“There is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson
Recently I had an epiphany that turned my world upside down. I was enjoying lunch with my friend Kylen. We spoke of life’s absurdities and unlimited possibilities, while he cooked. Kylen is a culinary genius. Then, without thinking, I said, “Oh, I don’t eat portobello mushroom burgers.” He just nodded, smiled, and handed me the burger. I didn’t want to be rude, so I took a bite. As I savored the delicious avocado, bean sprouts, hot sauce, onions, and Portobello flavors, it dawned on me, ‘Did I really say that? When did I become so set in my ways?!’ I was stunned by this revelation, even as my taste buds were singing! I wondered, how many times have I limited myself without even knowing it?
At fifty-ish we know our comfort zone. And frankly, we are comfortable staying there. It’s safe, steady, and predictable. It can also make us feel stale, stagnant, and complacent. Intellectually, we know this new chapter in our lives could bring new possibilities. But really, why bother? Emotionally we reach for the comfort in routine. Like the comfort of those favorite old yoga pants, routine is just as boring.
As I took a mental inventory, I realized many of my fifty-ish friends and I made excuses to stay in our comfort zone. We avoided pursuing a new career, fitness regimen, or dream by saying “At my age? I can’t do that.” Naturally, our friends will agree. Validation and support are the very cornerstones in the friendship foundation, right? But is that helpful? Wouldn’t it be more helpful to say “But what if you could?” Then I thought about that burger, and I was hungry all over again.
Next, I made a list of three things I never thought I could, or would, do. I decided I was going try them. I was not ready to limit myself.
1.) Football – Spectator, not player. I was going to learn the game. It’s funny I know, but I never did, even with four brothers, a husband, and son who are fans. I mustered the courage, grabbed my notes and smartphone, and went to the local bar… alone. I found out the NFL website has a great page called Football for Beginners. I took notes and referred to the site while I watched the game. And that’s what I hope to do every time the Packers or Panthers play. I don’t mind if I look a little nerdy, I am actually beginning to get it! And you know what? It’s really fun.
2.) Adventure More – At this stage in our family’s lives we find we need less ‘stuff’ and want ‘more experiences.’ We made a list of must-see places, by air or by car. The house is being purged by way of garage sales, Goodwill, etc.… Now I buy less and save more for traveling. Two weeks ago I discovered flights to Dublin for under $500 roundtrip, then from Dublin, you can get to most major European cities for $100 roundtrip. Next week the kids and I are going to Dublin and Barcelona! And after that the mountains to see the leaves change, and then to Hendersonville to pick apples and then to …
3.) Pole Dancing – Seriously, I’m not kidding. Groupon has a great deal, and well, I’m curious. I’m told it’s an amazing workout, and it’s all the rage here. The owner of our local studio is a mom with grown kids, as are most of the participants. Pole dancing combines music, core and strength training. These classes are designed for fitness, not to learn a new trade. My grown daughter and I begin in two weeks! I can’t wait. Drop me a line, and I’ll keep you posted.
We wouldn’t want others to limit us based on our driver’s license birthdate. So why should we? The next time you find yourself saying you “can’t” “don’t” or “wouldn’t” think about this: what if you could? If portobello mushroom burgers or pole dancing are not your cups of tea, choose your own adventures. Just remember, you, too, are limitless!