The 2021 Wise Women Project features interviews and portraits of women over 50 with the goal of recognizing the many ways women contribute and provide inspiration to our community. These are their stories. Want to participate? Learn more here.
How old are you? 56
What is something you are exploring with passion today?
Completing my degree in Equine Science, with an emphasis on end-of-life/hospice care for horses; also, creating and maintaining our small horse-chicken-garden farm, built from a dirt plot. These things amidst taking in my elderly mother, 92, who is going blind (she arrives from Omaha in December). I am embracing this opportunity to care for her in her final season of life. My husband and I are also closing out the sale of a small medical device business, and I manage several real estate investment/renovation projects.
Why did you decide to follow this path?
I had an opportunity to leave the traditional business world, selling an online sports magazine I built, and also selling the small medical device business my husband and I started. With my kids grown and out of the house, the natural question was, “what’s next?” That was easy for me to answer – my lifelong dream was to work with horses. With Covid, going back to school online was logical. True to my modus operandi, I dove in too deep, too fast. This is my downfall – I am impatient, and often fail to slow down and listen, and take a know-it-all approach. Many, many lessons learned.
What does the way you spend your time today mean to you at this stage of life?
I am busier than ever, but making a solid effort to slow the ‘eff down. My favorite day-to-day work is in my own back yard, and at Colorado Horse Rescue, where I intern. Recently I found myself standing at a CHR pen, waiting for miniature horses to poop. My job was to collect samples, assemble fecal flotation slides, and analyze under the microscope to identify and count strongyle eggs for deworming protocol. I had to observe the pooping process in order to match the sample to the horse, and man, they were just taking their sweet time.
I kept thinking, “I have so much to do! I can’t stand here all day!” And then I remembered, I was doing exactly what my job required. There was nothing else I needed to be doing but to observe these spirited creatures and wait. I was able to take in an hour of a stunning Colorado day, the smoke finally cleared over the foothills, just watch these equids interact, and BREATHE. Such a contrast to my management and marketing gigs, requiring frantic multitasking and always feeling late and overwhelmed. I’m not completely there yet, but in that moment standing at that horse pen, I had a glimpse.
What is/has been the biggest roadblock to you in your life?
My ever-lovin’ insecure ways. Always convinced I wasn’t good enough or truly lovable, I made it my life’s work from an early age (around six years old, as best my therapy has revealed) to put all my energy into trying to convince people to like me. And then being pissed off about it. I know, it’s not a unique pattern, but it is oh-so-sad. All the times I threw my hand in the air for an exhausting task that honestly was not meaningful to me, but I hope-hope-hoped would be meaningful to someone else and that would somehow give me value, and a place in this world. And then systemically spent afterwards (financially, emotionally, physically), experiencing the desperate sadness when recognition did not come. Or worse, when recognition DID come, and it just felt empty. The formula did not work. I still fight with this Every. Damn. Day.
How did you/are you pushing past that roadblock?
Ha. Well, there is some wisdom that comes from age, and that old adage of doing the same thing over and over with the same results. But I still would not have gotten there without two things: 1) Being truly ready in my heart to do some hard work on recognizing maybe my (old) way wasn’t the best way, and 2) Finding and working with a life coach who gets me, and doesn’t take any of my B.S. I believe I will be consulting with her for the rest of my life, as my six-year-old brain is astoundingly resilient and ever-present. And with my mom moving in? Ya.
What do you think it means to age gracefully?
I believe aging gracefully means to reconcile our physical exterior with our inner turmoil.
What has been challenging for you since you passed the age of 50?
Allllllllll of the above. So many new questions. Oh, and death. In the last decade my husband and I have lost an inordinate number of family members – some with unprecedented circumstances at stupidly young ages. I’ve written more eulogies than I thought I had in me. And with that, I’ve come face to face with what is true for all of us, but we just don’t talk about. We are all going to die. Most of us in painful, drawn-out, not-pretty ways. And it could be tomorrow we receive the diagnosis or experience the life-changing (or life-ending) accident. So though I live most days with this feeling that I must produce work and prove myself worthy, I’m learning to interrupt that thought with a breath and constantly ask myself, if this is the last day, or if this is the last day I’m physically able, am I making the most of it?
What is the greatest blessing, in your opinion about getting older?
To be able to say you spend a chunk of your days reading, and it is acceptable. “What did you do today?” “Oh, this and that, and I got some reading done…” All good. No one bats an eye. I don’t need to rattle off my laundry list of task-master accomplishments. (And if you’ve been following along, you’ll see that even in my more self-aware senior days, I’m still worried about what others think…)
What worries you most about the future?
Early death or debilitating disease. I’ve just found this whole new world of contented lifestyle for myself – I want a chance to live it.
Why did you decide to participate in this project?
I submitted my info to Robin, and she responded positively – she even said she liked me. Done.
Seriously, I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and also painfully aware of, and enthusiastic about, the work yet ahead. My life coach recommended the Our Stories Today blog on social media, and pretty much every topic resonated with me. My six-year-old self shouted I wasn’t worthy, but Robin seems to think my story will fit in, and I trust her.