On our Journey of Self-Discovery, we are meeting other dynamic agers who are exploring, inspiring and empowering others to discover what they are passionate about and how they can be a contribution in their own lives as well as the lives of others. This is the first guest post in A Journey of Self-Discovery. Sylvia Fox shares her journey of learning you’re never too old and it’s never too late to choose change in your life. If you would like to share your journey with our subscribers, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and learn more.
Never Too Old, Never Too Late
I turn 70 in a few weeks. But it’s only in the last decade I came to believe age is a state of mind, a thought. Not a prison sentence or a series of closed doors. Now my mantra is ‘never too old, never too late’. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Or maybe, especially if it’s uncomfortable. It’s not that I don’t have a history of adventuring during my younger years. But somehow as I got older, I started letting my age redefine what I thought were my options.
Early dreams, early adventures
My husband and I are both journalists, and we both enjoy having a dream, something we want to strive for. Our first big adventure together was sailing our 48’ sailboat from California to Mexico and traveling the Pacific Mexico coast. But five years into it, we both admitted we were bored. Too much vacation. Not enough purpose. We retreated back to our home state of California, sold the boat and took a year to decide, ‘what’s next?’. We felt adrift.
By the end of the year, I identified my next dream – live in a foreign country, participate in the culture, really learn the language. Coastal cruising in Mexico had been interesting, but it wasn’t an immersion. And we spent more time with American and other foreign ex-pats than locals. Not enough purpose. My husband said he wanted to write a novel and he was willing to do it anywhere. We now had a new plan!
Another grand adventure!
We retired from our university teaching jobs, packed our belongings and moved to a tiny agricultural village (300 Mexicanos and two English-speaking Americans –– us) on the Pacific coast of Mexico. We started to build a home and another life. The first few years were amazing. We hosted spay and neuter clinics to treat the village pets. We taught English classes to the village children. We had music nights. Our neighbor showed us how to make tamales, cook with chilis, keep the road dust down. We learned the language and spent time with our ever-curious-about-us neighbors.
Eventually we ran into issues facing many ex-pats, regardless of the country. There were challenges with the justice system and land ownership. We retreated, once again, to the U.S. This time felt different.
Too old to have a dream?
I was 60, my husband a few years older. I didn’t have a purpose or a dream and I started to feel like maybe those weren’t options anymore. I felt invisible, without value. I was stuck in the idea that I was too old to start again. That it was unrealistic to dream. I was depressed. Then one day my cousin mentioned she had just started working on her doctorate. In her sixties! My age! It was just the jolt I needed to kickstart a change in my thinking. The only thing holding me back was me –– and my thinking.
Since then, I’ve completed a multi-year certification program to become a fitness instructor. I’ve taken up hiking with an active group of vibrant women in their 60s and 70s where mileage and elevation is something to whine about, but not a show stopper. We have had many sweet moments when younger women tell us they want to be just like us when they grow up – ageless.
Now I’m a Life and Wellness coach with an active private practice, a career I didn’t plan or expect, but it evolved. My work integrates much of my life experiences and training and helps others. It gives me a purpose and a passion.
One more leap
This year my husband and I leaped off the cliff one more time, selling our nice, safe California condo with elevators and garages and a massive community of friends and family. We moved 600 miles north to a floating home on a river in Oregon. As many friends commented, it’s the opposite direction most people our age are going. True. Very true.
What might have looked like an impulse purchase from the outside was several years in the making. A lot of soul searching, a lot of life coaching and therapy, a fair amount of fear, anxiety and discomfort. And a lot of excitement too. In the end, it was much simpler than we were making it. We’re not dead yet. It’s never too late. We’re never too old.
Never too old, still
I have a lot more dreams to go, hopefully not all as big, exhausting and monumental as this move has been. The meter on my life is still running. That’s not fatalistic. It’s much more like ‘how much more fun can I fit in before it’s over?’ I don’t know if making decisions to live a more conservative life would have been more prudent. I don’t know when I’ll know.
The first thing I did when we bought our home on the river was to buy a stand-up paddle board and head out on the water with new paddle-boarding friends. I felt jubilant as I successfully balanced, paddling along in undiscovered territory. Ecstatic. The joy of a kid with a new toy, a new competency. The instant feedback was fascinating – so many people commenting, in awe, that I had the courage to start paddle boarding ‘at my age’. ‘My age’ is just a thought. A stuck place. A limitation. Isn’t the question actually, why NOT stand up on a paddle board and explore?
Never too old, never too late.
Sylvia Fox is a Certified Life & Wellness Coach who believes it is never too late, never too old, to be happy and healthy and whole. She integrates a lifetime of learning and experiences to help clients identify their next dream, whether a new career, a lifestyle change, or simply be more satisfied with life. Sylvia is also a Certified Restorative Exercise Specialist, Personal Trainer and Zumba instructor, a pivot from her former career as a journalist and a professor at CSU Sacramento. She currently resides near Portland, Oregon and works with clients and groups virtually, by phone or in person, She also works with clients in 12-step recovery. Contact Sylvia Fox at email@example.com or through her website, FitzfoxCoaching.com