Although Pebble Beach, Calif., resident Valerie Ramsey became a model late in life, what she never expected was that she might become a role model, too.
And that’s what has launched yet another two new sidelines for her: as an author and a speaker.
Her book, “Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best At Any Age,” will be published in late April 2008 by McGraw-Hill, and is a guide to beautiful living on three fronts – mind, body and spirit. “Gracefully” was co-written with her daughter, Heather Hummel, and includes an introduction by actress Susan Lucci.
In fall 2006, a news article about Ramsey’s career as a senior model circulated throughout the country, landing in major newspapers in Chicago, Miami and other cities.
The national recognition was certainly nice. But then an interesting thing happened: Women from all over began e-mailing Ramsey, thanking her for being such an inspiration, for re-creating herself at this time of her life. People came up to her because they’d seen her in the newspaper.
“They’d recognize me on the street,” said Ramsey. “It was incredible – such a huge surprise.”
It got Ramsey thinking about what she could share about her life to help others. She began talking to Hummel, her author daughter, about the idea of writing a book. And out of that came “Gracefully.”
It’s all about belief in yourself and taking chances when they arise, said Ramsey.
“I am a firm believer that life is what we create for ourselves, and that we are never too old to have a new dream or to celebrate a new success,” said Ramsey. “All we have to do is visualize it, work toward it, and it and we can make it happen.”
That’s the message she’s delivering in her book as well as in life.
Hummel, 42, who lives in Virginia, said the book came together more easily than she ever dreamed it could.
“It worked out great,” she said. “We didn’t necessarily realize at the beginning that it would end up serving both of our goals – launching my writing career and launching her public speaking career.”
Ramsey, now 68 and grandmother of eight, is proof positive that getting older is indeed getting better.
“By tuning into our intuitions and recognizing opportunity when it comes along, I believe we can open ourselves to amazing possibilities,” she said.
Ramsey notes she’s lived her life in reverse of most people’s. Her life as a young adult was not in the working world, but as a stay-at-home mom, raising six children as husband Wally worked as a teacher at private schools.
When Ramsey’s children were grown, she sallied forth into the corporate world at age 53, taking a public relations position at the prestigious Pebble Beach Co.
Then, 10 years later, serendipity threw her the nicest kind of curve ball – a Hollywood producer that she met on the job at Pebble Beach suggested that she’d do well as a model.
Although Ramsey didn’t take him seriously at first, she had photos taken and sent them off. And soon after, she unexpectedly found herself in demand.
The willowy, white-haired Ramsey now can be found in print ads for Lexus and St. John’s Knits, and is also doing runway and TV work. She is represented by the renowned Ford Agency in New York as well as Look Models in San Francisco and other agencies. She also has her own Web site – www.valerieramsey.com.
Her husband recently retired from his longtime career as a high school English teacher, and so will be able to lend his support to her busy schedule in the next few months, which will include book signings, national TV appearances and speaking engagements.
Valerie Ramsey will plunge into her first appearance as a published author on April 26, at the massive L.A. Times Festival of Books, which is attended by some 140,000 people. Next she’ll make her third appearance on the “Today” show, on April 30, and will also be interviewed by Fox News.
Local appearances will be at Tiffany & Co. in Carmel, Calif., on May 4, and on May 10, at the Go Red For Women luncheon at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, where she’ll give the keynote speech at the event, which promotes heart health education for women.
Items about “Gracefully” will be found in April 2008 editions of Body & Soul, First for Women, and Health magazine.
Ramsey’s message in the book is that it doesn’t matter how old you are – it’s never too late to make changes for the better. She and Hummel address healthy aging, sexuality, finding one’s true inner core, and bringing out the best in one’s appearance.
Hummel said what’s on the inside is just important as what’s on the outside when it comes to beauty.
She points to her mother as an example. Ramsey’s attractiveness isn’t just in her looks – “It’s in the way she carries herself, in her energy and her presence.”
Mixed into the book is some of Ramsey’s autobiography, “where it’s necessary to make a point,” said Ramsey.
Hummel said she’s always viewed her mother as a remarkable woman, and having the chance to work on the book together gave them a new appreciation for each other’s talents and unique qualities.
She’s been trying to establish herself as a writer, and the fast acceptance of “Gracefully” has been a huge boon.
Hummel’s book proposal landed an agent within 48 hours, and a publisher’s offer in two weeks – amazingly fast in the cautious world of publishing.
The book is one of McGraw-Hill’s top five picks for spring. It can be pre-ordered at local bookstores or online.
Ramsey says that all of this has been unexpected, but certainly appreciated.
“It’s such a blessing. I’m grateful every day,” she said.