Baby Boomer Women: Jaki Scarcello

by Anne Holmes on January 13, 2011

Welcome to NABBW member, author and coach, Jaki Scarcello, a transplanted Canadian who wrote the book, Fifty & Fabulous! The Best Years of a Woman’s Life,  to help ensure that all women fifty and older know that being over 50 and female at this time in history is an opportunity richer and more ripe with potential than any other.

As Jaki says on her website,, “Some women dread the approach of their fiftieth birthday, fearing it’s goodbye to good times and good looks. Others barely notice the transition: they know how to welcome each age for its particular blessings. These are the women who aren’t trying to turn back the clock, but reaping the fruits of a life well lived, recognizing and receiving the real gifts that ‘fifty-plus’ brings. Women for whom being fifty or over doesn’t mean less, but more.”

Drawing on her own experience, as well as exhaustive research into other women’s stories—a series of interview conducted in five countries—Jaki’s book uses wisdom and wit to demonstrate how changing our attitudes toward aging can bring about a ‘virtuous cycle’ of rejuvenation.

She hopes that all women will learn to embrace the years after 50 with a spirit of optimism and energy – to become what she calls “Women of the Harvest.”

Those who do, she knows, are truly liberated. They understand that in maturity women have the potential for genuine elegance, a beauty more than skin-deep that sparkles confidently and generously from the eyes, and a whole new brand of personal sexiness.

On a deeper level,  women over 50 possess a secret power and joy, which radiates outward into the world and illuminates everyone around them.

After talking with Jaki recently, we invited her to tell us a bit more about herself and what led her to write her book…

Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a 59 year old female who has turned her energy and passion onto helping other folks 50+ to realize that life after 50 is a stage of human development not a stage of decline.

Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

I am married for the second time. I have two children in their late 20’s that live in Toronto and two step children around the same age in California.

  • We have one grandchild (step grandchild for me, though the heart cannot distinguish)
  • My parents are both deceased they died in their 90’s, four months apart after 70 years of marriage.
  • My sisters live in the Toronto area as do my nieces and nephews and 2 grand nieces.

What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

Walking home from a friend’s house on a Saturday afternoon, in my neighborhood, in the fall when everyone was raking leaves and burning them in their ditches. The air smelled like fall and smoke, it was crisp chilled and we had on our sweaters for the first time in the season. The colors were amazing and all felt good in the world.

What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?

I am strong and resilient and not afraid to take risk because I have made decisions in life which were first time, out of the box type of decisions for a woman in my family e.g. travel alone, divorce, corporate leadership.

Things did not always go well and I was not always supported for what I did but I learned from my errors and my accomplishments.

What inspires you?

A new idea, a gentle open heart, a brave or passionate man or woman

What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

  • My children…still.
  • My work … I am blessed that it still fulfills me and I explore for new ideas all the time.
  • Knowing I am not done, still a work in progress and I can still learn many new things for years to come

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

I scuba dive, was certified 9 years ago.

I travel away from my home 7 months of the year, Europe, Asia, Australia, etc

I love fly fishing and in the last 2 years I have had the opportunity to spey cast in Scotland which was a great treat.

Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.

Lots …where to start:

  • I love Indian novelists- Rohinton Mistry- A Fine Balance or Family Matters
  • Amitav Ghosh- A Sea of Poppies
  • Gita Mehta- The Raj

Or others like:

  • A Story Like the Wind by Lawrence Van der Post. It is a wonderful tale about a boy coming to manhood in the wilds of Africa. The words paint pictures in this book; you even imagine you can smell the images l.
  • Out of Africa is one of my all time favorite movies. It tells the story of what I consider, other than the really sad ending, a perfect lifestyle for a woman. She is strong has her own life and passions and then Robert Redford drops from the sky for romance…and she is a storyteller. Who could ask for more?
  • I also loved Footloose
  • And The Shower, a little known Chinese film which is so poignant and delicate it takes your breath away.

Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

I travel more than I root.

I go to Toronto as often as I can to work and to be with my family. I accompany my husband on his lecture tours 6 months of the year. We have been all over the world and no I don’t have a favorite place. I love many places for many different reasons. I love the people of different cultures and the food and wine and the varied patterns and norms of living which you experience when you travel with an open perspective.

Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate.

I try to walk, cycle and attend yoga as much as I can. I take vitamins, C, D, E and Fish Oil and Calcium

What do you stress about?

Work deadlines and quality. My children’s lives, occasionally money (but that is rare)

Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

Not at all important. I been gray (I call it silver) since my mid 40’s. I am very wrinkled in the face. The only thing that makes me sad is cellulite. I do not like how my legs look but most of my miniskirts don’t fit anymore anyway.

I am not willing to do any surgery or injections. I use moisturizers and exfoliants but that is it for me.

Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?

At 49 years old I moved to California from Toronto, left my home, my very successful work and most wrenching, the proximity to my family. I remarried in CA and live here now with my husband.

I started my own consulting practice in 2001 and invented a web based communication tool in 2008.

My first book was published in 2010

Yes, I think I have reinvented myself, geographically, occupationally, personally and to a great extend emotionally.

Do you plan to retire?

No, never but you know what they say about plans…they let God laugh

Are you doing anything to GO Green?

I am a passive greener. If the way is there I take it if I can but I have not forged any paths in this area.

I recycle. I have lots of reusable shopping bags and I use them. I have long lasting bulbs. I walk and cycle where I can when at home.I shop farmer’s markets almost exclusively and buy organic

My carbon footprint is enormous given all the jet fuel we consume each year but we do what we can where we can

Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

In 1989 I found an eastern spiritual path that I have followed since that time. It has had a major impact on my life and has shaped the perspective with which I now view this life.

It is interesting to be asked to pinpoint turning points because what I have learned through this path is that all events have equally shaped who I am today and how I view life. I have peace in my life now that I am not sure I would have had without this teaching.

Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

My dream now is to life each moment and day to the fullest to die if possible without regret for things undone or people done to. I would also like to write a second book about men and aging.

How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, and your world?

Fifty & FabulousI hope I do that to some extend in a small way in my personal relationships and then in a larger scale in my work.

It was my intention to share the findings of my interviews with women between the ages of 45- 102 from 5 countries in my book to offer to others a perspective on aging that I believed could significantly change their outlook on life and the quality of their life.

Since my book, Fifty & Fabulous!The Best Years of a Woman’s Life, came out I also offer workshops and transition coaching to women 50+ who have questions about this time of the ir life and want to explore its potential.

I try to make a difference where I can but I am also, finally, learning where my boundaries are and where my involvement is positive and where it is better for me not to be involved.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?

So many people for so many different reasons… I believe I am shaped by the genetics I came into this life with and then by the ever changing conditioning of each experience in my life. I could not pick out one person as my greatest influence.

I have been fortunate to have had many wonderful people in my life. I have also known people whose impact has not, at the time, been described as wonderful but I do still sense that whatever that impact was it was essential to the making of me.

If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

I am a dragonfly. I flit from here to there but I do not sting and I do not bite and when the sun is on my wings I shine!

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