This conversation started on February 6th, 2018. Kick ass!!!
Amy, how young are you?
Hey Scott, let me first say, I am so happy to reconnect with you. I’m very proud to state that I am presently 49 years young and I turn 50 in exactly 52 days. Kick ass!!!
You mentioned you couldn’t wait to turn 50, why are you so excited about this day?
I can’t wait to turn 50 and that is no BS. It’s a privilege that I recognize with great respect. I’m beyond honored and I have no fear in my age. I’m excited – yes, actually, I’m joyful because turning 50 shows myself and the world my mileage which I believe is a thing to be proud of and to proclaim without shame. So many people today want to hide, camouflage, or even erase their miles on this path of life – not just physically either.
So many of us want to look younger, act younger, be younger.
You currently live in California in the Los Angeles area. Is it hard to maintain your philosophy and perspective on life and age in place that seems to be in direct opposition with that way of thinking?
Ha-ha! Oh L.A. it is a crazy complicated place. I could see where it would be hard to keep a grounded perspective here. It’s bananas for sure. Every day you are inundated by wealth, excess, status, material possessions at an insane level, as well as a constant stream of fit bodies, altered faces, and unrealistic expectations of what you need, what you should look like, and what you ought to be like – and it’s everywhere. It can be daunting and spiraling for sure.
L.A. is what it is and it makes no excuses – it owns it and there are no apologies. I could see where the city could wear people down trying to live up to all these images all spiraling around you here and that could be so draining emotionally, financially and spiritually. And I can understand how it can get inside people, eat away at them and change them. There is a side to it that for sure reminds me of a Blade Runner/graphic novel existence. It’s hyper real and can seem false, shallow, insincere, detached, uncaring, and vain.
But I see that all, recognize it, and do not allow it all to fuck me up or get me off-balance. I do not let its crazy infect me.
But on the flip side, there is also a true and real honesty to L.A. And I love that. It never apologizes for all that it is – good and bad and I appreciate that. You can be whatever you want here, dress however you want, embrace whatever culture you want, be a total freak and it’s cool. There feels like there is a strong level of do your own thing – and it has an energy to it – and you won’t be judged, ridiculed, or sneered at and I love that freedom. In Boston, I felt more stifled and more guarded as it’s much more conservative and people can be more intense in many ways. So, I embrace the unabashed honestly that L.A. brings to the table. There are a ton of people out here who could care less about all the superficial stuff and they learn to just accept that it exists here and ignore it and stick to their true beliefs and personal philosophy of how to live your life. I like to think I am one of those folks. I just stay my course and I do not let the crazy hype throw me off. And I like that it challenges me and forces me to truly think on who I am, what I stand for, what I want to do with my time here, and how I want to conduct myself. If anything, it has made me more firm in who I am as there are so many challenges and insane distractions out here. It was easier in Boston for sure – safer in a way. As my husband always says, you need to have conflict in life. L.A. is full of conflict and for me, that constant stream of conflict – it helps me to thrive so bring it on.
So, yeah, I am doing just fine in keeping my head intact out here – nothing has fucked me up yet.
What are your feelings on looking younger, acting younger, being younger?
I truly believe I get better as I age so why not celebrate it? Do I have more wrinkles, more fat, a foggy brain – hell yes? But these “flaws” remind me of my humility and being humble. I feel it is a very underrated characteristic. So, hell yes, I am excited and I am joyful and let’s face it, I am a hell of a lot wiser than I was at 25…or so I like to believe anyway. I can celebrate a half of a century on this earth and in those 50 years I have been beyond blessed with an amazing life that is full. Have I had some troubles, some roadblocks some stumbles – hell yes – too many to count, but that challenging, hard, really tough stuff is what made my life miles so meaningful to me as they taught me so much. I see 50 as a time for me to truly reflect on all I have experienced, learned, and lived thus far and rejoice in it all – as I truly am blessed. But I’m just getting started. I’m ready to set new goals for myself as I have much to learn and so much more to do and that is damn exciting to me.
You told me you were blessed to hit this milestone. What does turning 50 mean to you?
I am blessed in many ways and if I ever forget how fortunate I am, I’m quickly reminded when I go to work. My work keeps me grounded and hopefully, as authentic as possible. I left the ad industry back in 2008 to work as a volunteer full-time in the not for profit sector. At this point in time, I work at a homeless youth drop in center in Venice. And I know all too well that the average age of death for a homeless person in the US is age 48. That is scary and staggering. So, when I see my life at age 50 and how abundant it is in so many ways – all by luck and chance in my opinion, I get the slap in the head that we all sometimes need, to keep me awake to my own reality. So, turning 50 means to me that I got it damn good and I’m getting better every day in so many ways – mentally, spiritually, physically. I’m the healthiest I have ever been in my whole life. But that is not enough and it is not everything. Turning 50 cannot just be about me. So why not use this energy within me to hopefully help someone else out who wasn’t as lucky in their life circumstances and who got put on a shit track of life that they had no choice in being placed on? So, I’m very clear in my vision moving forward towards 50 and I guess this is my task: I must take all my blessings that I have and appreciate them and honor them fully. But in return, I must be the most compassionate human I can be to others in need who are not as blessed as me and who are constantly mistreated, harshly judged and misunderstood, and many times discarded by society – I truly consider it my responsibility and duty as a citizen. I must take all that I have and give it out.
For me, it’s the only way to be, it keeps me in true balance and it brings me great harmony, peace, and joy.
What defines harmony, peace and joy for you and how do you achieve it on a daily basis?
Wow! What a question…. I am going to ponder this one for some time and get back to you.
Ok. I am back. What defines harmony, peace and joy for me is maintaining a sense of gentle acceptance of myself and all my flaws on a daily basis, so I may give as much love and support to those in my life that I care about. Helping those in my life – be it family or friends, or people in need. That is me at my very best which in turn makes me feel total joy, peace, and harmony. It’s the most fulfilling thing ever. But I cannot give as much of myself as I like if I am not content, healthy, and accepting of myself first, so I work on that self-care every day as I know it is so crucial to love and care for yourself first, so you can do the same for others. God, I sound so cheesy right now. But it’s true. Is it a struggle? Yes. But I also don’t mind that challenge – the struggle within me keeps me on my toes and makes me better every day. So, I accept the struggle – we all have it within us.
I choose to think our inner conflicts really can help serve us and for me that is a gift – maybe sometimes not the gift I wanted but I choose to see it as a gift.
What personal goals do you have for 50 and beyond?
I have way too many goals. But I will list a bunch for you now, my personal goals for age 50 and beyond are to keep maintaining what I’m presently doing in my life and crank it all up a notch – maybe higher. I do not want to stop, slow down, or waiver. Full speed ahead while also recognizing that I need to allow for lovely moments of peace and serenity and being ok with that. I have a hard time stopping so I need to work on appreciating the power of just being. I thrive on being a hard-working machine but rest is crucial and I’m learning how to do that. But it’s a struggle. Of course, I also want to keep giving and doing as much as I can to help others in need. I have so many ideas to expand on in creative ways to help the homeless youth I work with so I need to keep kicking ass always. It makes me feel alive and energized. I love what I do, I truly do. I will keep working with homeless youth until forever. And that is what I always say to the kids I help serve – they are stuck with me for life. I’m not going anywhere. I want to keep treasuring and appreciating the amazing relationships I have with my beloved family and friends who I am so close to back in Boston, and my friends here in L.A. They have all been crucial to me and have been that tough as nails support system that I have needed so many times in my life. Without my friends and family, I realize I’m not whole and I know they will continue to be my foundation of support and strength as I enter this new chapter in my life. So, to keep these relationships appreciated and secure is a never-ending goal for me. Selfishly, I also want to travel and snowboard with my husband and kids a whole lot more as I have a goal that I must be still boarding when I’m in my 80’s – seems very realistic to me. But I also realize I need to keep myself as healthy as I can be. so I can be this force I so want to be. So, staying focused on daily yoga, meditation, eating well, writing and reading, hiking with the dogs, appreciating nature, building stuff with my husband, spending lots of quality time with our kids as they are now in their independent 20’s.
Our kids are by far my proudest moment as a human – that I helped raise them is truly my highest honor. I’m so grateful for that privilege and I realize it every day.
And as I get older, honestly, I realize that simply because I have been married for a long time and our kids are grown that stuff can just settle in and get complacent. I do not want to be complacent. I want my relationship with my husband to get even more loving, more energized, more deep and spiritual. And I want my relationship with our kids to continue to evolve as well. My husband and our kids are my world and I appreciate them above everything else. So, it is important to me that I expand on these personal relationships on a much deeper level so there is a truer and richer sense of love and caring that is new and vibrant. Those relationships must be tended to like a beautiful garden and I have to always remember to cultivate that which is so precious to me the most. And on the day that I turn 50, I hope that I have my true love and partner Pete by my side along with our kids Cian and Juliette and our crazy ass dogs and we are taking in this beautiful air and laughing our asses off that I am fucking 50 years old.
What a beautiful thing!
You have a goal of snowboarding into your 80’s. That is a very specific but unique goal. Why is this important to you?
I want to be snowboarding into my 80’s and hopefully beyond because it simply is believing that I won’t give up on all the stuff I love in life simply because I start to age. I look up to those much older folks who I see when I hike, swim, or board – it makes my heart so happy to see them. I literally want to go up and chat with them and to see what they have to say. I am super intrigued by old people who keep it all going.
Old people in our society, I feel, can sometimes be easily ignored, forgotten, overlooked, and discounted. They can also be viewed as frail, weak, forgetful, and pitiful. I want to go against all of this.
Getting older does not need to mean that fun and excitement in life is ending, your body is falling apart, you just should call it a day and melt away. For me, getting older could simply mean you are still kicking ass at all the things you like to do – and you keep thriving, you keep going, and because you have been around so long you have way more wisdom, insight and perspective – and you don’t give a fuck. I love that notion. I do not need to go out of this world blazing – but still riding happy and high would sure be awesome and feel so amazing for my heart, body and soul. And I won’t give a fuck. Sounds pretty awesome to me.
You mentioned you had no fear of your age. Where do you think that kind of courage comes from?
I do not have any fear in my age at all, but I do not view it as courage at all either. That is kind of you to say Scott. I see it more as a grateful acceptance of where I am thus far. I truly feel at peace with who I am and where I am in this life presently and I love that my age has given me so much depth and insight and I have evolved into a well sculpted sense of myself. I actually can be fearful of many things in this life but I always try to face them head on and learn how to conquer them. I believe fear is a necessity as not everything in life should feel comfortable and easy. So, it’s interesting you use the word courage because that is something I feel I’m constantly working on within myself. I guess the bottom line is I believe courage means having total acceptance of one’s self and your limitations and you need to at times push when faced with something unfamiliar or uncomfortable. And you’re not afraid to be you to the world and to move about in a way that shows you’re confident in yourself and your actions, but you do it all in a manner that is respectful and kind – always. So, I feel I am trying my best to emulate those personal beliefs with my age.
I welcome 50 warmly as there is no reason to fear it. To me, it feels more like a badge of honor.
Why did you start working with homeless kids?
I started working with homeless kids the year I moved to L.A. in 2014. Previously, when I lived in Boston I had been working at a safe house for survivors of domestic abuse for about ten years – as soon as I retired from producing. I loved working with that population and for that cause. But when I moved and I really took in and absorbed the crisis of homelessness in this city I quickly became very passionate about this social issue and I didn’t want to be an idle bystander who just commented and criticizes the problem. I wanted to get into the trenches and be a force of action within this issue. L.A. is a very prosperous city and it just seemed insane to me to live in a place that has so much yet does not offer enough services for those in need – especially the young people. Homeless kids are clearly sometimes forgotten or just simply overlooked – that struck a chord with me also. I am also drawn to social issues that involve compromised people who are typically misunderstood and harshly judged and mistreated (I say this all the time to people when they ask me why I work with homeless kids).
It brings up that feistiness within me that I know is always there bright and burning and I use that as my fuel to do good and to do all that I can within my scope to be a soldier in the trenches of this problem.
I also love working with this age range that we serve (ages 12-25). They are tough as nails and so tender as well. I had to work hard to earn their trust and respect and I appreciate that. I could go on and on about the kids I see and work with…there is just simply too much to write. I know they all deserve a chance and I hope I can do just a little bit in their lives to show them they are important and vital to society and they are needed and wanted.
They are not trash. Homelessness is a very complex and multi-faceted issue for many of our members and it is very hard to get people who have been homeless for more than a few years to get out of their situation – they can become very entrenched in that street life very quickly. By working with young people who are homeless I feel that there is more possibility for them – as they’re still young and we try to “catch them” if you will before they caught in the net of entrenched homelessness. So, I see a lot of hope with these kids and so much potential. They desperately need help, care, guidance, and love and I so want to give them all that as much as can.
You used the expression “they are not trash”. Do you think society makes them feel that way from your interaction with them?
I am not painting every single person with this brush but I see a lot of it. I have learned so much from working with people in our society who are compromised – especially homeless youth. I have learned volumes and I keep learning from them every day.
I think these young people show openly to our society a side of humanity that people would rather not see or know about. What they show to the world can be very ugly, disturbing, raw, and nasty and when you are homeless it’s all out there for all to see. In my opinion, they are people simply being exposed – their hurt is exposed, their demons, their conflicts, struggles, scars, wounds, pain – all the ugly stuff that exists within humanity – all of us have this stuff or some of this within us – in varying degrees. But homeless people typically have a lot more of this stuff that we all have, and for many complicated and multi-faceted reasons have it all exposed raw for many people that makes them feel scared, angry, or uncomfortable – or all three, and that I believe is where the problem lies.
There simply is not nearly enough empathy or care for these people by our society. Homeless people show the underbelly of being human and instead of society being empathetic or caring a lot of the time people get angry and want to fight this harsh side of reality. I’m seeing this now in L.A. No one wants homeless people “ranting and screaming and shitting on their lawn” but these same people do not want any sort of low-income housing to help house and support our homeless population which keeps rising in L.A. It is baffling to me. I wonder if homeless people instead had a more acceptable illness that was socially more accepted and they were not dirty, scary, or intimidating – would they then be viewed with more compassion and care? Maybe. I really believe they show us what ugliness can exist in humanity and we simply want to ignore it and make it go away – like trash. I use the word trash – which is a very harsh word I realize because it came from a town meeting I attended on homeless people and solutions that could be created and one person had the solution to round-up all the homeless people and put them on a ship and put that ship out in the ocean where they could live there far away from L.A. That suggestion reminded me of hauling trash out and away on barges. This person compared human beings to trash and I will never forget that. So, in a way I feel society does look at the homeless as trash. Like trash, they can be ugly, dirty, a nuisance, unwanted, discarded, and quickly tossed away and forgotten and for many homeless that is exactly how they were treated as soon as they were born and then how they continue to be treated by the world around them – so for them they quickly assume they themselves are trash too. Our thinking needs adjusting.
What is your favorite part about being a parent to two beautiful kids?
What is my favorite part about being a parent – that is such a tough question. It literally makes my brain spin. I had to think on this question for quite a while as so many things come to mind it’s hard to pick one favorite part. If I was forced to say one single thing it would be that my favorite part of being a parent for me is how amazing it is to give of myself unconditionally and without any expectations or hesitation so completely and totally. Does this even make sense? For me it’s all about giving. I guess to try to make sense of what I mean – I believe I am a giver by nature and once I became a step parent it was all about giving 100% of myself completely to these two kids – without any expectation, conditions, or reward – or even the guarantee in knowing I would do a good job at being a parent. I met Cian and Juliette when they were very young, and I was pretty young myself. But once I met them and was granted the role to help raise them it was truly no longer about me anymore in my life – and that felt amazing. I’m at my best when I’m giving, so to be able to have the privilege and honor to become a parent and give all that I have within me to help two young kids learn, grown, develop, explore, and succeed. It all just makes me a much better human being. And raising Cian and Juliette has been my proudest achievement so far in life for sure. Nothing makes me prouder or makes my heart feel as full. I look back now as they are ages 22 and 25 and I feel so lucky and so blessed they came into my life. They brought me more (and still do) to my heart and my soul and I just feel really lucky. It feels so rewarding to give of yourself completely and totally without any conditions – that to me is the purest form of love you can feel – so for me that is the best part.
Gratitude and humility seem to be core tenets that run through almost every answer you give. Can you talk about those two words and what they mean to you?
Gratitude and humility are very important virtues, values, beliefs – these words carry a lot of personal weight and I recognize that and I don’t use them lightly. I first learned about the true meaning of these words from my father and how he exemplified them every single day of his life through his words, actions, and deeds. So, these words I know are engrained in my being and I constantly am aware of what they entail and I greatly respect their value.
My dad was truly an exceptional human being. He taught me from a very young age the beauty of giving and being thankful while not looking for praise or acknowledgment.
He was a very humble, gentle man who although he did not have much as far as wealth and possessions he gave all that he had – financially, emotionally, and spiritually, quietly and always under the radar. He never wanted attention or recognition as he lived a very simple existence that was very peaceful and calm. But his life was so rich and abundant and I believe it was because he woke up every day just giving to others in as many ways as he could while at the same time always taking time to acknowledge how blessed and fortunate he was to be on this earth. He lived a very poetic life that was so sincere, loving, gentle, and kind. He represents these words in so many ways and I knew that I wanted to be like him as he was all about kindness and love. Obviously, he made a massive impact on me. I think of him every day as he is gone now and I am so grateful that he taught me so much about looking outside of myself and how I can be a better person and how by doing so it will bring me much joy. I’m beyond grateful to him so maybe for me these words are all about honoring my dad and carrying on his philosophy about how you should live your life. I ‘m just trying my best.
Do you feel or believe that your dad has ever reached out to you from the other side of this thing we call life?
I do believe that I can feel my dad’s presence from the other side for sure. I get moments of realizing he’s simply here with me guiding me along. It sounds weird I know but I feel it, believe it and accept it – with much love and thanks. He had such an impact on me for most of my life it would actually seem weird if I didn’t feel him still with me now. I typically sense him when I’m hiking in nature as that is usually when I’m talking with him about advice I may need or when I’m out in the ocean – which he loved and swam in every day during the summers. But also, I will sense him when I’m struggling with some difficulty or pain – I know he is here helping me, guiding me in his typical gentle manner. Yes, I believe for sure that he is here with me. I do get a sharp stab in my heart wishing he was still here with me in physical body as well so he could be part of all I’m doing in my life. I know he would love it all so, but I know his spirit resides within me now kindly and sweetly nudging me along my path. For that I feel fortunate. We are still connected.
What do you think is on the other side of this human existence?
I like to believe that what is on the other side of this human existence will be pure and utter joy without pain or pressure of any kind. I believe all of us will be reincarnated in some way – be it another human or animal depending on how you lived your life here and now. Sometimes I truly think our dog is my dad. I see it in his eyes. Crazy I know.
I know everyone’s next life will be different – I believe if I am truly worthy I will come back as a Labrador retriever who lives with a very loving family.
This family will love me unconditionally and completely even though I may be big, slobby mess. They will let me sleep on the sofas and the beds and they will give me lots of bones to chew on, love, and affection – and in turn I will be very loving, loyal, and playful for them. I know from this life how dogs are so good for human hearts and souls. We will all live in a simple house right on a beach somewhere warm so I can run and swim in the ocean every day, chew on sticks and just play, smile a big lab smile as I roll in the sand and then nap in the sun – a simple dog life that would be a great second act for me. It makes me so happy inside just thinking about it. I could for sure come back as a dog and if I ‘m lucky I will.
If you could eliminate one thing in the world what would it be?
If I could eliminate one thing in this world it would be to eliminate the lack of empathy towards others so that everyone accepts and cares about all people no matter their social standing, race, immigrant status, sexual orientation or self-identity, disabilities, mental health issues, criminal records, flaws, screw ups, religion or lack thereof – unconditionally and without judgement or disdain. I feel sometimes we are working backwards right now on all of this but I’m hopeful.
If you could eliminate one thing about YOU what would that be?
If I could eliminate one thing about myself it would be my critical judgement of myself. It simply does not serve me at all – it is stupid and a waste of time and energy – but I still do it. But I am working hard on it.
Maybe now that I am 50 I will simply stop this nonsense. I sure hope so.
You are trapped on the moon. You can’t be rescued. You are looking back at earth, what will you miss most about living here?
If I was trapped on the moon and could not be rescued I would look back on earth and miss the beautiful moments/memories I knew I could never experience again with those I love, doing simple things that bring me joy. More specifically, I would miss the warm and sunny days where I am swimming all day in the ocean with my family until we are so tired and beat. Then we go home, run around with our dogs, play cards, laugh, drink some wine, eat some pasta with lobster and bread and butter until we are so full and so worn out we go to bed happy, tired, and grateful. That is all of what I would truly miss.
Makes me sad just thinking about it.
If you could write your eulogy what would the first three sentences say?
Dear God!!!! I really do not like typical funerals, wakes, or eulogies. Ugh.
If I could write my own eulogy I would choose not to as I do not want one. No words need to be said upon my death. Hopefully my actions and deeds while here on this earth said plenty enough to those that know me and love me – good and bad – faults and all, mistakes and screw ups, good deeds and dumb decisions. It’s all out there so as wordy as I am now on this earth, upon my death I would not want any words – there is no need for it.
Instead I want a Viking style ritual and nothing to be said. Just put me in a linen dress covered in jasmine, ivy, moss, and fern and put my body on a wooden makeshift raft that is also my wood pyre and my family and close friends send me out to sea. I would request a very good archer to insure that he or she gets their arrow to ignite my raft aflame. No words needed just the sound of the ocean waves, hopefully the light of a full moon, and send me on my way. I doubt this is legal in any way, anywhere, but it’s my wish and in my will so hopefully somebody can make it happen. Knowing me I will research how to legally and properly do this once I get a bit older so no one is left to figure this crazy shit out.
To me it seems like a beautiful way for me to leave this world – embraced by fire on the sea covered in nature. Beautiful.
If you could be one other person in the history of this planet who would you like to be?
I just want to be myself. Seriously. But the best version of myself that I can be. Would it be exciting and intriguing imagining that I was a brilliant scientist, artist, inventor, humanitarian, poet, equal rights leader, etc.? Of course. But I would rather focus my thinking on just being the best version of myself. Because longing to be anyone else seems like I’m not happy with myself and I am, and it kind of bums be out to think I would want to anyone else than who I am. Am I taking this question too seriously? Probably. But I stand by my answer.
If forced to answer otherwise I would say I do not want to be any other person on the planet – I would much rather be a large, silly, happy dog – a Labrador retriever for sure – that lives by the ocean and swims a lot and rolls in the sand, chews on sticks, watches birds but does not hunt them, and naps a lot while getting head rubs from a very loving human.
The universe has allowed you to have a conversation with your 25-year-old self. What would 50-year young Amy say to her?
If I could have a conversation with my 25-year-old self now I would say to myself:
Amy, now is the time to be. Be bold, be less intimidated, be less concerned with what others think, and just be brave and free and move about and experience all that you can while you are young, vibrant, healthy and unencumbered. Break out of the mold as to what is expected of you to do. Move to another country and live there and experience it all – on your own, by yourself! Go and learn their language, explore, and get out of your comfort zone. Shift yourself out of the rut of doing what everyone else is doing at 25 and carve yourself a new path that is original and unique. It sounds scary and risky I know but you will be ok and you will benefit from breaking out. You are young. Holy shit that is so damn fun and exciting! Get a much wider scale of vision and get out and see all you can see and experience all you can. Your career can wait a bit, work can wait a bit, boyfriends can wait a bit, your friends and family will still be here for you but go out and be daring and do it on your own. Be brave young girl and set yourself apart from the pack but travel light and with a full heart and open mind and hungry soul. Go now!
Describe what love means to you?
Love means to me very simply, giving. To give all of yourself to another without any expectation of receiving anything in return or for any reward or recognition. You simply give all of yourself that you can because you love. It sounds so simple and I guess it is in a way but sometimes just giving out of pure love only is hard for people. Give of your care, your attention, your time, your energy, your work, your skills, your talents, your patience, your understanding.
To love means to give all that you have to another – that to me is pure and simple love.
Amy Favat, family above all, feisty warrior for those who have no voice, giver, homeless youth advocate, humanitarian.
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