Literary lifestyle? When I first saw this I was intrigued with what my next guest in the Over 50 & Thriving Series was going to talk about in relation to Thriving. Obviously books and if you are like me I devour them!
My guest writer, this week, is Wendy Staton from The Art of ‘Why Not’?. Wendy was one of my first blogging friends and I still have a beautiful Christmas Tree ornament she sent me in our first year of friendship.
Wendy has started a wonderful Facebook group which is really like a ‘Book Club’ and I think it is an inventive idea to encourage us all to re-discover the love of books and to really discuss them. You can find details of her group, website and other social media links at the end of her post.
Discovering a literary lifestyle after 50
When Sue first asked me to join her Over 50 & Thriving Guest Series, I admit I was a little hesitant. Not because of the “over 50” part; I’ve got that one covered. Rather, it was the “thriving” aspect that was giving me pause. You see, although I’ve been doing quite a lot during the past several months, I worried how much of it could really be considered “thriving.”
There was, however, an important fact I was forgetting:
I don’t need to be blazing a course that changes the world in order to thrive. The things that bring me joy don’t usually glitter. They are, actually, quite likely to be simple pleasures that fulfill the needs of a particular season of my life. I’m guessing that, perhaps, you feel much the same way?
One of the great aspects of being a woman is how we each find enjoyment in so many different pursuits. As our seasons change, so do our interests. The “over 50” stage of life often means having time to explore those pastimes more deeply, sometimes as a result of a major life change — empty nest, retirement, relationships, even health. Don’t fear that big change; embrace it, explore it, thrive in it…even when events don’t go as you planned.
Eighteen months ago I put away my teacher’s chalk and made some pretty lofty personal goals for the coming year. One month later, life crept in. A perfect storm of unforeseen circumstances altered most of my plans, and those circumstances and plans are still in flux. That’s not a bad thing; as a matter of fact, I’ve experienced many wonderful surprises! I did, however, need to stop, reassess, and pivot.
Part of my personal pivot resulted after a few months of house-bound down time, followed by several months of frequent travel. A wonderful consequence of both was a burst in my reading life. I thoroughly enjoyed scaling my own personal Mt. Must Read! This extrovert loved getting lost in the stories, however, I didn’t want to do it alone all the time. On the contrary, I wanted to take these literary journeys with friends.
Cue the bookclubs!
Nerdy? Dull? Gasp, lazy?? Please don’t write me off as the boring high school lit teacher, yet! We are not a group of brainiacs, we don’t dissect the hidden meanings of a book, we don’t even have a set format. We gather in living rooms, restaurants, coffee shops. We eat packaged cookies and drink water with no fanfare. Or we theme our snacks and decorations with the book. Sometimes we serve an entire meal based on the book we just read (á la Julia Child and her delicious memoir My Life In France!).
It is remarkable to watch the conversation go from hesitant to quite deep, often unexpectedly and with great emotion. The laughter and bonding that can occur between women who are so different in age, background, and interests is a wonder. When we each see our own 20-year-old selves in a character on the page, we don’t see how different we are, we see how much we are the same. As C. S. Lewis so famously expressed, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’”
I was surprised by the enjoyment I found in this monthly bookish gathering of women and the friendships we’ve formed in our diversity. I found myself wanting more, so I started my own online book club. Since then, I’ve continued to climb my impossible-to-summit Mt. Must Read. I’ve been entertained. I’ve wrestled with complicated issues that force me to articulate my values. I’ve laughed, cried, and been compelled to see things from another’s perspective.
So disregard all those stereotypes about “thriving.” What makes you thrive today may not look like it will next week. Therein, my friend, lies your opportunity.
Learn to pivot and discover those experiences you didn’t expect to enjoy!”
Thank you, Sue, for the opportunity to share in your current series! You are an inspiration to us all and a great example of learning to thrive where we are!
Wendy’s writing journey began as a way to document her “empty nest” endeavors to live her motto: “Every day, just a little bit better!” She encourages women to find extraordinary moments in the midst of ordinary days by living intentionally in whatever season God has placed them.
Married over 25 years and mom to one adult daughter, her current happy place is in and around all things water. Or in a book. Or both. You can find her sharing her stories in the following places.
Connect with Wendy
Prose & Pastime Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1004483679681627/
Do you belong to a book club? If not, why not join Wendy’s on Facebook?
What type of books do you enjoy? Join the conversation….
Don’t forget to post your Instagram photos using the hashtag #over50andthriving.