Whew! After a whirlwind spring of Dust Off Your Dreams retreat planning and launch, the joining forces of key retreat facilitators to develop a series of related programs of varied lengths, venues, and formats (details coming soon!), lots of book-related promotion activity, and serving as a presenter (with a great panel including Linda McDermott, Jennifer Fulton, and Cassandra Thompson) at the first annual AmerEquine Festival of the Horse, and talking to so many different women about their horses, I’m now back in my office with plenty of new things to ponder with you regarding the Midlife Horses experience — and the lessons it has to offer us as we navigate Life, Part Two.
One of my favorite stories to come out of AmerEquine audiences was a woman 72 years old (I assured her that Midlife was more a state-of-mind than any particular number) who had recently bought a new horse. At first I didn’t find this revelation all that unusual. Until, of course, she told us the rest of the story. She rode a lot when she was young and, like so many of us, took a break during the ensuing decades of raising a family. She bought her first Midlife horse in her mid 60s. And, like so many of us, she was a little apprehensive about getting back in the saddle so late in life. So, following the conventional advice we all tend to get, she bought a lazy older gelding instead of that young, shiny, sassy, forward-moving horse she preferred in her youth.
Well, in this case (proving that every rule has an exception and the bottom line is listening to your own inner wisdom when choosing a horse — or anything else, for that matter) this didn’t work out so well.
“I came off that horse six times in six months,” she said. “Luckily I wasn’t hurt, but I finally realized that that fat, lazy older horse didn’t want to move, and my expectations were making him more explosive than a horse that liked to move. So I sold him and got a bigger mover — a seven-year-old mare — and I have been happy — and much safer — in the saddle ever since!”
So what does that tell us about self-limiting beliefs? About finding our own answers? About the importance of self-awareness — and making choices aligned with who you are and what you need? Now, of course, this could have gone the other way. She could have bought the sassy mare first and found out she didn’t still have the chutzpah — or desire — to ride like that any more.
But I submit that taking a step back and spending some time on the above questions will take you on a shorter path to the choices that will fulfill you in the second half of life, whether you’re choosing a horse, a hobby, an old dream to dust off, or a reinvented career.
What counterintuitive epiphanies have you run across in your own midlife explorations? How has knowing yourself better guided you to make different choices than those dictated by conventional wisdom or the well meaning advice of others? What have you learned about making choices on the midlife trail you’d like to share with others? Weigh in here, folks! This is stuff we’re all wondering about on some level — and your story may be just the spark someone else needs to dig a little deeper to excavate her own authentic wisdom. I look forward to hearing your story, either as a comment here, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through Facebook, Twitter or a LinkedIn discussion.