For nearly three decades, until they sold the company, Sydell and Arthur Harris operated the Spa Sydell chain they started in 1982. That makes them the perfect couple to ask about the secret to aging gracefully.
Nonagenarians, the Harris’ shoot basketball hoops, walk up escalators, and hike the halls of their condo building.
A well-known motivational speaker, Sydell, at 92, proclaims, “Eating well and staying active are all tools; but attitude is everything! People frequently compliment me for being so ‘special,’ and I take each day as a challenge. We have to be aware every minute as to music, diet, clothing and exercise, to prop up that extra lift to block negativity. That’s my personal credo: attitude is everything.”
She refers to being reared in a Jewish environment, which “could tend to be negative” and complaint-laden. “I had to work on myself to overcome this,” she said.
Arthur, going on 93, shares that the mind can only manufacture one thought at a time. So, keep manufacturing positive ones, he said. In other words, no time for negative thoughts. “Don’t get booby trapped by negative people and events,” he warned.
After 70 years of marriage, they agree on a variety of healthy-thinking mantras.
Attitude is key, but then there are “lucky” genes and maintenance, she said.
Looking good still requires some work. She counsels that skin is important. Sydell always exfoliates and never goes to sleep with makeup on. She uses serums, moisturizers and eye cream and leans towards Estee Lauder makeup, getting makeup touch-ups at Institut’ DERMed once a month. She claims, “Makeup is exciting and makes me feel good. I think it’s a big mistake for women to just ‘not bother’ to wear makeup.”
Another routine Sydell recommends is dry brushing the body before a shower to work the lymph nodes. “It only takes a few minutes. Start at the feet and go up towards the heart,” she states.
“We eat well, but not fanatically so. Arthur and I may split a dinner of soup, trout, and asparagus.”
Sydell also makes a mainstay out of helping others.
For decades, Sydell has been a fixture in many meaningful “give back” programs. At The William Breman Jewish Home, she is known for her manicures. The residents beam after they select a bright shade, and Sydell does her magic.
Camp Sunshine and Twin Lakes are especially dear to her for helping children with cancer. “They are such troupers and heroes, even with no hair; I can do their makeup and give the gift of touch.” Also, at Shepherd Center, which specializes in spinal and brain injuries, Sydell can do facials for those in either wheelchairs or beds. She massages arms and hands, again giving her “gift of touch.”
Afterwards, she shows them the mirror to see the glow. If possible, after a facial, cleanse or night cream application, she recommends that everyone bend over and slap their face to get the circulation going.
“After leaving Shepherd, I feel so good. It is truly a blessing to help others. When you give to someone else, the better you feel!”