Cultivate Theme

By Carol Cassara – Contributor & Midlife Wrangler

We’re the first generation to hit middle age (and official “senior” status) that knows we’re going to live longer—and healthier.  And that means we still have at least another 20 years to make our dreams come true.

Julia Child, Gandhi, Dr. Ruth, and authors Laura Ingalls Wilder and Frank McCourt were all late bloomers.

You can be one, too.

How?  That’s the question I asked myself, because I’ve recreated myself several times in these years between middle-age and whatever’s next. And I’m still doing it.

Life and opportunities are not over just because we’re aging. In many ways, this is the very best time to start a new venture, because we know so much more—about ourselves and life.

When I left my consulting job a few years ago to retire early, I had visions of a quiet, leisurely life of doing pretty much what I wanted to do. Sleeping in. Crafting.  But that’s not what happened.

I got bored.  Despite our extensive travel, there were plenty of in between weeks when I felt… disconnected. I wanted to contribute and knew that I could.

First, I started a memoir. Which I’m still working on.  But it wasn’t enough.

And then, an opportunity to teach appeared. I’d loved the several years I’d spent as an adjunct professor in another state, and figured eventually I might look for a similar gig. But I didn’t have to. Turned out, someone I knew from a writing group became chancellor of a local college. I dropped him a note and he introduced me to another “senior” who headed a college department and within weeks I had an offer to teach two college courses.  I’m ending my first school year this week.

Teaching is the way I give back. It satisfies me in a way that my traditional jobs never did. As an older instructor, I have much more to give back than I would have as a younger woman.

But that opportunity didn’t come out of nowhere—I’m a big believer in being awake to opportunity when it appears in your life. As in “any day can change your life, you just have to be there.”

Although I love teaching and writing, I’m not done recreating myself.

The work you doHere’s what I discovered: what I do when I procrastinate is what I’m really passionate about. I’m much happier if I incorporate those things into a new venture. Time passes quickly when you’re doing what you love, don’t you agree?

I know you’ve got a dream. Maybe more than one. Do you know what it is?

I’ve got more than one. Still. Too many, in fact. So many, that most die before they even get started! My life is a boneyard of dreams that died for lack of follow-through. It’s littered with them.  But I’ve made enough come true that I now know how to do it.

Since I love to teach and I love to write, I’ve decided to put together workshops that combine my two passions. I’m at the very start of this process: articulating my idea. Because I’ve learned the hard way through ventures that never got off the ground: state a dream in detail so you know exactly what it will take to make it come true. It’s like a trip—you can’t get moving until you know where you want to go, right?

Making dreams come true is a kind of specialty of mine and I’ll revisit this topic every month as I share my own process of making my latest dream come true. The good, the bad and the ugly—I’ll share it all. And, I hope, you’ll start the process of articulating your own dream—and share your experiences in the comments section.

So—what’s your dream?

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