Editor's note: This is one in an occasional series of chats with local seniors about their lives, youthful aspirations, sources of pride and regret, plus a bit of wisdom to share with younger folks.

Julie Shapiro, 62, migrated from Los Angeles 17 years ago and sunk roots deeply into her new Connecticut hometown.

The former buyer of upscale women's shoes in a Los Angeles department store spent several years as the education director for the Los Angeles Zoo, then in Connecticut taught six years at a Bridgeport magnet school.

Shapiro said she is now retired, but does not sit on the sidelines. Her main hobbies include spinning, reading, travel and volunteering. Her best piece of advice for the younger generation: appreciate and stay close to those who love you.

Q: How long have you lived in Westport?

A: 17 years.

Q: Are you married?

A: To Steven, 33 years.

Q: Children?

A: Three.

Q: Grandchildren?

A: One on the way.

Q: What did you do when you worked full time?

A: A buyer of upscale women's shoes in a Los Angeles department store, then the education director at the Los Angeles Zoo. After that I taught six years at a Bridgeport magnet school.

Q: What did you want to do when you grew up?

A: Be in the fashion business.

Q: What was a significant memory or defining moment in your childhood?

A: Spending time in nature with my grandfather. He would tell stories by the lake and whittle little whistles and stuff for me from fallen tree branches

Q: What are your main hobbies and interests?

A: Spinning, reading, travel, volunteering. With my husband I recently returned from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand. Rome is my favorite place to visit.

Q: What music do you listen to?

A: I love all music except heavy metal. Love classical, jazz, hip-hop.

Q: Do you have a favorite movie?

A: "Sound of Music."

Q: Do you have a favorite actor or actress?

A: Meryl Streep.

Q: What TV shows do you watch regularly?

A: News.

Q: Who do you think was the best president of the United States?

A: In my lifetime, President Bill Clinton; in history, President Abraham Lincoln.

Q: If you could tell President Obama one thing, what would that be?

A: Hang in there.

Q: What is your greatest guilty pleasure?

A: Wine.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?

A: Ignorant people.

Q: Do you have any regrets in life?

A: Yeah. I always wanted to play the drums.

Q: What achievements are you most proud of?

A: Finishing graduate school at Fairfield University at age 50.

Q: What, if anything, are you greatly concerned about?

A: Our country. I feel our lawmakers are not willing to work together. We are back in the '50s. We need to take care of our earth, our infrastructure and the disparity between rich and poor. People have become too greedy.

Q: What gives you your greatest joy?

A: Family. Giving back. I feel I have been blessed in life and I enjoy giving back.

Q: What are you looking forward to?

A: Being a grandma.

Q: If you had a magic wand, what would you wish for?

A: All people to genuinely care for each other and then act accordingly.

Pmccormack@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561, ext. 116