Life doesn’t stop. It just takes a right turn.

Many years ago, I had the notion that, when a person reaches 60 years old, they are all but dead. That sounds awful as I read that aloud, but I’m just being honest. Sixty seemed forever away, and something to be avoided at all costs.

Well here I am today. Sixty is a few years in the rearview mirror, and I’m happy to report that I am alive and well. Sure, I have some wrinkles and scars and stretch marks, and I definitely own some lessons learned the hard way, but that’s OK. That’s more than OK. I feel as young as I felt 30 years ago, but I’m infinitely wiser and so very much stronger. It’s a good mix, and I wouldn’t mind hanging out here for a while.

Years ago, as our children left home and my husband and I had the place all to ourselves for the first time ever, I discovered something. I had to think – really think – about what I like to do. I had to think hard to remember the things I used to really enjoy, pre-marriage and pre-children. Sound crazy? Not really. When your entire life has been about your husband, children, and career for 30-plus years, your previous life fades. The things that used to bring you joy fade. It’s perfectly normal, but I am here today to encourage you to relentlessly pursue those activities again. Pursue brand new ones while you’re at it.

A couple of years ago, before COVID-19 gripped the world in panic and fearful hysteria, my husband surprised me with two tickets to see The Eagles in concert. It had been years since I had seen them, or any of my favorite bands, perform live. I was excited, though secretly I worried about the cost, and of course the hassle of navigating downtown Atlanta. If you’ve never had to do that, count yourself lucky.

I wish I had words that would do justice to the way I felt throughout that four-hour show. That group of musicians hasn’t lost a beat; they were fabulous. Singing along with every song (and not having forgotten a single word), I felt rejuvenated. Revived. Completely happy. I felt as young and alive as my mind has always felt. And it occurred to me that the simple pleasure of belting out lyrics to the music of my generation took me back to a time of a carefree, wildly optimistic, deliriously happy ME. Something clicked that night, and I’ll never forget it.

While I’ll never regret one single minute of being a mom, I realized that the ME that was ME before having children, wasn’t dead. She had just moved to the back seat of the car while I took care of loving and raising my children. And on that very night, as I sang “Hotel California” in my loud, off-key fashion, she opened her eyes. By the time the concert was over, she had climbed from the back seat to the front seat and settled in beside MATURE ME, grinning from ear to ear. She was singing along with me, perfectly on key, loving life, excited about every tomorrow that lay ahead of her.

You may ask, why am I sharing the memory of this night with you? Because it changed me. It reminded me. It showed me that I can still love doing something that I enjoy, simply because I enjoy it. It showed me that there are still a lot of sparks left to ignite inside me.

What about you? Do you enjoy photography? Yoga? Golf? Painting? Writing? Jogging? Gardening? Cooking? Were you pursuing any of these endeavors before starting your family, only to put them aside to take care of others?  If you did, good for you. So did I. But please, think. Think about the things that used to bring you great joy. Think about the things you’d like to try for the first time. Close your eyes, and imagine yourself doing those things. Then go out and do them. 

Don’t waste one more day coasting through what you think is left of your life, waiting for things to happen to you. Turn the wheel hard, and embark on a new journey that feeds your soul. I promise, you won’t regret it.

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