I don’t know about you, but there are times I feel stuck inside my own head. I put these limiting parameters and restrictions in place, which can feel stifling. For instance, over summer I was agonizing over my decision to start a PhD program. I love learning and don’t think I ever stopped being a learner. I have always known that a doctorate degree is my path. But my mind became a roadblock and shut down.
I wondered if I was past the “right age” to go back to school. As a woman in my forties, should I be starting this journey now? I have a job, a family, a wellness company, writing commitments, and life that I believe in living to the fullest. Let me remind you; all this inner conflict was my own-doing. My father was excited. My close friends said that a PhD seemed like a no-brainer and the next step for me. My manager at my day job was understanding. My husband was extremely supportive and made an Indian, veggie dinner one night (This is a man who can’t tell cilantro from parsley) to prove that we won’t starve or survive on takeout if I had late-night classes, and he needed to organize dinner.
I spoke with one of my buas (dad’s sisters) about my conundrum. I share this with a lot of pride that all my buas hold a PhD degree They were university toppers, and they retired as deans of their departments. No one handed them those degrees or laurels. They worked full-time jobs, raised a family, cooked fresh meals daily for their families (hello, patriarchy in India) while pursuing their doctorate journey. One of my buas said to me, “You are young, and there is no age cap for learning and evolving. Take your time to finish the PhD.”
Those words were instrumental in my decision-making and starting the doctoral journey. I made it my mission to find and speak with other women who have not allowed age to stop them.
Vijaya Srivastava lives in Albany, California. She’s retired now but worked in IT and finance. What drew me to Srivastava’s story was that she learned how to swim in her sixties. When I asked her the reason behind her inspiration, Srivastava said, “At my regular doctor’s visit, my doctor suggested that regular laps would improve my overall health.” When Srivastava told her doctor that she didn’t know how to swim, her doctor told her about swimming lessons. “At my age,” that’s what Srivastava asked her doctor. When her doctor said, “Why not?” … that’s when everything started.
At the age of 68, Srivastava found a high school kid who agreed to teach her to swim. “This was the first time I ever put my face underwater. Fear of drowning was a big factor. It took me a long time to swim from shallow to the deeper end of the pool,” says Srivastava.
Her sage advice: “Don’t give yourself the option to quit. With swimming came confidence.”
Mel Greenberg lives in Tucson, Arizona. She wears multiple hats: author, pro-age blogger, and a copywriter/creative director. Mel published her first book in her fifties. When I asked what inspired her to write “Running with Our Eyes Closed,” she said, “My inspiration came from my own life, and those of my peers experiencing the dramatic personal and professional changes that came as our nests emptied. All of my writing comes from a place of being inspired by life and the remarkable possibilities that present themselves.”
Finding the right editor took a considerable amount of time.
But Greenberg reminds us, “Don’t hold back if you have the dream or idea to do or become something. JUMP and be flexible!!! No matter how prepared you think you are, unexpected challenges and detours will arise – embrace them. Where you ultimately land may not be what you first envisioned but will be exactly where you are meant to be in the most beautiful way.”
Shagun Sinha Brar lives in Gurgaon, India, with her husband and two kids. Brar is a hotelier and has spent 16+ years of her career heading the sales verticals of major hotel chains. However, during COVID, given that the hotel industry suffered major losses, Brar’s contract ended early. While Brar continued hotel consulting work on the side, the second wave of the pandemic was also a time of revelation for her. In her forties, she started her online cooking school, Little Chefz, for children of all ages. Brar and her family are passionate about cooking, trying out different cuisines. What’s unique is that not only is Brar offering non-fire cooking lessons but she is also helping transform the mindset of kids. Delicious food can be healthy, too.
Brar teaches age-appropriate cooking to children. “Currently I hold weekly classes for different age groups. So, we have classes for 6-9 years, 10-13 years, and 14- 17 years. I am working on a format for 3-5 years as well, but it will be about stories and games related to food more than cooking.”
Brar hopes that these cooking lessons will help the kids make better choices in the future thus avoiding health issues related to obesity etc.
“Cooking should be a non-strenuous and a de-stressing process for all,” she says.
“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt, as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear.” ~ Paul H. Dunn