Over the moon to devour the well-crafted article talking about women putting themselves out there after 50, taking MORE risks as they age upward, rather than drawing back. Am dancing in the streets that the financial site is introducing more people across the age spectrum to the wonderfulness of both NextAvenue & to Next Tribe.
As the article describes, Jeannine Ralston, who founded Next Tribe with a longtime friend, set out from home with her husband & children to travel the world. Let’s acknowledge up front that as a previously published author whose written travel pieces for a host of publications including the NY Times & National Geographic, it was a no-brainer that Jeannine had the experience, material & contacts to end up with a slew of related articles & at least one book.
Few of us are so graced with talent & opportunity. Which is not to discount all that Jeannine has risked & done. But let me introduce you to a woman who epitomizes a 50+ woman who embraced risk – at every level of experience – without any semblance of a safety net. My mother, Katharine Reynolds Lockhart.
When Mom was suddenly widowed at 64, she had experience as a dutiful daughter to a demanding mother, a devoted wife & life partner to my adoring Dad, a committed parent. The farthest she’d been was a trip with Dad to London, a year before his unexpected death. Up to 1974, her life revolved around home, church, community.
Mom’s unforeseen loss lefter her emotionally crumpled, but circumstances set in that got her OUT of her grief & opened up a previously unimagined life. At 65, she was off to Australia to help a son & his wife welcome their first child, breaking her trip with a couple days visiting Pasadena, two in Hawaii & one in Tahiti. At 67, we discovered that the person she’d put in charge of her finances had done her dirt, losing every penny of the money Dad had left.
Suddenly, in an age when anything in the 60s was considered O-L-D, Mom had to create money streams tailored to her non-driving reality. She hit that out of the park AND had a powerful influence on the families & individuals she touched through family care, meal making, laundry folding & travel companionship. At 85, Mom had clocked in numerous trips to Florida, several to Bermuda, a couple to Texas & seven (7) multi-month stays with Mike & Kerry in Australia.
I imagine Mom reading the article & whooping with agreement that in her mid-60s, she was just hitting stride.
Not that she knew that, sitting almost catatonic in Dad’s big chair in our living room. In July 1974, she felt life, as she knew it, was over. She was spot on – life as she knew it was over.
A life that she had never envisioned, rooted in all that came before but now sprouting exotic blossoms, was about to begin.
Right up to her last breath, Mom never held back. While she didn’t write articles for Time or Smithsonian, she never held back. Not when it came to flying to the other side of the world. Not when it came, in her 70s, to walking six nights a week the half mile from our Woodland Road house up & over to Alwick to make “Aunt” Benita’s dinner – come rain sleet or ice. Not when it came to tackling, in her late 80s, the most daunting challenge of her life – being upfront & honest with her adult children about who she was & what SHE needed.
Near the end, the article notes, “It’s OK to take a few risks. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting out of your comfort zone.” Readers at NextAvenue or MarketWatch might look at Jeannine Ralston’s honor roll of accomplishments, her deep well of recognized talent & the bedrock of opportunities that she’ll use as a freelancer to the end of her days & brush off her message, thinking, “Easy for her to write – my talents are less defined, let alone developed, & my opportunities feel like their zilch.”
To them, I give my mother, with no money, limited resources, great loss & more family who needed her than ones able to offer financial or even emotional support. My mother, who never saw risk as risky – it’s just what comes with full caps LIVING.
I can imagine Mom reinforcing Jeannine’s message about squeezing every moment, holding onto every day, not dwelling on separation from loved ones, just accepting when it finally arrives. Jeannine wrote that about appreciating time with her growing sons. Mom lived that every day of her life, right up to the last, particularly with what always mattered most to her – home, church, community.
Mom took to heart, especially over the last few years of her life, the crucial importance of taking risks, of venturing into scary dark corners that called to be left alone, of traveling to new places & chalking up new experiences. Of striving every day to be awake & aware of all that was around & within her.
One thing I am sure of – Mom & Jeannine would have recognized in each other a kindred spirit, would have banded together to get out the message clearly at the core of their being: Life is meant to be embraced, engaged in, experienced. That whatever our age – especially as we age ever upward – we need to keep grooving, traveling, developing & deepening interests, always looking for ways to celebrate our knowledge, insights & full-throttle LIVING.