FEARLESS AGING- DONNA PEKAR - Three decades in the corporate world developing communications that “enhance reputation, drive operational results and engage internal and external stakeholders in the strategic vision of the organization,” has given  Donna Pekar a brilliant edge.


I am a 14-year survivor of advanced stage ovarian cancer. Not many of us around, and I’ve used my blog as a platform to try and inspire others -- to let them know good things do happen to people who get cancer. I think it’s important to share the gift of perspective.

"Oops,I forgot to conform."

contributions are shared with permission from

Rock the Silver!


An accomplished speechwriter and executive communications professional, she wings her way across the wide-ranging skies - aerospace, energy, U.S. State Department and Department of Defense.

Cancer Survivor  Fearless Aging
Rock the Silver !


How did you get started writing online?
I started the blog to chronicle my quest to look stylish while embracing gray hair, so I initially attracted other women with the same concerns. But let’s face it, you can only write so much about hair.

I started to write about my cancer experience, what it’s like to age in the workplace and all the other little stories that make life interesting -- and my audience has expanded. Still mostly women in their 50s and 60s trying to figure out what this whole chapter of life is all about.

How did you get interested in creating work in this particular genre?
It was happening to me, and I am totally self-absorbed.

What kind of research do you do?
Next to none. I like telling my stories from a personal perspective. Added benefit -- no one can question my sources!

What's a typical working day like for you? 
It’s kind of brutal. I get up about 4:15 a.m. I work out at home for 30 minutes -- stationary bike, treadmill or weights. Ice my knees.  Take my vitamins, check my email, respond to comments on the blog and write until about 5:30 or 6 if I’m on a roll. Then I take a shower, get dressed and go to work. I typically arrive between 6:30 or 7 a.m. and leave around 6 p.m. I’ve spent my career in corporate communications, but I recently got tapped for a special assignment as director of staff for the president of the company. Lots of desk work but plenty of interaction with people trying to get things done. My ability to write quickly and clearly is a huge asset.My husband is retired and is a fantastic cook. We eat a great dinner around 7 p.m. Watch a little TV.  I love “Chopped” on the Food Channel and all the “Law and Order” shows.  Check my personal and work emails -- in bed by 8:30 p.m. 
I write a little bit every day and lots on weekends.

What is the most challenging part?
Getting up. I’ve been doing it forever, my body is trained to do it, but I hate it.

What's the best thing about being a creative person?
I forgot I was creative!


What are you working on now?
I want to start podcast versions of my blog posts. I was always the narrator for all the pageants and stuff in school and was a competitive public speaker in college. Somehow, I think it would be satisfying to read my work, and there are readers who might prefer that format. I’d like to think my voice is still there. We shall see.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a creative person?
I’ve been successful in the business world, but I find people far more interesting than the work itself -- I just happen to be good at the work. The hazard is that I struggle to find how this all fits into my whole self. I’m proud of my career. I like my creative pursuits outside of work. Sometimes it’s all a bit much.

What is your favorite line of poetry?
Maybe a line from a Leonard Cohen song: “Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.”

Who would play you in a film of your life? And who would narrate it?
Me. Me.

What is, or what do you expect to be the most adventurous thing you have done/will do after the age of 60, 70,80?
I see myself growing wilder with age. I always write the truth as best as I can, but sometimes I hold back because I have a career, and I protect it. That’s why you won’t see naked pictures of me on FaceBook. Someday I won’t have to answer to anyone but myself, and that will be when the adventure starts!

What is your greatest contribution to the world to date?
I am a 14-year survivor of advanced stage ovarian cancer. Not many of us around, and I’ve used my blog as a platform to try and inspire others -- to let them know good things do happen to people who get cancer. I think it’s important to share the gift of perspective.

Do you have a Dog? Cat? Goat? Name(s)- and what is your favorite animal?
I love cats. We have a big-boned tabby named Bruno. He’s a bad actor, but we love him anyway.

If you won $30 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?
Buy a house somewhere beautiful. Write, read, cook, enjoy the great outdoors.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?

She Never Gave Up.





Twinkle twinkle little wrinkle

(or what I really wanted to talk about is Judi Dench)

 I love movies, but my husband could see one movie a year and be satisfied. Documentaries about Nazis and U-boats -- that's another story. When I leave town for a business trip, I always worry I will come home and find him on the living room floor in his underwear with a crazed look on his face, "World at War" blaring on the TV and toy soldiers reinacting the Battle of the Bulge. For various reasons, we couldn't access any sort of "movies on demand" feature on our living room TV. Part of the problem is that there's no phone jack in there, so I asked for a phone jack for Christmas. Seriously. That's all I wanted. One thing.

He thought I was kidding. Then I researched other options. AT&T U-verse would have been great, but it's not available in our neighborhood. I read about this little device called a Roku [from Roku.com] that allows you to stream movies from the Internet, but I was pretty sure our wireless range didn't reach the living room. I mentioned this to a co-worker, so said, duh, just take your laptop in there and if it works, so will a Roku.

I took my laptop in there, set it by the TV, and miracle of miracles, we have wireless! I practically ran to Best Buy, where I bought the latest and greatest Roku for $100, plus extra for the cable. It was the easiest thing in the world to set up once I got it home -- and I have been happily streaming ever since!

Streaming movies are available from a variety of places, including Netflix. Each has its own merits and sometimes a different selection. Netflix is all the streaming you can stand for $7.99 a month, and Amazon is pay by the drink, but lots of the Amazon movies are free if you're in Prime. I'm not sure I have trumpeted Prime before, and that's an oversight. For $79 a year, you get free two-day shipping on most stuff, free returns on clothing and free instant videos. Prime is the working woman's best friend. I even buy my floss on Amazon Prime. Anyway, here's what I've watched so far:

Breaking Bad (Episodes 1-3)

Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Into the Wild

Silver Linings Playbook

Food, Inc.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

My husband actually watches "Breaking Bad" with me. It's a TV show about a high school chemistry teacher who starts making meth to support his family. Totally twisted!

Motown is about the Funk Brothers, a group of studio musicians who created the Motown sound.I could go on..

.but what I really wanted to talk about is Judi Dench in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

but what I really wanted to talk about is
Judi Dench
in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

photo courtesy of listal.com

When the movie started, they showed a closeup of Judi's face, and my husband, who was on his way to bed, said, "Wow, look at the wrinkles on her." And I said, "Aren't they beautiful?" Judi Dench's loveliness is simply mesmerizing. Her shock of silver-white hair (if I go short again, this is what I want), her wrinkly (but healthy and well moisturized) skin. The sparkle and twinkle in her eyes. Even the slight thickness through her middle and the flowy clothes she wears throughout the movie. Stunning!

I do my best to look attractive, but I have absolutely no desire to drag in an arsenal of tools to fight the natural process of aging. Youth is not the benchmark of good looks.

But sparkle in the eye is the gold standard of beauty -- a radiance that is the result of joy, confidence and a life well lived. Totally worth fighting for.

## Rock the Silver   Fearless Aging Column


 On Postponing Medical Tests

in case something comes back hinky

Whatever medical tests you're supposed to get that you've been putting off until after the zombies come ... please just go get this taken care of now. Now, I said. You'll be happy you did.

My oncologist cut me off a couple of years ago. I've outlived his usefulness, I guess. The only thing I really need at this point is an annual blood test called a CA-125. The onc said my family practice guy could do that, and if something came back hinky, he could take it from there... So I Didn't


I am not a doctor, but I play one on the internet, so I explained the deal about lab tests to him. I said my family practice dude uses a different lab, and I will get a slightly different result. The onc said that's true, you'll just have a new baseline. I said that will freak me out. He said it's not a problem. I said that will freak me out. He said just do it, so I didn't.

So, uh, two years go by or is it three? I haven't had a CA-125, and it's really the principal tool for detecting a recurrence of ovarian cancer. Well, that and symptoms. I had no real symptoms to speak of, but ovarian cancer is a sneaky bastard. The simplest things like being a bit, well, farty, can be a symptom.

What can I say, it was a farty party this spring. I now think it was the glucosamine I was taking for my knee issues and possibly the cucumber in my juicer drinks. It's not easy being me. I knew it was time for me to bite the bullet and get the blood test. I almost went back to the onc and begged just so he would send it to the same lab, but I told myself to man up and do this thing.

I told myself to man up and do this thing


I went last week and told the family practice dude what was up. I said, look, my lucky number has been six for years now. I know it could go up a little with the new lab. Anything more than a few points of deviation will freak me out. If it comes back abbie normal, I don't want some stranger nurse calling me on the phone and cheerfully announcing that my new lucky number is 3,465.

The doc said, "I will call you if something is hinky."

The nurse called. She called the house first, and my husband freaked out. It was almost like, "The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!" He was scared for me. He called me on my cell, then she called me on my cell and said everything was normal. I said what's normal? She said 10. Ten is normal. Ten is good.

I called my husband back. I said hey, guess what?

I get to live another year!

He said don't screw around with this anymore, OK?

Rock the Silver



On The Great Weight Debate

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with judgment

Ex-smokers are known to be especially intolerant of people who still smoke, and it would seem that someone who was once obese might develop a similar intolerance for those who are overweight. After all, if you can lose the weight, so can they.

As a formerly chunky person who lost 55 pounds more than 30 years ago, that intolerant someone might be me. But I am changing.

I like to think I understand things, but in actuality I spend much of my time driving around the planet punch-drunk and ignorant trying to figure out how I made it this far on a half-empty tank. If I didn’t like being fat, and you didn’t like being fat, it was an easy run for my money to assume nobody liked being fat. This is why I’m bad at math.

It has occurred to me that maybe it’s not so much about liking or disliking our weight but loving who we are at any precise moment and realizing that we have beauty and worth, regardless of our size or shape. I mean, I knew that intellectually, but emotionally I’ve always thrown my lawn dart at thin. While being on the slender side was and still is my personal bullseye, it was also a standard I set for others. Like I get to be the judge. With a little willpower, this could be you.


As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with judgment and profoundly annoyed with the beauty and fashion industry, which has pulled an Al Haig and declared itself in charge: 10 Things You Should Never Wear Clothes That Make You Look Fat and Old Hair Mistakes You Must Avoid Last week I saw a “beauty and aging” feature in an online magazine, and I struck out twice in Hair Mistakes for 100. My bangs are too short for my age, and I have long gray hair. Oops, I forgot to conform.

The pressure to look like everyone else is intense. And it’s such a losing game, because just open your eyes! Considering that we are one species, variations of the human body are nothing less than astounding. It’s a circus out there. A crazy, wonderful circus.

It’s a circus out there. A crazy, wonderful circus


One of the turning points for me was observing a woman at work who is so utterly petite, you can’t imagine that she has normal-sized heart and lungs. I think, what she eats can’t be all that different than what everybody else eats, but it’s like we’re not even cast from the same mold. She was just born that way.

We don’t typically afford the same courtesy to people we define as overweight. We assume something is wrong with them. Unhealthy. They must eat all the time. Enormous quantities. We don’t assume they are born that way.

I’m a strong believer in free will, but it just has to be that some of this stuff is hard-wired. Maybe my unique biological structure made it possible for me to drop the pounds. It doesn’t make me stronger or better. It’s just who I am. And maybe someone else’s DNA keeps them at a different weight -- small, big or something in between. Or maybe somebody is larger and sure, they want to be smaller but not that bad. Or not right now. They have other things to worry about. They are searching for their own brand of beauty, and they’re searching for self-acceptance -- not the perfect diet.

Plenty will argue that being overweight is unhealthy -- I’ve believed this myself. And I’ve used and defended the description, “Fat and unhealthy.” But I no longer believe the categories are that clean. There are unhealthy fat people, just as there are unhealthy thin people.

The way we look, whatever it is, whether we choose it or not -- it's simply who we are, and it ought to be just fine


The way we look, whatever it is, whether we choose it or not -- it's simply who we are, and it ought to be just fine. I certainly don't want to wake up every day and think, "This isn't good enough." How exhausting. Better to work at tuning out the noise and judgment, assume we are smart, beautiful, healthy and cool and go from there.

Rock the Silver


On How Cycling
Just Got Interesting

I rode my bicycle...15 miles in
the Tour de Cure fundraiser for diabetes


Today I rode my bicycle for 15 miles in the Tour de Cure fundraiser for diabetes. The ride was at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, and we got to do a lap around the track. That was fun. I was not among the elite pack riding 30 and 60 miles, but I felt proud that I could do a mean 15, what with all my ailments. It's not a race, it's not a race, it's not a race, but it was snarkily delicious to leave some youngsters in the dust and not finish dead last.

I completed the ride in 90 minutes -- a 10-miles-per hour pace won't set any records, but I was pleased. Although this is as far as I've ever ridden, I had done several 10-mile training rides, so I knew I would be OK. I saw a lot of dead soldiers on the side of the road. I'm wondering if they thought, ah, 15, that's a piece of cake and then found out the hard way it wasn't. I felt great, and now I'm eager to work up to longer distances.

Baby boomers...definitely well-represented... Cycling might be the ultimate pro-aging sport.

This was also my first group cycling event, and I liked it! The vibe was nice -- a huge range of ages and body sizes and everyone just out to have a good time. Baby boomers were definitely well-represented, and why not? Cycling might be the ultimate pro-aging sport. Easier on your body for sure. It could be a money pit, though. Sure, there were plenty of people modeling your basic t-shirt or bike jersey and shorts, but many cyclists have some serious style. The freak flag was flying! I loved the eclectic mix of rebels and free spirits and Lance Armstrong wannabes. I'm kind of a loner -- not the serial killer kind -- but not as social as I could be, and this looked like a group of people I'd like to hang with.

I got excited thinking about how snappy I would look with gray pigtails against a canvas of purple titanium.

At least I have a cool bike. It practically rides itself. Still, I felt woefully outclassed in the fashion and gear department and can't wait to throw money at the problem. I saw a woman about my age wearing an adorable cycling dress and thought, how cute is that? She had little braids poking out of her glitzy helmet, and I got excited thinking about how snappy I would look with gray pigtails against a canvas of purple titanium. Oh, and my sunglasses suck.

Rock the Silver


Read Donna Pekar's Rock the Silver
 Fearless Aging Series
Series One

Twinkle twinkle little wrinkle
 On Postponing Medical Tests
On The Great Weight Debate
On How Cycling Just Got Interesting

Series Two
 On Declaring a War on Seriousness
On work, cancer and life lessons


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