the door, a friend of mine once said, you have a glass shield around you. And again, maybe that was from being the new kid all those times, I mean, we are so affected by what goes on in our childhood, and that never goes away. It doesn’t have to drag us down. And in fact, it can be empowering. In fact, I think at this age, anything you find that can make you more feel more powerful, you should go for and that includes having a look at your childhood traumas, whether they’re good trauma or bad trauma.
Achim Nowak 27:29
So you made a comment earlier, and I rudely stopped you. But this the question I like to ask folks, which is based on what you know, now, if you had a chance to whisper some guidance to the the years of younger teenage Ruth, not to change the course of your life because the course is imperfect just the way it is. But what would you want to say to her from your current vantage point?
Ruth Yunker 27:51
Okay, what I’d want to say to her is, I would say, just remember this girls are too good at math. And here’s why. Here’s why. In my day, girls, were not good at math boys were good at math girls were good at English. So in other words, girls are good at creative artistic feelings, emotions, boys. But with this math, they always there was a way to the answer. There was a map, there was a right answer. There was no room for disseminating, you know, you went right to the cut to the chase, how do I fix this problem? How do I find the answer? That is something that you even now to this day, and when I’m traveling, I will think we so often women can get into the emotional side of it, which is a wonderful, warm, loving side. And that men can kind of just immediately give you good advice, you know? And the thing is, is that that immediately going for the what is the answer? You know, here’s this problem. What’s plan B? What’s Plan C? I really learned how to do that when I was traveling, you know, there had to be an answer. You know, it’s just what’s the answer? The trains are all not going into Paris today. How do you get to the airport, with three bags and a trillion other people in the same boat? I couldn’t fall apart or hang on to whoever you know, I just had to that was another time I threw the bags all the way down the stairs. But anyway, I would tell myself, there is always an answer. There’s always the right direction to go for where you want to get. There’s always step one. And at 16 I didn’t know that everything was a up in the clouds how to get from here to there. So as a result, I didn’t make solid plans at that age. I just kind of let life happen. Now I have solid plans.
Achim Nowak 29:48
Beautiful. That’s such a it’s a wonderful insight to end the conversation on I but I want to give you a chance to let our listeners know who might go out or bookstore Cool. And I like what Ruth talks about. And where will people find out more about you that your books? Or do you have a website? Where do you want to send them?
Ruth Yunker 30:11
Oh, well, I have my books, they’re on Amazon. There’s the three of them. And there’s a fourth one on the way. But also so Amazon of course, for the books, but to know more about me, I think my Instagram account says the most, because one of my things now is it started during the pandemic was when we were all stuck at home and everyone’s having claustrophobia and all the rest of it is look for the miracles in your daily life. And I mean the little tiny ones like the light turning green at the last minute, how good that first cup of coffee takes and really honor. Honor everything about your daily life, especially the smallest stuff. And secondly, smile at your face in the mirror gives your brain a crack that face open into a smile first thing in the morning and your brain says oh, I guess I’m in a good mood and you’re saying yeah, you’re in a good mood, especially as you get older.
Achim Nowak 31:11
What I also appreciate because you’re you’re very visual and you experiment with locks in my mind as a coach to be honest, you experiment with personas or different aspects of yourself and represented visually and I think folks can find some of that on your Instagram page as well. What’s your Instagram handle? Ruth
Ruth Yunker 31:30
it’s ruth.yunker there’s a dot at the end because people were calling me Ruthy Unker so at name I swear and the thing is is there are posts underneath and a lot of mine a lot sorry real sharp but summer this daily meditation of you know, here’s this funny little thing that happened to me if I talk much more about myself on my Instagram account than I do on Facebook. Facebook’s just sort of I’ve been on it so long I you know I feel if you don’t know me yet then nevermind. Go over to the younger if you want one right and I’m also have a YouTube channel. It’s currently dormant but it will it stopped during the pandemic, but it will begin lining up probably in about maybe next September.
Achim Nowak 32:19
Awesome. Thank you so much for this conversation. I just so enjoyed it, Ruth.
Ruth Yunker 32:26
Achim Nowak 32:30
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