“Either you will go through this door or you will not go through.” Adrienne Rich
I was talking to my friend, Kat Tansey, earlier this week and she asked me what my biggest fear was about growing older. Who me??? Growing older? Oh, yeah, of course I am and I would be less than truthful if I said I didn’t have some “fears” around that issue.
Those fears don’t have anything to do with crow’s feet, not enough fullness in my cheeks or crepey eyelids… not that I like any of that stuff. I immediately told her that “losing my faculties” was #1 on the list and I am sure that answer was driven by the fact that I had watched my mom go down that rabbit hole for 10+ years before she passed away last spring.
But the more I thought about it, I decided that the real fear I had was losing my physical abilities when I got older and still having an active mind. Wanting to do things and go places but not being able to do so would be pretty dreadful for me. Another reason I was so happy to be part of Kat’s beta program, Choosing to Be Fit, over the past several months – assessing what I need to focus on to stay healthy and developing a plan to do so.
Instead of letting the fear paralyze me, I am choosing to do something about it now while I can and in just a few short months, I have seen some real progress. It’s not about looking hot (even though I wouldn’t fight that). It’s about feeling strong, flexible and energetic and keeping what I’ve got in working order.
I realized that this choice I am making – to be and stay healthy – is all part of the transition process, too. While I am making the big transition of moving to a place where I basically know no one, downsizing from living in a major city to a small country village of 3,000, leaving my “work” on the radio show I’ve hosted for the last seven years, and creating a new life for myself and my relationship with Bob.
It’s in the creation of life the way I want to live it going forward that holds all the excitement for me. I have a blank slate and I get to be the artist.
Now, while I am super duper excited about this prospect, I know from conversations with many people over the past several months, the fear of doing this is enough to send them hiding under the bed.
I’ve had people tell me that they could never see themselves making a move like we are doing. Knowing that there are so many valid reasons why someone couldn’t just pick up and relocate to the place of their dreams, I always ask them what’s holding them back. And, the answers often surprise me – not what I would have expected and often, the word “fear” is a part of it.
I’ve become even more interested in other women making big transitions – what’s driving them, how they are going about it, how they get past the fear, etc. I’ve known several women personally who have made amazing transitions and perhaps, they are the ones who helped me see that I, too, could do it.
Recently, I read an interview with actress Sally Fields in Ladies Home Journal who talked about being in the age 60+ stage of life and deciding what’s next:
“This is the first time in my life I find myself standing in place going, Now What? Wait a minute, you mean it’s up to me? Suddenly my life is open to possibilities… I’m just trying to look at what’s important to me, and to let go of the things that are not of value. Right now, I’m looking at myself in the mirror and asking, ‘Who do I want to be when I grow up?’”
Another rich source of inspiration about women making powerful transitions is the new book by Marlo Thomas, It Ain’t Over . . . Till It’s Over: Reinventing Your Life – and Realizing Your Dreams – Anytime, at Any Age. In the book, sixty amazing women share their stories and prove it’s never to late to live out a dream or try something new. It could be anything from starting your own business, getting out of an unhappy relationship, finding new love or developing that creative talent you have. Whatever it is that’s calling you, the message is about hope. It’s possible for you.
Cultural anthropologist, award-winning author and educator, Angeles Arrien teaches that when you find the courage to change at mid-life, “a miracle happens.” Your character can be opened, deepened, strengthened, and softened, and you can return to your soul’s highest values.
She says “The choice is always ours. If we choose to grow and achieve ever-deepening wisdom, we must be willing to do the personal work necessary… There are rich rewards to be had for our efforts.”
I am ready. Are you?
What is it that is calling you? What small step can you take to get you going in the right direction? Just remember:
“Wishes are shining deep down inside of you. Cause that my friends is where the magic lives.” Jiminy Cricket
In the spring of ’94, I was living in Charlotte and Bob was living in Baltimore. We made plans to meet in Boston, where we rented a red convertible and headed north to New Hampshire and Vermont for a long weekend. I had never been to either state and was looking forward to it knowing that he loved the area we were going to ever since his college days in Hanover, NH.
I was not disappointed at all. We stayed in the lovely Norwich Inn and spent our days riding around in that red convertible on rolling roads through the incredible countryside and stopping in little towns to check out the general stores.
One afternoon we ended up in what I thought was the most magical town I’d ever seen. It was Woodstock, VT. We had lunch in town and spent the rest of the day admiring the beautiful homes around the green and shopping in the little stores.
At one shop, Bob found a calligraphy print called “The Rules”. He laughed as he was showing them to me and said he had never heard of these rules:
- The female always makes the rules.
- The rules are subject to change at any time without prior notification.
- No male can possibly know all the rules.
- If the female suspects the male knows all the rules, she must immediately change some or all of them.
- The female may change her mind at any time.
- The male must never change his mind without the expressed written consent of the female.
- The male is expected to mind read at all times.
- and, about six more of them in the same vain.
I just remember thinking that if he bought into the “rules”, that could be a good sign if our relationship progressed.
Later that afternoon as we were driving back toward Norwich, we discovered the Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners, VT. An authentic country tavern built around 1790, it is still a local favorite. It was so inviting we decided to have dinner in the pub. That night became one of our favorite memories of the trip – great food, local beer, a live band and plenty of locals. We ended up making “friends” with Tim and Diane, who looked like hangovers from the 60’s – tie-dye and all. It was a grand evening.
After the fabulous weekend, Bob headed back to Baltimore. I headed back to Charlotte. A week or so later, he came down to visit me and much to my surprise, he brought a framed copy of… “The Rules”! This guy is serious! I knew at that point, there was a possibility we’d be together and if he was buying into the “Rules”, life could be more than fabulous. Right?
Well, needless to say… we did get married and “The Rules” are hung in a prominent place in our home. I wish I could tell you that Bob followed most of them. Not. We have to review them often.
As I was sorting and packing up earlier this week, I ran across the mementos I had saved from that very first trip to Vermont – the very first time I saw Woodstock. I fell in love with that beautiful little town in ’94, and over the years, we’ve headed back there and used it as our home base for biking trips. Each trip we made reinforced our love for it and then last summer, we bought our new home there.
It’s always so amazing to me that we don’t know where our paths will lead us. Back at that time, I never would have thought that we would end up in Woodstock. But, here we are getting ready to move there and looking forward to it with so much anticipation – welcoming the idea of growing roots in a new place.
I imagine that Skunk Hollow will become a regular place for us. Who knows? We may even run into Tim and Diane in tie-dye again - which would be great.
And, “The Rules” – they’ll be going with us. I never know when Bob will need a refresher course.
Full Circle for us. Such a big reminder for me to keep on living, to keep on having a sense of wonder and to keep on leaving the door open for what might be. You don’t ever know.
As always, I would love to hear about the unexpected adventures or opening doors you’ve had that led to something special.