That’s how long Pilar Gerasimo and Cindy Joseph shared a close friendship.
Pilar knew Cindy before Cindy dreamed up BOOM!—and she was with Cindy right up until the very end of her life.
Over all that time, Pilar and Cindy traveled together, took classes together, went on retreats together, collaborated on work projects together and learned so much from each other.
Today, we’re overjoyed to have Pilar here to share this story of her and Cindy.
Over the next few months, Pilar will be back to share more lessons she learned from Cindy and from the experience of their long friendship.
For now, we want to let Pilar share this story in her own words.
(P.S. This is the first episode of Face-to-Face with PIlar Gerasimo. You can catch the next episode right here.)
Introducing Cindy’s Good Friend, Pilar
Hi, I’m Pilar Gerasimo. I’m 53 years old.
I’m an author, podcaster, social explorer, health journalist and I’m the founding editor of Experience Life magazine, which is how I met Cindy Joseph more than 15 years ago on a cover shoot. We became fast friends.
I’m really excited to be able to honor her memory by sharing even a little of what she shared with me—so much wisdom—over the course of 15 years.
This is a project that we’ve had in the works for a while. Actually, Cindy and I planned to do it together before she passed away. But I still feel that it’s so timely.
Some of what I’m going to share with you I filmed a few months ago. Yet of course, it’s every bit as true today as it was the day I filmed it. It will remain true because that’s the nature of Cindy’s wisdom. It’s timeless and universal and enduring. I can’t wait to share it with you. So here it is...
“I remember seeing Cindy’s picture and thinking ‘that’s what I want.’”
Cindy and I met in the early 2000s, about the same time I was starting Experience Life magazine.
Before that, though, while the magazine was still in its early planning phase, I remember seeing a picture of Cindy and I cut it out of a catalog or ad somewhere. I cut that picture out and I put it right in the middle of the brand board for the magazine that I was then just beginning to imagine.
The magazine grew and morphed and became something I never expected. Today, it reaches probably three million people every issue. Meanwhile, Cindy grew and morphed and changed into something that I guess I probably could have predicted—a legend in her own time.
It all started because just seeing Cindy’s picture inspired me so much. I remember seeing it and thinking to myself, “That’s what I want.”
First, I wanted whatever Cindy was emanating for myself, personally. I wanted to feel that way: good in my own skin and radiant and resilient and inspired. I also wanted it for the magazine. I wanted it for everyone I knew. I wanted people to imagine a way of living healthier and happier that looked and felt like Cindy Joseph. Although, at the time, I did not know her name. Back then, she was just a face to me.
Eventually, I ended up discovering who she was through a fitness video. It was called “Fit in Your 50s,” I think. Her picture was on the front, and on the back, I located her name. Then I reached out to Ford Modeling Agency and I asked if they thought that she would be willing to be on the cover of the magazine. They put it out there to her and she said, “Yes.”
That was the beginning of an incredible friendship.
“Cindy was one of the most inspiring people I ever met.”
I met Cindy at the airport. I picked her up. We had a long conversation in the car, and I just fell in love with her immediately. We became fast friends. There’s so much history in it.
I dug this old magazine out to show you. This wasn’t the first cover that we shot with Cindy, it was the second, shot a few years later. I’ll have to dig up the first one for you sometime —maybe in the next installment of what I hope will be a fun series of conversations I want to have with you about my friendship with Cindy, about what I learned from Cindy and everything that I still carry with me from our friendship, our conversations and all the lessons that she imparted.
Cindy was one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. She was also one of the most fun people I’ve ever known. We had a lot of great times!
“I got to be there with her at the birth of BOOM!... and also at the very end.”
I got to be there with her at the very birth of BOOM!, when it was still an idea in her mind. It was just a glimmer in her eye.
I remember talking with her about that idea and what she could envision, and how she wanted to deliver this incredibly disruptive idea of a Pro-age Revolution through these products, and help to communicate to women and to people of all ages what all-age beauty was like and how we get better with age.
I also got to be with Cindy at the very end. I got to be with her on the day that she passed. At least the day she passed into some other plane, away from this physical reality that we know.
But she is still with me every day—like, deep in me. That’s part of why I want to share some of what I learned from Cindy. So what I’m doing in partnership with BOOM!, and her loved ones and friends who also got to share in her wisdom, is I’ve gathered up a handful of topics that are the things that Cindy and I talked about the most often.
These are the lessons that I felt were the most transformative for me, the things I still think on and conjugate on and write on myself, and that I am still living into on a daily basis.
“I grew my silver out in honor of Cindy.”
I grew my own silver out in honor of Cindy. I started this process when she was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. She had been encouraging me to do it for a while. I had been coloring my hair since my early 30s.
Now in my early 50s, I’m actually about the same age I think that Cindy was when we first put her on the cover. Our coloring is now rather similar. It’s kind of funny to think about that. It doesn’t seem that long ago but that was 2004 or something, so it’s been a while.
So yeah, my goals—Cindy would always ask me, “What’s your goal?”—my goal is to have the fun of reflecting on my friendship with Cindy, and also turning over in my memory banks the best stuff that she taught me and that I’m still learning as a result of her inspiration.
I also have the goal of sharing more of what I feel like I’ve gotten from our friendship and just from being with Cindy, because we worked together on so many interesting projects. The magazine. Her columns for the magazine and blogs. We did video interviews together. We went on trips together. We went on retreats together. We took classes together.
I want to share the best of what I learned from Cindy Joseph. Both in terms of what she told me and, maybe more importantly, what I saw her living, how I saw her acting and just the friendship that I felt from her, the kinship that I felt, that I think we all felt.
“It’s my intention to honor Cindy’s teachings.”
I know many of the folks who’ve met her through BOOM! and know her through the channel of Saturdays with Cindy, and her videos and conversations for this channel, got a lot of the same stuff I got.
For you, maybe it will be a review, or you’ll get to hear it through another filter. I’m also really excited to hear back from folks the things that they heard her say.
You know, Cindy was great about talking very openly about the fact that she could say something, but you might hear something different, and that each of us takes away something different from the conversations that we have, the experiences that we have. It’s really our job to digest them in a way that feels authentic to us and put it back into the world in whatever way feels true.
I won’t make any guarantees that I’m sharing exactly what Cindy would have shared because it comes through my filter and my own lessons with life, but it’s my intention to honor her teachings.
I’m going to share the topics that I’m intending to talk about. Then you’ll hear a little bit more—hopefully week by week, month by month. We’ll spoon these out on a schedule to be determined. I’d love to hear back from you.
“One of the last things Cindy shared with me…”
I wanted to share, too, one of the things that Cindy shared with me—one of the last things she shared with me—when I was connecting with her at the end. She was in the hospital. When I came into her room, she was sleeping or fading in and out of consciousness.
When she realized I was there, her face lit up and she was like, “You! What are you doing here?!”
I was like, “I came to see you!”
The first thing she said was, “I love your hair!”
I was like, “Well, you’ll never guess where I got this idea of growing it out and having it be silver and its natural color and texture!”
The second thing was I told her that I had finally finished the proposal for the book I was writing, and that I’d been talking with her about and working on for years. Cindy had, at that time, all kinds of tubes and wires in her body. But she lifted up both hands and was like, “YES!”
I remembered being just so shocked that she went from this very passive state to this incredibly passionate state because her enthusiasm for me giving my best gifts and her boosterism for me creating and producing what I loved was always a really big part of her mentorship of me.
I wanted to share that because during the last year, while I've been missing Cindy, I’ve been infusing a lot of her lessons and her messages—almost on a subconscious level—into my forthcoming book, titled The Healthy Deviant.
“I want to live in a healthier, happier world. That’s the value that Cindy and I shared above all else.”
Cindy, to me, represented a perfect example of what a Healthy Deviant is.
A Healthy Deviant, in my mind, is someone who willfully defies the conventions of the dominant culture and embraces new models and new ways of being, in the service of their own health and happiness—and in the service of helping others too.
I want to live in a healthier, happier, more beautiful world. I think that’s the value that Cindy and I shared above all else.
Some of what I’ll share here will come through that filter, like I said, of my own experience, my own learning. What I most want to share is the essence of what Cindy and I had in common, and what I feel like she continues to bring out in me day after day, that I feel so excited to share with other people.
So stay tuned—if any of that interests you—stay tuned for more! Lesson by lesson, topic by topic, we’ll share it together.