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Age Defier Martha Stewart, 82: ‘I Don't Want to Have Regrets’

The home and hospitality diva reflects on aging, her setbacks and how she miraculously regained 20/20 vision


spinner image martha stewart photographed by weston wells for the wall street journal
Courtesy Martha Stewart by Weston Wells

Aging isn’t something I think about. How old I am, slowing down, retiring — I just don’t dwell on that. People talk about aging successfully, but I think of it as living gracefully and living to the absolute fullest. I’m about trying new things and learning new things every single day, staying fresh, being interesting and interested, staying curious, staying busy, developing new friendships. I wake up early, early, early — often at 4 a.m. — and read the newspaper to make sure nothing bad has happened overnight. I do Pilates at 6:15 a.m. three times a week. I ride horses. I travel. On a recent trip to Maine, I was hiking and boating and doing all the fun things you do there.

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But I also work hard every day on things that challenge me and invigorate me. I’m working on a documentary with R.J. Cutler that traces my life over the last eight decades. It’s so interesting to see how it has crossed over with historical events. I was one of the early adopters of personal computers; I got my first IBM computer in 1982. My first serious boyfriend after I got divorced in 1990 was the creator of Word and Excel for Microsoft. I believe my magazine was the first magazine to be designed digitally. Yet I have friends who don’t take pictures with their iPhones, for God’s sake. Why not? That lack of curiosity is so boring to me!

spinner image martha stewart being interviewed on c n n by larry king
Stewart with her mother Martha, on 'Larry King Live' in 2003 on the eve of Stewart's trial for securities fraud.
Lorenzo Bevilaqua/WireImage

There’s so much to do. I’m working on my 100th book, which is about my 100 favorite recipes. And I’m working on my autobiography, which I’m writing myself. These are big, difficult, yearslong projects but I don’t want to have regrets, or “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve,” which is a horrible feeling. I have had two real setbacks — a sad divorce and my well-documented legal issues. That’s pretty good, having only two. And, I have a couple regrets, but nothing major. You know, why didn’t I collect more art? Why didn’t I pay more attention to so-and-so, who was courting me? Why did I blow him off?

At this point, I don’t have to have a love affair; having friends is good enough. I haven’t had a death in the immediate family. I haven’t had health problems. I don’t take any medicine. I have very good blood pressure. And at age 77, I stopped wearing glasses after wearing corrective lenses from the time I was 16! I’m not bragging about it. Something weird happened. I got an infection in my eyes and my doctor gave me steroids for it, and the result was 20/20 vision. They call it second sight. I’m pretty fortunate.

My mother was my idol, because she was so vibrant and healthy and strong. She had six children, lived to 93 and was the ultimate example of successful living. She inspired me 16 years ago to start the Center for Living at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, which is the oldest geriatric hospital in America. We now have two outpatient wards devoted to caring for anyone over age 65. We consolidate patients’ records, do exams, guide them on their medications, diet and exercise. The idea is that aging is not about dying, it’s about living well. Because people are aging so differently now. The average life span has increased. By 2034, there will be more people over 65 than under 18. New communities are popping up where older people are caring for themselves and exploring life in new ways.

spinner image model martha stewart holds her twenty twenty three sports illustrated swimsuit issue showing her on the cover
Lexie Moreland/WWD via Getty Images

I also try to set a good example. When Sports Illustrated called this year to ask if I would pose in a bathing suit on the cover, I paused for about one minute and said, “Oh, why not?” My daughter, Alexis, was very kind — she just said, “Cool. Go for it,” which was a lot nicer than “That’s crazy, Mom.” They only gave me two months to get in shape, and I took it on as an assignment. I immediately cut out bad foods, worked out, worked on my arms and on elongating my muscles. And the shoot came out great. People told me it made them feel good about themselves, and that’s important to me. If you take care of yourself, you can live an active, healthy long life.

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One thing that energizes me is spending time with younger people. I don’t know if it’s a conscious effort on my part, but most of my closest friends are at least 20 years younger than I am. People love to ask me about my friendship with Snoop Dogg, and we really are BFFs. It’s an education to get into the brain of someone like him. The other day I was reading a big article about the 50th anniversary of rap music. They had 50 interviews with 50 rappers, but they didn’t include Snoop. I thought that was bulls***. So I communicated that to Snoop, and he just said, “Maybe I’m not interesting enough.” Trust me, Snoop is interesting enough. But I understand. I’m a mover-on-er. I try not to hold grudges or stay upset about silly things. You can rant and rave but then, you know, cool off and let it go.

spinner image martha stewart with snoop dogg at the m t v movie and t v awards in los angeles
Stewart and Snoop Dog.
Rob Latour/Shutterstock
spinner image martha stewart and her granddaughter jude
Stewart and her granddaughter, Jude, in 2014.
Jenny Anderson/WireImage

My grandchildren, Truman and Jude, are probably my greatest teachers. They travel with me all the time. We’re going to Japan this year because they love Japanese food and because there are so many interesting places to visit there. It’s the children’s enthusiasm for the world that captivates me. Their eyes are wide open. They want to see everything. But so do I. So much is still undone. I’ve accomplished a lot but certainly not everything. Who in the world has done everything they’ve wanted to do? Nobody.

In this life, you just have to work at staying better. That’s really all you can do. You work at it. Try to keep up with friendships, projects, relationships, with educating yourself — stay on top of it. Because once you’re gone, what can you do? You hope you’ve done enough.

What do I want people to say about me 100 years from now? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe, it’s just, “Did you make Martha’s apple pie? Because it really is the best recipe.”

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