I am soooo excited!!! A good friend, Joanne Simmons, suggested I enter the 50 Over 50 Who Have Reinvented Themselves, as posted by The Huffington Post in collaboration with the TODAY Show. I was selected...I am in the 'Risk Takers' segment. Click here for the actual Huffington Post feature. I am the 7th feature down.
Following is my submission that got be selected:
I am currently 65 years old. My reinvention started when I was 50 years old. For me, it is a continuous metamorphosis from being a staunch 'dress for success' corporate manager to a true outdoor sports enthusiast. My desire to reinvent myself started on the last day of my 49th year. I had a doctor's appointment and was told I was pre-hypertensive. I chose not accept that diagnosis. I was given a 30-day prescription, and to this day have not needed another one. The next morning I was up in the wee hours of the morning walking. It was quiet, the stars were still in view, the fresh air filled my lungs as I took full, deep breaths and reflected on the day ahead, my 50th birthday, and life itself. This new path would be the beginning for a lifetime of self-discovery, pursuit of passions that I did not know I had, and major transformations.
My journey includes helping to organize a senior women's basketball team, at age 50. I had not played basketball since gym class in junior high school. I ended up playing in local and state competitions and tournaments, and earned gold and silver medals in the National Senior Olympics and the World Senior Games.
Most of my adult life I had a secret desire to live in a warm climate. Well, at age 52, I had an opportunity to do so. I had never lived away from my family. I moved to Atlanta. I had never been there, and knew only one person. I had no job offers, just my entrepreneurial spirit! Actually, I was so ready for the move that I shipped my belongings there before I visited. This was major and like nothing I had ever done before. It was one of my best decisions, ever.
To celebrate my 56th birthday, I went on my first ever hike at Blood Mountain, the highest point on the Appalachian Trail in the state of Georgia. It was such an exhilarating experience, I continued to hike in the North Georgia Mountains. A few years later I formed my own hiking group. I had developed an online newsletter where I described the beauty of the trails, my feelings of freedom, and the natural connection I felt with Mother Nature. To date, I have led hundreds of people, many of whom were first timer hikers, on the trails. When they share with me how the experience changed their life, it inspires me to continue and realize that I had not only discovered one of my passions, I had also found my purpose...helping others in their quest for self-discovery. Realizing how this new endeavor was growing, I became a certified Outings Leader through the Sierra Club, trained and certified in Wilderness First Aid through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Wilderness Medicine Institute, and a certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation.
By the time I reached age 62, I was ready to expand my outdoor activities. The first of my three Meetup groups that I started now has almost 2,200 members. The expanded activities include camping, spelunking, zip lining, tree climbing, kayaking, bicycle riding, repelling, an obstacle course that includes Tarzan jumps, suspension and monkey bridges, plus more.
To celebrate my coming of age (65)...an official 'senior citizen,' I modified my direction and organized a baby boomer sailing excursion. We had two 46-foot catamarans. Most of us were first-timers. We were at sea for 5-nights. We sailed through a harrowing storm, and we all survived!
This same year, I hiked a jungle in Central America, and organized a group tour to the Grand Canyon, of which we were all over age 50. We rode the train from Flagstaff, on the original route to the Canyon. Activities included hiking, biking, and sauntering the 4,000 foot high Skywalk in the Hualapai Nation. Other firsts this year include white water rafting and visiting/hiking Yosemite National Park.
This fairly quiet, rather shy, inner-city girly-girl, did not know she had this hidden passion for outdoor sports. My innate desire to help others has been taken to a whole new level, all because I stepped out of my comfort zone and was willing to try new things, and reinvent myself.
I have added new challenges for the upcoming year, including hang gliding and skydiving! I am truly living my life to the fullest, and I believe the best is yet to come!!!
I am not retired...I am rejuvenated!