It’s a common thought that getting old means having to give up the things you love, replacing sport and activities with day time TV and naps. If this is what you want then by all means enjoy it but it’s not always the case.
Getting old hasn’t stopped my nana, Liz Brown. She has always been active, as a teenager she was a Jive Dance Champion, this is where she met my Pop. She then moved to representative Netball and played alongside an eventual NZ Coach Yvonne Willering. After Netball she found her true passion in Badminton where she competed around the world in Singles, Doubles and Combines winning Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. After 40 years, an NZ Masters and becoming an NZ Veteran she stopped at the age of 71.
Being an active individual for such a long time she was on the lookout for something else to take its place. She and my Pop had lived on Waiheke Island from 2004, and in 2012 she joined Zumba which evolved into a flash mob dance group called Hip Op-eration that would eventually once again take her around the world.
The Hip Op-eration flash mobs received a lot of social media attention, captivating viewers on YouTube and over 2012 she gained the nick name Lizzy 2 Short, learnt hip hop and listened to music by artists such as Missy Elliot and Eminem. She went on to perform at the New Zealand Hip Hop Nationals three times and received standing ovations. Not long after, the group went viral and hold the Guinness World Record for the World's Oldest Hip-Hop Troupe. In 2013 she was invited to perform at the World Hip-Hop Championships in Las Vegas and a documentary was made to follow their journey called Hip Hop-eration. With an average age of 80 it was a challenge to say the least, the road to Las Vegas included finding funding, doctor’s approval and ensuring some members would survive the flight. Seeing the film at the movies, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Learning about the lives and stories of these senior citizens while also promoting fitness, hip hop and bridging the generation gap was heart-warming. To know and see my nana was a part of this magical journey was inspiring and I’m so incredibly proud of her and lucky to be her granddaughter.
Celebrating living life to the fullest and challenging perceptions of what it is to grow old, my nana is showing others, age doesn’t hold you back from finding new activities to love, going on adventures or experiencing things outside the “norm”.
She is currently living at Ranfurly Village in the independent apartments with my Pop spending her days knitting blankets for premature babies, playing bingo, mah-jong and crochet as well as being a Nana Helper, reading to kids from Three Kings Primary School.
I hope to influence those around me and in the aged care sector by sharing her story of aging gracefully while still having immense fun.
You will find Lizzy 2 Short front row, far left with crazy blue hair.