Cynthia Hipp Perthuis handles the tough-stuff.
Cynthia spends most of her waking hours helping families transition into a last stage of life for a loved one. There is NOTHING easy about this role. No one really wants to talk about it; but the reality is that we have an ever-growing aging population that requires tenable solutions. Cynthia bravely jumped into the world of entrepreneurialism at an age where many are contemplating retirement. Her story is one of ‘it’s never too late’ and benevolence, as she chose her Second Act as a way to help others through the roughest part of our journey. I am humbled to present this week’s Share Your Story and our Kuel Life, Elder Care Category Expert; Cynthia Hipp Perthuis.
KUELLIFE: What are you pursuing now, at this stage of your life, that surprises you or might appear to others as if it comes out of left field?
CYNTHIA: At the young age of 58, I left a lucrative traditional career and started a company that is located in New York City and in Southwest Florida. I downsized my apartment in Manhattan and added another apartment in Naples, Florida. At a time when many people begin to wind down their career, I ramped it up and went full steam ahead on a new business venture in an industry I had not been in before. However, my entire life and career had already trained me for this venture. I help families either find a new place for their loved one to live or help them get things set up at home so that their mother/father/spouse/friend is safe and healthy as their lives become more difficult due to aging and life circumstances.
KUELLIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?
CYNTHIA: I spend seven days a week building my company. I talk to dozens of people a week on the two sides of my business. First and foremost, I listen as families tell me their story. Their stories can be heart breaking; but I try to help them find the happy memory and help them find the hope. Second, I have calls and meetings with other people in this industry to learn about the latest innovations in elder care and make a connection so that I can send my clients in their direction if they can help them. When I am not working on the business, I find a way to enjoy my surroundings and bloom where I am planted in the moment.
KUELLIFE: With what do you struggle?
“With 10,000 people a day turning 65, I struggle with how I can help more people.”
CYNTHIA: With 10,000 people a day turning 65, I struggle with how I can help more people. The process of helping people age and prepare to die is all encompassing and there are so many people that need help with this. No one trains us on how to find solutions to a crisis with our parents. I have a great team of compassionate, smart, and energetic people but there are so many people getting so much older every day. The senior living industry can be a difficult maze filled with the unknown. We help navigate that maze.
KUELLIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
CYNTHIA: In business, I motivate myself by putting myself in my client’s shoes. I have been there and it was not easy. I did not know how to find the right solution for my parents. I stay motivated by the hugs and gratefulness that I receive from my clients when we help them. I get hugs and tears of joy every day. Personally, I motivate myself by trying to embrace the life I have today. I remind myself daily, that I am so very blessed to have my family, my health, my cognitive ability, and my freedom.
KUELLIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?
CYNTHIA: Embrace your mortality. It is not if but when. Don’t build a bucket list. Just say ‘YES’ and do the things that you have always wanted to do. Keep moving forward.
KUELLIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?
“When I need help, I feel vulnerable. When I feel vulnerable, I need help.”
CYNTHIA: Vulnerability, to me means, help. When I need help, I feel vulnerable. When I feel vulnerable, I need help. Asking for help is something I do not do well. It makes me feel so very vulnerable and weak. At the same time, when I ask for help and when I receive help, it is so life affirming and brings me ever closer to my helpers. This is a big and tough world and no one can make it alone.
KUELLIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?
CYNTHIA: First and second was being a single parent not once but twice. After two tragic divorces (and they all have some bit of tragedy), I had to dig into myself to find out what I was made of and keep moving forward for my children. There was not a lot of time for self-pity when the bills were due and the children were hurting. The third event that helped shape my life was my first commission sales job. I learned quickly that, again, there was no safety net and I had to go out every day and be a hunter-gatherer.
KUELLIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?
CYNTHIA: My parents influenced me the most. They woke up each morning and truly tried to be the best parents they could be. That doesn’t mean that everything was rainbows and butterflies every day. They made mistakes but they kept trying over and over. I was raised in a conservative and religious home with very high morals and values. While I have moved away from both that specific religion, and that conservatism, that upbringing gave me a strong foundation and a strong moral compass. Through their life and how they lived that life, I learned and embraced that you cannot have mountains without valleys.
KUELLIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?
CYNTHIA: Be present in the moment and ask for help.
KUELLIFE: What woman inspires you and why?
CYNTHIA: Notorious RBG. Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes no prisoners but in the most gracious manner. She fights the good fight, all day, every day. She has broken so many barriers.
KUELLIFE: Are you grown-up?
CYNTHIA: I am definitely a grown-up but that does not mean that I act like a grown-up all the time. Adulting is hard and I make sure I act a little bit juvenile on a regular basis.
KUELLIFE: What do you do for self-care?
CYNTHIA: I practice yoga every chance I get and I try to eat well. I enjoy the outdoors and stand on my head everyday! I have added a short meditation practice to my day this year.
KUELLIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
CYNTHIA: I talked earlier about not having a bucket list and I do not have one. When there is something that I find fascinating, I try to figure out how to make it happen. I don’t set a deadline or set up a special savings account. I just put my eyes on it and know that the universe will find a way to provide me the chance to grab that opportunity. I make sure I am ready to jump!