Notes from It's My Turn Women's Summit

What prompted you to start writing about this era in a women’s life and what led to the creation of The Years Beyond Youth?

 

I retired a little prematurely and found myself wondering what it was I should do next. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the bliss I expected and the angst of feeling purposeless and insecure, manifested into a debilitating anxiety so I went into therapy.

 

So for the next two years I woke at 4 am to write was my way of working it all out. When I shared my work, it resonated with those friends and I decided to begin submitting. Apparently, my work resonated with many women in this era of their life, so, I just kept taking the next step, as opportunities arose, and writing more of what was true for me.

 

Now I provide content for a number of other websites as well as my own and I’ve met so many wonderful women from around the world who all share this incredible process of growing older.

 

 

Q: How did you react to the onset of Covid, how did your reactions evolve and what are some of the practices you will carry on beyond the pandemic?

 

I went through an initial stage of grave concern. I’m a bit of a germ phoebe so it pushed all my buttons. But as things settled a bit, I found myself settling into a state of acceptance and surrender. I learned how to take each day as it came and process the latest developments without the panic that was my initial reaction.

 

I eventually realized we were in that moment that happens so often during tragedy or crisis where people tend to reach out to each other in search of comfort. I had been focused on establishing deeper connection in my life for the past few years, so I lean into that and tried to be more honest in sharing how I felt and letting people really see me and know me. Telling the truth in the moment and being vulnerable.

 

I allowed myself to reveal my discomfort and fear with those I felt I could trust. This was big, bigger than anything I had ever experienced and I knew I needed to be supported. It challenged my need to feel in control and that created some real anxiety, but it also offered a wonderful lesson about how being vulnerable and asking for help can bring people closer. The bonds I had with many of my friends were strengthened by those very honest conversations. And by going first, I gave others the opportunity to share how they felt, as well.

 

 

Covid also offered me time, plenty of unscheduled time and the opportunity to examine my life, to decide what I wanted to continue and what really wasn’t serving me any longer. For the first time in my life, I slowed down. I had to. I had nowhere to go. I let go of so much. And what I discovered was the overscheduled, hurried life I once lived, no longer interested me. I didn’t miss it. I started prioritized my time and my energy differently, and conserved more for me, which opened up opportunity to try new things and to meet some very interesting people.

 

I realized there were so many correlations between what I was experiencing with the pandemic and with my own aging process over the past few years.

 

Being concerned for my health, taking steps to avoid being exposed to illness, because it is more difficult for me to recover now than it used to be.

 

Trying to stay connected with those I care about, within an ever changing circumstance. I’m at that place in my life where friends are starting to relocate to be near their family or retiring out of state for financial reasons. It’s been a challenge to maintain close friendship. As it has with having to use other methods of connection with my friends during the stay at home orders and social distancing.

 

I experienced sadness and concern about losing people I care about. I’ve lost several close friends the past couple years, and when Covid arrived, the concern intensified.

 

I had to stay flexible and tolerate the uncertainty. This was a big one for me, because I like to feel I have my life under control. I prided myself on it when I was younger. Aging and the unexpected changes that come with that, and the day to day developments and adjustments to Covid, were just another part of the lesson.

 

 

I think I may have finally gotten used to the idea that I truly am going along for this ride and not driving the bus. I have to seize the moments, doing what I can when I can, and live as richly as I am able, as things are right now.

 

I also made a renewed commitment to utilizing technology and staying current as technology progresses.

 

I have a very close circle of women friends and we were already using Facebook and Facebook massager to stay connected. We included regular phone calls just to hear each other’s voices and a few of us, who have adopted tech into our lives, also used Facetime and zoom. We checked in at least weekly and that helped a lot.

 

I realized over those first few months, just how important technology has become and how vital staying current, learning the latest releases would be into our future. Text, video and voice messaging is not going away, if anything digital and virtually enhanced reality is only going to become more popular in the next few years. I really encourage everyone I know to keep up and stay connected. I’m afraid if we don’t, the world is going to leave us behind and we will struggle for connection. One of the most user friendly version of social media is Facebook. It’s such a great way to share images, photo and video, news and thoughts, and to keep up with those we might not be able to see personally. But it also gives us the ability to meet new people and get acquainted with people of like minds and interests through online social groups. I belong to many private sites for mature women, and I’ve made some great professional connections.

 

I’ve met several women from three different continents online and we’ve been corresponding via email and Facebook for much of the pandemic. I’ve grown a very real friendship with these women and we are remarkably intimate in our conversations. I know it has helped me get through the dark days of living in a new and unfamiliar world. I treasure these connections and will stay open to creating more.

 

Also, I don’t believe we can achieve and experience the best life has to offer without taking risks. I’m not advocating taking risks with your health, or your financial security, but I am saying, take risks with your heart, with your ego and with your pride. Put yourself out there. If your ego gets a little bruised, so what. You’ll survive. If your heart gets broken, it will heal.  Don’t protect it so well that it can’t be touched. That’s what makes life worth living.

 

Q: You wrote an essay entitled Bloom Where You’re Planted, what does that mean?

 

The past few years have presented me with some very real challenges, in terms of health, financial security and in my personal relationship. I realized as I pondered my options that at this stage of my life, making wholesale changes might not be the best choice. Life is complicated now, compared to in my youth when I was just beginning a career, establishing myself in my life and learning about the world. I have deep roots and a lifestyle I enjoy and relationships I cherish. So when things disrupt my security, or some temporary crisis occurs, I have to find a way to be okay with it. To shift my perspective, find my strength and resolve to create the best for myself within the confines of reality.

 

I have accepted that my body is going to continually change and I cannot stop it. I can take steps to stay fit, strong and healthy but ultimately there will be times when I will need to accept the change and adapt in order to still have the active life I enjoy.

 

 

But ultimately, this is my life to live as best I can, always.

 

 

And in doing so, I can’t just settle. I don’t ever want to give up. That’s not my style. I have to be open to new possibilities that come along, and say yes, even though it may means stretching beyond what feels familiar and comfortable.

 

I have to orient myself toward happiness, even during those times when things are going off the rails and I can’t stop it. I need to see the beauty around me, notice the kindness that is offered in small ways, and be grateful for moments.

 

The other morning, I was driving to the market and spotted a young girl walking along who suddenly looked up with a broad smile, I don’t know what she saw, but her smile made me smile, it was just so innocent and real. A mile or so down the road, I spotted an adorable little boy, scampering behind his dad. I could just tell he wanted to do and be how his daddy was and it touched my heart. As I glanced down to the valley I noticed how the fog was flowing along like a river. I pulled over and took a photo to share with my friends later on Facebook. At the market, I had a lovely, and very intimate conversation with the cashier about how we’ve all been changed by the fires we’ve experienced over the past five years. I felt a real connection to her.

 

Those, seemingly insignificant, things would have passed by without notice before, but now I note them, collect them and each night before I sleep I think about each one. They are small, mere moments, but strung together they make a good day, and good days strung together make a life well lived. Moments count now.

 

 

Q. What are some concrete changes that may help women navigate their changing lives, either due to Covid or as part of growing older?

 

Develop skills. Accumulate attributes. Just as we’ve done in every developmental stage of our lives, we have to develop skills to cope, to adapt and to live a full and productive life.

 

We need to be flexible. Learn how to let go of plans if things change even when they disappoint us. This was hardest for me. A well organized and planned routine gave me security, albeit a false sense of security. I needed to learn how to cope with being a little uncomfortable not knowing what would happen, not being in control. We need to learn to surrender with confidence that everything will be alright because we will either take care of it, or adapt to it.

 

Do our best to be organized to enjoy our life. Plan in advance for days when we can’t go out or have people over. Have projects waiting. Buy books we have always meant to read. Have exercise routines tagged online to do at home.

 

Orient ourselves for happiness. Every morning I get up to write, long before the sun. I always sit in an east facing window so I can witness the sunrise. It just starts my day off in a more positive frame of mind.

 

Communication. Learn how to ask for help, to discuss difficult topics and to speak up for yourself when you need to. Practice the words, explore the concepts and let yourself get used to the emotions that well up.

 

Adopt a sense of security within yourself based on experience. Every time I’ve gotten injured or seriously sick the past 7 years, I’ve gotten more confident and comfortable with the future, because I survived. I healed. The horrible thing I projected would happen to me, didn’t and I learned that there will be times when I’m down, but I will do my best to bounce back. If I can’t bounce back to right where I was, then I’ll adapt.

 

I suffered a terrible bout of Influenza A, a few years ago. It affected my lungs and I lost some capacity. I was sure it would ruin my life that I wouldn’t be able to hike. I saw myself as frail, rather than the invincible woman I thought I was. It was a pretty dark time. But eventually, going out for increasingly challenging hikes, over time, I’ve regain most of my capacity. Not all. But, now I admit I need to stop and catch my breath and do so without shame. I had to adapt but I didn’t need to give up want I love.

 

Q: What advice do you have for women who don’t feel they have the capacity, for various reasons, to make big changes, perhaps they have physical or financial constraints. What are some simple steps one can take?

 

First of all I want to say, I am not an expert. I have not written the “How to Age in Five Easy Steps. These are my experiences, my observations and what is working for me. We all have our unique circumstances and have to decide for ourselves what’s best. But here’s a few things I’ve adopted.

 

Do something to lift your spirits or relieve stress every single day, many times a day if possible. Get out into nature regularly, to exercise or just to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air to relieve stress. If you can’t get out, do it indoors. If you have mobility issues, try meditation, or just enjoying peaceful music or images to calm yourself.

 

Spend time in quiet reflection. We need to continue to take stock and be aware of how we are and if our needs are being met. It’s far easier to do an assessment, when the world is quiet and we’re focused. We need to pay attention to those emotional indicators, like frustration, anger and melancholy. And when we feel them rise up, we need to ferret out the source and make adjustments, seek help or take care of ourselves as needed.

 

Foster curiosity and follow it. If you can’t travel, research a trip for a future date, explore places online that you may never get a chance to see in person and enjoy the experience for what it is. Use this time to explore.

 

Say yes often, even before you know all the details, so you won’t have time to talk yourself out of it. We often miss out on wonderful experiences because we can’t see clearly what they look like in advance, or what the outcome might be. Taking the safe road is prudent in some things, but those moments that lift us up many times happen spontaneously.

 

Orient yourself toward what you want. Even if you don’t know yet how you will obtain what you desire, start moving in that direction. Don’t edit your life in advance, just keep moving along in the right direction. Make the best next choice and go on from there.

 

Do something to lift your spirits or bring joy every day. Go out into nature, listen to relaxing music, engage in a pleasurable activity, sit in quiet reflection to realize gratitude

 

 

We’ve covered so much this morning at a pretty fast pace. Can you summarize for us?

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

 Express your feelings to connect with friends, with those you love, with the world around you, whenever and however you can. Don’t hold them alone.

 

Keep your life stable and secure but season it with variety. Look for new outlets Change your routine, do something unexpected, take safe risks.

 

Prepare for the unexpected so when it happens, you’ve already made at least a rudimentary plan.

 

Treat yourself as you would a friend with kindness and support.

 

Orient yourself for happiness. Train yourself to notice beauty, pay attention to the small details and cherish those special, simple moments. Practice gratitude and being positive.

 

Don’t disregard the sorrow and regret. It’s part of the spectrum of life’s color. Feel all the emotions. Just don’t slip too deep into it and if you feel yourself sinking, reach for help. If you see a friends sinking offer help.

 

Allow yourself pleasure, reward yourself for progress, give yourself freedom and space.

 

Be honest with yourself. Determine what it is you truly desire, no matter if it’s practical, admit it. Then use that desire to move in that direction. Orient yourself toward what you want every day, in how you live, and the choices you make.

 

Take care of your body. Eat well. Move. Get fresh air and sunshine. Spend time savoring beauty.

 

Understand you have a choice. Aging is inevitable. Hating it is an option, but embracing it is a choice.

 

Curate your life. Chose who and what comes into it and regularly take inventory to be sure that’s still what is best for you

 

Here’s a list of essays from past publications that go into more detail most are on the blog, some can be found at https://sixtyandme.com/author/fran-braga-meininger/

 

Healthy Dose of Distraction

Intuitive Journaling

Make You Moments Perfect

Enjoy the Solitude of Maturity

Bloom Where You’re Planted

How to Foster Communication during Troubling Times

Fostering a Sense of Wonder

Don’t be afraid of Doing Something Badly, at First

Use the Pandemic to Grow Your Legacy

How Can Boomer Women Create New Friendships in the Tech Age?

Asking for and Accepting Help

 

Articles on the Years Beyond Youth

Living Deeply

The Age of Accepting and Adapting

Learning to Hike Solo

A Reluctant Reentry

Connecting Through the Isolation

Life Goes On

Wise Old Women

Don't Wait for the Perfect Moment-Make Your Moments Perfect

The older I get, the more I believe the adage, happiness is an inside job. Life doesn’t seem to generously dish up the thrills and emotional highs it once did when I was part of a greater social scene and professional community. And in talking with my woman friends, I’ve discover I’m not alone.  Many others are in search of what will inspire and fulfill us.

 

But so often we wait for the conditions to be just right - the right weather, the right person to accompany us, the perfect location, and while we’re waiting the opportunities pass without us ever stepping out to find what’s waiting for us.

 

In my quest for a more joyful life, I’ve found I can, with the right mind set and correct focus, not only appreciate fully the spontaneous magical moments, but create experiences that give me the satisfaction and sense of wonder I crave. No more waiting around for it to magically appear, I’ve learned to make it happen.

 

Small Moments Matter

I think the biggest shift for me was learning to be present in the moment and to focus on the simple things, that before, seemed insignificant. There is so much beauty in our every day, and many opportunities for heart-warming connection. We just need to notice and be ready to capture them.

 

Discover What Makes You Happy

We all have certain preferences when it comes to what we find beautiful, what lights us up and gives us that content and blissful feeling. Mine is nature, hiking through the hills or just sitting somewhere wild listening and watching. To create perfect moments we need to capitalize on what already interests us and indulge in it consistently.

 

Set Intention

Before beginning the day, think about what it is you want from it and notice how many ways it shows up throughout the following hours. I awaken early and while I lie there in the dark, I contemplate the day and how I can find within it the gifts that are meant for me, be they time with a close friend, something delicious that I want to prepare for myself, or perhaps an outing with the potential to see a place with a refreshed perspective. And if there’s nothing on the calendar, I contemplate what I can do to make the day a good one.

 

Take Some Risks – Do Something Different and New

There’s a certain exhilaration to the unknown. When we choose to push our limits and attempt to do something we’ve never done before, we experience life in an unfamiliar way and that can lead to some spectacular moments and memories. Breaking out of our routine and striving for new achievements, different scenery and engaging experiences will pay dividends in the form of perfect moments.

 

 Sidestep the Obstacles

There are responsibilities and difficulties that may interfere with finding and having what we want, but if we are creative, we will discover ways to achieve our goals. I recently had a minor surgery that required me to stay off my feet for several weeks. I missed hiking very much. So one morning, my friend took me and a borrowed wheelchair to the park and I wheeled along the path through the trees with her. I found a perfect moment in that peaceful, natural setting and in the comfort of a caring friend.

 

Embrace the Unexpected

A chance encounter, the kindest of a stranger, sharing an accomplishment with a young person, are all the kind of every day occurrences that deserve to be savored. Notice them and appreciate these moments for their unexpected pleasure.

 

Engage in Work of the Heart

One way to raise the odds of experiencing gratification and fulfillment is to be generous in spirit and contribute to the well-being of others. Whether it be through a service group, volunteering with a nonprofit organization or helping a neighbor in need. Giving of ourselves brings connection and gives one a sense of purpose.

 

Return to the Magnificence

I love watching the light rise before the dawn. I get up very early every morning, take my sweet and spicy chai and sit at an eastern facing window and wait. Some mornings are more spectacular than others, with brilliant color and birds singing, but they all give me a moment of grand inspiration. When you find something that inspires you, return to it regularly and enjoy.

 

Choose the Right People With Whom to Share Your Moments

Surround yourself with positive, intellectually stimulating and creative people. Join groups, reach out to those you come across with shared interests and stay in contact with those friends who always seem to give you an emotional boost. Seek out those who possess the capacity to make moments perfect with you.

Don’t Be Afraid to Do Something Badly… At First.

If you’re like me, you’ve settled into a kind of placid existence which gratefully lacks the high anxiety and fear of the initial onset of the pandemic, replacing it with a routine that gets me through the day but offers very little in the way of challenge or inspiration.

I take solo hikes, prepare meals, engage on social media, read - my only in person interactions are with the grocery cashier or the growers at the local farmer’s market. It’s all very responsible and will hopefully keep me healthy, but it certainly lacks stimulation and personal connection.

I’ve been wondering how I should address this, considering I now understand our Covid experience is more than a temporary situation, most likely requiring adaptation to a new lifestyle. So, how do we sustain ourselves over the long term? My answer, do something new.

I decided I needed to expand my horizons, albeit within my four walls, utilizing technology, and always within the safe bounds of social distancing etc. The vehicle of the engagement is less the point, as there are countless Zoom, YouTube and online Meetups, as well as other virtual opportunities and organized activities that bring folks together within the compliance of the health officials’ recommendations.

What does matter is our willingness to do something new, to explore new talents or to try something we have been tempted to investigate, even if it means initially we are probably going to do it quite poorly.

My choice was painting. I dipped a toe into watercolors years ago when a friend invited me to a class. I was frustrated with my initial endeavor and gave up almost immediately. Now, with nothing but time on my hands, I decided to try again. I watched YouTube videos on basic techniques and spent several afternoons lost in experimentation. Did I create a masterpiece? No, not even close.  In fact, I tossed out most of my work.  Was it interesting, engaging, and instructive? Did it encourage me to continue? Did it offer me a relaxing way to spend the afternoon? Yes. And for me the most important thing was that it potentially offered me another way to connect with others. I may even sign up for a Zoom painting session with a group of novice painters hosted by a local artist.

The point is to explore and expand, resisting the temptation to let this oppressive situation limit our possibilities and get the best of us.

So, what’s your next endeavor? The possibilities are infinite, restricted only by our willingness to push beyond our self-limiting expectations. Will it be difficult at first? Will you be frustrated as I was? Probably. But my best advice is, try and see what happens. You may find as I did, that it isn’t your life’s passion, but it certainly can be a creative outlet to enjoy while we live life as fully as possible despite the constraints beyond our control. And I’m quite certain, you will find a sense of peace and accomplishment just for the attempt.

Asking for and Accepting Help

I’ve always been strong, resilient and able bodied, the first to rush to the rescue of others, the one who shows up, brings food, and can face with my friends, what life delivers on a bad day.

 

What I am not, is good with asking for and accepting help.

 

But an unexpected, minor surgery currently has me bedbound for several weeks. I did my best to prepare, stocking up on what I thought I’d need, ordering books to read and even borrowing a wheelchair to navigate the short distance from my bed to the bath and kitchen. But still, it’s hard. I’m frustrated and surprised at how difficult it is to do the simplest task without standing.

 

I have wonderful friends, and before the procedure, they all offered to assist me with whatever I needed.  But I assured them I was fine and wouldn’t need anything. Then I came home with a gaping hole in my leg that will only heal if I follow my surgeon’s instructions and stay off my feet. So, I’m in the process of walking back my hasty decision to decline support.

 

I must say, I’ve gained some fascinating insights through all this.

 

How I See Myself Needs an Update

I am deeply committed to my self-image, even though it is rapidly becoming outdated. I realize I need to see myself as not only strong and self-reliant, but also as someone who is going to experience temporary situations that may require support. Shifting my mindset to understand that letting others do some things for me doesn’t mean I am going to surrender my lifestyle or suddenly lose my independence. I can be both strong and in need of assistance.

 

Accepting Loving Care Touches a Place Where Many Emotions Live

Part of my hesitation to allow others to care for me is because it evokes some very honest emotion. I’ve realized as much as I love my friends, I am still holding back.  I don’t like letting down my façade and allowing anyone to see my vulnerability.

 

No One Thinks Less of Me

Even though a few friends commented how uncomfortable it made them seeing me bandaged and temporarily incapacitated, they assured me I would always be the same powerful person in their eyes. That matters to me because it validates how I see myself. My friends still respect me and know this situation is temporary.

 

Being Honest About My Hesitation to Accept Help Fostered Intimacy

When I confessed my reluctance to ask for help and explained how hard it was for me to see myself as being needy, it brought my friends closer. Perhaps, I became more authentic in their eyes by my admission of trepidation. Whatever the reason, I know my relationships were strengthened by my honesty.

 

My Friends Felt Gratified in Being There For Me

Everyone needs to feel needed, relevant and essential in their relationships. And by providing for me, my friends felt all of those things. Some even shared with me that the reciprocity changed our dynamic for the better.

 

There’s so much yet to discover about this life. I’m realizing it is ever evolving and my relationships will also evolve along the way, if I allow them. My lesson is to be and to stay open to change and remain as honest as I can be. I now believe if I let go of the fear of vulnerability, the insecurity of the unknown will be replaced with the assurance that those who care for me will always be by my side.

Cultivating a Sense of Wonder

Do you remember what it was like to be a curious child with such an insatiable appetite for new experiences, you rushed into your day with boundless energy and enthusiasm? Perhaps it’s not always that way now. I know, it’s changed for me. It takes intention to nurture a healthy sense of wonder about a world you’ve lived in for a very long time. It can become routine, tedious even, to spend every day doing what you have done so often. But it is possible to spark that curiosity back to life, even without making wholesale changes.

 

It’s all in your mind, or more precisely in your mindset. Some refer to it as a growth mindset, others as a savoir de vivre or a gusto for living that keeps us engaged in our everyday life. And I believe it may be the secret to keeping life interesting through the phases and changes that come with the passage of time.

 

What we’re talking about is shaping behavior. Framing our attitudes and actions in a way as to be engaged with not only the outside world, but also with our own contemplation and impressions. It’s a state of being that keeps us actively pursuing new ideas, enriching experiences and connection.

 

I remember being a teenager when this elderly woman befriended my family. She lived in a care home around the corner and would walk over to visit regularly. She became part of our extended family and I found her fascinating because she possessed such boundless joy that I didn’t sense in the other adults in my life. What I recognize now, in hindsight, is that she was acutely curious and constantly open to new experiences. And my guess is, it was a conscious decision on her part. I never once heard her complain about her life, she only exuded appreciation. I’ve never forgotten her, nor her remarkable ability to seek wonder in her declining years.

 

A few years ago, a series of circumstances changed my life. I suffered a significant bout of anxiety and in order to recover, I began to look at how I could rearrange my life and my outlook to still feel like life was worth living. I discovered how to find joy in my small life, just as that amazing women had modeled for me years ago. Although she has been gone for decades, I remembered her and she became my guide. And now, I am passing along what I learned.

 

Quiet Contemplation Can Bring Wonder Into Focus

I began to spend much of my time alone. I retreated into my thoughts and started writing about them. I spent hours hiking the hills allowing the natural world to entice me. A peaceful solo walk among the trees became a morning meditation and it set the mood for the upcoming day.  

 

 

Notice the Minute and Seemingly Insignificant

Bringing my focus to small details, slowed me down and opened my eyes to how amazing the world around me really is. I sat on the hillside and rather than looking out over the vista, I looked down, examining the lichen on the tree trunk, noticing the tiny insects busy foraging for food and inhaled the delicate fragrance of a spring morning after the rain. All those things touched and delighted me when I finally allowed them to. I marveled at the vibrant life that was going on without me ever noticing, and the more I focused on it, the more amazing it became.

 

Consciously Look for Beauty

I practiced seeing things that normally slipped by me. I reminded myself to look up at the sky every day, to wake up in time to watch the sun rise while sipping my morning coffee, or notice the birds singing outside my window. I’m convinced that noticing is the gateway to joy and gratitude. Just notice to start, and watch the way it brings up appreciation and a sense of delight.

 

Keep Your Endeavor to Yourself

As I searched for more and more reasons to savor the contents of my own life and world, I realized when I shared my thoughts, most people not only didn’t appreciate what I was trying to do, they actively attempted to move me in other directions. I felt as though I was being condemned for being open to the possibility of a new way of immersing myself in my own life. So, I learned to choose very carefully in whom I confided.

 

Put Your Intention Toward Feeling Happy

This is hard. I won’t pretend it’s not. But like a muscle that has atrophied and is being strained again, it eventually gets stronger and with time the movement becomes easier until it is actually effortless. I felt better after a few months, but the real improvement came after about a year. Suddenly I was waking up every morning with a list of things to which to look forward.

 

Pleasure and Indulgence is a Function of Living a Joyous Life. And There’s No Place for Guilt in the Equation

I began to reward myself with pleasure, an ice cream cone on a warm summer day, an afternoon to do what I wanted no matter how frivolous, a spontaneous trip to the ocean with a girlfriend. And if there was no one to enjoy my pleasure with me, I enjoyed it solo. It felt awkward at first to do things unescorted, but now, I truly relish those times.

 

Stay Curious

I realized I was uninspired and assumed I’d accomplished all I was going to. That left me feeling empty and without purpose. So, I watched programs and read articles about places I’ve never been and tried to learn new things regularly. I took up hobbies that were new to me, things I had dismissed years ago claiming I wasn’t good at them. I followed any spark of interest to see if it caught fire with my attention. I started mountain biking again, learned to bake bread, I bought some inexpensive watercolors supplies and started painting. I didn’t expect any of these endeavors to become my life’s work. They were a lark, an experiment, a chance for me to explore the possible. And they brought me joy.

 

I’m not saying my life is now without challenges and disappointments. But I am saying, for the most part, even though my circumstances haven’t changed all that much, after shifting my outlook and cultivating a sense of wonder, my life is definitely worth living.