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Hepl project

Hedonist with a ladle

Svetlana Kachalina, 51 y.o.

What does being 50 mean to you? Is it a time for reflection? The last chance to grab at the fleeting opportunities? Or maybe it’s just a number? What makes some people confine themselves within conventions, while others live without ever concerning themselves with the stereotypes?

Within our project, we’re always meeting people who break the stereotypes of age. Elegant men and beautiful women, intelligent conversationalists and lively extroverts, daring fashionistas and spiritual gurus. What do all these people have in common? Boredom is a foreign concept to them!

Some may consider their way of thinking atypical, their lifestyle eccentric. Others, however, will find them fascinating and want to learn more. Talking to a person like that is an engaging experience: any question can blossom into an exciting conversation, and from time to time you can’t help but wonder: "Wait, you could just do that?" Minutes fly by in an instant, and saying goodbyes leaves a bittersweet taste of missing out, a desire to learn just a little bit more. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to find out, but today we just want you to chat with someone who does not concern themselves too much with any stereotypes.
AA: What is our maverick interested in?

Svetlana: Food! I’m a gourmand and, I'm not afraid to say it, an excellent cook! I'm not fanatical about sticking to a healthy lifestyle, but I do stick to the principles of anti-ageing cooking whenever possible. I stay away from sugar, for example.

Wine! I’ve been on a journey into the wonderful world of winemaking for about six years now, and I don’t think I’ll ever get to the bottom of it (pun intended).

Cinema! I'm an omnivorous cinephile, the only genre I don't enjoy are horror movies (I can't sleep well afterwards because I'm too impressionable).

I also love to write. As a child I dreamed of becoming a teacher of Russian language and literature.

AA: Would you like to produce a wine with your name on it? Tell us what it would be like?

Svetlana: Hmm, I've never thought about it. But why not? It would be red, bright and ... passionate — with light tannins and the aroma of the Sun, ripe berries and spices. And all the taste buds would dance salsa or mambo to it.

AA: About your blog: does one need to try hard to be interesting? Or is the recipe to finding your audience is chilling out and being yourself?

Svetlana: It has never been my goal to monetise my blog or take it to the very top. It started out as a cookbook and movie review page for the people I hold dear. For a long time, I didn’t even appear on it! But at some point people got interested in me personally, so I changed the format, and the fact that the blog attracted a new audience was a cherry on top. Some of them I’ve since met in real life.

And no, I'm not purposefully trying to be interesting. On the blog I am very much the same person as I am in real life. It's nice to know that it motivates and inspires people. By the way, most of my audience are people in their 30s and 40s. It took me a long time to figure out why. But then I thought, maybe it was just a way to glance into the future? 10 to 20 years into the future. And to see what life's like after 50.

Incidentally, this played a part in my decision to become a coach. People often ask me, "How do you manage to stay in tune with yourself?" I thought that I could be of use and help someone find themselves.
AA: Let’s talk about beauty! What is your secret of youth?

Svetlana: I can put my secret as a motto: everything is fine in moderation and everything you do should be pleasurable. Boiled down to basics, it is a constant process of working on myself: fitness, facial exercises, healthy food (to an extent) and, of course, taking care of yourself and your body. That would be a proper time to give a shoutout to my cosmetologists, whom I have been with for 12 years.

AA: Gray hair and graceful ageing — what do you think?

Svetlana: That's a good question. I am not too concerned with the current trend for natural ageing. Fashion is a passing thing and being fanatical about anything is generally a bad thing, and this is no exception.

I like well-groomed grey hair, as long as it's done beautifully. However, opting for grey hair or keeping it dyed is a personal choice! After all, if a young girl dyes her hair, nobody would think that her youthfulness is unnatural. So if a 70-year-old wants to stay bright blonde or dye her hair pink, why should anyone consider her ageing unnatural? She sees herself that way, and that's fully up to her to decide.

AA: We guess that you’ve always taken your age in stride?

Svetlana: I have always liked my age and never wished to be younger. Life is here and now. Enjoy it!

AA: Where do you draw your energy and lust for life from?

Svetlana: Do you need to draw them from somewhere? The question implies that there’s a natural lack of them (Svetlana laughs).

Although I understand why you ask this. I was 24 when I started working in a big company. My boss was 39, and I was thinking: “That is OLD.”

I remember it now and I smile. Being old has nothing to do with a number! Some people are already old at 20, and some people live their lives to the fullest until the day they die without ever needing to act “young.”

AA: What do Russian women lack after they turn 50?

Svetlana: The taste for life and love for themselves. The endless race for perfection in everything keeps a person from being themselves. We all constantly struggle with our own shortcomings and strive to be the best versions of ourselves, but what makes us different and unique does not make us worse.
Growing old is a natural and irreversible process. Yet feeling old is a choice. I choose to live without checking my age.
AA: A spicy question... What role does a man play in the life of a successful woman?

Svetlana: Please clarify: a wealthy woman? Or an established one?

I do not understand the first option. Is there a difference between a wealthy woman and any other woman, except money?

For an established woman her partner is a friend, a lover, a support and an inexhaustible source of life energy.

This is important and valuable.

AA: If the way to a man's heart lies through his stomach, what is the way to a woman’s heart?

Svetlana: As the quip goes, "The way to a woman's heart should not lie down at all!"

But yeah, the shortest way to a woman’s heart lies through respect and being a good partner.
When you meet people like Svetlana, you realise that the recipe for happiness is simple: "Take yourself... three times a day".
Photo story of the wonderful Svetlana was created by:

Producer — Ksenia Leus
Photographer — Ekaterina Kraeva
Makeup — Olga Goryacheva

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