Living Vibrantly in the Second Half of Life
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Fiddlehead
July, 2011
Volume 2, Issue 3
One of my retirement goals is to have adventures, and in June I experienced my first "Ageinista Adventure." My husband and I traveled to Ireland together, but in the middle of our trip he joined friends for five days of golfing Ireland's great courses, and I headed to Dublin for five days of solo touring. Although I have traveled out of the country numerous times, I never traveled in another country by myself. Navigating beautiful, safe, English-speaking Ireland on my own seemed like a great place to start.

My first challenge was getting to my hotel. Finding my hotel on Dublin's mostly unmarked streets after hiking two miles from the bus stop with my roller bag and back pack empowered me to feel like I could manage this trip on my own. In addition to taking self-guided walking tours, I took group tours, saw a play, and emailed my husband and Facebooked each day about my experiences. Responses from my husband and Facebook friends helped me feel connected, and I met some wonderful people on my tours. It was a great experience, and I am already thinking about my next adventure.

I have a good friend who embarked on a different type of "Ageinista Adventure." Always adventuresome, she reached a new high with her latest endeavor. This 61-year-old retired school teacher skates on a roller derby team with mostly 20-35 year-olds. Not the hair-pulling, theatrical spectacle of the past, roller derby is now one of the fastest growing sports for women. But it is still a physically demanding sport.

Scarlett Icebox, her nationally-registered name, practices 2-3 times per week for 3-hour sessions. Before she could move from practice to actual competition, she had to pass a skills assessment and skate 25 laps in 5 minutes. Not only did she pass, her coach determined she was agile and fast enough to be lead jammer, which means she could have 4 other opposing skaters waiting to knock her down when she is competing.

So what motivates Scarlett to push her body and compete in a sport composed primarily of younger women? She loves roller derby for a number of reasons: mastering a new skill was a high; the sport embraces diversity; and it met her need to try something different, to not fit into a mold. She feels strongly that who she was in the past is not who she is today. Scarlett is a woman who embraces adventure.

WHAT WE KNOW

Stereotypes influence our behavior and choices. Unfortunately, many retirement and second-half-of-life stereotypes are negative and limiting. In Shock of Gray, Ted Fishman cites numerous studies describing how older adults who perform under the shadow of stereotypes acquire the traits of that stereotype. One study showed that adults who had the most negative view of aging experienced greater hearing loss than adults with more positive views.

However, when we make choices outside our normal routine and try something new, we find new sources of energy and personal power. Remember the thrill of learning to ride a bike? We never outgrow the capacity to experience that thrill. Mastering a skill in one part of our life builds confidence to try other new activities. Even a small stretch can provide big benefit.

WHAT WE CAN DO

List ten characteristics that complete the sentence, "People my age..." Put a "-" next to characteristics that limit your options. Put a "+" next to characteristics that expand your options. How many of each do you have?

Answer the following questions.
1. Which of these characteristics describe me?
2. How have beliefs about what people my age do affected my choices?
3. List three things you would like to explore that may not feel age-appropriate.
4. Choose one item from #3 and identify what you can do in the next week to begin exploring it.
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debbie@ageinista.com · 218 556 1326
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