By KATHY MEGYER
Lynn Taylor from Sanibel Island spent most of her life as a successful Florida real estate developer. Now she serves on the board of directors for a flourishing book club in Ft. Myers, selecting books, contacting agents, flying in authors, and hosting magnificent dinners for 150 members.
Alice Mack of Ft. Myers took a job at a local library after a career as a military nurse. She says her background comes in handy as she deals with the general public, especially homeless persons who may be in need of medical attention.
And Alicia Bauer, a fashion maven from Colorado
who moved to Venice years ago, became a wellknown
and skillful milliner at her retirement community
where she hosts hat parties, often re-enacting
well-known Florida matrons such as Mable Burton
Ringling and Mina Miller Edison.
By engaging in their “second acts” or “encore
careers,” these women are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, disabilities, heart attacks or strokes, and are more likely
to live longer, according to a multitude of studies.
Tara Gruenewald, chair of the Psychology Department at California’s Crean College of Health and Behavior Sciences at Chapman University, reports in the Kaiser Health News (Aug., 2017) that people who perceived themselves as being useful had a stronger feeling of well-being and were less likely to become
disabled or to die during a seven-year follow-up period than those who didn’t see themselves this way.
A recent report in JAMA Psychiatry, a publication by the American Medical Association, cites a study that proves that older adults with a solid sense
of purpose tend to retain strong hand grips and walking speeds–key indicators of how rapidly people are aging. Authors Eric Kim, Ichiro Kawachi and Ying Chen reported that these seniors were more likely to be physically active, take better care of themselves, were less susceptible to stress, and had improved cognitive skills.
What is usually lost as we get older is not our desire to contribute meaningfully to others but opportunities to do so. Retirement offers the best chance to explore options, even though it may require some pivots to find a good fit.
I am in my mid-seventies and have found my encore career writing for Lifestyles After 50 Magazine. After spending 34 years as a high school English teacher who graded thousands of papers at night and on weekends, chaperoned dances and proms, served on bus duty during all kinds of inclement weather, broke up food fights, and faced disgruntled parents at PTA meetings, I am now doing what I want – and loving it.
I am meeting all sorts of fascinating people on my assignments, have learned more about the craft of writing than I ever did while teaching it, and am
looking forward to bringing you all sorts of new stories in 2018.
So don’t waste another second — start reimagining yourself and your second act!
“We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do.”
— Martha Grimes