Elizabeth Up de Graff, ‘55, is brimming with creative energy and vitality, and not just for someone who is 81. The Cap and Gown alum just wrote a book called Timeless Energy and Magnetic Vitality: How to Look, Feel and Be Young Longer. In her book, she explains how to connect with the subtle energy of color, light, and sound for the purpose of improving one’s health, focus, and balance. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth and enjoyed hearing about her journey toward vitality and finding herself.
Elizabeth was born and raised in Los Angeles. She attended Marlborough School for Girls and excelled academically. She wanted to be a stage actress, so she went to UCLA because it had the best drama department, but she quickly learned that acting was not what she wanted to pursue. She changed her major to Political Science and transferred to Stanford.
Elizabeth’s favorite memory of Stanford was being outside in the springtime. It was so beautiful that she took swimming, golf, tennis, and modern dance—in addition to a full academic load—to maximize her time outdoors.
“Stanford taught me that all you have to do is have an idea and go for it,” Elizabeth explained. “Stanford showed me that there is a freedom of communication. It also taught me that, in life, if you can be creative or not creative, choose being creative.”
After graduation, Elizabeth took a summer course at the University of Geneva in Switzerland to study French language and culture. She returned to the US and worked at the Stanford office in downtown Los Angeles, which specialized in public relations and fundraising, and became involved with volunteer work at the Los Angeles Opera Company. She married Thaddeus Up de Graff and had two daughters.
In her thirties, Elizabeth embarked on a spiritual search that would last for decades. She told me that she believed in God, but “had questions, and no one seemed able to answer them.” Her search for answers led her to read extensively, and she was particularly influenced by the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner and Johann Goethe. She traveled and met healers, spiritual leaders, and religious leaders from all over the world, and she attended classes and workshops that focused on subtle energy.
At the age of 67, Elizabeth felt the urge to share what she had learned with others. She held seminars at her home on how color, light, and sound can positively change lives.
The following year, she participated in a seminar about boosting self-confidence. The seminar culminated with each participant performing a song in front of a large audience. She described being terrified, but then something unusual happened.
“After about the third measure, I had an epiphany. I’ve never had that before or since. Something said inside of me, this is what you’ve been looking for. This is what you really are meant to do.”
She told the seminar leader that she wanted to be a singer, and he agreed to let her perform at a bar. When no one in the bar even acknowledged her performance, she was disappointed and embarrassed. However, she persevered, and after three months of singing at the same bar, the audience finally applauded.
Elizabeth took singing lessons, learned to play the ukulele, and continued performing jazz, blues, and French songs. Her father had been a pioneer sound engineer who won three Oscars and received nineteen nominations. In her one-woman show, Elizabeth performed the songs that had gained her father recognition from the Academy. She told me, “Studying music and singing was actually a healing for me. I became calmer, more relaxed, more in the flow of things.”
People who meet Elizabeth often remark that she does not look or act her age, and they want to know her secret. To answer this question, she wrote a book.
Elizabeth is a lifelong learner and moves through the world open to discovering new passions and talents. Her love of the arts has its roots in her love of communicating with people. I enjoyed reading her book and recommend it to anyone on a search for ways to lead a vivacious life.