06 May Senior in Action – Ana Weber
Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen
Former County of LA Public Library Administrator is having the time of her life as a retiree; meeting fascinating people who are active seniors, and volunteering for Soroptimist International of Norwalk and other women’s groups.
Senior in Action – Ana Weber
by Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen
Born in the communist regime of Romania, Ana Weber remembers waiting for hours in bread lines with her mom. Her parents divorced when she was five, leaving her mother no choice but to share a studio apartment with another family. Ana remains grateful to her mother for introducing the arts at an early age; visiting botanical gardens and museums and listening to classical music.
At age twelve, Ana and her mother moved to Israel. This move did not go as smoothly as planned, and they experienced homelessness for the first time. Eventually Ana was enrolled in a boarding school at a kibbutz where she worked four hours and attended school four hours. “My first job was collecting chicken eggs. I was extremely bad at it because I was intimidated by the hens. One day, I began singing an aria from my favorite opera and the hens went back to their nests, making it easy for me to find their eggs!” She soon promoted to working in the kitchen. Every weekend, Ana cooked chicken soup for 300 kids at the kibbutz. Today, when people she loves suffer from colds or flu, she cooks organic chicken soup for them. “It makes such a difference!” they exclaim.
Ana’s mother met an incredible man in Tel Aviv who owned a chair manufacturing business and they married. After that, Ana attended a private secondary school. She married at age 17 and studied International Business and Trading at Tel Aviv University. A maritime bank where Ana worked paid her tuition. Ana says, “Work is more than just receiving a paycheck. Developing your leadership skills is essential if you want to get ahead.”
When Ana’s son Sean was born, she chose to be a stay-at-home mother for three years. Sean was a toddler during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Hearing air raid sirens, they sat in a shelter, listening to the rockets whistling outside. When Sean cried, “I want to go back to my room,” Ana decided it was time to leave Israel. By 1974, Ana and her family (mother, husband, and child) emigrated to the United States, and settled in NYC. It took great courage, as Ana was the only one who spoke English. Within five days of arriving, Ana was hired by a steel company. Her husband wanted to invest every penny she earned in new business schemes, and eventually they divorced. However, in 1975, they packed everything they owned, and drove across the U.S. to California, dreaming of success.
Ana received her BA in Applied Psychology from Oxford England, and a Master’s Degree in Business and Personal Growth. In 2006, Ana began writing books while working full-time. Since then, she has published seventeen books. Ana says, “I’m a very good time manager. I LOVE Mondays – and that phrase is a chapter title in one of my books. I want to motivate people to keep a positive attitude and stay focused, so I provide tools to help leaders move from Step A to Step B and beyond. I designed formulas and worksheets that teach people to have better relationships with their money. One of my books is a guide for starting over when a relationship ends, with no anger or retaliation. I cover topics close to the human heart. We have so many tech gadgets today, yet we rarely ask people to share their feelings. My mother, a holocaust survivor, frequently said, ‘Be tough. Get over it and move on.’ But we need to talk about how we feel in order to lift each other’s spirits.” Before the corona virus restrictions, Ana Weber traveled internationally as a motivational speaker, sharing her expertise with business leaders from boardrooms to university settings.
During “down time” at her Irvine home, Ana loves to cook, watch movies, spend time with family and friends, play dominos, take walks, and exercise or practice yoga. Her favorite vacation destination with grandchildren Logan and Mia is the historic Hotel Del Coronado. Her husband is a cancer survivor and her best friend. Ana, age 69, says “I’ve always believed age is just a number; there’s no sense denying that all of us will grow old. But, it’s important for the mind to be involved as we age. Volunteer work is also essential; it makes you feel fulfilled to do good deeds. Her advice to NBY readers is “Forget recounting all the reasons you’re unhappy. Focus on what makes you HAPPY.”