I was about to submit my story when I realized I was too late (deadline was last Thursday!). I guess that's the story of my life: I always seem to catch the last train, the last boat and obviously there are times I'll miss them altogether. Bah, so be it!
Instead I'll just say what a great idea this was! I read with great pleasure and a wonderful sense of discovery (hey I'm not the only "encore" woman around, far from it!) all those wonderful stories, and encore life, indeed, multiple lives: that is the privilege of our times and of living in our part of the world, rich enough to afford the opportunity for multiple careers. We should be grateful, I know I am: it takes a lot of courage, energy, dedication and...good health!
So congrats to everyone and keep it up!
PS. My encore lives are (1) fiction writing (2) painting (3) blogging (4) cooking. My husband just called me out saying, hey, when are we having lunch, or since he's Italian, he said precisely "Non si magna?" - meaning "no food?"
Sorry, I have to go. It was great to visit you all on this forum!
This was my contribution to the "Encore Story" contest. I'm glad I sent it, because I found out about She Writes...
Perhaps all this meandering was Creation’s humorous way of nudging me along. But I only started to get it in my fifties… And yet, my first Life Shift began at 25, when I moved to the US to teach Spanish. At the drop of the opportunity, I left my amazingly handsome boyfriend, civil-servant boredom, and urban predictability in Madrid, Spain, for new bells and whistles, customs and slang, and a little bit of loneliness. I never thought I’d stay, but 7 years later I was a Hispanic PhD living in sunny California. Meet my second professional persona: Successful researcher in a “foreign” land, succumbing to yet another form of peer pressure while adopting the surrounding “workaholism” as her new religion. I survived Catholic school, but feel I failed at living for well over a decade of academic labor. Papers, no matter how well published, are not the same as babies, despite the long gestation. I jumped over 50, danced my way to early retirement, and moved back to my country of origin. I tried Spanish Academia for size and found it smelly and constraining, like an old corset. Free to be myself at last, on the Spanish equivalent of Friday the 13th, I started my own company in Granada, a little Southern town that hasn’t found its way out of its Muslim past. Though still feeling like a foreigner, I manage to speak the universal language of the heart and work as a therapist and teacher, my true calling.
I certainly never planned on becoming an advocate for mental illness, but, really, who does? My plan was to continue on as I had for almost thirty years, working as a consultant in financial aid. My career choice meshed well with home-schooling, which our family did for nine years. When our son Dan went off to college and the homeschooling ended, I was able to devote even more time to consulting.
But by the time I arrived at Dan’s dorm toward the end of his freshman year, he had not eaten in over a week. He was spending hours at a time sitting in one particular chair, hunched over with his head in his hands, terrified to move. My son was in the throes of severe OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).
What followed was our family’s journey through a disorienting maze of treatments and programs, as we desperately tried to find the best help possible for Dan. Because of his strength and determination to reclaim his life, Dan triumphed. My son is back.
But not everyone is so lucky. And not everyone has the resources to get proper treatment or to even know what proper treatment entails. I didn’t have to reinvent myself. Life reinvented me. I now spend my time getting the word out that OCD, no matter how severe, is treatable. I blog at ocdtalk.wordpress.com, I write, I talk, I advocate. This is not my choice; it is my passion. And it is the most worthwhile thing I have ever done.
It's never too late to start, as one She Writes member Dani Harris said, turning into a poet at the age of 58 - and a Twitter poet at that, capable of 140 characters verse! This has to be the perfect 21st century poetry form, fast and lyrical. I love the idea of turning into such a unique poet late in life when historically everyone has always associated poetry with youth, romantic youth, lost youth, sad youth but always youth!
Well, this shows History is wrong and historical evidence is for the dogs. Here's to a big welcome and applause to the Encore Ladies! And in case you thought I was only referring to others, I can include myself in the group! When I retired at age 60 after 25 years as an economist and manager in the United Nations, I discovered I had a talent for painting (actually I'd been painting as a teenager under the guidance of my mother who was a professional portraitist and then gave up to study economics at Columbia U.).
Over the next 4 years I painted like mad, more than...200 canvases and got really active, participating in 15 collective shows, plus two personal shows, one in Paris, the other in Rome. Then I realized my type of painting was way too traditional for the contemporary art scene, so instead I wrote a novel about it -The Rabbit Years, because those later years in life just seem to accelerate! I don't know about you but I always seem to run out of time to do everything I want to do!
So the long and the short of it, is that I went back to writing (that was also a teen dream: I wrote my first novel when I was 15!) I've finished a YA trilogy (the first book is about to be published on Kindle) and a novel titled Rich, Fat and Bored, and I'm still polishing The Rabbit Years...Plus keeping up a blog called "It's Political, it's Artsy!" on anything that attracts my attention from politics to books to cooking - and flash fiction (that's something I love to do now and then). So busy, busy, busy...
Perhaps that's the only real problem about Encore Life: one is suddenly swept off one's feet, it's never been so wonderful before! The enthusiasm and dedication are absolute, and possibly excessive! Yes, Encore could be dangerous if you overdo it!
What's your take on this?