In my forties, my life was all about everyone else. I had the forever home to take care of. I had a quarter-acre to weed and water. I had a business I was pushing forward. I had a daughter who was navigating school, puberty, and finding her way in the world. I had a family that demanded my attention in many different ways. I had an ever-changing environment I dealt with every day.
I did as most women do, and I put myself second. Their needs were more important. And frankly, I never gave it all much thought. I was TOO BUSY.
As I approached my fifties, things started to change. The demands were there. But I was different. I suddenly didn’t look at it all the same way.
And I started living life a different way. At forty-nine, I changed everything. And as I turned fifty, I discovered there was a better way. I started putting me first. When you haven’t done it for a while, it feels a little overwhelming. Almost foreign.
I’m not sure what it is about fifty that allows you to look at life differently. While I still appreciate all that is around me, I also realize that for me to give my best, I have to BE my best. And that means selection. It means choosing my path. Making ME the best I can be so I have more to give what is around me.
So I started asking myself questions. Who did I want to be? What words did I want to use to define me? What roles did I want to take?
So much of our world is focused on “finding your passion,” but what does that even mean? And at fifty, was it simply too late?
Instead of focusing in on one thing, I had many aspects I wanted to explore. I’d lived a multifaceted life. How could I ever want to move forward in only one way?
So I looked to Twitter as my guidance. Yes, Twitter. When I first joined many years ago, I had a problem. I had to describe who I was – that little bio that hangs out under your profile photo – in 120 characters or less. How could I define ME in just a few words?
And then it hit me. What if I defined my future based on words that mean something to me? What if I direct my next fifty years based on the ten best words that I choose to describe me?
It not only helped me get more focused on who I am in this world, but also the direction I wanted to take as I maneuver through my fifties.
Instead of wife, mother, daughter, friend, business owner – I started asking myself what specific roles I wanted to take on FOR ME. I still highly value all the other roles I play. But I also realize that this is MY time. That I can be all that, and be better at it, if I allow me to be ME.
Because I’d always assigned myself roles based on my circumstances. And I never gave myself a role for just me. I’ve never really focused in on it and made it the most important thing. Until now.
I am a Writer
I never knew I wanted to be a writer when I was young. In a lot of ways, I don’t think I ever realized I could write for a living. As a job. It was more of a role I had within my jobs.
I fell into a business degree because my father recommended it. Yes, it seems awful to my ears now, but honestly, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. When my father said I’d never go wrong with a business degree, I listened. I fell into Finance because it was easy.
But I’d picked up a pencil years ago and started writing. I have many old diaries tucked away in my drawers.
Something drew me to it. I found I loved being able to type out a story and share it with the world. I’ve been blogging since about 2004, and I have no intentions of ever stopping.
When a publisher approached me years ago and offered me a contract to publish a book, something clicked. And I’ve been hooked ever since.
Little did I know that my fateful relationship with a small publishing house to write Studio Without Walls would take me down the path I’m currently on.
Today, I’ve written over a dozen nonfiction books. I’ve just released my fifth novel.
Do I love being an author? You bet. And I have plans to keep publishing a book a month throughout 2018.
I am a World Traveler
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. St Augustine
Not all those who wander are lost. JRR Tolkien
I lived the first two decades of my life only traveling between my home in Denver and my grandparents’ places in Iowa. I never saw an ocean until I was twenty-two. But from that point forward, my world has changed considerably. I’ve traveled extensively. I’ve been to forty-two of our states. Traveled throughout western Canada. Hit both the Pacific and Atlantic sides of Mexico. I’ve visited Spain and Italy. I’ve visited the Panama Canal.
And with every step I take in a foreign land, I realize just how small this world really is.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. Mark Twain
I am Healthy
When my father died at the age of fifty-four, my world changed forever. I realized how short life is. I realized how important good health really is.
I know I have a choice every day. I can do everything humans are good at: I can listen to my lazy side, telling me to fall to the couch and do nothing for the day. I can give in to indulgences and give my sweet tooth what it desires.
I can also choose my health. That means daily exercise. That means focusing in on the foods that I eat. It means reading books and attending seminars to learn all I can about making my body as healthy as it can possibly be.
That’s led me to a plant-based diet. It’s made me into a person who doesn’t need medicines or therapies to get through my days.
I look and feel the way I do because I’ve chosen this lifestyle. Health comes down to choice. You can choose to focus on making healthy choices, or live with the consequences tomorrow. I choose health.
I am a Reinvention Expert
The definition of an expert is a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area. When it comes down to it, we all have something we’re expert in.
Malcolm Gladwell has a 10,000 Hour Rule. It’s a principle that says it takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become world-class in what you do.
For some, that means getting a degree. For others, it’s learning in the field. In all cases, it’s about selecting something that interests you and learning all that you can.
A few years ago I became a student of reinvention. I discovered I wasn’t happy with my life and wanted to make a big change. I wanted a reinvention.
And while it pushed me even harder as a writer, it also gave me an interest in the field of reinvention. I love learning about what makes humans want to change. I enjoy writing about reinvention process. And because of that, I continue to learn all I can.
I am a Vegetarian
Back in 1994, I started down the road to becoming a vegetarian. I started looking at food choices not long after my fifty-four-year-old father passed away.
My daughter declared herself vegetarian at three. I accepted her decision at the age of six, when we’d fought about it again and again.
I became a vegetarian myself in 2011. And I’ve been pushing towards the vegan lifestyle ever since.
I do it for health. But the more I learn, the more I do it for other reasons too. For the environment. For animals. For sustainability.
It’s now a part of who I am.
I am a Hiker
Nothing makes me happier than stepping into the wilderness and breathing fresh air. Or climbing to an opening in the forest and finding the most breathtaking view.
I love to hike. I love the challenge. And for that hiking suits my needs quite well.
I’ve defined what I love about it and look for ways to use my skills all over the world. I don’t just research the best restaurants in a new city; I always look for the best places to hike.
When I hike, I move into another world. One where I can release everything and let my mind wander and explore.
Some of my best ideas come from the top of a waterfall or a clearing with a view.
I am a Motivator
Why do I write?
To give people a different perspective.
To open up minds to new ideas.
To help those who choose to follow me discover a different way of navigating this thing called life.
I am an Idea Generator
There are idea people; I’m one of them.
I can’t sit still and not think of a new idea. An idea that will change the world. One that will revolutionize something in our daily lives.
Give me a problem; I’ll give you a solution.
Ask me a question; I’ll give you several different answers.
Want an idea? Tell me what you’re interested in. I can quickly give you ten.
I am a Teacher
Aren’t we all?
When I had my daughter, I quickly realized I wasn’t the only one doing the teaching. I learned as much from her as she learned from me.
I like to think of life as a great big jigsaw puzzle. We’re each given an undisclosed number of pieces. Each day you learn and have experiences unique to you. And at the end of the day, your puzzle piece falls into place.
The older you get, the more you start noticing what the puzzle looks like. You learn. You grow. It adds dimension to your life.
The most successful realize that our goal is to share the picture with those around us. We’re given the clues; it’s up to us to tell the stories to carry on.
And so I teach.
To whoever will listen.
That’s my gift to the world.