Excuses, excuses

walking the dogI ran into my friend, Jean, walking the dog yesterday morning. She and I continued walking together, and talking for 15 or so minutes.

She opened up to me, telling me that at age 48, she’s beginning to face loneliness. Her husband travels a good bit with work, her last child is at ‘that age’ when she’s out with friends all the time. Like most of us in our 40s and 50s, she is bored with her present line of work. She’s a trained designer, but her main focus has been raising her children and volunteering in her community and church. Off and on for the last 20 years she’s dabbled in her chosen field but now she’s tired, the economy has brought her less and less work. She’s not sure what she wants to do next but knows she needs something to fill that emptiness.

“I’d like to go out earn a living – a good, healthy living, doing something I love. You know I’ve never done my part to support this family.” Of course that brought a chuckle ~ I know her sweet husband would strongly disagree.

A few days earlier I ran into another one friend at the grocery store, Mitzi. Her face was tired, drawn. This gal gives 150% to her job, one that hardly pays her to show up each morning. She’s just that kind.

“I need to start making more money.” The economy has been hard on her family as it has on most of us. Her two young children are demanding more and more of her time, her energy, not to mention more money for education, sports, clothing.

“I’ve thought about going back to school to supplement my design skills,” she answered in a lifeless tone. I could tell she was settling on something she felt would produce immediate results. I pressed her, asking, “If you could do anything, anything at all, not worrying about time or money, what would it be?

“I don’t know, I love to fix things around the house, I’m really good with a saw.”  Her face came alive. “I’ve dreamed of renovating houses and flipping them, but that’s just a pipe dream, I need something with a guaranteed salary.”

Then there’s my friend, Lindsey, who’s been the cornerstone of our community. She runs the PTA, teaches Sunday School, she is team mom for the Little League team. Her house is a haven for the neighborhood kids because she’s always got a pot of spaghetti on the stove. Her calm, her patience, her connection with kids amazes us all.

Lindsey’s life has been wrapped around her two children, her husband. She has designed one of those picture perfect home lives, one we all wish to have. But her children are about to leave the nest and she, too, is facing a quandary – how to fill this upcoming void, this second half of her life.

She’s always fantasized about becoming a writer of children’s books, but at 45, she’s afraid she’s too old to start over. What a loss it would be if she didn’t. Just think of the many kids whose lives she could change should she follow through with her dream.

All three of these ‘young’ women struggle with the same demons I’ve wrestled with the last few years. All three can’t see the doors that are about to fling wide open. They can’t yet feel the freedom, the energy, the excitement that comes with embracing their possibilities in the second half of our lives.

Oh, I beg of you. Don’t ever close those doors with a ‘got to make more money’ excuse. Don’t be afraid to go back to school because of your age. Ram through that door, honey – set your sights high, follow your passion, and cherish every dang minute of it!

The money will follow. I promise it will.


Don’t label yourself ‘old’: I have a rule. Never, never order the senior coffee at McDonald’s. I don’t care if it’s cheaper, just don’t do it. If a cashier fails to ask for your ID when buying wine, whip it out anyway. Embarrass the s.o.b. And when that AARP thing comes in the mail, trash it immediately.

Take baby steps: Dare yourself to sign up for one – just one – course at a local college . . . and make it an easy one. Don’t stress to make an A. Just enjoy it. You might get hooked. If you do happen to get hooked, walk down to the College Scholarship Office and let one of those folks show you how many scholarships are available for us ‘old’ folks.

Lindsey, you dream of being a writer? Sign up for a MeetUp in your area. Here’s one for you: Click Here. Hit the RSVP button then go with an open mind because you might be surprised to meet an agent there – one who thinks your book idea is very marketable.

Get an accountability partner (or ‘virtual’ partner): Verbalize what you want to do to a friend or on Facebook. Put it out there then follow through. With a glass of wine under my belt to give me alcohol-induced courage – before I could chicken out – I posted my NYC dream on Facebook. Within minutes I had 10-20 eyes on me, daring me to book that flight. I was forced to follow through.

Let others help you get there. Don’t know what you want to do next? Get 5 or 6 of your friends together, picking those in similar stages of their lives. Sort of like a book club, agree to meet once a week and start peeling back the layers and uncovering your passions. Ask yourselves questions like “If money wasn’t a problem, what would I do, where would I go? If I was 25 again, what do I dream of doing? What in my life, enlivens me? I had the opportunity to attend a day-long “Intentions Setting” class last year. Each of us listed what things ‘floated our boat.’ Mine were (1) I love to learn, (2) I love being around young creative people, (3) I love New York. Well, folks, at the end of that class it became very clear that I should plan a trip to NY, enroll in a class at Parsons where I could be surrounded by young people. The rest is history.

Trust in God. He has plans for your second half of life that are much bigger, much more fulfilling, much more exciting that you can even imagine. Just make sure you walk through that door that he is opening for you.

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