I got a lot of feedback on the column I wrote last week – much of it from women who are roughly my age and who are living a life that is anything but “retiring.”
In case you missed it, the column was inspired by the George Eliot quote, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been,” and was about women – myself included – who discovered a new talent or calling, and who pursued new dreams and adventures in what might be described as their “later years.”
One of the women I heard from, who will be 60 this year, is someone who does a “Polar Plunge” every year, raising money for charity in the process. She thanked me for validating what she already believes, and told me that she’s planning on celebrating her 60th birthday by going scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Another person I heard from is also turning 60 this year. She’s a member of a physically-demanding performance group, and has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
I was touched and inspired by the woman who said she knew her calling – writing – years ago, but did not have the courage to seriously follow it until now. And I think no one defines courage more than someone I have known and admired for several years, and who was told after suddenly being paralyzed that she’d never walk again. Not only is she walking, but the book she wrote about her experience is called, very appropriately, “I Stand With Courage.” In responding to my column, she said, “Age is irrelevant. If you can think it, you should do it. You’re never too old to follow your heart.” I couldn’t agree more.
I have to say how encouraged and energized I was by all the calls and comments I received. It made me realize how many women I know who are old enough to have lived a rich and satisfying life, but young enough to be launching a new one. Some of them are women who have discovered themselves in unexpected or unwelcome circumstances such as divorce, job loss, medical problems, or the death of a spouse. Others are women who are simply doing things now that they never had the time, the nerve, or the determination to do before. They have collected years of wisdom, insights and experience, and are now reigniting their dreams and recreating their future. And in the process, they are inspiring others.
One of the most endearing comments I received last week was from one of my nieces, who is in her 30s. She said she was getting discouraged over a dilemma that has her stumped right now, but then she read my column, and also remembered some other advice I had once given her. She said she’s now back on track. Her words reminded me of what I – and many other women my age – find most rewarding when we pursue new dreams, discover new paths, and develop new skills. It’s the feeling of being useful and needed, and knowing we are making a difference in the lives of others. Especially the young women who will be our age one day, and who will change the world through their own adventures and experiences. And who will, I hope, continue learning, growing, and exploring, and inspiring others along the way.
It’s never too late to be who you might have been. And it’s never too soon to get started.
The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on April 10, 2014.
©Betty Liedtke, 2014
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