Several years ago when I was first considering what to do with my bonus time after retirement, a friend told me about a book that had helped her with her own choices. It was My Time by Abigail Trafford. I've been rereading it and still find lots of inspiration and ideas for reflection.
One of Ms. Trafford's basic points is that not only are Americans living longer, they are living healthier. It is not unusual to see couples in their seventies taking biking, hiking or whitewater rafting vacations. Yes, there are people with serious health issues, but for many of us, the issues we do have are very manageable, or non-existent.
So when my husband and I visited Phoenix last month, we climbed a couple of mountains! Now these were not rope and piton types of climbing, but hiking trails in state and county parks. We keep very active most of the year, so walking 2-4 miles is no big deal. It was the elevation gain that was challenging. In Chicago, we don't have elevation gain. But we climbed up 500 feet in Lost Dutchman State Park one day, and it was exhilirating. The view at the top of our trail stretched 40 miles to downtown Phoenix. The beauty of the surroundings, the desert vegetation, tall saguaros and tiny wildflowers combined to make a memorable day for me. And the fact that I got to the top comfortably was inspiring.
Now, back in the snow, I close my eyes and remember the excitement I felt, and the years vanish, the snow vanishes. That feeling is one of the best things in life. It's pretty hard to feel that way about deadlines, customers, and traffic jams. So one of my passions is keeping that feeling alive, being outdoors, traveling, and visiting new places.
My paternal grandparents both died before they were 65. While my grandmother loved to travel, and I have a picture of my her riding a camel near the pyramids in Egypt, she traveled in a most dignified manner. Grandma always wore her jersey Shelton Stroller dresses and sturdy black shoes. She is usually pictured with a hat jammed down on her gray hair. Today we travel in jeans and t-shirts and sport zip-off hiking pants and cool backpacks with built-in water bags. The elegance of air travel is long gone, but I bet Grandma felt the same exhiliration when she traveled.
Whatever it is that makes you feel most alive, try to do it as often as possible. The years pass rapidly whether you do or don't follow your dreams. Work hard to live each day so that you'll have no regrets. That's a recipe for successful living no matter what your age.