My readers, this week our guest blog is written by one of my darlings, Carolyn Baum. I connected with Carolyn on Facebook and she wrote this lovely article for us all to enjoy. She talks about her journey in life and turning 70! Happy reading.
Finding Honey Good
I was first attracted to the Honey Good blog by its author’s glowing photographs. I was quickly mesmerized by the content: the fashion, the homes, the lifestyle, and the hottie hot husband!
It seemed pure escapism for grown-ups at first, but as I continued to follow the posts, I found Honey’s Musings clearly had depth. Honey Good became that odd sort of modern soul and internet “friend.” She is someone I don’t actually know, but I do. She is in the background of my life.
She is a cheerleader who exudes and promotes the don’t-settle–instead-try-something-new-and-add-a-little-color-to-your-life-and-then-go-and-bloom lifestyle.
To me, the idea of needing to jumpstart my life after 50 seems to be a bit of a euphemism. This notion is critical to me as I’m about to turn 70 in a couple of weeks.
My Years As a 50-Year Old Women
In retrospect, 50 was a fat slice of birthday cake with sprinkles! I was filled with gratitude with a teaching career I loved, a comfortable relationship, financial stability with lots of extras for a pretty house, some nice trips and a good handbag or two.
My parents, aunts, and uncles, and even a grandfather were all alive and thriving. And to put the cherry on top of that cake, just a few months shy of my 50th birthday, I achieved the greatest “accomplishment’ of my life. I adopted my first and only child–a precious, year-old baby girl from China.
My life truly blossomed at 50. Having my beloved daughter allowed me to gently delude myself that I and the dear ones around me weren’t getting older and the markers of late middle age weren’t closing in.
I mean, how old could I be with a baby on my hip or chasing a toddler at playgroup or walking a tiny genius into kindergarten?
Years Gone By
I relished every second of my daughter’s childhood and threw myself into her every interest, project, and team. My daughter, bless her, loved school, worked hard, and was pretty easy on me, even as a teenager. And then, of course, she grew up. Those happy years just flew by!
So how old could I be cheering the loudest in the stadium at high school commencement?
How old will I be next June, when this young woman, God willing, graduates from college?
I’ll tell you how old I will be. I will be 70!
Now, as I find myself with age 70 looming in the background and the blossoming fields far less fertile than they seemed at 50, my focus has shifted.
With my daughter no longer depending on me, my life’s realities have very much changed. In the past two decades, I retired, was widowed and orphaned. The ties that bind my daughter and I are strong, yet her life’s path must diverge further from mine every day. For better or worse, I really just have myself to consider.
Luckily for me, there is not one thing that I have waited to do until I had time.
Adopting my daughter was my grand adventure! As well, I have watched with admiration as dear friends and former coworkers have created new ways to be. However, the path to finding a meaningful life in my 70s was by no means open and clear. At times, it has felt like a construction site tasked with building a road through the Everglades! I had to pave my way, brick by brick.
Advice From Wise Women
I received two pieces of advice from a very wise woman who is a few years older than me. One bit was very well received and one not so much.
First the, “not so much” advice: exercise! Yes, it was to exercise. What a struggle it is for me to implement this consistently, yet it underpins everything else I wish to do. As a result, I decided to join a fitness center that is welcoming and comfortable for me. I take classes in dance, yoga, and Pilates. I am so glad that I was able to overcome my initial resistance and get there.
The physical benefits are terrific, but the mental boost is plain stunning. I can’t begin to explain the neuroscience, but I love the sense of wellbeing.
The second piece of advice was more to be more frivolous! To do that, I learned to play Mahjong–I really did! It is a great brain exercise and a social outlet bar none. I have made so many new friends and reconnected in a fresh way with many people.
One Door Leads to Another
As they say, “One door leads to another” and now my life is overflowing with arts, book clubs, films, theater, and community work. On Tuesdays, you will find me volunteering as a classroom helper at a preschool that cares for children impacted by homelessness. On Wednesdays, I’m packing and delivering Meals On Wheels. Thursdays I revel in the stimulation of adult education classes. Now I can only hope my exercise will begin to keep pace with all the foodies I attract!
Filled With Gratitude
Today, as I face my 70th birthday, my cup truly runneth over. I am filled with gratitude and happiness.
I have no doubt that there will be more challenges ahead, but the rewards that come with the full engagement in this life make it worth it.
The wish I will make on my birthday cake is for us all to meet back here on HoneyGood.com in 20 years to raise a toast: to 90 being the new 70!
Carolyn Baum was born in Chicago and grew up in Houston, Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas and later earned a Masters in History. Carolyn had a very special teaching career providing education for children and teens patients in the Texas Medical Center. She currently enjoys retirement in Houston and loves playing Mahjong!