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As a woman who has lived through many passages and learned through my larger than life experiences (positive and negative), I’ve discovered how to take a big empowering bite out of life.

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Today’s post is contributed by Merry Lynch Pavlak. She lives in Poland and is a joyful member of my recently renamed private Facebook Group, Celebrate Life After 50. This is a great compliment to my post yesterday, Choosing to Blossom After 50. Enjoy!

As we live most of our lives on autopilot rushing here and there never really thinking about how this all happens. It’s just life, after all.

The alarm goes off and we begin. We shower never really taking the time to be present with the water caressing and cleaning our bodies. Or noticing the smell of the soap or looking at the bubbles in our hands. We are too busy thinking about the day, we are already at work in our minds.

Next are the children, spouse, or other family members. We walk into their rooms and wake them up. Sometimes with gentle strokes but other times with a quick command. Breakfast is made and out the door we go.

In the car, buckled up then we’re in drive mode. Maybe we drop the children or grandchildren off. And then, what seems moments later, we are at work never knowing or thinking about how we got there.

Phone calls, emails, employee & client interactions, then the day is done. Kids, spouse, dinner, bed, and then it begins all over again. With life on autopilot, how then do we wander or wonder? How then do we “go off the beaten path”?


Doing the same activities, going to the same places, and meeting the same people has some familiarity to it. We know what to expect. But what does that get us as far as personal growth, understanding the world around us, or nurturing our soul?

I’ll tell you in two words – absolutely nothing.

Then the day comes when the kids are grown and gone and we are left wondering where our life went or hating the one we have. Some of us go into confusion, some depression, worry or anxiety. How do you stop this vicious cycle?

Making a habit of “going off the beaten path” will help you to transition. To being an empty nester, the later years or in retirement. It takes being present to notice how quickly you go on autopilot. But it is in the noticing where the magic begins to happen.

By practicing daily some kind of “going off the beaten path” you will be faced with all kinds of feelings. Fear of the unknown, fear of looking stupid or embarrassed. Fear of getting lost, excitement, anxiety, or any other of the other crazy thoughts we make up in our heads.

Yet by taking the road less traveled, by doing something or going somewhere different you will begin to see the world through a different lens. If you come from a place of wonder instead of doubt then the sound of the birds chirping. Or the smell of the flowers or the taste of a new cuisine will begin to fill your soul with gratitude as you yearn for more.


“Going off the beaten path” does not necessarily mean leaving the country. Although, that is a lot easier than you think. Or even leaving your city or town. “Going off the beaten path” can be as simple as discovering and experiencing something new in your neighborhood.

My husband and I travel often, sometimes for long distances and other times not. Recently we traveled by car four hours northeast of Warsaw, where we currently reside. 

We heard of a cheese festival in a small town and decided to make an overnight stay out of it. I booked a room on Airbnb in what looked like a lovely, quiet manor home in the country. 

We often travel the side roads instead of any highways, just to get a lay of the land and see how others live. This trip was no different. The countryside was breathtaking, all a bloom with color and sound. 

This region of Poland is called the “lungs of Europe” and does not allow the use of pesticides. A large number of storks live here. These big graceful creatures build a home for life, coming back to the same nest year after year with their spouse. They mate for life, or at least they travel with the same partner year after year. 


As we arrived in the small town where we would spend the next few nights, the directions told us to take a turn down a dirt road. I am always apprehensive about dirt roads, especially when you can’t see the end. My husband and I looked at each other and we forged ahead….slowly.

The pastures were filled with grazing cows, barking dogs, flowers everywhere, and the smell of hay. Soon, we came upon a beautiful fenced-in home and realized this was home for the next few nights. We breathed a sigh of relief and laughed. 

We were welcomed by the dogs barking at the strangers that have just arrived. The owner of the property promptly greeted us. Much to our surprise, we had stumbled upon a sustainable, organic, working farm called an AgroTurystyka. AgroTurystyka is a kind of rural tourism that Poland is littered with. During your stay, you may be asked to do some farm chores, or maybe just relax. The meals served are homemade and generally from the offerings of the garden or the animals. 

This farm offered cows, goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, grouse, ducks, and dogs. The garden and fruit trees lined the property and most of which were in bloom. There was a quiet hum as all the animals seemed to know their part and everyone was in harmony. It is always a remarkable feeling for me.


The home and guest quarters were beautifully decorated and we could roam the property and make ourselves at home. And yes, the owner spoke English. However, he did mention that if I stayed with him for a week on the farm I would be fluent. I winked (as he was quite handsome) and thought maybe that would be the ticket to improving my Polish. 

Later that day, as the sun was about to set, we joined the farm worker as he went to the fields. First to gather the sheep to bring them into the barn for the evening. Followed by the goats and then the cows. 

It was funny, these animals were waiting at the gate for him, like they knew their role. How could they tell time? They started making noise as soon as they saw him, almost like they were greeting him. How pleasant I thought.

The meals served were gifts of the farm. The table had freshly cut flowers. The cow offered her milk and we had the most delicate and creamy butter ever experienced. It was bright yellow as the butter was made of full fat. Oh my, it was delicious. I could have slathered it all over my body. 

The cheeses were offerings from the cows, sheep and goats. I never knew I liked goat cheese until this time. The eggs were given from the chickens and the rabbits offered their freshly made pate. 

The garden supplied us with an endless offering of cucumbers and tomatoes. It was a feast for the eyes as well as our stomachs.


I could have stayed forever. It made me laugh remembering my apprehension as we drove down the dirt road for the very first time. If I/we had not remained present in the experience we just might have turned around and canceled our stay. I/we could have gotten all worked up about the listing when there was no mention of a dirt road (why should that matter anyway)?  Or I/we could have been ridden with anxiety as we traversed down this windy, bumpy road. 

If you find any of this resonating with you about fears, anxiety or self-doubt, I encourage you to begin your journey “going off the beaten path”. You never know who you might meet or what you might experience.

Hi! I’m Merry and I specialize in igniting human potential.

We all have dreams, and it’s my professional passion to help you achieve the life you’re dreaming of. Through vision boarding, 1:1 coaching, or my unique in-depth life envisioning courses, we’ll get you started on your brave new second act in life. Find me at BravingMidlife.com

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June 28, 2022

Passages After 50

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  1. Debbie McRaney says:

    Thank you with 💘💘

  2. Liz Cordova says:

    Honey good I love all the topics you cover! I love your style!

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